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Transcription of Interview - The infamous lizard


Reptilian Records is located in Fells Point, at 403 South Broad Street.

The store has been catering to the lovers of unconventional rock and roll since it first opened its doors. Eventually, Chris X, the stores owner and founder expanded into the record industry and started a label, also called Reptilian Records.

CX: The store opened in November of 1989 and the label started in November of 1993. Originally I wanted to do a record label but didn’t have the know-how yet. I had some experience in record retail and I had a good friend in Philadelphia who owned a punk rock store called Chaos Records and that’s sort of what my shop is modeled after.
JS: The store only carries independent releases in the genres of punk, hardcore emo grunge and noise rock. X said that he opened the store because Baltimore was lacking anything like it.
CX: The first time I came to Baltimore I asked this girl I was dating to take me to the record stores and she said there weren’t any. I came down to a festival in Fells Point and I saw this store for rent and I thought it would be a good spot for a record store.
JS: Originally, Reptilian was both a record store and a comic book shop. However, X became fed up with the comic book industry, as it had become a place inundated with collectors rather than comic enthusiasts.
CX: Well, I had partners at first and they owned a comic boox shop so that’s why we were comics and records. The comic market sort of changed over the years and I grew tired of the comic book customers. I needed more room for music so I bought out my partners and turned it in to an all-record store.
JS: X says that one of the biggest challenges faced by record stores is the advent of online music and downloading services like Kazaa, Grokster and WinMX.
CX: I have mixed feelings about that. I think it’s a great promotional tool for people to get to hear music they wouldn’t hear otherwise because radio is so programmed these days. But I think it’s a shame when artists work, whether it be visual or audio or whatever, is consumed by the public at no profit to the maker of that work. In other words, it’s a shame when people don’t get paid for the work they’ve done.
JS: X believes that the Fells point area has changed dramatically since he first opened its store. Although he doesn’t like the changes he’s seen, he has no plans to move the store.
CX: Well, we’re known for being here after being here for so long. We’re pretty of entrenched, so moving the store would be a hassle and probably not worth it. The area has definitely gone up and down and they’re still trying to change it and ‘yuppify’ it a bit more and clean it up. But right now it’s more of a drinking spot; it’s not really a shopping spot. But I think the people that come to Reptilian would come to wherever it was.
JS: And who are those customers?
CX: People that like good music.
JS: Chris believes that good music is…
CX: Independently produced music with feeling. One of my favorite bands right now is a Japanese band called Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. But as for American punk style bands my favorite bands are The Unseen, Cutthroats 9, Easy Action and The Means. And there’s a whole list of hardcore bands I like, it would take hours.
JS: And he gets to indulge himself in that music, and that’s fine by him. Music is his priority.
CX: Well, I work in my store pretty much seven days a week, for five to seven hours a day. That time is split up pretty much between the store and the label. I’m always y answering the phones about one or the other and I’m always on the computer about one or the other. Pretty much everything I do in someway centers around music, whether it’s about my store or going out enjoying music live. Working in here and going to shows is pretty much all I do.

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