One of my favorite parts of going to shows "back in the day" was the potential of some random distro showing up and allowing me the opportunity to buy all of the CDs I had been reading reviews about in zines or hearing about through the grapevine. I would specifically drive to shows in NJ or eastern PA solely because I would catch wind that Joe from Nine Iron Distro would be in the house. It also wasn't uncommon for bands themselves to be carrying their own small distros along with their merch in order to help spread the word of other bands from their area. Additionally, the stories of Rick Ta Life's distro are infamous to this day ... and I'm going to venture to say that if you've never heard one that you may or may not be living under a hardcore rock. Those days are obviously long gone, but as with everything else I do involving hardcore ... I'm trying to keep some of the old traditions alive.
I started my own "distro" in 2002 at the first show at the venue I ran back then called The Planet Of The Apes. I wanted there to be a distro present at all of the shows ... so I just pulled a bunch of CDs from my collection to sell so that I would have money to pick up copies of CDs from all of the bands who would play at my spot. I sold enough of my used CDs at the first show to pick up three discs from all of the bands who played the grand opening show ... Shattered Realm, Strength For A Reason, Final Stand and By Any Means Necessary. The distro grew as more and more shows would come through the venue and somewhat regretfully, I've since built my distro up from a shoebox to the point where I could literally open up a store of my own.
As with most of my endeavors, the timing couldn't be worse. My backstock has been growing as interest in CDs have been declining. Mp3s and vinyl are obviously all of the rage these days and while I DO carry some vinyl, 90% of my distro is compacted onto a disc. Most of my favorite releases from the mid-90s through the mid-2000s were ONLY released on CD so I will probably always have a leaning tendencies towards the format. I pride myself on the fact that you can buy a physical CD from my distro for HALF the price of what you would pay for Mp3s of the same album on iTunes or Amazon or whatever ... not to mention the fact that most of what I carry isn't even available for purchase anywhere else.
Either way, my distro primarily serves as a hobby for me these days as it is most definitely not paying any sort of bills. The concept of a distro is completely foreign to most people under the age of 21 it seems. In fact, it's to the point where most younger kids will come up to me whenever I am set up at a show to ask me why I brought my CD collection to the show! I don't even bother bringing the distro with me in the rare instance that I attend a tour-package show due to the fact that "tour managers" say that the distro is cutting into their merch sales. The concept of a "scene" is so far gone in 2010 and I think acts of greed such as this are a prime example of it. I digress.
One of the most notorious distros of the 90s (and even 2000s) was Very Distro ... thehardcorestore.com if you will. Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Very was by far the largest distro going at the time. It was the go-to place for anything you wanted that wasn't on Victory or Roadrunner. I specifically remember dropping about $300 on their table at Hell Fest 2001. Over time, however, the distro naturally focused moreso on their online store as opposed to setting up at shows. Roughly a year or so ago the website disappeared. No one really knew what was going on with the notorious store until Stuck In The Past posted a blog about the owner becoming ill. Apparently he decided to give up the distro game and I was fortunate enough to get an offer to go through the remnants.
I purchased about 1000 CDs to add to my own distro of already roughly 2000 discs and records. I think it's safe to say that I am overflowing a bit. I'm trying to make back a bit of the money I dropped into this endeavor so I'm going to post a link at the bottom of this blog to my store. The next step after allowing me to go through the distro was to allow some sort of wholesaler to buy the remaining stock as a lot to piece out on various online places such as Amazon or eBay or whatever. I would have hated to see some of these gems become lost in what I'm sure would be some stock room never to be seen again so I buckled down and went through about 20,000 CDs and picked out pretty much anything and everything that I felt embodied what I feel to be special about hardcore.
I had more fun going through these CDs than I've had doing anything in a while (how crazy does that make me sound?). I was finding albums I had been looking for since 1999, I was finding albums I never knew existed and I was buying random CDs from random bands I had never heard of before. Essentially I was having a fucking field day ... the same kind of field day I would have going to shows in the early 2000s.
I'd like to think that I bring some sort of enjoyment to some of the older attendees at shows whenever I bring my distro ... and maybe some of the brighter younger ones too. While most kids younger than me pass right by without a second glance and tour managers treat it as a burden, the lost art of distro'ing will always be appreciated by those who remember the relevance it played in the hardcore scene of the past.
Hopefully you can gain some sort of enjoyment from browsing through the online version of my distro. I do my best to take it with me to any and all shows I attend in the PA region ... but there are plenty of you in other parts of the world who would never get to check it out otherwise. So, here it is ... the Preserving Silence Distro in all of it's glory. The store is obviously more stacked now than it ever has been in the past 8 years I've been running it. I'm fairly certain that it's pretty easy to browse. By default it allows you to go through the entire inventory, but you can also search specifically through each of the sections on the left side of the screen ... and that includes the infamous RARE CDs section where you will find some things you probably never thought you would. Combined shipping is cheap as dirt and I always make a point to include some sort of bonus item with any purchase.
PRESERVING SILENCE DISTRO
The store is hosted on an amazing site called Limited Pressing. They were more than gracious in giving me an entire year of free hosting due to them trying to get their name out amongst the community at large. Limited Pressing is a totally independent and legitimate record trading/auction site/webstore hosting/community based venture ran "by the kids, for the kids". Their support team is amazing and have helped me build an entirely legitimate webstore from scratch. If your band needs a webstore, you want to get in with the most happening record trading site going right now or just want to avoid eBay's ridiculous auction fees (aka post auctions on Limited Pressing FOR FREE) ... then stop by and make an account. You have to make one either way to make a purchase from my store ... but the extent of making an account is picking a user name and a password. It's obviously all completely free and you never have to go back again if you don't want to ... but I definitely think it's a worthwhile website that is there to serve YOU ... the community. Who would have guessed?
As I mentioned earlier ... while going through the remnants of Very Distro, I got to relive one of my favorite hobbies of weeding through crate-upon-crate of independently-released hardcore and metal CDs in hopes of finding some new band that I never heard of before. Well, I did just that whenever I blindly purchased Bible Of The Self 's full length, self-titled and self-released album. This is honestly one of my favorite metalcore bands I've ever listened to. The sound is indescribable to me right now (maybe I'll come up with something after a few more listens). They were from Florida and the album was recorded in the year 2000. That is all I know about this band as of right now. Feel free to leave a comment with any and all info you may have. Other recordings from this band would be great.
DOWNLOAD - Bible Of The Self - st
Finally, on a side note, I want to post links to some other respectable online distros that I tend to frequent.
Surprise Attack Records - Scene veteran EMS' long-standing label/distro that used to have a store of its own in Erie, PA. Good memories of shopping there.
xStuck In The Pastx - The infamous blog's infamous webstore known for carrying mostly international bands. Has some rare gems from the 90s up as well. Also hosted on Limited Pressing.
Retribution Network - THE place to go if you're from Japan ... Hiro who runs the store is constantly on the prowl for young, sincere bands to carry albums from. The Japanese Rick Ta Life if you will. The link to the website is through Google's translator service. If it doesn't work for you ... just go to retributionnetwork.com and figure it out on your own.
xCatalyst Recordsx - The place to go for Vegan Straight Edge titles from all over the world ... not to mention the label's impressive back catalog ... most of which are usually on sale for a very modest price.
If you have any other links to other webstores ... PLEASE post them in the comments section. I would love to check them out myself. We all know about Deathwish and Revelation and whatever, so we're obviously leaning towards more obscure or independent release-oriented sites.