Like so many good things, you may miss Seasick Records if you don’t know where to look. Located in Avondale between Southern Skin Divers Supply and Magnetic Audio Recording Studio, Seasick Records opened on November 3 in a modestly sized space that befits its goal of meeting the needs of a listening niche within Birmingham’s local music community. That is, Seasick Records stocks entirely on analog recordings, i.e. vinyl and cassettes.
The shop focuses on more contemporary releases, like that of genres labeled “Underground,” which is something of a catchall term for independent music like punk, hardcore and indie rock.
The choice in musical selection is very much a strategic decision on the parts of Seasick Record’s owners, Daniel Drinkard and Chayse Porter. “It’s something we’re lacking here, a record store catering to our generation,” Porter explains. “I’ve always wanted that and have been waiting around for something good to happen. It hit me that it was stupid to wait around.”
Porter, a 25-year-old lifetime resident of Birmingham, has been actively involved in the city’s music scene since he was 14. Having played in acts such as the punk rock band Dolarhyde and, currently, the indie rock band the Urns, Porter is not only a creator of independent music, but also something of a scholar on the genres he feels passionately about. “I have toured pretty extensively,” Porter continues, “and my favorite thing to do when out of town is to check out the record stores like most bands do. I never really noticed I was a collector until five years into collecting.”
It has been a dream of Porter’s to open up his own record store, and it just so happened that this dream matched up with Drinkard’s, who moved to Birmingham earlier this year after recently getting married. Drinkard, 29, is no stranger to music either — having also played in bands since his early teens — and he is also the owner and manager of the independent label Fat Sandwich Records. It was through Drinkard’s label that Dolarhyde released a 7-inch in 2010 and, just this past October, released the first full-length LP of Porter’s current project, the Urns.
The experience made the two fast friends and jump-started their entrepreneurship into full-blown reality: Seasick. Taking its name from the Jesus Lizard song of the same title, the store has made several prominent strides in making itself the new word of mouth conversation topic throughout Birmingham’s DIY scene. Since opening, Seasick Records has hosted two live performances on site. A grand opening celebration on December 8 will feature a cookout and performances from various bands, such as Waxahatchee — a solo project from Birmingham native singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, who has recently received acclaim from NPR music and Pitchfork. In the weeks leading up to the event, customers will enter a raffle for prizes to be awarded at the event, such as bundles of Fat Sandwich releases and in-store credit.
Porter and Drinkard are aware of the store opening during a revitalization of Birmingham, as interest in the city’s unique music scene increases. “We’ve been spoiled for so long with the great venues we’ve had in the past, and have today,” says Porter. “There’s always a place for kids to listen to music and meet like-minded people. It’s really special to have that sense of community.”
“I was in Boston on my honeymoon,” says Drinkard, “and I went into a store, and I mentioned to a worker that I was from Birmingham. He said, ‘I love Birmingham! My band has played there a couple of times.’ I asked what band he played in. He told me, and I was like, ‘Wait a second, did you play at so and so? My band played that show too.'”
The co-owners of Seasick recognize the Birmingham music scene and the hard work of local venues to support hometown artists while attracting touring acts, but wide-scale public appeal of the scene aside, what Drinkard and Porter care about the most is Seasick Records role in ensuring that their love for music has an ever-increasing role in their lives.
“This is a second job for me,” says Drinkard, “but it’s a second job where I get to hang out and listen to records.” Porter’s sentiments practically mirror Drinkard’s: “This store brings us so much joy. We can’t wait to get off work just to come open the store.” Currently, the shop is open Thursday through Sunday but plans to extend hours in the New Year.
Right now, their main concern is seeing to it that their selection is well-stocked and engages the music community. They are also striving to ensure that their store is an affordable place for customers of all incomes. “If we can keep the lights on and continue to have new records cycle in and out, that’s good enough for me,” says Drinkard.
Not only are the two putting their time and effort into the store, but also their personal collection of LPs. “We’ve gave up hundreds of records just because we want to share this great music we’ve been collecting,” Porter says, “I’d much rather sell a good record at a reasonable price then just have a record sit in our store.”
As Seasick Records takes its first confident steps at being the premier location in Birmingham for contemporary independent albums on vinyl (as well as serving as a proper storefront for upcoming releases of new artists on Fat Sandwich Records), the most important thing Drinkard and Porter want people to know about their store is that it is a place for people to come and share their excitement for exciting music. As Drinkard says, “It’s a labor of love.”
Seasick Records is located at 4513 5th Avenue South. For more information, follow them on Facebook.