The phone at Twisted Village rang again a little after one o’clock last Thursday afternoon.
Letting several rings go by, owner Wayne Rogers reluctantly picked up, already knowing the question poised on the other end.
“Yes, it’s true,” Rogers said gently. “July 25.”
Sunday will be Twisted Village’s final day of business, capping a 14-year run that would see the subterranean Harvard Square record shop sell countless vinyl discs, host too-many-to-count in-store appearances — Wizz Jones, Richard Bishop, and Thurston Moore among Rogers’s most memorable — and establish itself as one of the most respected music havens in the country.
“I knew what that call would be about,” Rogers said, turning to unplug the jack from the wall. Pulling the plug on his brick-and-mortar store was ultimately inevitable.
Rogers and his wife, business partner and fellow Major Stars guitarist Kate Biggar will continue to operate the Twisted Village record label and have a newly designed online distribution Web site launching next month.
Sunday’s send-off will be a group-hug of friends and customers.
“We’re going to have a party, and give away stuff I don't want to carry,” Rogers says, noting he’s taking most of the store’s psych records with him. “We’ll probably have a sale, but free stuff seems more fun.”
Of course, “free stuff” is what’s causing the demise of his store.
“The music industry has seen a better time, both independent stores and corporate,” he says as Agaval & Other Songs by M.S. Subbulakshmi plays in the background. “Just the brick-and-mortar store is going away — it’s not everything but it’s a huge thing. I’ve known for a long time we weren’t signing the lease. Considering music-industry trends, signing a lease for another five years would be suicide.”
It could be argued that 99 percent of Twisted Village’s inventory, specializing in underground sounds from jazz to weird noise rock to psychedelic, couldn’t be found at the nearby Newbury Comics in the Harvard Square Garage or during Tower Records’ 15-year run on Mount Auburn Street.
“The remarkable thing about Twisted Village is that it’s the exact same thing at the end as it was at the beginning — an outlet for remarkable, way-out sounds,” says former employee (and former Six Finger Satellite bassist) James Apt.
That people-aren’t-buying-records-anymore mantra is tough to dismiss, but what Rogers seems to miss most is already gone: the in-store interaction and discourse.
“A lot of things happened here,” he says. “A lot of discussions happened, band members met each other. A lot of those discussions that once took place face-to-face still exist, they just exist in different forms. The Internet simply wasn’t here when we opened. People come in now, head down, and head straight to the bins. They already heard the [song] clips online. I’m trying not to see it as a good or bad thing, it’s just a thing.”
To Damon Krukowski of Damon & Naomi, a trip to Twisted Village was an education filled with priceless advice and admonitions from its staff.
“These stores are not about buying and selling,” says Krukowski. “That’s why they can’t last, and why we can’t do without them.”