Extreme Noise began as an idea in the winter of 1993-94. A group of local punks were fed up with the lack of a punk record store in the Twin Cities. Local independent record stores carried some punk but not enough. Several local labels and distributors had been selling records at shows and by mail. Although each sub-gener of the punk scene would have been unable to support a store of its own, by joining together it was felt a store could serve the whole punk scene.
Meetings began in September of 1993 and the search for a storefront began. A small storefront at 124 West Lake Street was rented and the staff went to work fixing it up and moving in. The staff at this time had very little experience in music retailing, but in the true DIY spirit made it up as they went along. The models for Extreme Noise were the Epicenter Zone in San Francisco and Reconstruction Records in New York City, both of which have since closed.
Each individual who made up the initial collective had some skills to contribute to the project. As young people, mostly employed outside the music scene, the staff was able to assemble from their diverse backgrounds the necessary know-how and fixtures to open a store on a very low budget.
A dozen or so people each contributed cash amounts which ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to purchase the start up stock. The initial capitalization of Extreme Noise was under $5,000. Most of this was not paid back until years later, after the store was better established and financially stable.
Extreme Noise opened its doors at 124 West Lake Street on April Fools Day, 1994. Revelation Records recording artists Sensefield played an acoustic set in the store that day and there was a line outside the doors as we frantically priced records at the tail end of a 36 hour work session. While opening day was frantic, Extreme Noise Records opened with a bang.
Extreme Noise's first year was marked by tight budgets and problems with the landlord (this will emerge as a major theme in this narrative). None of the staff really had much idea how to run a punk record collective but over time enough people stuck with it through the tough times to make it all pay off. While we were initially building up our stock of records, the back of Extreme Noise was a sort of hang out room with a pool table, video games and couches. While this service was really cool at first, the "punk community center" idea had to be abandoned as the store grew.
Occasionally bands would play in the back of the store in space created by moving all of the record browsers around. [See the list of bands who played EN below!] Meetings in the back room of Extreme Noise led to the formation of the Studio of the Stars DIY show space and later the "For The Kids" show collective which produced the Mpls Punk Fest in 1995. Both of these projects promoted numerous punk and hardcore shows in the Twin Cities and involved many Extreme Noise volunteers.
Expansion of the store's stock and problems with the landlord led to our first move. Throughout the fall of 1996 the search was on for a new location. The Real Estate market was tight but finally a location at 2524 Nicollet that roughly fit the store's cost, size and location requirements was found. This place was pretty run down but it was the best that could be found. 2524 Nicollet had previously been occupied by a Chinese video store and before that had been offices. Extensive renovation was needed and the store shut down for a month after our move at the end of December 1996.
The punk scene pulled together in what was probably the largest and most concerted volunteer effort in the store's history. Walls were torn down, ceilings raised, crappy tile and carpet was stripped off the floor and the floors were refinished. New fixtures were built and painted. Lessons learned at the Lake Street location were put into effect making the day to day operations of the store more efficient. As the renovations proceeded above, 1996's inventory and accounting went on in the basement. This month long team effort remains as one of the best examples of DIY co-operation in the Minneapolis punk scene to this day. Extreme Noise opened at the Nicollet location at the end of January 1997.
One advantage of the Nicollet location was the basement that could accommodate small shows. A number of really great shows occurred in this basement. But, after a few years of shows, the collective decided that Extreme Noise's main focus should be on records and not live music. Many Extreme Noise volunteers have gone on to book and support DIY show spaces, collectives and projects. However, it was felt that these activities should be organized by separate collectives so that each could focus on doing each task the best. [See a list of the bands that played this EN location below.]
Extreme Noise spent almost three years at the Nicollet location. Slowly, sales and inventory started to stabilize. However, it was realized that the rent and overhead at the Nicollet location was becoming a strain. There was a constant tension between records we wanted to order and our limited budget. This led to a re-examination of the financial structure and overhead of running Extreme Noise.
So, a search began once again for a cheaper location. Volunteer hard work and persistence paid off when the storefront at 407 W. Lake Street became available for rent. This location was previously home of The Cage, a failed night club, and most recently a struggling clothing boutique. A deal was negotiated and Extreme Noise opened at our current location on November 1, 1999.
After moving to Lake and Grand Extreme Noise stab. The financial constraints that loomed so large early in the collectives history have largely been overcome. With the help of a disciplined budget and a concerted effort to stock new releases on their release dates, Extreme Noise has dramatically improved our selection.
After over 16 years, Extreme Noise is still working hard to be the best punk record store in the world. If you don't believe it come on in and check it out for yourself. We hope you'll like what you find. If you don't like the results, remember that this is Punk Rock, so you can join in and help to improve it or maybe even start your own store tomorrow!
Bands that played our Lake Street location:
Sensefield, Ashes, Pansy Division, Boyracer, The Ropers, John's Black Dirt, The Norman Mayer Group, Texas Is The Reason, Shift, Foreskin 500, Dillinger Four, Disembodied, Guilt, Prema, Ink and Dagger, Impetus Inter, Ashes, Grip, Threadbare, The Murderers, Samuel, Whipped
Bands who played at our Nicollet Avenue location:
Nine Shocks Terror, His Hero Is Gone, Devoid of Faith, Joan of Arc, The Strike, The Salteens, The Enkindels, Ink and Dagger, Kill Sadie, Botch, Trial, Orchid, Scalplock, Code 13, 97A, Onward to Mayhem, The Young Pioneers, The Monorchid, Lifter Puller, Amp 176, The Hidden Chord, The Ending Again, The Real Enemy, Holding On, The Stray Bullets, Regulator Watts, The Criminals, The Lillingtons, Dillinger Four, Ethyl Meserve, Braid, The Get Up Kids, Against All Authority, Summon The Strain, Scared of Chaka, The Short Fuses, The Misfires, Converge, The Most Secret Method, Boy Sets Fire, Failsafe, The Enkindels, Harvest, Last Days of August, Spread the Disease, Cadillac Blindside, Officer Annie, Grotto, Varsity, Atom and His Package, Arden Chapman, Hell On Earth, Compound Red, Arm, Mil Mascaras, Defect, Hunger Pains, Black Market Fetus, The Vaticants, Decoy Voices, Hail Mary, Ereshkigal, The Book Of Dead Names, The Salteens, Trial, Harvest, Silent Fall, Hacksaw, His Hero Is Gone, Defiance, Resin, Orchid, Diskonto, Showcase Showdown, Fun People, The Nobodys.