Last July, months before our first live event, I made a trek out to Athens. I thought it was going to be a roam the city and see some ruins kind of trip, and while that was true to an extent, it was the record stores that had a lasting impression. Purple Haze Records played a huge part in that, and it’s owner Alex was instrumental in not only hipping me to Greek music, but in a way mapping the roads Phonographic Memory could go with his stories.
I found the shop randomly on an aimless mission. It’s compact without being cluttered, decorated with a few rare records, Thin Lizzy concert posters, candids of a 70’s Greek porn star, and a wall dedicated to Mark Bolan. You could thumb through the crates in 20 minutes, but I ended up staying for almost three hours. Alex had a story for every record, telling in depth personal stories of the musicians of the neighborhood (Exarchia), how it was the mecca for Greek rock in the 60’s and 70’s, individually it all fell, and tied it all back to the current state of the area. It was captivating and tragic, and all stated so matter of factly. He would play songs throughout, watch my reaction with a straight face and embellish occasional solos. It was a record store experience like nothing I’d had before. The idea for Phonographic Memory had already been set in motion, but without his knowing Alex showed me the depth it could go and how on a macro and micro level everything can be tied to records.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I came back and made the store my first stop. We picked up right where we left off a year before. New records, new stories, same themes. Regardless, it was good to be home.