Ira Barouch, owner of Rocks in Your Head, on Monday holding Bob Dylans Self-Portrait album two days before the record shops last day in Soho. Below, the decidedly unchic exterior of the Prince St. store.
Punk record store no longer played in a changed Soho
By Lincoln Anderson
When Rocks in Your Head opened on Prince St. in 1978, it had only been a few years since artists had colonized the airy lofts in the formerly desolate manufacturing neighborhood. New York Citys punk and new wave music scene was flourishing, and Rocks in Your Head sold The Clash, Buzzcocks and Siouxsie and the Banshees albums before these bands even had American distributors.
But with Sohos storefronts long since transformed from art galleries to high-end designer boutiques and teeth-whitening salons, the record stores days were numbered. A sign of the inevitable, a postcard shop dating from 1970 that was Rocks in Your Heads neighbor closed its doors a few months ago, replaced by yet another accessories store.
Ira Barouch, Rocks in Your Heads owner, will close the store on Wednesday, and plans to relocate to 133 Roebling St. in Williamsburg.
Ive been losing money for the last few years, and the rents being what they are, business hasnt been good, Barouch said on Monday. The name of retail is location, location, and when the locations not any good, thats why were moving.
Ive been complaining about Soho for 20 years, he said. This used to be an interesting neighborhood. When I first opened, I could stand on the street and at least half the people walking by were potential customers and interested in music. Now, its much less. Hopefully, Williamsburgs a cooler neighborhood.
The stores rent is currently $5,000 a month, up from $300 a month in 1978.
Barouch said the store from the start concentrated on punk, new wave and no wave, not because he was particularly interested in it, but because that was the zeitgeist of the rock scene at the time.
Over the years, the place has been a hangout for musicians, producers and others in the music scene. Lydia Lunch used to frequent the store. More recently, Vito Roccoforte, the drummer of post-punkers The Rapture, worked there.
He got too big with The Rapture. He couldnt work here anymore, Barouch noted.
Brad Hargette, of the band Crystal Stilts, working the cash register on Sunday, said the profit margin of the trendy boutiques far outstrips what Rocks in Your Head could make.
We might make $5 on a CD, he said. Theyre selling $400 purses. Its nothing but womens shopping now, he said of Soho.
Said Barouch, When people found out we were moving, they said, Oh no, youre one of the last ones. Youre like the dinosaur.