For The Record: Inside New Mahim Vinyl Store The Revolver Club
When we meet, Parth Pandya is fielding calls and messages from a customer in Vishakapatnam who seems desperate to get his hands on a rare picture disc edition of Thriller. He’s texting Pandya every few minutes, but to his credit, he’s found the right man for the job. Pandya is the co-owner of The Revolver Club, the recently-opened vinyl shop in Mahim where you can buy hard-to-find LPs that have been sourced from his network of contacts in the US and UK.
“We had a guy [come in] who thought we sold guns,” said co-owner Jude de Souza at the 350 square feet establishment, which previously housed Nova Audion, the high-end audio equipment store that Pandya and he ran. At The Revolver Club, the most deadly thing you’ll probably get is a bottle of Sriracha, the popular brand of hot sauce that will be available here along with T-shirts by No Nasties and GrooveControl and a random selection of items that have been handpicked by de Souza and Pandya. The pair has envisioned the place as an “electronics lifestyle store” where they will offer everything from headphones by Molami, a Swedish brand ‘designed for women’, to the Olive One, a high-end digital music player made in the US.
Like at Nova Audion, which they continue to run online, The Revolver Club will sell speakers, amplifiers and turntables, but at lower prices. “Not to say that this is cheap,” said de Souza. For people starting record collections, they recommend over cheaper brands that they liken to “toys”, the Elemental by Austrian manufacturer Pro-Ject, priced at Rs19,999. “It’s been rated as the best entry-level turntable,” said de Souza who added that it has “a relatively high resale value as long as you don’t destroy it”. The store also sells maintenance kits to help keep your record player dust- and lint-free and offers an LP cleaning service for which they charge Rs150 per disc.
Hearteningly, the vinyls – there are over 1,000 in their catalogue – are more affordable. Prices range from Rs300 for Indian pressings of commonly available LPs (compilations of carols and Jim Reeves albums that have found shelf space in many a Christian household in the city) and go up to Rs9,000. Highlights of the current selection, which spans Bollywood, jazz, rock, hip hop, Indian classical and Western classical music, include a copy of Frank Zappa’s first album Freak Out! (Rs6,000), which is hard to come by, and a limited edition release of Steely Dan’s Aja (Rs3,800).
About 70 per cent of the stock is used vinyls in good condition. (If you have some that you think might be worth their while, you can get in touch with them to sell your stash.) Among the remaining titles are new releases by acts with a niche but loyal following – American hip hop duo Run The Jewel’s sophomore effort Run the Jewels 2 and Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala’s upcoming album Currents are expected to be in store soon. Plans are afoot to host a listening session of the latter LP, which they hope will be the first in a series of such events.
There’s also good news for fans of Indian indie acts. The Revolver Club will press its own line of records, starting with a limited edition live version of Mumbai punk trio The Lightyears Explode’s album The Revenge of Kalicharan. They plan to release about 40 copies that are likely to be retailed for between Rs2,000 to Rs2,500 on account of the high production cost.
Though worldwide sales figures have been rising consistently in recent years, de Souza said that Pandya and he are well aware that vinyl will “never be a mass product”. Nova Audion, which sells speakers priced at Rs2 lakhs and onwards, will help sustain The Revolver Club, which is more of a passion project. “[Record collecting] is an expensive hobby,” said de Souza. “We look at a vinyl collection as being like an art collection. If you get the right stuff, it can be very, very, very, very valuable.”