For the latest episode of our Crate Diggers New York seller spotlight, we rode the N train to the end of the line in Queens to meet John Kioussis of Rockit Scientist Records. We sat down with John to talk about classic record stores, iconic New York filming locations and why he’s looking forward to Crate Diggers NYC on Saturday, July 27 at the PlayStation Theater.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did Rockit Scientist Records come about?
I spent five years working at Venus Records on St Marks Place before opening Rockit Scientist in 1996 on Carmine Street. The store moved to St Mark’s Place in 2003 before finally closing in 2012 due to a combination of factors including rising rents. I’ve been selling mail order/online since then.
What’s your specialty?
What are your favorite memories of that time on Carmine Street and St Marks Place?
There was a very special energy in those neighborhoods back then – an artistic, bohemian culture. The store was a place to hang out, to talk about bands and pick up flyers to see bands. I enjoyed the personal interactions, turning people onto new music. I’ll always remember a member of a very well known rock band coming into the store and buying enough CD’s to pay my rent that month.
What does the 2019 version of Rockit Records look like?
I sell online / mail order now with almost 10,000 records listed on Discogs. My office is in Queens, in the same building where a chase scene in Serpico with Al Pacino was filmed. I’ve lived in Queens since my family moved to New York when I was three years old.
What music did you listen to growing up in Queens?
I was heavily into punk and new wave. I remember telling my friends about the Clash in 1977/78 and them not being interested. The Clash played with the Who in 1984 and then suddenly my friends were interested – I was like, I’ve been telling you about this band for years!
Where do you source your records from?
Discogs, record stores, thrift stores, collections and record fairs. I particularly enjoy record fairs – there’s a real feeling of friendship and community at these events.
What do you have in store for us at Crate Diggers?
I’m really excited about the event. I’ve got my good friend joining me who worked behind the counter at Bleecker Bob’s Records, a long gone but not forgotten Greenwich Village vinyl mecca where the likes of Patti Smith, Frank Zappa, and members of the Clash would hang out.
What can we expect to find on your table during the fair?
Classic Rock, 60’s Psychedelic, Soul, Reggae and Jazz.
Don’t sleep on Crate Diggers NYC Record Fair, taking place at Playstation Theater on July 27, 2019. You can find tickets to the event here.