Photos: Gilbert Cisneros
On July 5, Diabolical Records celebrates its second-year anniversary. Their existence in Salt Lake City has made a remarkable impact on the music scene—both as a record shop and the hottest new all-ages music venue. Diabolical Records first opened its doors at Granary Row in 2013 and quickly attracted a following, and after Granary Row ceased operating for the winter, Diabolical Records moved to its current location at 238 S. Edison Street. There, Adam Tye and Alana Boscan began infecting the public with solid and infectious grooves.
Diabolical Records is located in the most visited alleyway in Salt Lake City. Inside, one can find a stellar collection of records, and at night, some brilliantly intimate gigs. The rapid growth in popularity of Diabolical Records as a venue has been striking. “I think it’s been a really good location for a lot of our customers that do reside Downtown,” says Boscan. “It’s really accessible—it’s really close to a bunch of other activities like bars and restaurants.”
On the record store side of things, Diabolical Records boasts an impressive display of records. It is a collection that has grown considerably over the last two years. They have maintained relationships with distributors like Red Eye and Forced Exposure, and when possible, like to work directly through bands’ labels. Diabolical Records carries all sorts of genres for all sorts of record enthusiasts. “It’s just a matter of knowing our audience,” says Tye. “If it’s an Elton John record, we’re going to end up sitting on that for a while. If it’s a Ty Segall record, it won’t make it out of the new arrival bin.” Diabolical also has an impressive local artists rack, and according to Tye, Bat Manors’ and Baby Ghosts’ records have sold pretty well. He also points out that most local records sell to out-of-towners rather than to local Salt Lakers.
Pushing the record stacks aside at night and welcoming in Salt Lake’s diverse array of twisting-and-shouting hip weirdo types, Diabolical Records has hosted numerous gigs over the last year and a half. These gigs are intimate experiences that put show-goers on the same level as the band they have come to see. Diabolical Records has been a favorite for local groups like Koala Temple, Swamp Ravens, Chalk and Foster Body—who will be producing a record on Diabolical’s label. Apart from these revered Salt Lake darlings, Diabolical Records has also welcomed notable touring acts through their doors, such as Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, Shivery Shakes, The Harms, Kepi Ghoulie, Pookie & the Poodlez, Radioactivity, Los Cripis and Ex-Cult.
Tye and Boscan book most of the shows, which are prospective gigs that they personally like. Tye says, “It’s us that books the shows, and we have certain people that we know that if they come to us with a show, we’ll help them set it up.” There is an ever-increasing network of bands who have an interest in playing the shop. Diabolical Records acts like a sort of oasis for groups going through Salt Lake who have not been able to get booked at venues like Kilby Court or who are not as well known and fill a special niche. Bands will usually contact Tye and Boscan through Facebook and email, or sometimes Tye will check touring bands’ schedules to see if they have a gap that can be filled. Tye says, “I’ll hit them up, and just be like, ‘Hey, I see that you’re coming through,’ and give them the whole pitch and try and set up a show.” To support touring acts, Tye has emphasized a minimum of a $5 donation.
In addition to hosting gigs several nights a week, Diabolical Records has hosted a couple of “festivals.” In December 2014, Tye and Boscan set up Bandemonium by inviting individuals—many already in established groups—to put their names in a hat to be randomly drawn and organized into one-off bands. Those participating then practiced for a couple weeks for the Bandemonium show on Dec. 26. “I think it was really a good opportunity for Salt Lake to show off the talent that exists here,” says Boscan. “Everybody that played was from Salt Lake and have different bands. They were able to come up with these amazing sets in two weeks. They were short sets, but they were really creative and really unique … It just goes to show how much talent we have here.”
With loads of bands traveling through Salt Lake City on their way to festivals like Treefort Music Festival or Austin Psych Fest, Tye had an idea: Take advantage of the increased band traffic through the state and hold a local festival. Thus, Diabolical Daze was born. “We basically just ripped off Treefort’s model because Treefort started [realizing] that all these bands were leaving Austin and going up to the Northwest,” says Tye. “Now to get to Boise for Treefort, all those bands have to come through Salt Lake, so I’ve been cherry picking all those bands that we like.”
Diabolical Records attracts a wide variety of people looking for new and upcoming underground local and touring acts. Once one goes to a few gigs, it is very easy to be swept in among the regulars who hang around the shop. So, dig Diabolical Records, as this shop represents the changing face of Salt Lake’s Downtown—you won’t regret it.