Sponsor

Ear Wax Records, a longtime punk and metal haven, has closed

The downtown record store calls it quits after 23 years.

The downtown record store calls it quits after 23 years.

Ear Wax Records, at 254 W. Gilman St., has decided to call it quits after 23 years of serving metalheads, punks, and lovers of local record shops alike.

“The landlord has other plans for the space,” owner Rob Cleveland said in October, while weighing the future of the store.

Sponsor

Ear Wax has been upstairs at its Gilman Street building, just off of State Street, for almost 20 years, and has occupied its current space for almost 10. In the last year, the building has come under new management and as of August 31, 2018, Ear Wax’s lease expired and was not renewed. Another shop in the building, A New Hope Comics, has already relocated to 444 State Street, while another tenant, Koi Sushi, has been struggling to hold onto its liquor license. The building’s property management company, NAI MLG Commercial, declined to comment on the future of the space or why Ear Wax’s lease was not renewed.

Back in September, Cleveland said that he was looking at relocating Ear Wax, and he’s clearly been trying to get rid of inventory. The shop has been running discount sales throughout fall. As with any move, sorting through the extremities is a priority. Piles of collectible Japanese hardcore 7-inches. Psychobilly CDs. Crust punk cassettes. In recent weeks, boxes of freebie CDs and posters lined the walls.

Last weekend, a photo circulated on Facebook apparently confirming the end, and the store’s Facebook page was taken down.

While Madison still has several other great record shops adapting in a difficult age for music sales—including B-Side, JiggyJamz, MadCity Music, and Strictly Discs—none of them is quite like Ear Wax. I went to high school in a small, rural Wisconsin town. When some friends of mine moved to Madison for school I would visit, and Ear Wax introduced me to a world of exciting new metal. I have a vivid memory of sneaking away from a UW-Madison-sponsored high school summer music camp to enjoy the wealth of possibility in this store and walking out with a CD from a now-disbanded Belgian hardcore act.

Cleveland also helped put out music from heavy Wisconsin bands including Pyroklast and The Antiprism, under his Barbarian Records imprint.

Another Madison record-store institution, Resale Records, closed in October 2017 after the death of owner Eric Teisberg.

Get your new monthly donation matched 24x!

tone madison logo in blue and yellow

At a time when Madison is going through a lot of change, we want Tone Madison to be something you can count on. You can rely on us to spotlight the artists, musicians, and ideas that make up the fabric of our city. You can rely on us to challenge the status quo with inventive, adversarial journalism, including our coverage of abortion rights, housing, and labor. 

 

But here's the thing: reader support is crucial our survival. We'll keep writing the articles you love (or love to hate) for as long as we can—but we need your help to keep our small, independent publication going.

 

If you make a new monthly donation today, NewsMatch will match it 24x! Will you help us continue to tell Madison's stories?

Maybe later

Help us give our local arts scene the attention it deserves.

Become a sustainer today and get your new monthly donation matched 24x.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top