Retail Talks Punk, Death, Shitty Jobs & Cats

Working in retail sucks. Nobody knows this better than the punk band Retail.

Retail started as a way to work out the aggression caused by working a shitty job. Frontman Austin Jackson started playing bass and singing to beats provided by former Total Slacker drummer Ross Condon a year after Jackson moved to NYC from the west coast. Retail has been growing strong ever since.

Over seven years later, Retail that has grown into a powerful five-piece and Jackson has given up the bass to focus on being the wild and chaotic frontman.

“It’s all about positive energy, good vibes and good fun,” Jackson tells BTRtoday at a café in Brooklyn.

With his shaved head and tattoos and patches sloppily scrawled with the word “dead,” Jackson looks intimidating. In conversation, he quickly shows he’s actually a sweetie. His cat, Bella, was one of the first things we talked about. “She’s one of a kind—I consider her daughter, best friend, partner in crime, even band manager at times,” he says with a grin. “She fills some of our emails from time to time, signed with a paw print and everything, classic Bella.”

An unabashed cat lover at home, Jackson is a maniac on the stage. I caught a recent Retail show where Jackson howled into a mic shirtless and thrashed himself into the sweaty, pogoing crowd. “It’s not like a violent mosh pit,” he assures me. “It’s people with big smiles on their faces shoving their friends around—a nice healthy cathartic release after a fun busy week in NYC.”

Even after a decade of musical evolution, Retail’s songs and shows continue to be an outlet for people looking to rid themselves of built-up angst.

This spring Retail released Done, a six-track album of bone-rattling fast punk. Jackson sings gutturally and passionately to distorted guitars and heavy-hitting drums that create a rapid fire of energy.

Done was Retail’s third cassette-only release on Time Castle Records, following Die and Dead. “It was a lot of joking around as a group [and] we’d just hash it out together,” Jackson says about Done. “That was definitely by far one of my favorite recordings we’ve done as Retail and the most collaborative of all.”

Retail is currently working on tracks for a full-length, self-titled LP. In the meantime, catch Retail October 16 at Brooklyn’s Alphaville, one of the grittiest dive bars around, with fellow punkers Nice Knife, Thick and Shadow Year. Also, listen to the rest of the interview with Retail’s Austin Jackson and hear Die, Dead and Done in full on this week’s The Music Meetup.