Malcolm Tent may be the only person on campus who’s never heard listened to MGMT, but that doesn’t stop students from flocking to his table in Usdan to search through stacks of records, concert DVDs, and bootlegs and chat about their favorite bands a few days each semester. Though he’s periodically set up shop here for over a decade, surprisingly, this is the first time he’s spoken to the press, on the record at least.
A: How long have you been visiting our fair campus?
Malcolm Tent: I’ve been coming to Wesleyan since 1998. Kids here have always had good taste, that’s why I keep coming back. Wesleyan is one of the two schools I sell at in Connecticut, most of the time I’m in New York.
A: When did you start selling music?
MT: Well it all started on November 29th, 1986 when I made the long journey from South Florida to Danbury, CT to open a record store, called Trash American Style. The store had a very nice run of 21 years till the landlord screwed us and I found myself without a store. That was May 1st, 2007, a day that will live on in infamy. I had always been doing the college gig as a supplement, and now I do it all the time.
A: Do you miss owning the store?
MT: It’s a mixed bag. I miss having the clubhouse where I could chill with my peeps, but I have a lot more freedom now.
A: Where do you find old records?
MT: I buy collections, liquidate libraries, and buy new records when they’re available. I’ve always sold more vinyl than any other format combined. Records are definitely ascending. The stupid major labels are manufacturing them big time, and they’re only doing that because they smell money.
A: Has Wesleyan changed in the last 11 years?
MT: No, Wesleyan has always been very activist, very left wing, and very artistic. That’s a good thing. I heard rumors of ROTC people on campus, that’s a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. But you’re not overwhelmed yet.
A: What do you think of the music scene on campus?
MT: Wesleyan must have a great music scene with Anthony Braxton on campus shaping young minds. Something good is bound to happen.
A: What about MGMT?
MT: I’ve never heard of them. No one turns me onto what they’re playing here. I wish they would. At other schools students give me their CDs but not here.
A: What music do Wesleyan students buy the most?
MT (reading a list of records he sold that day): All the classics. Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Zappa, James Brown, Beach Boys, Run DMC, New Order, Dépêche Mode, DEVO… let’s not forget DEVO.
A: I hear you play some music as well.
MT: I play solo acoustic punk rock (hands me a CD). Let the music do the talking. I’m also in a band called Ultrabunny, we play improvised rock n roll. I wish I could get a gig here, hint hint. I know there are lots of shows at Eclectic and Westco and I’d love to play a set.