Artists Explain Why Record Stores Still Matter And Share Their Favourites For RSD 2019
Saturday April 12 will see record stores worldwide filled with fans of all ages trying to get their grubby mitts on rare, limited editions of all sorts of specially pressed copies of their favourite bands’ music. Record Store Day is upon us!
While the world has fully embraced digital streaming services as the go to methods of discovering, sharing and enjoying music, there’s still nothing that beats the thrill of actually going into a store, browsing through the racks of records or CDs and picking something physical out to take home and treasure forever. Or alternatively, play your purchase once and let it gather dust as you swiftly realise it’s a bit rubbish actually, and you’ll likely never play it again. That’s the chance you take. You just don’t get that same kind of rush from the exchange of bandwidth, though.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Listen to this lot…
Krist Novoselic, Giants In The Trees / Nirvana
“I bought my first record in a shop with wooden walls, that smelt of incense. It was a compilation called Hey Jude by The Beatles that had 10 tracks on it. There was a shop call Dill’s Second Hand in Aberdeen that I used to love buying stuff from. It sold old bear traps, 20 foot chainsaws, clothes and it had thousands of records that all cost a dollar. I got an original English pressing of Hendrix’ Electric Ladyland there. That cost two dollars because it was a double album.
“My favourite record shop these days is Easy Street in West Seattle. It’s a great place. Most record stores worship vinyl and they’re hanging on to the idea that there should be place to buy records, CDs and posters. Easy Street has some of that but they have a café there too, and a great selection of records. They offer a complete music experience, which is probably the key to their success.
“What’s the best record I ever bought there? Probably a super-cheap comedy record, although I bought a record by [‘60s US President] Lydon Johnson there and that was pretty good. I have an entire section of political records but I’m pretty proud of that Lydon Johnson record. You get the sense that he saw that [his predecessor John F] Kennedy had put out records and he went “I need to get some records out there too!” I’m not sure that’s true, but I like to think it is. I have to say that I like finding obscure records for, like, three dollars. There’s that sense of satisfaction that you get from doing that. Three dollars – you did it, you scored the deal! That’s a rare record! And you’ve got it! That’s probably the universal feeling that everyone who gets records shares.”
Oli Sykes, Bring Me The Horizon
“Unfortunately, there aren’t really any record stores with which I have a personal relationship that are still in existence, to be honest. There used to be a place in Sheffield, near the railway station, across from the old Barfly, which, back in the days before the internet became what it is now, was very important to me. It was the only way – aside from reading Kerrang! – that I had of discovering new music.
“I remember that when you went into the shop, the guy who ran it would have put a little description written on the front of every record and you could bring it up to the front and listen to it. It really was one of the only ways that I found out about new bands.
“There was always a real sense of community about the place too, where you would be there with this group of like-minded people. As good as it is that you have every artist you could ever imagine available at the click of a button nowadays, you miss something by not having the physical record and the need to go out there and actually buy it. You can’t really emulate that feeling of going out looking for music amongst other fans, just getting to make a day out of it, more than anything else.”
Photo: Gobinder Jhitta
Ash Costello, New Years Day
“I’d have to mention two record stores – one which doesn’t exist any more and one that does. Tower Records was a big part of my childhood. My dad would take me there on his weekends and let me pick out one CD every time. This was a time when CDs cost $24.99, if you can believe there was a time when that was the case. My favourite record store that still exists is called Black Hole Records in Fullerton, California. It’s one of those old punk rock dive type of places. It’s a couple of hours away because I live in Hollywood now but I used to go there a lot.
“Downtown Fullerton in general was our hang-out. They had a lot of cool vintage goth and punk rock shops. This was before you had Hot Topics so if you were a kid in the ’90s and early 2000s and you wanted bondage pants, you would go down to Black Hole Records or Ipso Facto or Electric Chair. It was so much more than just the records.
“I was too shy to speak to anyone or make friends there, but it is where I bought my first leather spiked bracelet and it’s where I bought my prom dress, which was a velvet gothic renaissance-type dress. I’d also get my favourite magazines, which you couldn’t get anywhere else. There was a goth one called Carpe Noctem, so there was this whole culture around the record store and clothing shops. It’s something you just don’t get when you just order things off Amazon and use streaming services. I used to base my choices off CD covers and hope for the best.”
Randy Blythe, Lamb Of God
“I moved to Richmond when I was 18, so it didn’t get me into music as such, but I discovered so much great stuff at Plan 9 Music. You’d go in and something would be playing over the PA and you’d go ask them what it was and maybe buy it. There’s a very human element to shopping at a record store that is completely lost in the digital era of Spotify and iTunes and stuff. That human connection is lost. You’d have the typical record store guy like in the movie High Fidelity. I knew several of those guys and they knew everything! And record stores were also a real social gathering point for people to meet. Even if you didn’t have any money you could go and hang out and you’d know someone who was there, there were always fliers for shows.
“Vinyl’s made a resurgence, but I think it’s more as a collectors’ cache than a medium to listen to music. The sound quality is still far superior if you have a good system though. It’s just way better than a compressed MP3 and that’s not only if you’re an audiophile, it’s just a fact. There’s more to the sound that you miss if you’re listening on digital. But then streaming and MP3s are also incredibly convenient. So I use both. I’ve got thousands of records on my phone but there’s still something special and unique about record stores. Kudos to the stores that are still sticking it out.”
George Pettit, Alexisonfire
“My all-time favourite place to buy music is a close near-tie between Disc Union in Tokyo, Japan and Vicious Sloth in Melbourne, Australia. Disc Union is this three-storey store that you walk into and could easily spend a thousand dollars in without thinking about it, and I did spend a lot of money there, but Vicious Sloth just edges it out.
“They specialise in punk and garage music, but they’re all across the board. The two guys working there are super knowledgeable and they really wanted to play singles for us and introduce us to bands we had never heard of, and we ate that up. For people who love music and want to discover more you can’t go wrong. I bought a Boys Next Door single there and I also bought the final Birthday Party single too, and I bought a Sleepy John Estes 78 and had to fly home with that. That was scary, because 78s are so fragile.
“I absolutely have to fear for my wallet walking through the door. When you’re holding a $250 seven-inch in your hand that you would absolutely love to own, it can get pretty intense. There’s a band who I believe are from Brisbane called The News - not to be mistaken for Huey Lewis And The News - and they have a single which is Dirty Lies backed with Chop Chop Chop, and it was hand silk-screened by the band. I stood there thinking I can’t bring myself to pay $250, but I want it - and now I wonder what the fuck I was thinking. I could own this coveted piece of musical history, but I don’t…”
Don’t be like George. Get out to your local record store and own a piece of musical history tomorrow. And make sure you do that all year around, not just on Record Store Day.
Photo: Chris Casey