IT’S AbOUT RECORd SHOPS ISSUE TWO: JACK WHITE’S THIRd MAN RECORdS, JONNY TRUNK’S LONdON, PORTLANd bY bLITZEN TRAPPER, SAVAgE PENCIL
W E L C O M E TO A d E L UX E P R E SS I N g Its like six degrees of Kevin Bacon. All the stories in this issue came about from people I met making the first issue. Jeff Barrett (who wrote a brilliant piece about ‘Meat Whip Lash’) introduced me to Jonny Trunk, who then took me on a record shopping tour of London. Whilst shopping we bumped into his friend Savage Pencil, who twenty five years earlier had illustrated three of the carrier bags on our centrefold. Those bags were commissioned for Rough Trade whose expansion to New York we discuss with Stephen Godfroy and their new neighbours, Other Music. We even met Third Man through a mutual friend of ours. As record shops go, it’s a small World. With the addresses printed on the record shopping bags I’ve been collecting, it’s exciting to start pulling together a worldwide network of mad, fanatical and otherwise deeply unemployable people who work tirelessly in record shops and stores around the globe. They’re important places and they always have been. Rupert Morrison, Still Obsessive
Associate Editor: Crispin Parry Hawk Eye: Katie Wetherall Distributed: Forte Contributors: Jonny Trunk, Crispin Parry, Danny Ford, Ian Green, Erik Menteer. Thanks to: Gerald Hamill, Stephen Godfroy, Sav X, Ryan Oxley, Brady Brock, Max Beer, Chris Munton, Paul Riddlesworth, PIAS, Will At Work and all the cats who took out adverts. Record shops… get in touch. Jumbo… loved the pictures. Issue Three - “Let It Snow” Advertising and marketing opportunities: email@example.com www.deluxe.so Front cover: Grimey’s Interior, Nashville by Crispin Parry
Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this magazine, the publishers cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information or any consequence arising from it. Published by The Drift Record Shop in association with British Underground.
Forte UK Independent Music Distribution firstname.lastname@example.org www.fortedistribution.co.uk
THE WHITE S T U FF by CRISPIN PARRY Jack White’s vinyl-only record store is thriving as Nashville becomes a magnet for the new outlaws of American music once again.
Of late, a new crowd of musicians is moving into the eastern quarter of the city, drawn by cheap rents and a growing alternative music scene centred around bars such as The 5 Spot and The Family Wash. Like New Orleans or Brooklyn before that, Nashville is re-inventing itself as a leaner, younger and more hirsute town with acts like Robert Ellis and Caitlin Rose trail blazing the new Nashville sound. One of the early settlers and catalysts of Nashville’s renaissance was Jack White, setting up his Third Man Records operation in 2009 on 7th Avenue a short drive from the dive bars on Broadway. Originally founded in Detroit in 2001,
Third Man Records’ current locale houses a vinyl only record store as well as offices and key facilities vital to the running of White’s empire. The public area of Third Man Records and Novelties, to give its full name, sits behind a glass door on the left side of a low black building punctuated with red and yellow warehouse shutters and a comic-strip radio antennae. Its neighbours are a discreet swingers club called ‘Menages’ and a rescue mission looking after Nashville’s several destitute souls.
Swank. “The house we lived in together in Detroit was the same – all the walls were primary colours and they were filled with the weird sculptures he had done, you know, taxidermy and things like that.“ But as well as a functioning
if somebody rang the buzzer and came in. We started discussing it in the fall of 2008 and then by March 2009 we were open. It moved really, really fast. Jack found the building. He was like “I got the building when can you move over?” and I
work place there is an air of theatrics to these back rooms reminiscent of the HQs of the great eccentrics like Oz, Wonka or Dr No. As the tour progresses across bright yellow gantries and through secret doors it feels like only a matter of time before Swank pulls back a curtain to reveal the control room where White will launch the atomic powered radio beam
booked my tickets. We had the opening party, the Dead Weather played, and literally we were open for business.” At the outset it was going to be just Swank and long-time White ally Ben Blackwell but at last count there are fifteen staff on the site. “Things kinda happen with Jack and it just snowballed. We have all of this space in the back so
Once inside the door, the interior of the shop feels quite dark and private with a low tin ceiling meeting black and yellow painted walls. Juxtaposed around the small room are Hatch Show Print posters, record sleeves, wooden masks, stuffed birds, photos and curiosities that showcase the many roles of the owner and his gothic obsessions. At the counter I ask for Ben Swank, a sort of ship’s captain of the Third Man Records operation who has been with White since the early years. He arrives in a smart white shirt and tie and I’m ushered into the interior for a nickel tour of the compound. Attention to detail inside the space is amazing with the themes, colour schemes and decoration of the shop magnified across the much larger inside spaces including video studios, a venue, offices and warehousing. “So much of this is so completely Jack’s personality,” says
Inside Third Man Records
From the hayseed sounds of hillbilly and old-timey to the silver dollar shine of Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift, Nashville, Tennessee is one of the great music cities in the world. Take a walk down Broadway from 5th Avenue and you will pass the rocking and reeking honky-tonk bars, with joints like Robert’s Western World and Tootsies Orchid Lounge becoming infamous hang outs. To your left is the Ryman Auditorium, a majestic venue and cathedral to country and to your right is the vast cultural bunker known as the Country Music Hall of Fame. Just a few blocks away lies Music Row, centre of the country music industry and home to legendary studios such as RCA Studio B. Nashville, as the city fathers keep reminding you on billboards, banners and neon signs, is Music City.
‘The walls were primary colours and they were filled with the weird sculptures he had done, you know, taxidermy and things like that.’ that wipes out the Grand Ole Opry. We finish the tour and settle into Swank’s office where he explains the setup. “The original deal was we wanted to start re-issuing some White Stripes things that were out of print and maybe sell some of the records out of the shop
we thought we might as well make a photo-studio. Then, oh well, we are not going to be doing that all the time so lets put a stage and a sound system in there, and we can’t do that without recording the show. We quickly started adding interns and bringing people on full-time
and realised that if we were going to make this something beyond just a vanity label we need to add something like a fan club. So we started doing The Vault, which is like a subscription service - they get vinyl mailed to them every three months that we don’t sell in stores. We don’t distribute it any other way, so it is strictly straight to fans.”
in the shop? “We talk about it but we are in a town that has two excellent independent record stores - Grimeys and The Groove. They’ve got great used sections and great new release sections. What we have is unique and if we started stocking other vinyl we’d be doing something other people are already doing better in town.”
I ask about the colour coded singles racked out in the shop. “While waiting for White Stripes to pick up again, or seeing if that was going to happen, Jack wanted to keep busy. Somebody would come through town and he’d grab them
On Swank’s yellow and black business card his job title is Consigliere – I ask how that came about and what it really means. “Nobody here has job titles, not real ones, we make up our own but since we’ve been here we’ve definitely
‘nobody here has job TiTles, noT real ones, we make up our own.’ and record a single with them. So we decided, lets just do one-off singles. The colours feed into it – the blue background denotes that the record was done under the system of Jack producing. If it has a regular cover then that means Jack didn’t produce and its part of another campaign. So there are little codes and themes that run through everything.” Would you sell other peoples records
the premises. “When he is in town he is here almost everyday,” says Swank. “His office is just over there,” he says waving across the corridor. I take my leave heading out through the maze of coloured corridors, past large stuffed animals, modified novelty machines and gear for the pop-up Third Man store. As I open the connecting door the little shop is crowded with fans bending this way and that for a dark picture of a rack of 45’s or some White Stripes memorabilia. Someone pipes up “Wow, there’s a secret room,” and as everyone turns Swank quietly closes the door and gets back to work on the radio beam.
fallen into our roles. Ben (Blackwell) has been doing his own bedroom label since he was sixteen years old. He is like a walking encyclopaedia of record production. Any question you have he knows the answer.” And what of the boss? White is very hands on, having final say on all details like artwork and even support acts in the venue and he is a regular visitor to
Nashville Record Stores Third Man Records and Novelties, 623 7th Avenue South www.thirdmanrecords.com Grimey’s New & Pre-loved Music, 1604 8th Avenue South www.grimeys.com The Groove, 1103 Calvin Avenue www.thegroovenashville.com Ernest Tubbs, 417 Broadway www.etrecordshop.com
YO U R N E X T PORT OF CALL with ERIK MENTEER Erik Menteer plays Guitar and Piano in the rock band Blitzen Trapper. We knew that he’d know a thing or two about record buying so we asked him to file a report about growing up in Salem, and living in Portland, Oregon. What stores did you grow up with? Salem is a medium sized town, a fairly typical American state capitol, so we only had a couple of shops in town. Ranch Records was the big independent in the center of town, and I would go in there every time that I was downtown to peruse the used CDs with a slim hope of finding some new treasure. It was a great shop completely covered in show posters and a massive display of Beatles memorabilia, wigs and all.
seemed kind of dangerous in some way. It was kinda dark and everything in there was painted black. They always had the goods though! That was where I got my prized U-Men “Solid Action” 7-inch.
They also had a healthy section for local unsigned artists, which I dreamt of getting into as a kid.
through the shelves to find something, I get to see tons of artists that I may have never heard of, as well as getting to see all of the album art of unknown records. In a way, record stores end up being a depository for the cultural artifacts of the music world.
There was a second shop on the north side of town called Groovacious Platters, which specialized in vinyl sales. I only went there a couple of times, as I hadn’t quite caught the vinyl bug yet.
Why are Record Shops important to you? Usually, I’ll go out shopping for something specific, but the best thing about being in a physical store is that you are exposed to so many other records. As I’m digging
How have record shops shaped your musical output? Just in that I have been exposed to new artists through
‘It was pretty bizarre. We had previously just been handing CDRs out for free, so seeing our records in a shop felt like a strange bit of progress.’ They would host small local shows every so often, which was pretty important in Salem, as we didn’t have a club or theater that could stay in business, so we all had to play wherever we could. Whenever we would drive up to Portland, we’d make a stop at the old O-Zone Records. That place always
shop felt like a strange bit of progress. Do you play in-store shows much? Sure, we’ve done quite a few. Easy Street in Seattle, Music Millenium here in Portland, Grimey’s in Nashville, just to name a few. It is usually a pretty good experience, but different from a normal show in that you can see everyone, and usually under fluorescent lights. It’s always nice though, to see people with kids,
who would normally not make it out to see us at night, have a chance to catch a few songs. Any in-store highlights? Playing at Easy Street on the day that we released American Goldwing stands out for me. That performance felt pretty wild and loose and probably the most like a full show. What is the best store you’ve found on your travels? Wow, that’s hard to say. Both of the Amoeba Records locations are stocked with just about anything that one could want. Waterloo Records in Austin also had a lot of good stuff, particularly a tasty 7” section. Grimey’s in Nashville has also been a great place to pick up records. Portland has a strong scene, where do you shop? All over really. There are so many good shops that it’s hard to stay too attached to a single one. Exiled Records, Second Avenue, and Mississippi Records are my favorites.
record shops, and any sort of input feeds the fire of output.
Which store is good for what in Portland? Exiled carries a lot of obscure records that one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. The staff is really friendly and helpful there too. They can always point you to something new if you tell them what your tastes are. There is also a much appreciated lack of snobbery.
Do you remember the first time you saw one of your own records in a shop? It was pretty bizarre. We had previously just been handing CDRs out for free, so seeing our records in a
Second Avenue has a huge punk section, as well as an extensive psych and garage section that is fun to dig through. They also have what seems to be the most new rock tees of any store in town.
Mississippi Records produces their own compilations that are generally pretty great, as well as being inexpensive. The used stock of vinyl always has some choice picks. Last time I was there, I was on a Glam Rock kick and managed to pick up The best of Sweet and Slade’s Slayed, both of which had eluded my previous searches at other stores. I should also mention Crossroads Music. If you are looking for a used record, then this is the place to go. The store is huge and hosts 35 different vendors, so one is bound to find what they are looking for, but it’s easy to lose a few hours in there. Do you tend to shop more new release or for second hand? If I’m looking for a record that I know I want in perfect condition then I’ll definitely try to pick it up new, but if I am just dipping my toes in, I’ll usually go for a used copy. I think that I bought two used copies of Miles Davis’ Nefertiti before getting frustrated with the scratches and getting a fresh new copy. Portland Record Stores Jackpot Records, 203 Southwest 9th Avenue www.jackpotrecords.com 2nd Avenue Records, 400 Southwest 2nd Avenue www.2ndavenuerecords.com Exiled Records, 4628 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard www.exiledrecords.com Mississippi Records, 5202 North Albina Avenue Crossroads Music, 3130 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard www.xro.com
papa nee ds a b ran d new bag for THE DRIFT RECORD SHOP Deluxe Competition Time How would you like to design a carrier bag for a record shop? We’ve met a lot of shops and we’ve collected a lot of bags and we are always astounded by some of the truly amazing pieces of artwork we’ve seen on them. Overleaf you will see another amazing collection of bags and a particularly wonderful appearance by Geezer Butler, perhaps they will inspire you to greatness. The bag has to say ‘The Drift Record Shop’ on it, otherwise it’s a double sided blank canvas and we’re very excited to see where your warped minds will go. You might also want to include our address, phone number and web:
The Drift Record Shop, 103 High Street, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5SN 01803 866828 www.thedriftrecordshop.com Send your designs to us at the above address before Christmas. Make sure you tell us who you are and include an email so we don’t have to go to ridiculous lengths to track you down. We’ll be rolling out the bags in the new year and we’ll run a whole feature on the in the next issue of Deluxe. We will also find the lucky winner some nice record shop bits from the Drift warehouse and we’ll post you a couple of albums that we think you’ll like.
* You naturally don’t have to really cut up this delicious publication. You can send us artwork digitally at www.thedriftrecordshop.com
BAGS FOR LIFE with IAN GREEN A lifelong career working in the confusing world of music distribution via Rough Trade, Revolver, Vital and currently Proper Music to name a few, bestows to Ian Green a lovingly preserved hoard of bags spanning from the 50’s to the 00’s. Like Ian, most of them hail from the Midlands including the ‘The Diskery’ (established 1954)
and ‘Swordfish’ - both still very much alive and kicking in Birmingham to this day. Baileys Records in Birminham’s Rag Market (‘cassette tapes and ALL records’ - a lofty claim !) may be long gone, but their bags featured a Midlands icon still performing, Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler. Now serving as relics of establishments in record shop
history, even the telephone numbers are vintage, missing various digits as the exchanges have changed over the years. Amazingly “Wards” formally of Bank Street in Newton Abbot is simply phone number “74”; shame it wasn’t “78” really, perhaps it would have helped.
The Rough Trade bag below features an illustrated ‘Rat Fink’ by artist Savage Pencil. How did your relationship with Rough Trade come about? To begin with I was just a customer. Then we got talking and I disclosed that I was the Savage Pencil responsible for drawing the weekly Rock N’ Roll Zoo strip in weekly music paper Sounds (RIP). I liked their shop and they liked my art, so we started working together on various projects. The bag series being one of these.
ago with another artist called Andy Dog. Andy left after the first project (a poster comic called Nyak-Nyak) but Chris and I continued working together. When Rough Trade asked us to do a commemorative bag for the shop we came up with this demonic heraldic design. We also designed T-shirts for RT and their (then) skate board shop Slam City Skates. We are currently working on various fine art projects, the latest being a film. To view our recent work visit: battleoftheeyes.com
What was the brief for the bag? No brief, just do what you want. For the Rat Fink bag I just drew my version of Big Ed “Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink character and stuck RT instead of RF on its overalls. At that time I was really into the Californian Kustom Kulture movement, so it came out of that. Can a shop convey it’s personality on a bag? I think so. The shop owner has an idea of what kind of vibration he wants to beam out and this is encapsulated in the graphic for the shop front and its bag. It’s a walking advertisement, as well as being a way of showing the world what your musical preferences are. The bags must be a pretty good canvas, I guess you saw them all around town? Every record shop had a different bag that marked it out as being different from their competitors. The first record bag I drew was for Parrot Records in Colchester, Essex. That one was a big parrot head with a smoking cigarette hanging out of its beak. I don’t have a copy in my archive alas. The 1986 bag was a Battle of the Eyes production. How did that come about? Chris Long and I formed Battle Of The Eyes 20 years
Ten year’s worth of Savage Pencil’s cartoon strips for The Wire magazine have been compiled in a new book ‘Savage Pencil presents Trip or Squeek’s Big Amplifier’ which is published by Strange Attractor and available now priced £13.99
S TA R T S P R E A D I N G T H E N E WS with STEPHEN GODFROY This April, Rough Trade Shops announced that they would be opening a new store in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood, as well as a new concert venue. Deluxe spoke to Rough Trade’s co-owner, Stephen Godfroy about the migration. When did you start planning to open a New York store? We started looking in 2009. It’s been a long and often frustrating process to get to this point. Thankfully, that’s all now water under the bridge having finally signed a lease, we now look forward to getting it open!
instore that fell victim to an officious jobsworth, managing a faultless Blur instore not only proved that we could successfully manage events of this magnitude, but everyone involved from their end was a true professional, making what turned out to be an astounding live performance even more enjoyable and rewarding.
How did your direct involvement come about? In 2003 I proposed the album club business model to Nigel at Talbot Road. I wrote a business plan showing how Rough Trade could use their unique ability to recommend and edit to establish an online service that no corporate might could improve on, given it’s reliance on Rough Trade’s peerless sourcing ability and recommendation authority. The value of ‘less is more’. internet retail was (and often still misguidedly is) all about how many titles a store sold, oblivious to the value of an editor. Looking back, it was a prophetic proposal, one that resonates as strong today as it did back then, something i’m proud of, something that now helps underpin our entire approach.
Do you have any plans for the NYC store that you can tell us about? You’ll have to wait and see!
‘Anyone opening a new business naturally aspires to being the best, whatever their sector of commerce, and this is something we’re not afraid admitting.’ How long have you been at Rough Trade? I’ve been part of the Rough Trade team since 2003, firstly creating the album club. I became a co-owner in 2007, creating Rough Trade east. at the moment i’m part of a ‘crack unit’ working on Rough Trade NYC and our forthcoming new website/online subscriptions.
The New York scene is vibrant and well supported. Record stores like Other, Academy Annex, Sound Fix and Permanent Records are much loved, do you have any anxiety about meeting your new neighbours? We already know a lot of people in the area, and we look forward to forming new friendships along the way. It’s an incredible place, an epicentre of independent thinking, the perfect environment for us. Can you all coexist? Rough Trade NYC will hopefully set the bar for what people expect from a record store in this day and age. Anyone opening a new business naturally aspires to being the best, whatever their sector of commerce, and this is something we’re not afraid admitting. However, we sincerely hope and expect other record stores in the city to feel inspired and feed off what we achieve, using us a catalyst for wider appreciation of independent music retail. Why do you think there has been such a resurgence in interest in record shops? Despite the continual negative presence of mainstream media ignorance and inaccuracy, fuelled by inept high-street chain irrelevance, we’ve helped prove record stores to be more appealing, relevant and important to peoples lives than ever before. In this post-digital age, people are starting to put in sharp relief the short-term disposable value of digital access and solitary online purchasing, up against the long-term permanent value of artefact ownership and the celebratory, community atmosphere of a great record store. Can you explain the NYC shop as a tweet? “New York is world-class city. Having a music store to match is long overdue.” It’s Monday morning, 9am, Autumn (or fall as you’ll have to get used to) in New York. It’s day one, the stereo is turned on...What are you going to play? Whatever’s the most exciting new release that week, something we have plentiful stock of... at the end of the day, make no mistake, we’re there to sell music, we’re a business that has to pay the rent. It just happens that our sales approach doesn’t compromise the integrity of the artist or customer. www.roughtrade.com
A big part of the evolution of Rough Trade seems to be it’s live presence. Rough Trade east has a full and diverse schedule and in NYC you’ll be working with ‘the bowery presents’.How has live music ‘in-store’ impacted Rough Trade? Removing distance and distortion between artist and audience is fundamental to the Rough Trade store experience. In-store gigs are a powerful and critical ingredient in making this reality. The intimacy and informality of our in-store gigs cannot be replicated by a gig, hence the enduring appeal. That and the fact they’re free to attend! At Rough Trade east, in-stores are catered for with a dedicated stage that has a reputation on the live circuit for having one of the best sounds in the country, which is quite an achievement for a store environment. At Rough Trade west, in-stores still take place around the counter, with room for tens, not hundreds. At Rough Trade NYC, we have a dedicated live performance space complete with balcony. Any acts that have really surprised you? What are your favourite shows? Many, many favourites.The one that stands out has to be the secret Blur show, performed ahead of their Glastonbury appearance. After the tears of the Radiohead
Rough Trade’s new home in New York.
JUNK IN T H E T RU N K A Guide to Record Shopping in London Jonny Trunk is an archaeologist. He has spent the best part of his life collecting and adoring artefacts from forgotten corners and under-appreciated boxes. They are predominantly of a musical nature although he has a pretty expansive knowledge of wrist watches, British pornographic film posters and cookware. He even lends his name to the cult Trunk label, purveyors of “Music, nostalgia and sex”.
“like a fruit and veg market.” - Jonny Trunk taking in Spitalfield Market. Photographed by Danny Ford.
On a bright September morning, I headed to New Spitalfields Market to start my journey with the record traders, the shop buyers, the obsessives, the Japanese tourists and, as Jonny promised, a good number of older men in tracksuits. The record market meets on the first and third Friday of every month in the renovated and fashionable east end of London. In almost every way it is like a fruit and veg market except that the union jack emblazoned cardboard boxes and hand drawn signs instead indicate almost all of recorded music history on twenty odd market stalls.
box of records, library music, TV themes, compilations and film scores. The anecdotes could well have continued onto the second, third and forth boxes had we not been ushered out of the way by a fellow shopper who had some very serious questions to ask about a James Bond soundtrack. “Look at this guy,” says Trunk, “he’s a guy who’s spent 30 minutes looking at a James Bond Record. That is a £10 record, whether he’s gonna buy it or not... he’s making his mind up... but people are fucking weird... they are aren’t they? People are weird!”
Pie’ by the Masked Marauders (part of a hoax concocted by then Rolling Stone editor Greil Marcus under the pseudonym T.M. Christian). “It’s on reprise, American. It’s bound to be awful!” says Chris. The 7” was purchased from the triple wide stall that stands at the top of the market like the ‘head table’, consistently the busiest and as difficult to force your way into as a a heaving bar. There is a flurry of activity as one man leaves with four very well stocked bags before another man quickly leaves with a cardboard wine box buckling under with vinyl.
Jonny is an easy man to spot, donning mustard loafers and a Hawaiian shirt, he is already deep into conversation with DJ Kingpin, (incidentally the man to coin the catchphrase ‘Sportswear Chic’) as he rooted through the market’s best kept secret, the ‘TV Themes’ boxes. “I’ve already gone way over budget” says Trunk. One coffee in, Jonny narrates us through almost an entire
When we first discussed London’s record shopping legacy, the market was always going to be the first port of call, as it is for the record buyers of many of London’s shops. For the casual customer the market is easy to navigate, vivid signs indicating artists and genres. For the record shop buyers, they shop by the box. We met Chris, one of Jonny’s fellow market trawlers and the proud new owner of ‘Cow
“What they’ll do”, Trunk reflects, “they’ll see a Jazz box, they’ll see three of four records in there, a record worth £200, a record worth £400... ‘a grand’.... they know they’ve got £600 resale already, plus say forty records that might do something. The trader gets rid of a whole lot in one hit and you end up buying a big box of records you might make your money back on. It’s a funny way of dealing
with music isn’t it, like I said, it’s like a fruit and veg market. Sometimes you can’t even look in the box.” Are there any horror stories here? “They fell out with someone recently, I won’t say who, bought a big box of Jazz for £2000... came back a week later and said ‘wasn’t as good a I hoped’... they said... ‘tough shit!’” There is serious deliberation over a Little and Large record and a quick extension of Trunk’s budget as he purchases a 7” both written, recorded and produced by Metal Mickey and we leave the traders and the lunchtime rush of tourists of Spitalfields. Although neighbouring the market, Rough Trade East’s approach is the other end of the retail scale. When the East London shop opened in 2007 it seemed an almost insurmountable space to fill. But the shelves have grown and almost every corner is filled with something fascinating. Not so much a record shop as cultural supermarket with headphones, notebooks, novels, artworks, a coffee shop and ultimately one of the worlds most comprehensive alternative record collections. The shop’s manager, Spencer Hickman, is also the man behind the superb Death Waltz Recording Company, reissuing film soundtracks on vinyl. Trunk famously issued a pressing of the Wicker Man soundtrack in 1998 and Jonny had the surreal experience of regular phone correspondence with Christopher Lee. We dodge a piano as we leave Rough Trade (there is a Chilly Gonzales in-store show that night) and head west to Soho. Our first stop in the West End are the studious and calming shelves of Harold Moores, one of the world’s finest classical and traditional music specialists. I didn’t even scratch the surface and could genuinely have spent all
day in there. As we leave we cross Poland Street, former home to Mr Bongo’s (previously having been located in both Berwick Street and Lexington Street) and across to Sounds Of The Universe, a wonderful old tiled shop front on the corner of Broadwick Street and Duck Lane. Afrobeat pours out of the doors and it’s reassuringly rammed with shoppers. Superb Elis Regina and Edu Lobo reissues line the windows, both released on the Soul Jazz
shop called First Division as he was obsessed with football. It was slightly ‘mod-y’. Before that it was run by an Irish alcoholic who spent the majority of his time next door at Bradley’s Wine Bar. He was absolutely battered most of the time and he sold a lot of prog. There were Can albums on the wall, and he was pretty much the first to specialise in that. It then became JB’s I think. There was a place next to it that was a record shop for a about a
‘Look at this guy, he’s a guy who’s spent 30 minutes looking at a James Bond Record. thats a £10 record, whether he’s gonna buy it or not... he’s making his mind up... but people are fucking weird... they are aren’t they? People are weird!’ label who share the building. We head north through Oxford Street to Hanway Street. First stop is JB’s. It’s only the size of a good size living room but they really fill the space well with a broad and thorough collection. “It’s run by a musician called Bill,” says Trunk. “It’s been a record shop for as long as I can remember. Four different ones, one of which was Jonny Chandler’s second hand record
week selling all this weird, nutty french stuff, lots of Gainsbourg.” A short walk down Hanway Street takes us to On The Beat. Every corner of the shop is crammed with records, magazines and prints (not to mention a slowly developing retro clothes section currently sporting two shirts, a jacket and a jump suit). On The Beat has row after row of neatly filed records, that according to its manager, cover “everything but classical”. He berates Jonny about his shirt and turns up the music to ear splittingly loud. Esquivel-esque TV underscores boom from wall to wall making for a surreal experience. We try to pay him several compliments as he nods along but he isn’t listening. We double back around to Reckless Records on Berwick Street, another shop trading primarily in second hand, but another unique voice. Formerly known as Revival, Reckless is by far the most organised of the second hand stores we’ve visited, with five separate buyers overseeing small but alarmingly well stocked sections. Reckless did what all good record shops should do, they had exactly what I didn’t know I wanted right in front of me.
Records at the Market Photographed by Crispin Parry.
Soho (once hailed as the ‘Golden Mile’ of vinyl) still has a diverse and vibrant scene, perhaps that is why the shops seem to all exist so harmoniously. Phonica, Sister Ray and BM Music (formerly Black Market Records) all
looked pretty healthy this September. They all have their own identity and common elements for sure, but their strengths lie in collectively ploughing their own furrows. Inevitably there are casualties in these austere times such as the much celebrated Vinyl Junkies which closed eighteen months ago as did Dress Circle amongst others. “Also, 58 Dean Street Records,” says Trunk.”They always called it “Five Eight”. That was just half film music, half show music. The first soundtrack shop.”. Lastly we cross the river to South London and Jonny’s favourite, Gramex. “It’s not like any other record shop, its mad. It almost should exist! The bloke who runs it, Roger, has a line and a put down for any occasion. He’s raving mad”. Located at number 25 Lower Marsh, Gramex is categorically the most underwhelming looking record shop you could imagine. The window display today was essentially cardboard boxes slumped against the windows, over loaded with recently acquired DVD collections of Opera. On the door a hand drawn yellow sign simply reads ‘Jazz’. “It’s always been a well known shop, because it was the only place that specialized in classical records and 78’s,” says Trunk,” and it’s always been in Waterloo, though this is it’s second location.” All of the vinyl at Gramex is downstairs. Amongst them ‘The Best of Ted Heath’ and ‘Everybody Digs Bill Evans’ (that features the sublime ‘Peace Piece’ recently featured on Trunk Records compilation ‘Refined Lard’). I purchased neither and regretted it instantly. After ten minutes I left Jonny downstairs in the basement and went back upstairs hoping to speak to Roger as I wanted to experience his own variety of mad first hand. I waited for some time in an accommodating brown Chesterfield as L’Assedio di Calais rumbled
gently in the background. Just as Jonny had promised, I was offered my complimentary cup of tea but alas no Roger. At four o’clock I am exhausted. We have walked, talked and browsed our way from central London to south of the river and we’ve barely scratched the surface. We could have gone further South for Casbah Records and Music and Video Exchange in Greenwich, Camberwell’s Rat Records and Supertone in Brixton. West London offers the iconic outlets of Honest Jon’s and Rough Trade West. In The North there’s Haggle Vinyl, Flashback and the recently opened Kristina Records in Stoke Newington. London’s record shops are as unique as the people that frequent them. They cater to new, old, weird, wonderful, sublime and psychotic. It’s a brilliant scene run by brilliant people. The same as it ever was.
We visited Rough Trade West: 130 Talbot Road, W11 1JA East: Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL JB’s 36 Hanway Street, W1T 1UP Harold Moores Records 2 Great Marlborough Street, W1F 7HQ Sounds of the Universe 7 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DA On The Beat 22 Hanway Street, W1T 1UQ Reckless 30 Berwick Street, W1F 8RH Gramex 25 Lower Marsh, SE1 7RJ Phonica 51 Poland Street, W1F 7LZ Sister Ray 34-35 Berwick Street, W1F 8RP BM 25 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8EJ We discussed Casbah Records 320-322 Creek Road, SE10 9SW Music and Video Exchange in Greenwich 23 Greenwich Church Street, SE10 9BJ Rat Records 348 Camberwell New Road, SE5 0RW Supertone Records 110 Acre Lane, SW2 5RA Honest Jon’s 278 Portobello Road, W10 5TE Haggle Vinyl 114 Essex Road, N1 8LX Flashback 50 Essex Road, N1 8LR Kristina Records 44 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XJ
Above, digging through the ‘Reckless’ racks. Top, a wall display in Gramex. Photographed by Danny Ford.
OTHER MUSIC with GERALD HAMMILL Since 1995 ‘Other Music’ has been blasting out the soundtrack to New York’s East Village. We asked thier web man Gerald Hammill about shopping in NYC, bands in the store and staying ahead of the game for all these years.
What was the musical landscape in NYC like? Well, at this point in time “electronica” was coming to the forefront, so that was a big section at our shop, and was reflected in a lot of our Other Music events. We hosted the country’s very first digital hardcore show in the store with Alec Empire and Shizuo, who kept tripping our circuit breaker. Our launch party for OtherMusic.com was a big loft party in Chelsea with Autechre and Plaid, but we also had Jim O’Rourke and Arto Lindsay on the bill, which in hindsight seems to be a good representation of mid/late-’90s NYC. This was obviously still a few years before the back-to-basics rock explosion with The Strokes and then subsequent “dance-punk” and “freak-folk” which kept NYC’s scene on
the music radar, so underground still felt more underground for lack of better words, even if we were selling several hundred Boards of Canada records. And of course groups that we would now consider “classic” were at their height, from Pavement to Sonic Youth to Yo La Tengo -- that said, Yo La Tengo are still as great as ever. What other stores are there in NYC today? It’s honestly tough out there these days, with so many great stores closing their doors in recent years. The collector and specialty shops are still hanging in there though, places like A-1, Tropicalia in Furs and Academy. We love them and certainly point customers their way if we don’t have a record that they’re looking for in stock. Plus Tropicalia in Furs and Academy have put out some killer comps and reissues on their respective labels and we’ve happily carried those releases on our racks. TIF’s “Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas” was awesome and Academy has been putting out a slew of great vintage African jams, like the Psychedelic Aliens comp from a few years back (definitely an Other Music staff favourite) and “Lagos Disco Inferno.” Whats the story behind the name ‘Other Music’? Is it a statement about sticking to the ‘Alt’ scene?
“The Desert Boys” - Tuareg rockers Tinariwen photographed by Tim Soter.
Why did you open a record shop? The owners had been working in record shops most of their teenage and adult lives and felt like the city needed a one-stop destination dedicated to true “other” music. This was obviously long, long before music blogs and mp3 sites, and as such we were one of the few places that you could purchase both hard-to-find releases or the newest upand-coming indie band, with a staff that could steer you through our racks with suggestions geared towards your taste, or surprise you with something completely mind-blowing.
It was just a concise way of summing up what we are about: a destination for hard-to-classify music. Also, up until a few years ago there was a Tower Records directly across the street from us, and while their presence wasn’t a factor in our name choice, it did let us carve out our own identity with the now defunct mega-store just 50 feet away.
‘Lou Reed entered the shop wearing a sweatsuit, and walked over to Laurie and whispered some encouraging words in her ear’ Whats the buying process at Other? How Democratic are you? Well, we have a few people who work upstairs in our little attic office who deal directly with the distributors. We are very curatorial in our selection, so while we’re of course going to carry the big new indie rock records, we’re also talking to smaller labels and bands and looking for those “obscure gems.” Two of our floor staff also deal with consigning local releases, and frankly we’re choosy about what we bring in, so it’s almost like an A&R job for them. And of course all of the staff has their picks which we bring in and feature in our weekly email Update and on the racks. So yeah, I’d say we’re pretty democratic here, and that’s been the key to making our selection so unique and varied. The instore shows seem to be a huge success, any particular highlights for you? Seriously, there are too many favourites, and luckily some of them were filmed by our friends Dig For Fire. A few years back, Boredoms set up in a circle on the floor and proceeded to blow our minds and ear drums. We were all pretty excited to have the Breeders here in ‘08. That was like welcoming indie rock royalty and Kim was charming and full of lots stories. Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend, Iron & Wine, Elliott Smith with the Softies, Mouse on Mars, Junior Boys...those were all real special. And of course I have to mention Mali’s Tinariwen, who were completely hypnotizing. Now I don’t recall any disasters. When Conor Oberst played it almost felt like Beatlemania, just the amount of fawning teenage girls. We were a little overwhelmed trying to keep him from being mobbed as he walked out the door. And then you have the evening when Laurie Anderson was scheduled to do a record signing and a small performance, but was having problems with her set-up. Things were running late and we hadn’t opened the doors yet and wouldn’t you know, Lou Reed entered the shop wearing a sweatsuit, and walked over to Laurie and whispered some encouraging words in her ear. Laurie was great to work with, and, well, a Lou Reed sighting in New York, let alone under our roof, is always pretty great -- so the evening was far from a disaster. The musical landscape has changed so dramatically in your lifetime; What do you do to keep people shopping in the store? It truly has dramatically changed -- from music styles to how people listen to music to how people are exposed to music. Other Music’s focus has always been set on carrying and recommending great, interesting and/or boundary-breakingartists and releases, regardless of genre. I think and hope as long as we are genuinely passionate about the music we carry with a friendly, knowledgeable staff, our
customers will keep coming in. While the internet has made music so easily available (which obviously has its pros and cons), collectors and fans want to have that personal experience, and we’re lucky to have a lot of longtime friends still shopping with us, and we always see new faces coming in as well. Of course, to go with the changing times we’ve opened up a download store (www.othermusic.com), and we’re stocking a lot more vinyl, and we’ve added more music accessories, from headphones to underground band t-shirts. And recently, we launched our record label, Other Music Recording Co, which will mirror the store in terms of the variety of music that we’ll be releasing. We just put out the solo debut full-length from Shintaro Sakamoto, longtime leader of Japanese psych-rock legends Yura Yura Teikoku. Anything you point blank refuse to stock? Well, our shelf-space is pretty limited, so even if we wanted to make some extra cash carrying mainstream pop sensations, we’re better of leaving those type of releases to Best Buy or iTunes. That said, it would be pretty hilarious to ring up a customer with Merzbow and One Direction CDs. It’s Monday morning, it’s summer and it’s sweltering outside. What are you going to put on the stereo to kick things up a notch? First of all, you’re dealing with a bunch of record clerks so we’d all probably be tussling over the shop stereo. But if I had my way, the recent CD issue of “Guitar El Chark” from Sublime Frequencies featuring ‘70s era instrumental recordings by Egyptian guitar virtuoso Omar Khorshid would be the perfect summer morning jam. www.othermusic.com 15 East 4th Street New York, NY
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