Thrash Hits

April 20th, 2012

PROGTOLOGY with James Monteith of TesseracT: #6 – Record Store Day

Here’s a great account from TesseracT guitarist, James Monteith about why he feels strongly about Record Store Day. He’s in a band so is actually naturally part of RSD every single day. It’s also a great way for us to brag about what we got from Record Store Day last year.

Progtology with James Monetieth Thrash Hits

Another blog within a month? No way. Well I pulled my finger out for this one as it’s Record Store Day this weekend, and it was something I felt I should comment on. Independently-owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music; there are special vinyl and CD releases, gigs and a whole bunch of stuff and it happens all over the world. Cool eh?

Now, being in a band and working in the music industry, I’m fully aware of the state of the retail market, and from a commercial standpoint it seems mad that we celebrate a declining industry. Why didn’t the miners in the 80s set up Coal Mining Day? Why isn’t there a Corner Shop Day, or Car Manufacturing Day? I guess it’s because a record store is a whole load more than a business; for many they’re an essential part of life.

Just in case you’re doubting the worth of RSD, here’s something we at Thrash Hits picked up from the American leg of Record Store Day 2011. It’s a 10″ Machine Head vinyl, limited to just 1000 copies. No big deal, right?
Machine Head Record Store Day 2011 Black Procession Thrash Hits American Spirit Garlic & Shots

For me, and most music fans, before the internet boom, record stores were places to discover new music. Every few weeks I’d find myself, with a few mates, heading up to Berwick Street in London trawling though the discs at Reckless Records, Sister Ray and the rest, searching for new things. There was an amazing punk record store in Croydon called Shake Some Action, which was run by a guy called James with an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, and every weekend bands played in the shop for free. It was an incredible place for underage kids to see live bands, and a real Mecca of punk music knowledge and history. There’s a similar shop in Camden called All Ages Records, which is still there I believe, and a newly-opened one up in Manchester called V Revolution, who are putting on live acoustic music this weekend for Record Store Day.

Having a record on the shop shelves is something that every band dreams of. It makes you feel that you’re a proper band to some extent. The same could be said for a lot of band milestones, but this was always one for me. I haven’t actually seen the TesseracT record in many places, as we were on tour so much around the release, and given the short shelf life of CDs these days, it doesn’t seem to be in many places now!

Read this article about much-missed Soho record shop, Shades – massively influential in the 80s and 90s

Having your record on the shelves is one piece of the giant puzzle that makes up the vehicle required to carry a band and raise them through the ranks. There needs to be a firm marketing strategy in place, including a strong press campaign, touring and clever online promo, and any other creative idea that bands, labels, PRs and marketers can come up with to make them shine out of the masses. But when I’m feeling nostalgic over my naïve music-loving youth, the record on the shelves still feels like the real deal, everything else is just industry pish which doesn’t really matter.

In this declining market of retail, I believe independent record stores will stand the test of time. They’re social places, fun places, sources of information, and… well, just really cool. They will become more niche, and probably have to sell coffee and cakes to make their ends meet, but they will never die.

Celebrate Record Store Day and go out and buy a record. (Coincidentally the pre-orders are up for the Perspective EP, so you can buy that if you like.)


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