" />

The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Quietus Mixes & Radio

Quietus Mix 22: A Record Store Day Hardcore Special
Lev Harris , April 14th, 2011 11:32

Today's Quietus mix celebrates Record Store Day with a selection of Rough Trade East manager Spencer Hickman's favourite hardcore. PLUS an interview about the day itself. Picture thanks to

"If music is a religion then record stores are like churches. They should be treated with an equivalent amount of reverence and respect by the community" - Angus Andrew, Liars

Crazed members of the public hammering upon the glass of a hallowed establishment, demanding entry at uncouth hours... scenes of frenzy as, once inside, they grasp fervently for scant offerings, battering the ministers of the Sacrament in their desperation to get hold of them. These are likely to be the scenes at record shops across the United Kingdom this Saturday, April 16th, as collectors, fans and dastardly eBay villains try to get their hands on the super rare vinyl that's been pressed especially to celebrate what once seemed to be a dying institution, the record shop. Rumours that some establishments have vicious attack dogs prowling their aisles at night to protect this limited stock are yet unconfirmed.

2011 marks the fourth annual UK Record Store Day (RSD), with 186 shops expected to participate in selling a whopping 250 special releases on vinyl and CD. Last year, the large Rough Trade East shop in London turned over more on RSD than they did in the entire Christmas week. "It's just a blur on that day," says Spencer Hickman, manager of Rough Trade East. "There was a queue of 900 people outside before we opened. When I turned up, there was a guy sleeping by the door, he had left the club at 2am and was sleeping off his hangover. Lots of people started queuing from 4am onwards."

Aside from the celebratory aspect of RSD, it also allows shops to prove they're far from the austere, unfriendly places of reputation. As the market has become tougher, many have bucked the trend for closures by diversifying to include cafes, in-store gigs, or record clubs for regular customers. This, as well as a natural reaction to the damaging disposable culture of the MP3, has led to a steady revival in vinyl sales in recent years. "The point of it [RSD] is that physical stores are still offering the level of service that was prevalent on the high street 20 years ago, and if anything it highlights how unique and relevant the record shop still is". The continuing success of Rough Trade, Piccadilly Records in Manchester, Probe Records in Liverpool, Jumbo Records in Leeds, Rounder Records in Brighton (and many we've not visited but raise a toast to) is also evidence that perhaps the misanthropic geek depicted in High Fidelity is now actually the fellow sat at home, ripping leaked albums, and moaning on messageboards and tumblr.

Hickman says that Record Store Day isn't about trying to avert a retail apocalypse, but celebrating a new beginning: "Everything about physical formats is doom and gloom, so for the people who run the shops, it is just a way to say 'the stores are still here'. The story of 300 stores closing is a five-year-old story - 15 stores just opened last year." At Rough Trade East this year, hairy musical wizard Chilly Gonzales will be performing a cover and request set on the piano, followed by Gaggle and Wild Beasts in the afternoon. This very enjoyable chaos means that some smaller records on the shelves will inevitably go unnoticed. "There are always a couple of things that don't sell as well," says Hickman, "This year will be interesting because there are 260 releases, way more than there has ever been. It'll be interesting to see what sells and what doesn't this year. Last year Primary One put a blue vinyl 10 inch with Nina Persson on vocals. That didn't sell at all even though it was the best song of that day. It got overlooked because there was so much. It's not a day to launch an album or launch a band."

Inevitably, some of the limited releases are going to be more popular than others, with new releases from Green Day and Nirvana sure to be provoking a stampede. "The big one last year, apart from Blur, was the Flaming Lips' Dark Side of the Moon. I held some up; people were screaming and attacking for them. It's pretty scary thinking that it's just a record. Thankfully there were no fights. I would have been horrified if there were. But yeah people were pissed off."

If anything, RSD stands as a mark of the enduring aesthetic value of the record. A work of art that still stands as the ultimate package in which to deliver and listen to music, it carries a physical worth that can and will never be approached by the mp3. This is precisely what RSD celebrates, and its appeal doesn't seem to be running out any time soon. "If you can get someone into that store and give them a really good experience they can then associate it with not only Record Store Day but also the particular shop they got their stuff from," concludes Hickman. "You do see people become regular customers after that and last year we had customers coming back who hadn't been in a record store for years. It's grown organically over the past four years and now everyone knows that the third Saturday of April is RSD. It's almost like a national holiday."