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INTERVIEW – Tim Dalton, Record Store Day Australia Ambassador – April 2015

| 15 April 2015 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Tim Dalton, Record Store Day Australia Ambassador – April 2015
By Shane Pinnegar

Record Store Day Australia - Tim Dalton 01
The annual celebration of physical music product and independent music retailers, Record Store Day, comes around again this Saturday, 18 April. SHANE PINNEGAR spoke to Record Store Day Australia Ambassador Tim Dalton about why the day is so important.

Music shoppers should expect a fun and rewarding day out as thousands are expected to visit their local independent record stores on Saturday, with many of Perth’s retailers offering special discounts and promising to stock many of the much-sought-after items released specially for the day.

Dalton, a music industry educator born in Liverpool with a long history as a recording engineer and then front of house engineer to Public Enemy and Beastie Boys, then tour manager for bands like Atomic Kitten, Elvis Costello, Faith No More and Simple Minds, says he’s passionate about representing Record Store Day, and this is his second year running in the role.

“It’s going very well – I’m really enjoying it actually. They get a grown-up to do the responsible part – I get to do all the fun stuff, which is talking about Record Store Day and what’s going to happen on the 18th April. I’m encouraged to write blogs about my favourite record stores, favourite records [you can find Tim’s blog HERE] and why I’m such an enthusiast. I kind’ve see myself as someone who’s kind of evangelical about it – that’s what I’m here to do, to jump up and down and get excited about Record Store Day but I don’t need much encouragement.”

Record Store Day Australia 02

Dalton, like 100% ROCK, reminisces fondly about the days when record stores were more than chain retailers: they were pivotal to our youth – almost a social hub in many ways.

“Yeah, it’s interesting,” he says, “Social change, when it manifests itself on the landscape, creates a massive change. You go down the High Street thirty years ago – any High Street, whether it be England, Australia, America, anywhere – and there were record stores galore, and each one had something slightly different to offer.

“They’ve been eradicated off our landscape: gone. I kind’ve see that as my mission: I want to see record stores on the High Street. Do you really want to buy everything off Amazon? Do you really want to buy all your food and clothes and everything online? Probably not! There are some items that you do want to buy in store. I liken it to wine – when I drank wine I used to like going into my local store and the guy would tell me what was good and what was bad and the guy in the store knew his stock.

“My local record store is the same – when I walk in, he knows me by name. I go there and I spend 2 or 3 hours every Saturday, and he goes, ‘oh you’re a big fan of this sort of stuff, you should have a listen to this new album, it’s great,’ and he’ll put it on for me. And that’s what I like about record stores that you don’t get buying through these enormous online globalised retailers.

“It’s kind’ve political in a way,” he says, delving deeper into the unfortunate truth of globalisation. “What we have to stop is our High Streets becoming indentikit-High Streets throughout the world, where just the major retailers get to play. The independent retailers are the ones that tend to do all the really creative stuff, that seek out the product that the big online retailers don’t want to involve themselves with, and the people who run these shops – be it clothing or records or whatever – these people tend to be the enthusiasts. They’re not doing it to make a huge profit, they’re doing it because they love it. They have a real interest in their stock line and can tell you about stuff. That’s one of the other reasons why I’m involved in this.”

Since Record Store Day started in America in 2007 vinyl sales in America alone have more than quadrupled – but is Record Store Day only about vinyl records?

“No it’s not,” insists Dalton, “and it s a bit of a misconception really, in that it’s not ‘Vinyl record day’, it’s actually about independent retailers, it’s about recognising that music fans have kind’ve lost the joy that comes from owning tactile product. I liken it to, it’s one thing owning music that’s a stream of digits on a hard disc drive, it’s another thing owning a CD or vinyl or a cassette or whatever – [something you can] pull off the shelf in ten or twenty or thirty years and say ‘you know, I bought this when I was dating that girl,’ or ‘I bought this when I just moved to that location,’ or ‘I bought this because I saw this band play at this festival,’ and it’s nice having that tactileness.

“I think as long as you’re buying the music,” he summarises, “and you’re buying it from an independent retailer, THAT’s what Record Store Day is about. But vinyl has had a lot to do with it. The same way that people collect old fashioned cars or motorbikes or whatever – it’s tactile, you can touch it, versus a stream of digits on a hard disc, and manufacturers are making special products for Record Store Day, like bright red limited edition singles or whatever – I really love that limited-run aspect of Record Store Day and that’s the stuff that will become family heirlooms, cherished and handed from father to son and mother to daughter in years to come.”

Record Store Day Australia - Tim Dalton 02

The concept may have started in America but it quickly spread to other countries, with AMRA (the Australian Music Industry Association) administering it in Australia since 2009. Dalton agrees that Australia’s geographical concerns make it a harder concept to spread virally, but insists there’s still plenty of fun to be had.

“Australia is an interesting country in that it’s so goddam big with only pockets of big cities. I would understand why people would want to buy online if they live regionally, but if you live in the big cities, that’s where we’re seeing a lot more people going out and ritualising their purchases, by going into record stores. And we’re seeing a massive resurgence in CD sales as well as vinyl. In Britain there’s been a resurgence in cassette duplications, with a cassette plant in Stockport that was on the verge of closing down that is now running three shifts 24/7, knocking out cassettes. People like odd, unusual, tactile things.”

Dalton also says that Australian artists have joined in to release special product on Record Store Day.

“People like Courtney Barnett & Chet Faker,” he explains, “who are getting some worldwide success and they’ve not forgotten their home market. If you go to website and look down the list and look in your area about who’s playing in stores and it’s great to see everything that’s happening. And seeing independent retailers put on things like someone playing on the day is something that online retailers can’t do, or the great big shops that sell washing machines and bits and bobs won’t do. Record stores can actually set up stages and have people playing and you can ask the artist, ‘why did you write this song,’ and I think that’s unique – that’s one of the joys of Record Store Day for me.”

Live performances look to be limited to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney this year, rather than Perth, but stores across the country are joining in and offering discounts and giveaways. Dalton urges all independent music retailers to join in.

“Get involved! This is a massive opportunity and you should be involved. AMRA has put a lot of time and effort into getting people into stores and if you’re not part of it you’re missing out. It’s a chance to nail your colours to your front door and say ‘yeah we’re independent retailers and purveyors of fine products, and this is what we’ve got!’ It’d be great to see independent record stores finding independent local artists and putting them on in their store. It’s a great opportunity for a great carnival-like atmosphere on the 18th April – it’ll be great for everyone – the retailers, for those going out to stores – and its a shame if some independent retailers don’t want to be a part of it. It’s great to have that one [special] day of the year and you can build up to it, have a great day. And it’s a great way of building a database of customers – new customers will come into the store and if you capture the information of those customers, it can then be used to motivate sales until Record Store Day next year.”

Record Store Day Australia 01

Are there any special Record Store Day releases that Dalton himself is looking forward to getting his hands on this year?

“I tend not to make decisions beforehand,” he says enigmatically. “I just go into the stores and whatever catches my eye… I’m a sucker for things like bright red vinyl. I’m from a punk rock background, so anything picture disc-ey, that’s going to be a one of a kind – I also like records that may be an album that’s been remastered with an extra disc attached to it that you didn’t get first time round, or has demos with it so it’s kind’ve like sketched drawings of how the artist got to that final picture. They’re the type of things that really engage me.

“If you look at the Record Store Day website there’s a big list under the Products page of most of the special stuff that’s going to be out there and there’s something there for pretty much every taste, every genre, every style that will be available!”

RECORD STORE DAY AUSTRALIA is Saturday, 18 April, 2015. Support your local independent music retailer.

Record Store Day Australia website

100% ROCK talk with several of Perth’s independent music retailers about their plans for Record Store Day 2015

This interview first appeared in edited form in X-Press Magazine’s 15 April, 2015 issue

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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