INTERVIEW: ANTHONY ALBANESE MP – Record Store Day Australia Ambassador – April 2017
By Shane Pinnegar
It wasn’t too many years ago that you could barely give a record away, yet 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of Record Store Day Australia, the local edition of the global annual event launched in the U.S. in 2007. Not only has Record Store Day been attracting vinyl enthusiasts for years, the event now boasts high profile musicians, industry bigwigs and this year, even a Federal Member of Parliament, as their national event ambassadors. Anthony Albanese, MP for Grayndler, called in to tell us about this year’s event – and what the government should be doing for the music industry.
Read on for bonus material from our chat:
“I have got a large record collection,” Albanese admits. “I think that was probably my main expenditure, up until my mid-20s, was records. They’re all in pretty good shape. A few have been borrowed and never given back over the years, but I do have a large record collection, both vinyl and in later years CDs – although, I must say, I have more from the 20th century than the 21st.
“But this is one of the things about Record Store Day. I think that records are about where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. They evoke memories of seeing a band, that downloading something doesn’t. I went through my vinyl collection when I did the Record Store Day launch in Canberra. They wanted me to bring a few vinyls down there and [I started] flipping through, and something that should have taken a few minutes took a few hours – because you pick it up and you look at it and you go, ‘I forgot I had this, I haven’t played it for ages.’
“I still have all my albums in alphabetical order by artist, and the memories that [they] bring: you remember where you bought [a record], why you bought it, the first time you heard an artist. I remember, for example, Joy Division. I got Closer before I got the first album, because I was in a record store at Sydney Uni and there was this amazing music playing that was just so different, so I bought Closer and then went back and bought Unknown Pleasures after that. You do remember all of that and it’s about that engagement with your life.”
For many of us, buying certain records in certain stores, states, or even countries, are memories specific to certain eras of our life.
“Absolutely,” Albanese enthusiastically agrees, “and some of those relate to, as well, who your friends were at the time and who recommended a new band or a new artist to you, what your feelings were about some bands, too. I remember The Pixies – a friend used to make up compilation tapes, pre-downloads. He handed me this [tape] and there was one song of the Pixies on it. He said, ‘how about that Pixies track?’ I was like, ‘yeah, it’s all right.’ But it didn’t really appeal to me, and then [when] they’d been around for a while, I listened to Doolittle, I think, from go to woe, and it was like, ‘wow, I get it – I get it!’
“That’s one of the things about Record Store Day as well, that a lot of music hangs together as an album, not just as a collection of individual tracks. There’s something special about having a whole album that is different from just downloading an individual track, or having your favourite playlist on your iPod or smartphone, or whatever technology you’re downloading it on. That’s why I think this is a good thing to celebrate.”
On Independent Record Stores:
“I think people listening to albums is really important. One of the things that I’m saying about Record Store Day as well, is that these are by and large independent record stores. The people who run them aren’t making a hell of a lot of money. They’re people who run record stores because they’re really interested in music. They’re fountains of wisdom if you go in there and have a chat to them – ‘what do you think I should be listening to? Have you heard any new sounds?’
“I love High Fidelity – the book [by Nick Hornby] more so than the movie. Setting [the movie] in Chicago sort of changed the whole thing as well – I don’t understand why they did that, it was a very English sort of [a story]. I like Nick Hornby. That thing of lists: I did that. I used to do lists of my top five songs that I liked at the moment, or top ten, or what have you. That whole thing that runs through the book when he did that, and I’ve read it like three or four times. It’s just a fantastic depiction of how this guy’s life is defined – his relationships as well – in part through music. Top five break-up songs and Top five new girlfriend songs, and all of that, I think, is what we get through going into a record store.
“I used to go to Phantom Records, where I spent a lot of my youth. It was a record store in Pitt Street. They had a whole lot of bands as well would go through Phantom. They sort of had a relationship with record labels getting bands started. The Sunnyboys, Le Hoodoo Gurus, as they were called when they did Leilani. Machinations. A whole lot of bands that were starting out. . You could guarantee that if they had a poster up for a gig, you knew it was going to be the sort of music that you’d like.”
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