If you know anything at all about the music scene in Sheffield then I’m sure you’ll be familiar with our largest and most impressive independent record store, Record Collector, and probably the man behind it all Mr Barry Everard. This local legend – as noted by Johnny Marr of the Smiths on his last trip to the Steel City – opened the store back in 1978 and has since played a huge part in the ever growing music scene here in Sheffield. A friend to most of our biggest stars, and an inspiration for many, Barry remains grounded and humble, his sights solely set on keeping his customers happy, and always providing a place for people to physically get their hands on the music industry. I caught up with this fantastic character for a chat about his musical passion.
Why is it so important to you to have the record shop on the high street?
We’ve always been a hub; a place for people to go and see, interact and look at music in the real world. A lot of people don’t have as much respect for the real world as they used to; it’s like everything should be virtual. Places like this are important because you’re introduced to music, and you look at music, in a completely different way when you’re in a record shop. The internet will only respond to what you ask it, and there are certain loops that people can get stuck on in terms of emotion. You go online and you start from the point of let’s say Bob Dylan, you go on and say “oh Bob Dylan – I like Bob Dylan” and it may suggest to you people who bought Bob Dylan also bought Neil Young and Paul Simon. So you go looking for Neil Young and it tells you people who like Neil Young also like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, so you short circuit yourself. The great thing about record shops is that sometimes you might get stimulated by something you hear or the artwork you see, and that might mean you get introduced to something that otherwise you wouldn’t come across. It’s the serendipity of the shop experience; it’s the random nature of it that I love.
Do you have some control over your sales, by choosing what and where records are displayed?
We have input but the question makes us seem incredibly cynical and calculating. It is true that certain other stores (no names) actually receive discounts from record companies. It’s the same as a supermarket doing a food promotion; they will give a certain price to have a certain key location. With some record stores they expect a subsidy or better price in exchange for a better price or putting it in a key location.
How important is having a local record store for up-and-coming bands?
We always have been into supporting local bands; I want to be doing as good a job as possible to make the customers happy, and if we can help a local band to you know, sell a few records or even become famous and get a recording deal then it’s a pleasure to be part of that process. I want everybody from Sheffield to be successful because that’s partly what we’re here for, to try to support and be a force for good.
Our little story is this shop started in 1978 and one of the first customers I ever had through the door was an 18 year old Joe Elliot, who I found out in subsequent conversation was the lead singer of a band called Def Leppard. Within weeks of opening this place, I mean this is not solely my work, but it came to pass, I said why don’t you put out a single? It shows you’ve got more ambition – it stands apart from a cassette and shows that you have a local following. They did it, and we sold more copies of that than any other shop in the world. I will always remember spending a couple of hours with Joe some time later where I ended up advising him on two or three labels he should go with and the one that he signed with was one of those. This is what shops do; it’s partly why they’re important. There’s a book which was later turned into a film about record shops, called Last Shop Standing, where the shop is featured and I’m featured and I’m there talking to Richard Hawley about record shops. I’ve known Richard for about thirty years just been an absolute pleasure. We’re not here just to be friends of the stars but it’s a sort of a bi-product, and it’s just wonderful to know that you’ve been an influence in any way.
So do you believe that vinyl is on the way back up?
Yes and the weird thing is the vinyl revolution is coming from not only those who used to love vinyl, but a younger audience, it’s very tactile, it’s a possession. You can appreciate the artwork and read the sleeve notes. It’s got to a point where there are special vinyl formats for independent shops, spatter vinyl, red and green vinyl; a lot of stuff is now being produced in vinyl only which is completely full circle. It’s great because, to a certain extent, it’s being pushed on the industry by the public and the artists themselves.
Words: Tasha Franek
Top Image © Jonathan Clitheroe