Record Store Day 2012: Tom Beck (Walnut Tree Records)

To conclude our trilogy of Record Store Day interviews we talk to Tom Beck from the independent indie based label Walnut Tree Records.

Already Heard: What was the first record you bought and where was it from?
Tom Beck: That would have been ‘K’ by Kuala Shaker when I was 12. At the time they’d just been nominated for best album at the brit awards so it had the stickers on the front. I believe that I bought it from our price in High Wycombe. I don’t think I bought much from there… maybe that and ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ at some point.

AH: How important is Record Store Day to independent record stores?
Tom Beck: I think it is very important! To me it feels like their moment in the sun. It’s a good chance to give them a little exposure. It’s just a shame that some people will only give them that exposure for that one day. Stores like Banquet Records do so much for the community and their online store is a valuable research to so many people. It seems like a shame that it takes an event like Record Store Day to get a lot of people interested in physical releases.

AH: Do you think it’s just as important to independent labels?
Tom Beck: Speaking from the Walnut Tree Records perspective… no. I think it comes down to the fact that very few record stores take my releases. It may be  down to my bands not being being popular enough. Take Portman for example, not many people want to buy the CD who don’t already own a copy. Also, in the case of newer bands like Indian School, we’re hand making 300 copies of the release so there aren’t that many copies to go into stores after the band take their share and the preorders have shipped. I would be able to send maybe 2 copies to a  store so it’d probably cost more in postage than what I would get back so I’m not sure if it’s really worth it.

For some independent labels – some of those with more desirable bands – it is probably more of a big deal. It probably seems quite cool. But for myself it isn’t a big deal unfortunately. 

AH: Why is it important to celebrate record stores?

Tom Beck: To me, a big part of music is the physical product. I’m really into buying CDs and more recently vinyl and having that connection between something I enjoy listening to and something I enjoy looking at is really important to me. Some of the earlier CDs I bought – for example, bands like Ten Foot Pole or Face To Face –  I really enjoyed reading the notes to find out what bands they would recommend you listened to. Back before the days of MP3.com that was the best way for me to find new music. 

For a lot of people that physical connection to the music brings back good memories. A lot of people my age would have started off buying records with their pocket money and I guess the current generation has grown up with itunes but… it’s still fairly new for people like us and people running labels. People like to go into record stores and browse. I guess it takes a certain type of person but they like to talk to the guy behind the counter because, chances are, they care more about music then the average HMV employee. That connection is important, whether it is talking to a member of staff or having something you can hold whilst on the tube home and get excited about listening to. Waiting 6 minutes to download an album that I’ve been waiting for two years to hear isn’t quite as exciting. It isn’t the same as receiving a package with some awesome artwork and some bonus features so I think that, for me, independent record stores are important to keep that connection alive and to keep a face behind the music. 

AH: Do you think Record Store Day gets the recognition it deserves?
Tom Beck: I think it does. It’s a bit of a shame that some record stores have to wait a whole year for their one day in the sun. I consider Banquet Records to be my local but it’s a shame that they don’t get the recognition they deserve for the contribution they make to the community and the shows they put on, especially when it comes to helping american bands when they tour over here.

At the same time, Banquet are championed by so many people online. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see someone on Facebook, twitter or the like saying something positive about the store. In my circles I see it quite a lot but I’d imagine that someone like my mum or my dad would have no idea about what’s going on. If it was covered in the Guardian on a Saturday morning then perhaps they would.

AH: Is there anything that you are looking to pick up on the day?
Tom Beck: I’m not too excited about the releases put forward this year as I’ve never been a big Refused fan but I wouldn’t mind a copy of the ‘Make A Beast Of Yourself’ 7" by Twin Atlantic. Twin Atlantic have been my favourite band for the last year and I’m definitely a fanboy for them. I think it’s limited to 300 so I might have a chance with that.

AH: Do you think that RSD introduces new people to independent record stores?
Tom Beck: I don’t think it does to the extent that people may think. I think that the people who know about new releases – especially vinyl – know about these stores as they already have a shared history with these places. I can’t imagine that many people will read about Record Store Day in the saturday paper and rush out to buy from them. It would be great if thousands of new people visited their local independents on that day but… in reality, I can’t see it happening.

Walnut Tree Records links: Official Website|Facebook

Visit RecordStoreDay.com for more infomation on Record Store Day 2012.

Words by Richard Heaven

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