Mar 22, 2018

Speech to launch Record Store Day 2018 – ‘Record Store Day and the Power of Music’ – Red Eye Records, Sydney

Thanks for that introduction. Last year when I was asked to be the Record Store Day Ambassador I was rapt. I am a genuine fan of music and I’m in awe, it must be said, of musicians like Amber Lawrence and Dan Sultan, who’ve just been announced as ambassadors for Record Store Day, which will be celebrated on April 21.

Dan is a mate of mine and a great bloke. He has performed as a backup singer at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, when I DJ’d  there as a fundraiser for Reclink – which is another organisation that brings together young people and musicians and artists to promote social change and connect to marginalised young people through music.

One of the reasons why I was pleased to participate is that music is more than just something you experience for three or four minutes. Music is a part of people’s identity. It is part of their lives. I hear so many people making comments like “I remember when I saw this band’’, or “I remember when I went into this record store”, “I remember when I bought this record’’.

In my early days, I went to school at St Mary’s Cathedral up the road here, and I would go into Phantom Records or Red Eye Records which has been around for almost as long as I have. I always loved seeing and getting to touch the records. When Frog asked me to go into Songland in Canberra and bring some of my personal collection, I brought a Phantom Records Compilation, which had all sorts of bands like the Sunnyboys, Le Hoodoo Gurus and Flaming Hands – that era of music that was very exciting.

It was also, I think, the height of the live grassroots music scene. Happily, live music is making a comeback. I represent the Inner West and the number of music venues that are opening up, be they new venues or old venues like Marrickville Bowlo. There is a poster over there for the Celibate Rifles playing at Marrickville Bowlo. The Oils played at Marrickville Bowlo, just a fantastic event. It’s quite useful the fact that we have these little devices, mobile phones, and if we’re interested in music, I am on Spotify as well,  and if I’m interested in an artist, I can download and listen to a couple of tracks and see if I like a particular artist.

But to me there is nothing quite like an album. You can touch it. You can feel it, and you can listen to the songs in the order in which they were meant to be heard.

That is part of the experience and part of the artistry. You can look at the cover and the artwork, the design, the creativity that is reflected in a record in particular.

CDs are okay too, but there is nothing quite like vinyl and putting the needle on a piece of vinyl and hearing that authentic music as it was meant to be heard.

So Record Store Day a fantastic initiative. It is a global movement and it’s fantastic that there is so many new artists will be making new releases, or re-releases, in John Farnham’s case of course, and that people will be coming together all over the world, on Saturday, the 21st of April.

Last year I was just stunned by how big it was, how many people were going into these independent record stores and for some of them experiencing them for the first time.

As the Ambassador I think one of the highlights was – we’ve got a Polish Club 10-inch here – and one of the highlights I think was playing Polish Club on Channel Ten’s morning show, Studio Ten. I doubt whether Polish Club expected to be played on vinyl on commercial television at 9:15am on a Friday morning. But one of the things that Record Store Day does is provide that opportunity. I appeared on Sunrise, The Today Show, I did a lot of radio and hopefully did my bit, and got positive feedback. So many of my mates said: “I got out my old records, I went and bought a turntable and got engaged in that whole movement.’’

Now the Lead Ambassador this year is someone who is, unlike me wanting to be involved in the music industry, the real deal. For me, if it was a choice between being a muso and being Deputy Prime Minister, I would have taken being a muso any day. There is no question that is what I would have wanted to do.

Lack of talent got in the way there. Not even the man I am about to introduce would have been able to overcome that lack of talent that I had.

He is a rock industry legend. Even though over the years he has promoted some of Australia’s and the world’s biggest artists through Frontier Touring, in recent times as well, he has established another organisation that promotes more independent and up and coming bands as well.

Michael is someone who I think is without peer, in terms of a promoter of rock music here in Australia and getting global artists to come to Australia as well and connect them up.

One of the things about the big artists when they’ve come as well is that so many bands when I look back, the first time I saw them was as a support act for one of the big international stars. That’s why there is such a strong link between the Australian music industry and someone who is connected up internationally with Elton John and Radiohead and the other big artists that Michael has promoted.

So I can’t think of anyone better, when we’re talking about promoting Record Store Day, than one of Australia’s greatest ever promoters – Michael Chugg.