Mess+Noise interview: ‘Rocking Horse: ‘The Sums Have Got To Add Up’’, July 2011

After it was announced that Brisbane’s iconic Rocking Horse Records may have to close its doors for good, I interviewed owner Warwick Vere for Mess+Noise on store’s history and its prospects for the future. Excerpt below.

The digital age hit home with a thud for many people earlier this week when a Courier Mail report suggested Brisbane’s Rocking Horse Records was on the verge of closing shop. For 36years Warwick Vere’s humble record store has been the place to go in Brisbane to buy rare and used vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs. Suddenly, Twitter was ablaze with the news, and before the day was out a “Save Rocking Horse Records” Facebook page had been established, attracting thousands of followers. (At the time of writing it’s just gone beyond 6000.)

Since then it’s been all hands to the pumps, with Rocking Horse flooded with punters determined their physical music buying experience won’t go the way of soulless multinationals or grumpy clerks with sailor tatts. When M+N stopped by the store to chat to Vere about his plans for the store, it was total mayhem: the silver-haired owner himself running about the place, serving customers, restocking CDs and fielding phone calls.

Wow Warwick. It’s crazy busy up there!
It’s like Christmas Eve, isn’t it? We’re having a [half price] sale and it’s amazing that people have turned up in such large numbers to support the shop. We’re very grateful for that and obviously they’re getting a bargain as well. As I said to somebody the other day, it’s a bit like [Lewis Carroll’s] The Walrus And The Carpenter: they’re walking the oysters along the beach and picking up the biggest ones, but crying all the time as to how awful it is for the oysters! But that’s life. We’re looking to find somewhere else a little more affordable and we’re looking at all sorts of things at the moment, but in order to achieve any of that we need a monster sale. We’ve been going for 36 years and we’re a bit like squirrels: we put things away downstairs. A lot of the boxes come out and I say, “What on earth is this doing here? We’ve had it for five years.” They’ll respond, “You could only get that one box-set. It’s not available,” and I’m like, “Sell it!” Anyway, we’ve arrived at that attitude – that we should really clear out the pantry and the storerooms, so it’s been fantastic, the response. It’s been terrific.

So you were a bit surprised after The Courier Mail article at how many people were flooding into the store?
I think The Courier Mail article and then somebody started the “Save Rocking Horse” Facebook page: that I think is being disseminated onto Twitter-land and Facebook-land and it’s certainly shows you how the social network is such a powerful tool. Back in the old days you had to stick a postage stamp size ad in The Courier Mail saying, “HUGE SALE!” and pay for it, but now you can circumvent all of that very successfully.

Well I guess the digital world hurts a place like this but then it can help as well.
Well, you read all sorts of scary things. The blogger from the States who I get every day, Bob Lefsetz, he’s been decrying the traditional model for years and delights in pointing out that at a conference there will be CDs on the back wall for people to take on the way out and they’re still all there after everybody’s filed out – nobody bothered to take one. He says, “There you go. They don’t even want them for nothing.” But having said that, the growth industry is vinyl; the kids have woken up to the fact that it’s a better sound and it’s an analogue sound and it’s limitless and it’s as good as your stereo is. That’s where the future lies, bizarrely enough. It’s back to the ’75, when we opened.

For the full article, visit Mess+Noise.

One Response to “Mess+Noise interview: ‘Rocking Horse: ‘The Sums Have Got To Add Up’’, July 2011”

  1. […] For more on the state of independent music retail in Australia, check out my Mess+Noise interview with Rocking Horse owner Warwick Vere here. […]

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