March 12th, 2014 by Amelia
I’m on a slew of vinyl mailing lists, many of which I don’t know how I would up on, from the UK to Russia. Vinyl Music Madness was one of these email lists. Warren of VMM really got on my radar when he emailed me after I “abandoned” my online shopping cart. I was about to buy some ROSE TATTOO LP at a fair price, and some other records, but the international shipping rate deterred me from going ahead and ordering. I thought it was so nice that he reached out, so I thought I’d interview him for Create to Destroy. It turned out he was a part of that second wave of punk in the UK so many of us are obsessed with, including a legendary anarcho band, and I’m sure he attended shows we’d kill to have attended. He has a very large inventory and I know many of us record collectors dream of selling records for a living or having our own shop, be it physical or online or both. So here’s Warren of Vinyl Music Madness…
How did you get into records?
Punk rock got me into records at the age of 12 or so. I was a little too young to be grabbed by The SEX PISTOLS as soon as they came on the scene but slowly and surely I was pulled in and became a firm convert of the second wave of punk with acts like CRASS, UK SUBS, DISCHARGE, DEAD KENNEDYS, etc. This was reinforced when I started learning to play the drums. After 2 or 3 aborted attempts I joined the LOST CHERREES on drums along with my mate Andy on Guitar and we went on to record our very own single. We were involved with every aspect even down to folding the sleeves ourselves and going to Rough Trade in London to put the vinyls inside the sleeves. We recorded various singles and an album and toured with the SUBHUMANS (UK), CONFLICT, OMEGA TRIBE and many others. I’m still drumming now after having played with many bands, most of the time I stayed playing with Andy from the LOST CHERREES and we actually reformed the LOST CHERREES about ten years ago and recorded a new album but decided to go in a different direction with a different band. The bass player from the LOST CHERREES tried to get us back together again but none of us fancied it. He went ahead anyway and formed a new band. He’s called it the LOST CHERREES despite the fact it’s only him on bass from the original group!! Me and Andy are in a garage band called the PAST TENSE who are now working on our third album and have our first 7″ vinyl out in early 2014.
That’s a lot of history and an enviable entry into punk. How did you get into buying, selling, and trading records?
I’d been convinced of the beauty of CDs by the record companies sneaky marketing ploys through the ’80s and ’90s and so had given up on vinyl and moved over to CD. I no longer had the room to store all my old vinyl and had replicated it onto CD so decided to sell. It was through selling my own old vinyls that I realised there was a market for them and started to pick up more vinyl at car boot sales and the like.
How was the vinyl world changed over the past ten years of doing your store?
When I first started selling vinyl seriously it was a relatively easy job but it has become more and more time consuming and awkward over the years. Buyers nowadays are way more picky than they used to be and the outlets for selling (such as eBay) seem to want to make life harder and harder for the small seller.
Did you always exist as an online store?
No, originally we only sold on eBay but we always planned to start our own website eventually. In the end, eBay made this happen as they closed down our eBay account, claiming that we were selling counterfeit goods!?! After much perseverance I spoke to a few people at eBay to try and get this reversed but they weren’t interested. It all stemmed from the fact that a customer had left me feedback stating “great copy” which someone at eBay read as meaning that we were selling copies of vinyl records. I wouldn’t even know how.
What do you mean by “family business”?
My wife and I run the business together.
What do you use to clean off the records you sell?
I use a VPI HW-27 Typhoon Record Cleaner.
Where do you get the records you sell? Do you buy private collections?
I buy wherever I can, record fairs, car boot sales, private collections.
Is most of your business done within the UK? How have shipping prices affected your business?
No, I’d say it was around 50/50. We sell a lot of records in Russia. A lot of vinyls that are commonplace in the UK weren’t in Russia due to the restrictions in place in the past. This means that Phil Collins album that you see in every charity shop and at every car boot sale is actually worth something over there (but not loads, obviously!). Shipping prices are a constant pain and many customers seem to think the high cost of postage is down to us for some reason. Now that Royal Mail has just been privatised in the UK I can only see things getting worse.
Postage prices are the bane of many of our existences. Where do you keep all your records? How do you keep them organized?
I’m lucky enough to have a large basement and most of them are kept down there on racks but we also have them in sheds, the loft and just about everywhere!
How often do you do inventory checks?
We do a full stock check every year but I still find myself discovering boxes of vinyls that I’ve forgotten about.