Vinyl veterans and music maestros: Kingston’s Banquet Records ready for Record Store Day

Kingston’s Banquet Records is gearing up for another hectic Record Store Day tomorrow.

The annual event, which started in the USA nine years ago, celebrates independent record stores up and down the country by releasing limited edition vinyls.

The records are available for one day only with this year’s exclusive list including the likes of David Bowie, Frank Turner and Deftones.

Jon Tolley, Banquet Records manager, expects the 2016 event to be their busiest day in years.

He said: “It’s a massive day for us, our business year revolves around it. It’s way more significant to us than Christmas or December.

“There’s literally hundreds of different titles and a lot of those titles we have hundreds of copies of, all coming out on that one day.

“Loads of records come in, loads of customers come in, but more than that it is a good celebration of what records shops are and why they exist.

“For a lot of people it’s their first exposure with a record shop, and we hope they come back again.”

Record Store Day is known to lure huge crowds, with vinyl fans queueing up as early as the night before to get first pick.

Jon believes that from 8am onwards fans can expect to queue for at least two hours to enter the store so that music fans can enjoy their experience in Banquet.

But it is not all bad as the gig organisers have also lined up bands to play nearby the shop to ease the frustrations of eager fans.

The Kingston Lib Dem councillor expects queues to be shorter by the afternoon — and has told vinyl lovers not to fret if they have to wait, as thousands of vinyls are available.

He said: “People start queuing the night before, we’re in the town centre and next to a kebab shop.

“There are people who have to queue up when the pubs and clubs are shutting, they really do want the records to have to go through that.

“It’s quite a lengthy queue because we want people, once in the shop, to experience being in a record shop and not just go to the counter and be told ‘next’.

“It’s not about that, we still want people to get lost in the magic of being in a record shop and hope they will come back.

“The queue is all part of it. The records are super limited, they are all out that day and to an extent we want there to be a queue because it helps push the day and the shop to a point.

“If you’re coming down early expect a queue, bring a smile, bring a smartphone, bring a bit of cash and you will have a nice time.

“There are 700 vinyls. There are bands which are quite close to Banquet, bands like Deftones and La Dispute, whose record is actually a live recording of a concert they did in Kingston.

“They are quite close to us. But there are literally thousands of records, you can’t predict it, that’s the fun thing.

“We’re not really here to tell people what to buy, we’re here to facilitate them buying what they want.”

The event comes at a successful time for vinyl sales, which are spiking following a resurgence in the record format.

Sales for 2016 are already 67% up on last year, according to the Record Store Day website, and show no signs of imminent decline.

It has also led to the launch of an official vinyl chart, helped in part by the accessibility of music on the internet.

In a report shared by the BBC, more than half of consumers revealed that they listen to music online before committing to vinyl.

Jon believes the record revival will last for some time as a whole new generation starts preferring records.

He added: “Banquet never stopped selling vinyl. We’ve always been selling records, but certainly in the last three or four years particularly, the rise has been dramatic.

“We’re selling way more than we ever have since I have been working here, and that’s 15 years, and I think you’ll find the figures nationwide show it is an 18-year high at the moment of people buying records.

“It’s not just the old man digging through the crates it’s people of all ages and all different types of music fans picking up vinyl.

“Obviously that’s brilliant for us, but I think it’s brilliant for them as well.

“The experience you get from buying an actual, physical record, having it in your hands, playing the album from 1-12 and actually caring about the music you’re getting emotionally involved with, rather than just consuming or using a stream or a download.”

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