About Empire Records
To be honest, I never expected to be running a record shop! As a teenager, I started working at the local comic shop, Chaos City Comics, and spent the next 11 years there. This was definitely where I developed my musical taste, with all the staff contributing to the soundtrack and new albums introduced all the time, it was where music really became a part of my life.
When I left, I found a job at HMV which was another shop that allowed me to work around yet more of my favourite things and really build up a knowledge of music retail. When the store I was working in closed it turned out that Derek, the owner of Chaos City, where I had remained a customer, had quietly been watching the rise of vinyl over the years and was planning to open his own record shop and very conveniently for me, would need someone to manage it.
From there we threw ourselves into it, both having histories in retail, but discovering that running a record shop was its own beast, and in 2013, Empire Records was born. We slowly grew the shop, building up both our stock and our knowledge, and getting to know all the music fans in St Albans as word spread about us, a lot of who are still valued customers to this day.
Sadly, Derek passed away in 2015, so he hasn’t been able to see how the shop has developed, but we continue in his spirit, and I think he would be proud. The shop really means a lot to me, and I think we play an important role on the high street (or just off of it), keeping physical music alive!
As the only music shop in the city, we try our best to cover a little bit of everything, forever looking to expand our range. We sell new and used records and CDs, so we’re always on the lookout for good second-hand collections, you never know what may drop into your lap on any given day. St. Albans and Hertfordshire have a fantastic local music scene and we look forward to being able to welcome these artists back into the shop to play live.
I can’t remember the first record we sold, but the opening day was a great success, it was so encouraging to see the support. The last record we sold was Lorde’s new album, Solar Power.
I think the first record shop I visited would have been the Music & Video Exchange in Notting Hill Gate. I didn’t have a turntable as a kid but was endlessly fascinated by the sleeves. I think the first record I actually bought was the Mutants in Mega-City One 12” by The Fink Brothers (actually Suggs and Chas from Madness)
I’ve always enjoyed Banquet in London and the guys at the LP Café in Watford are great! I’m glad to have become part of the record shop community, there are so many unique shops around the country that I would love to get the chance to visit at some point.
The couple of times Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have come and played has been great fun. It’s amazing to have such an intimate performance and fantastic support from the fans. Plus, our fifth birthday with five local bands playing live during the day was another highlight!
Personally, I thought it was another good year, with a good mix of product. You always hear the naysayers piping up first, moaning how there’s nothing for them and it’s not the same as it used to be, but the evidence lies in how many people we see during the day.
Especially those dedicated to wait all night to get in early and just how happy they are to secure what they’re after. It’s great to see so many familiar faces on the day and is always a positive experience.
There’s many but managing to see The Prodigy at Ally Pally in what turned out to be one of Keith Flint’s final gigs will always mean a lot. I’m a huge fan and was shocked when I heard the news of his death a few months later, he was such an incredible live performer.
Not just one book, I love the Preacher series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, a beautifully dark and twisted tale!
Predator, it’s the ultimate action film and endlessly quotable.
A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and The Paths Of Rhythm
Alice In Chains - Dirt
Nine Inch Nails – A Downward Spiral
Portishead - Dummy
The Prodigy – Music For The Jilted Generation
Soundgarden – Superunknown
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Radiohead – Ok Computer
1994 was a great year!
Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, David Bowie, Jefferson Airplane, Velvet Underground, Queen, The Police, Tears For Fears, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Alice In Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Terrorvision, Foo Fighters, Supergrass, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Portishead, The Prodigy, Daft Punk, Justice, Soulwax, Chemical Brothers, Jamiroquai, Zero 7, The Herbaliser, Run The Jewels, Jurassic 5, Alt-J, Idles, Royal Blood, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleigh Bells, Pitchshifter, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Slipknot, Slayer and Metallica!
Hard to say, but right now it’s Arcade Fire – The Suburbs, I can listen to it endlessly and love every track.