About Monorail Music

Give us the background... when and why did your store Monorail Music decide to open?

Monorail was opened in December 2002. Founded by Stephen Pastel and Dep Downie, both are avid record collectors, label owners and musicians (Stephen’s band the Pastels are of course a long-running and much-loved Scottish indie group). They also had good experience working in record shops before this one. Dep worked for Missing Records for many years and Stephen at John Smith’s in Glasgow’s West End.

I know that Monorail was in part founded out of frustration about not being able to find certain favourite bands and labels in Glasgow and feeling there was a niche that hadn’t been explored.

I think the excitement of opening those box-fresh LPs and hearing that week’s new releases and reissues instils excitement in any record collector, but the best thing is connecting with people on a grassroots level who share a common enthusiasm for music.

We like to think of our store as inclusive, enthusiastic and maybe a little left of centre.  Really though we like to champion quality music wherever it may be found.  Between the staff here, there’s not much left out in terms of our taste.

We’re lucky to have many regular, devoted customers who’ll call in regularly to check out any new stock and stop for a chat.  Bands like Mogwai, Malcolm Middleton, Aidan Moffat, Teenage Fanclub, The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit to name a few have been hugely supportive and helped shape our identity too.

I came in two years into Monorail’s existence and though I wasn’t the first customer, I was certainly down early! 

I’ve asked about the first record sold and no-one can quite remember.  Faust - Patchwork was the first Album of The Month and The Concretes’ 2003 album was one of the first runaway successes of the shop.

The last sale was a set of three Thurston Moore 7”s (which we had signed by Thurston when he called in last).

My earliest record shop memories were hanging around Stereo 1 in Paisley, and Avalanche and Missing in Glasgow. The first record I bought with my own money is still quite embarrassing, a Comic Relief novelty 7” (at least it was in a good cause) but now I work in a respected record shop maybe you could put the first Suicide record or something instead? Hahaha

I really like Mixed Up in Glasgow’s West End.  Galactic Supermarket in Berlin is fantastic too, though I do try and not spend too much time in record shops on holiday.

Well, I met my wife through working in record stores so that must be on top!  She was playing in a band called Sons & Daughters and I was working in Avalanche at the time. We started dating some years later after I started at Monorail.

In terms of exciting ‘scores’, finding an original Icecross on Icecross records was very cool (obscure Icelandic private press/ weirdo rock LP).  The record was sold into Monorail on my day off, not long after me starting there. I got a heads up via text and hot-footed it down there. I remember the text was from Stephen and read something like “Got this record in.  It just LOOKS like something you’d be into!”

I was thrilled to meet Masaki Batoh of Japanese psychedelic band, Ghost who I remember was specifically after Anne Briggs records and gave me his acupuncture card later.  They were playing Mono, the venue we’re attached to, and were terrific that night.

Neurosis / Today Is The Day / Voivod at the Cathouse.

The Acid Archives by Patrick Lundborg is my bible for oddball psychedelic artefacts, a constant reference for my collecting. Indispensable.

Chariots of The Gods.

Dead Moon - Unknown Passage, Kool Keith - Sex Style, Hawkwind - Hall of The Mountain Grill, Witch - Lazy Bones, Roky Erickson - s/t (aka The Evil One), Bobby Beausoleil - Lucifer Rising soundtrack, Black Sabbath - s/t, William Sheller - Lux Aeterna, Pedro Santos - Krishnanda, Univers Zero - Heresie.

Metallica - Kill ‘Em All.