Cast your mind back before iTunes, before mp3s – hell, before Limewire. In those days, generations of music fans once discovered bands through the humble record shop. Last Shop Standing is a love song to the British independent record shop (as well as its surprising resurrection). Spotify who? We ask documentary director Pip Piper to tell us more.
So what’s Last Shop Standing all about?
At its core, it’s the first definitive film that tries to show the history of UK independent record shops and chart their rise in the 60s and 70s, their fall in the late 80s and 00s and their recent rebirth. It’s full of humour and pathos and reveals some very telling stories about what went wrong and what could go right. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of this rich vein of music heritage and a cry for us not to lose it.
How did you approach directing Last Shop Standing?
Very much from a narrative point of view, both historical as well as teasing out the interesting stories. It’s all very natural, shot on location with a small crew so we could move fast.
What’s your own personal experience with record shops?
I grew up with them, visited them every weekend from my early teens in the 70s. They were instrumental in my musical education.
Do you still buy music from record shops or are you an MP3 kind of guy?
I love buying from record shops: through the shoot we reckon as a small crew we spent over £400 to £500 on recorsd! I do download legally but much prefer to have the physical record on quality vinyl.
Do you think there’s anyone to blame for the decline of the independent record shop?
You need to watch the film to get the lowdown on that, but yes there are many reasons and no single factor.
Why do you think record shops are still important in this day and age – and how do you think they can survive?
They will survive for sure. People still love physical records, love shops who really know their music and can advise, places that are just so cool to visit and hang out in. If you look at Record Store Day there a lots of young people discovering record shops right now.
What was your own personal favourite out of all the record shops you filmed?
I can’t pinpoint any one shop, they were all so good in their own ways. The highlight really was the people who make them what they are. People who are passionate about music, innovative in how they’re trying to survive and thrive.
Any record shop person you met during the course of filming this that you particularly liked / admired?
As said before, all the shop owners and workers. But during the making of the film we lost two great record shops: C.E. Hudsons in Chesterfield which was the oldest family-run record shop in the world and Rounder Records in Brighton where Norman Cook used to work – very sad.
Was there anything surprising you learnt while filming this documentary?
Yes, lots! Again, you really need to watch it get the full story but there were some really interesting facts about how the music industry was going about its business at certain points. How vinyl disappeared is not what you think…
Last Shop Standing premieres this weekend at Bestival and will have a limited UK release from 10 September onwards. Check the Last Shop Standing website for more information on screenings. You can also pre-order the DVD from your local record shop. lastshopstanding.com
Words: Zing Tsjeng