Local Heroes: Antony Daly (586 Records)

By Simon

Antony Daly is known to us at Backdrop as a Record Store Owner, a DJ, an Ex-Promoter, and last but not least, and he won’t mind me saying, old and miserable. Excelling at all these things is why we love and thank him, and decided to do this feature on him.  I remember first meeting Daly at his shop, 586 Records, and getting off to a good start until I, as a budding young DJ keen to impress, asked if he had any ‘vinyls’ he could recommend. To which Daly slowly raised his gaze from the laptop to look me in the eye reproachfully, ‘Vinyls? No fucking vinyls here mate. Plenty of vinyl though.’ And back to the laptop.  Daly’s is definitely a dry sense of humour, and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I can think back fondly to trying out records whilst some bushy-tailed customer bounced in, selecting records quickly then setting up on a turntable, slinging their listening stack straight onto the tone arm of the record player next to them – I can remember hearing Daly’s rage hum through the air (over the tunes at my own station) before he was even in sight to begin having words with the young offender. All this only makes me enjoy Daly’s shop more, I must add. It feels like a rite of passage, with its grumpy gatekeeper and esoteric location, and, once you’re in, the selection offered is the best in the city. Ever since Backdrop was first conceived, Daly has been there for us: putting up posters in his shop, dropping flyers in every bag of records bought, spreading the good word. He even sold me, very cheaply, the only record bag I have ever owned (and it’s still going strong.) I realised, as I thought about this Local Hero, I didn’t actually know very much about Daly, apart from my own personal encounters, so will leave the rest to the interview. Our good friend Cass Lamb also put together a fantastic documentary,‘3 Floors High and Rising’, which is available here (https://www.facebook.com/fiveeightsixrecords/videos/1656732661261784/), and gives you a pretty good idea of what 586Records means to people, like me, who dig for records.

Where were you born?

I was born in Peterlee, County Durham in 1973. A small ‘New Town’, located a couple of miles off the North East coast, between Hartlepool and Sunderland.

Favourite places to rave in Newcastle?

As you may know or have noticed, I’m rarely out in Newcastle! I don’t think there’s a ‘Club’ in Town (open after 2 or 3am or beyond), that entirely does it for me. I’m more interested in one-off venues with friendly door staff – 100 or so people, fair drinks prices and attention to detail in the sound system and décor. I think there’s a real lack of places in Newcastle and realistically, you have 2 options in the City, on a weekend. How can that be?.

The options are ridiculously limited for ravers and promoters alike, I must say. Least favourite places?

I’ll not name names, but I’m not a fan of tops being kept when you buy a bottle of water, paying London prices for warm beers and spirits and with no ice.

Ever produced music? 

No never ‘produced’, as I have absolutely no technical expertise, nor ever owned any equipment, but in the early 2000’s I sat in with my Mentor Mark Hughes (DJ Yoz) and we created 3 edits. The first one was a cut up of Purpose Maker (Jeff Mills) “In The Bush” and the Patrick Cowley mix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. The story behind the track, can be found on Discogs.

https://www.discogs.com/Unknown-Artist-Summer-In-Detroit/release/687163

Surely you must be tempted when you spend so long surrounded by such amazing records?

There have been plenty of times, over the years where I’ve bought a record and thought: “That doesn’t need to be in there or add anything”, but I haven’t the patience to be sat indoors for hours and days on end. I like the sunshine and fresh air, too much!.

You used to run a club night here, booking the likes of Carl Craig and Grooverider, can you tell us a little about it?

In late 2000, myself and Daz Goodwin (Owner of The Tanners) got together and decided to have a crack at putting on a Club night. Daz had the contacts and I’d moved to Newcastle in 2000 on the strength of playing records in his Bar, and to join the people I’d come into contact with. I fell in love with the vibe of the place, and the open-minded attitudes and friendliness of whose who’d welcomed me. We were offered a Friday Night at a Basement venue that had previously been called “The Power House”, but was renamed “Scotland Yard”. Bad name; great venue!  The space was a large one, able to hold well over 1000. Once we’d agreed to take the Friday on, the Residents were already handpicked. Justin Mills and myself were to look after the sounds in the main room and playing House / Tech House / Electro / Techno. Justin is one of THE finest dj’s in the North East. He’s far too modest to accept the accolade, but i stand by it. When the Night was up and running, there was a 2nd room opened and El Dee and Paddy Freeform started hosting that space, bringing a ‘Freestyle’ vibe and attitude.

I wish I could say it was packed out every week, crowds round the block etc, but it wasn’t. I’ll happily go on record, saying it was one of the hardest things I’ve been involved in. Most weeks we weren’t getting the numbers through the door to make it worthwhile, then one week out of the Month, we may have a really good night that would pay the previous weeks debts off, and we rolled again. Proper seat of the pants. The saving Friday was usually when El Dee and Paddy were handed control of the main room and had brought either a Breaks or DnB DJ to Town, and Justin and myself switched to the back room.

The Carl Craig night you mentioned, was a real coup for us and Newcastle, I suppose. He’d never played in Newcastle before and with his pedigree of timeless productions and records he’s released, we thought it’d be really busy. We were wrong! A week later, we had more in for a “Locals Showcase” type party… As for the Grooverider one, that was part of this:

https://soundcloud.com/section23/dj-grooverider-radio-one-love-parade

Sara Cox was at the door and asking where the V.I.P. area was… I don’t think she stayed too long.

Weekly, we had to hire our own sound system in, adding to the cost of renting the space and then all the costs of bringing DJ’s to the Country and Club. It was tough to take. I’d gone in as a “Partner”, rather than just a “Resident”. As such, there was no money to be had. I was working a job, Tuesday to Saturday and that job started at 6am on a Saturday morning. The club finished at 3, so maybe home for 4 and up for 5 and into work from 6 until Midday. It took its toll!

We lasted a Year in Scotland Yard, then moved on. Our last party there in the December 2001, Andrew Weatherall played, as part of a “Haywire Sessions”. John Peel was playing at the “Rockshots” venue upstairs, so I like to think that between us all promoting and DJ’ing that night, we gave the venue a good send off!

What’s your opinion on Newcastle’s scene currently?

I can’t really give an honest opinion, as I don’t go out too often!  There seems to be people putting the time and effort in to bringing more ‘Underground’ DJ’s to Newcastle and I’d hope that they’re being supported. They deserve to be.

You contribute hugely to it with 586 Records – thank you for that by the way – a set has yet to go by where I don’t play a bit of wax I’ve bought from you. What brought 586 about?

Very kind of you to say so. I don’t head out often, but I try to help with the promotion via the shop and tell customers what’s happening. When I’ve a poster in here, or been made aware of an event.

What brought “586 Records” about?. The short answer would be a love of collecting and finding records to play, sharing music and the realisation I needed to change the way I’d been living my life, for a number of years previous. I’d got myself into a situation whereby I’d spent some time in prison and it wasn’t my first time. I’m determined that it’ll be my last. Thanks to overwhelming support from my Girlfriend at the time (Thanks Jane! x) and many friends, I opened the shop. I’m nearly 3 years in now.

What’s the name from?

The name is a double whammy. I’m a New Order fan. They made a piece of music for the opening of the Hacienda, in Manchester, 1982. The name of that track was “Video 586”. This was the blueprint for the music that became the biggest selling 12” of all time, “Blue Monday”.

Also, the start of the phone number for Peterlee was… 586. So it’s a double nod to my influences and roots.

Was it always a dream to run a record shop?

Not at all. More to do with not wanting to accept a job that could have turned me back to old ways. I was made to attend interviews and courses when I was released from prison, and I’m sure that a job I would have had to accept would have been a Production-line type number, on a minimum wage and surrounded by people who I had very little in common with. Opening the shop was just an extension of a hobby, and a way to ensure I wasn’t listening to Magic FM in one ear and casual racism in the other.

That’s understandable. Did you have the music knowledge beforehand, or has opening the shop given you more than you had thought it could?

I’d bought and sold records to friends for a few years and also on Discogs. Add to that, part of my memory is bizarrely great for having heard a certain person play a record, maybe 25 years ago, and I’ve remembered the sleeve. Spending too many working hours on message boards added to the knowledge, then friends sharing theirs with me too.

You DJ’d for years, and have just sent us a great mix, what made you stop?

Thanks. It was a pleasure to be pulled out of my comfort zone! Why have I stopped? I’ve not been enjoying it, is the simple answer. Once over, bars and venues would look after the equipment (decks, mixer, monitors etc) and it was great to go and play places in Town. I struggle to sort out my music, organise it and narrow it down to what I’d LIKE to play. If I manage to narrow it down to 2 bags of records and turn up to play and I’m met with a Bar Manager telling me I should have ‘brought your own carts and needles / the mixer had a drink spilt in it last week / the decks haven’t worked for ages’ then I can’t be doing with that. My time is more precious than it was and I’m not giving it up to be met with the shite I’ve just explained. Also, I can’t be doing with playing a great record (imo) and someone coming up to me and asking that I “Play this off my Phone”. The dynamics of drinking and socialising in the centre of Newcastle has changed so much – and not for the better.

Obviously for your business, vinyl buying interest increasing is great, but what about for the rest of us? Is this a good thing?

I’d hope so! Buying records and listening to music, is a beautiful thing! Sharing music with friends and family, creating memories, where music has touched your soul and emotions, is something to treasure.

Your opinions on RSD are spread across FB, and very clear. How long do you think RSD will continue to persist?

In its current form? No more than a couple of years, MAX. RSD in 586? Many customers were overjoyed to see I didn’t have any involvement in it, at all. It’s gone from being a fantastic idea and for the right reasons, to record buyers hating the whole idea of it.

What’s on the horizon for vinyl? Are things set to get worse before they get better? Never get better even??

The Media will come along and tell people they should be into something else and those people will of course, move on. For some, collecting VINYLS, is this year’s Craft Beer or Pulled Pork. You’ve Adults who don’t own a turntable, nor ever have any intention of owning one, and they collect records. They want original pressings of hard to find albums and they want to find them in your £1 crates. Others? There’ll always be a core of people who weather the storm and they’re the type of humans who pay my bills and keep me afloat.

When you go for a dig to buy stock for your shop, what are you looking to bring in?

Records I can buy for a fair price. Where I’m maybe helping out another small business or paying a private owner a fair price for their records. Quality records that I think my core of customers, and others who find their way here, will be interested in.

Do you ever think of people or nights specifically when buying?

I do! A few friends have a ‘sound’ if you like. I’ve heard them play many times and the sort of stuff they play and collect. Others I don’t know so well, so I watch what they’re buying from me and when I’m out and digging, I’ll come across a record or records that are on a similar tip to what they’ve bought previously. Maybe throw a curve ball in here and there too.

Do you still buy your own records separately from 586, or just use the stock you have there?

I don’t buy too many records away from 586 now. More so because I’m not playing out regularly, and haven’t too much spare cash. When I buy a collection, I’ll occasionally keep a few things for myself, if it’s something that’s been on my radar for years. Bargain bins are still my friend!

You make 586 such a friendly environment (with free cake and coffee, which some may take advantage of from time to time…), thank you. Why do you see this as important? 

Thanks. You’re overdue bringing some biscuits in. No pink wafers or broken ones though.

I want this place to be a welcoming space. Simple as that. I’ve shopped in plenty of Record Shops over the years and, occasionally, it’s been very uncomfortable. Whether it be moody staff, who look at you like shite after you’ve made them stand up and walk 10 feet to get you records that you want to listen to and possibly buy, or music being blasted out that’s unnerving and gives you a raging headache. So much so that you leave and staff feel like they’ve won a personal battle with you and don’t ‘get’ it. The way I see it is, this place is a refuge. Customers have taken the time to discover me or like minded people have shared the information and told them where I am. Once here, there’s a strong chance they’re here to spend some of their hard earned money in my shop, and I appreciate that. As such, I want them to feel as comfortable as possible.

Do you see yourself like the old record store owners? Like a gatekeeper of sorts?

I am old. And MISERABLE.

Plans for the future?

To keep on running my business, supplying customers with some great music and, possibly, getting involved in Mentoring ex-prisoners, or young people who could use some of my life experiences to help support them and lead a law-abiding life.

What do you like to do to totally disconnected from music?

I wish I could say that I’m in the gym loads, out on my bike and getting super fit, but I’m probably on the couch, dipping a packet of chocolate hob nobs into a big mug of milk and channel hopping.

What would you be doing in life if not for music?

Good question.  If I hadn’t picked up loads of injuries from when I played football, then playing over 40’s Sunday League and pissing in a 2 litre Fanta bottle at 9am on a Sunday morning. Instead, music took over the love I had for playing football and having the shop has saved my life.

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