Besides discovering cider and blackcurrant, one of my favourite teenage memories is hanging out with my mates Bibs & Smiff in Underground Music – a tiny independent record store in my hometown of Bangor, Northern Ireland. Dressed like tramps, we’d spend the afternoon sifting through old boxes of yellowing NMEs and rare 7″ vinyl. To be fair, we hardly ever bought anything: we never had any money. But the owners put up with us, and we eventually got to know one of them, Steve, pretty well.

Steve looked like a 40-year-old praying mantis in an Operation Ivy tshirt: tall, gangly and always smiling. It was the kind of smile that only comes from knowing you work in a record shop. Music was his whole life. He doesn’t know his claim to fame, but it’s that he sold me my first Screeching Weasel record: the band that basically dictated the style of pop punk I’d continue listening to for the next 15 years.

The invasion of the big record stores killed Underground. They were forced to close, and Steve lost his job. Over the next few months I’d see him walking the streets of my hometown, sad that he didn’t work in a record shop anymore.

Back to the present day, and as I was walking through Shibuya last week I spotted an independent record store with a similar vibe to Underground. On the second floor I found an old box of yellowing magazines and rare 7″ vinyl: a pile of Japanese punk magazines from the mid-90s featuring all my favourite bands: Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Snuff… All the bands that Steve got me into.

It’s funny the people you meet in life who influence you so much – yet they don’t even know it.

Steve, arigatou.


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  1. Anonymous

    Steve sold me Hitler bad, Vandals good and Wiggle when I was about 14 cause I went into his shop and told him I liked Blink 182. He used to get other stuff in and phone my house to tell me to come and listen to it. He is probably responsible for most of the shite pop punk bands playing the front page. The dick.Wonder what he is doing now.

  2. Anonymous

    Insect! How are you?? Email me at the jarpunk email, even a couple of lines :DSteve’s a legend. The last time I saw him he was working in Pets at Home and buying obscure Kung Fu movies ^_^My first Weasel album was Boogada then Major Label Debut.Baron, yes, there’s an Ash spread as well. They look 12.

  3. Bib

    I done my 5th year work experience in Underground Music. Me and Steve listened to lots of music (mostly punk rock) all week and drank lots of cups of tea. Refused – the shape of punk to come really reminds me of that week,Steve was a nice guy who introduced us into a lot of different bands,it’s rare to find that these days. Nice post mate – keep em coming.

  4. Rad Operator

    I’ll never forget hanging around upstairs on a Friday afternoon for what felt like an age. Suddenly, at about 4pm, maybe even later who knows, there was this sound of terror and sheer insanity coming from the stereo downstairs. I knew straight away that it had to be it. I arrived at the counter as soon as I could, probably jumping ten stairs at a time to get there. I handed over my 14 quid, or whatever it cost, and was probably the first guy without pubes in Bangor to own The Fat of The Land. Beautiful; i could weep. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Wounded but not quite dead… yet. Bangor, County Down, N. Ireland. | Ikimasho!

  6. Pingback: Collecting Vinyl in the 1990s… |

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