Sunderland based five-piece, Frankie & The Heartstrings are pleased to announce that they will be opening their own records store, Pop Recs Ltd on June 1st.
Located on Fawcett Street, in the heart of Sunderland and housed in what was formerly the area's tourism office, the store is being opened thanks to assistance from the local council, who have granted the space on an initial lease to the band as the nascent partnership look to create another social and cultural destination for the local creative community. Alongside being a record store that will be selling all the current record releases from across Britain and beyond, as well as a comprehensive range of music from artists in the North East, Pop Recs Ltd will be home to a performance area, recreational space and as well as a gallery wall which will be utilised by local and national artists of varying disciplines.
The opening two weeks will see a comprehensive list of instore performances by the great and the good hailing largely from the North East of Britain's vibrant music scene. Following an opening night show by Frankie & The Heartstrings, the likes of The Futureheads, Maximo Park, Field Music, Bernard Butler and Martin Stephenson have all confirmed sets along with selected DJ appearances by The Cribs amongst others - a full itinerary of events will be available prior to opening.
The store's gallery space will see a variety of artists grace its walls including photographer Keith Pattison (the band used his 'No Redemption' images for their debut album) and Paul Knox (provider of imagery on the band's forthcoming album) and in keeping with the DIY ethos, liquid refreshment will be provided by local coffee merchants Ouseburn Coffee of Newcastle and for those preferring something a little stronger there will be a limited batch of F&TH's bottles of locally brewed Maxim Brewery ale. Meanwhile, enowned artist Pete Fowler (Super Furry Animals) has promised art/ image adorned coffee mugs too.
The idea to open their own record store is in many ways a direct reaction by the five-piece to the issues that a band of their ilk has in terms of the diminishing market place for selling their music in physical formats. The band's debut album 'Hunger' attained Top 40 status in February 2011, thanks in no small part to the backing of music retailers like HMV. The subsequent paring down of the retailer's music selection and also, closure of many stores, means that the band decided the best way to combat the disappearance of physical music is to join the community of independent record stores that they love hugely.
An additional and equal aim is to create an inclusive space for the Sunderland arts community, one that hopefully brings benefits to many of the city's creative groups. The area itself has been home to a disproportionate amount of creative people - artists, musicians and photographers - but sometimes fails to benefit from the same spotlight and support that other major cities in the area do.
Going public , Frankie Francis said : "It's really brilliant. I love records, and to be able to become part of that community of people who sell records in the UK is exciting and in some way a bit of an honour." The British record shop has a huge legacy and one that we can contribute to in a small way. The level of backing from Sunderland council thus far has been incredibly inspiring. We as a group are proud of who we are and where we are from and moments like these only affirm that sense of community and belief that the area as a creative hub are supported by the people around us.