Monkey Boy Records was founded in 2012, but until 2017, it had always been based online. This month, Alex opened up a new shop space in Canterbury’s King’s Mile, adding to the eclectic mix of independent shops in the Northgate area. Specialising in pop-punk and emo, Alex chats to us about his plans for Canterbury’s latest vinyl store:
I thought I’d start at the beginning— what was your first album?
I can think of a few — it would have been Green Day: Warning – not the cool one, not Dookie [laughs]. I remember having the Men in Black soundtrack and Offspring’s ‘Americana’. I’m not sure what came first though!
How did you get into the vinyl business?
I started it in five years ago pretty much now, in September 2012. Basically, I was into pop-punk and a load of American pop-punk bands. Then at the time, there weren’t many places that you could buy vinyl records — it was only just starting to become popular again at that point. Banquet records in Kingston was one of the few places that you could buy records from, so I decided to start buying records myself and selling them.
Have you always been based in Canterbury?
Yes, I went to university in Manchester, and after this, I started doing this straight away. I still focus on a lot of punk, but now I branch out a lot more.
You’ve been open a few weeks now, how has it been so far?
The opening weekend was really busy, that was on the 2nd May. I rushed to get it open for record store day but I didn’t have any signs up, all I had was my crates. I posted on Facebook that I’d be open at 10 am that day, and a bunch of people came down. That day was really busy actually, that was really good.
Why do you think there’s been such a surge in popularity with vinyl these days?
Because CDs are rubbish! I don’t think people ever stopped wanting physical copies of music, but CDs just became so disposable – buy them, rip them, put them in a cupboard, forget about it. With vinyl, there’s bigger artwork and they look nice. I don’t really buy into the whole better sound quality thing — I just think that people like to own music physically – that’s my opinion.
Are you putting on events?
Events are my next stage. I haven’t put on a gig in ages, but I want to start putting on gigs in Canterbury. The Jolly Sailor is pretty much next door, and they’ve just redone their upstairs bit. The Ballroom as well, they do quite a lot of gigs there.
Do you sell second-hand stuff?
It’s all new stuff — I see myself as an old-style record shop, focussing on new releases every week, advertising what’s coming out, that sort of thing. It’s all about the music, it’s not about the vinyl or about the record collecting.
Why this location?
I was looking at shops on Palace street — I actually wanted a bigger shop originally, so I was looking to buy ‘Fifth Avenue’, but somebody had already put down a deposit for it. Then I saw a cheap shop here and I thought, I’ll go for it! The Kings Mile is a good location as you want to be around other independent stores — there’s no point putting up a shop like this around say, Whitefriars. I stayed here because it’s been done so many times in London and I wanted to start fresh in Canterbury.