Interviewed by: Laurent Shervington
Nestled next to Player  on Fitzgerald Street, Rhubarb Records is the new kid on the block for Perth record stores, stocking some seriously sick records for some seriously affordable prices.
What I noticed when I walked into the store was how laidback and friendly everything seemed, some guy was lackadaisically flicking through the psych rock section, while a couple was just being set up with a new turntable. I was later given an impromptu tour of the back of the store, finding couches and small retro arcade game machines, which reminded me of the machines that I spent wayyy too much time/money on as a kid.
I caught up with co-owner Dylan Sainsbury to talk about all the wonderful world of vinyl records.
First of all who is behind Rhubarb Records, how long has it been open and what do you stock?
I run Rhubarb Records with my wife Karen and we’ve been open since October of last year – we stock vinyl, new and second-hand turntables, boomboxes, cassettes, record cleaning accessories, speakers, amps… anything record related!
We’ve got a big collection of classic rock, indie, garage, alternative, prog, punk, reggae, hip-hop and a bit of classic pop in between.
I saw some surf stuff too, that’s awesome.
*laughs* Yeah, we’ve got a nice little surf collection.
Were you involved in working at a record store, or even the music industry before Rhubarb?
No actually, I’m a chef by trade but I’ve always been into music and vinyl.
One day I was trading online and at markets around Perth and Michael (owner of Player 1) who was a friend of a friend asked me if I had enough stock to open a store and I had a room full of records, maybe around a thousand that I was sorting through and I said yeah, we could probably do that.
He gave me about a month to get ready and we fitted the place all out myself and everything and I thought I’d give it a shot and here we are.
What are your favourite genres or bands?
Well I enjoy listening to a lot of music, I’m more into indie bands and see as much local stuff as I can, bit of garage rock; very into rock music.
How do you think Rhubarb stands out of from other record stores in Perth?
Well we’re pretty small so I like to keep the prices low, very chilled out vibes; a lot of people just come out here to chat and hang out for fun.
We like to think we’re pretty down to earth and we also stock first and second hand records, so there’s always stuff around you wouldn’t be able to buy brand new. We also make sure we stock all the new releases as well.
Do you think the people of Perth have good music taste?
Yeah I think Perth has a great music scene with really good bands and venues, like the Rosemount up the road where you can see a great band every week.
The Perth vinyl scene is really good, everyone’s really friendly and when we go out to record fairs we always meet regulars and new people who we get along with and support each other.
Do you have your own personal holy grail that you’ve been searching for?
Well I mean there’s always stuff I really want but its just too expensive *laughs*, I find because I buy collections from people in the shop I always find one little treasure that I can’t bear to part with myself.
For myself, I’ve been trying to get a hold of “Seachange” by Beck, which was a small release on vinyl, but that goes for anything up to $500 and I just can’t bring myself to spend that much money on a record.
I know the older Modest Mouse albums like Lonesome Crowded West had never been reissued and were going for around $500 on eBay, but they got reissued this year and the prices have plummeted.
Yeah that reminds me, I’ve got the soundtrack for Trainspotting on vinyl which was around $250 for a while before they reissued it so I guess some things you just have to wait for.
People always talk about the vinyl revival and for a revival to happen, the thing has to be “dead”. Do you vinyl or buying physical copies of music ever died?
I wouldn’t say it died, it died commercially for the big retail chains but the smaller record stores kept it alive along with collectors. With the internet coming in it meant that people could keep finding and buying vinyl for their collection.
There’s a lot more interest now, but yeah I think it did decline for a little while but its “revival” I think is due to people wanting a tangible object compared to just paying money for just a file on a computer. It’s a lot more personal you feel like you’re supporting the artist more.
What gets the most sales at Rhubarb? And what gets the least?
It’s pretty broad actually, we sell a lot of turntables which is good because the more people that have record players, the more people that will listen to records and will buy vinyl from us or other traders.
But I try and stock as much variety as I can so there’s not stuff that I’ll sell again and again really, I want to try and keep it as diverse as I can.
Did you guys do record store day? What are you thoughts on RSD?
Yeah we did, we had some friends come out and do some Djing out the front and we had the Bee-Hives Go-Go dancers out the front dancing so we had a lot of people driving past honking their horns and stuff *laughs*.
We stocked a few of the record store day releases and basically just had a bit of a party. That was actually our 6 months anniversary that day, so it was kind of twice as important for us.
Have you seen the movie High Fidelity? Do you think its an accurate representation of your experience?
Yes! Many times *laughs*. Yes it is a great movie it does go into some interesting things. I wouldn’t say it’s an accurate representation of our shop but it does capture the vibe of record stores, in like people looking for something different when they come to a record store, because you never know what you’ll find.
You’ve got the whole music nerd culture as well. It’s probably the best film on its topic and it’s a great film.
What are your thoughts on the mp3 and iTunes/streaming (Spotify and more recently tidal) do you think physical releases and digital can co-exist?
Yeah definitely, a lot of new records come with a digital code to download the mp3s so you get an awesome vinyl record plus the mp3 for your iPod or whatever. If I want to check something out I’m going to go on some webpage or YouTube and listen to the digital copy of the album and then decide to buy it on vinyl.
Portability wise you can’t take a record player everywhere you go so there is a lot of functionality in it. So I don’t think there will ever be a kind of battle over them. As people have sort of got bored of the mp3, they’ve wanted a physical thing and records have come back as the best physical release you can get.
What do you think about the 45? Do you think it’s still relevant in a society/scene in which a band will come out with a new release every 6 months.
We do stock 45s and it’s a nice affordable kind of medium for people to buy rather than a complete album. I think it’s very cool. You get the B sides which are often songs that were only released on that format. It’s also a more affordable way for upcoming indie bands to get some music on vinyl rather than a complete album.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Come down and check out Rhubarb Records and be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram for updates of new stock and upcoming events. I’d also like to say a big thanks to the great people at Player  and to everyone who has supported us so far.
Rhubarb also participates in some of Perth’s vinyl selling events, if you’re in the mood to add some sweet new wax to your collection, check out these events:
•The first Sunday of every month from 12pm – 4 pm at The Velvet lounge in Mount Lawley is The Vinyl Lounge. Great little event with the pizza and pint special running at The Flying Scotsman so you can make an afternoon of it.
•The last Sunday of every month at the Mount Hawthorn town hall from 1pm – 5pm is the Vinyl Haul. This is a big one with some of Perth’s biggest traders bringing a huge amount of vinyl. Get in early and you are guaranteed some awesome finds.
•Twice a year the Vic Park Record fair at the Vic Park Town Hall. It’s a massive event that’s been running for 20 years. The next one is October the 4th from 9am – 3pm.
•Sunday August 23rd will be the Record Collector at the Rosemount Hotel from 11am – 4pm. A regular event with a unique mix of sellers in a great location.
These are all great events that we regularly participate in.