You’re based upstairs in The Exchange, a brilliant venue and cafe. It must be great having loads of other exciting music things going on in the same building. What’s been the best gig you’ve seen in the venue?
Yeah it’s so fun, we’ve been visiting / playing Exchange for years and been to so, so many gigs, before and after we opened the shop. Recently my favourite gigs have been the sold out show we did for Camp Cope from Melbourne. It was a really special atmosphere and wonderful seeing so many women screaming along at the front to the songs. The new collective Eat Up have put on five of my favourite gigs this year, championing LGBTQ+ and women-led events. I always look forward to seeing what they have coming up. Deadpunk are about to put on The Beths from New Zealand as well as RVIVR, which I already know will be two of my favourite gigs of the year. And 1% of One put on Screaming Females a couple of months ago who were incredible. There are so many great promoters who use Exchange and so much happens here on a weekly basis though, it’s hard to keep track!
It’s great to see that The Exchange will become community-owned in January 2019. What does this mean for the venue and the shop moving forward?
Yeah we’re absolutely chuffed and excited to see what happens. When we first talked to the owners of the venue last summer they told us how they wanted Exchange to be a music-based community centre for Bristol, and community ownership gets us another step closer to that. It has future-proofed the venue, which means we don’t have to worry about when/where we’ll need to move the shop to in the future if the venue has to close. We love being here and can’t imagine running our business from anywhere else.
What’s new in the shop that you’d recommend?
The new Neurotic Fiction album Pulp Music is out 16th November. It’s brilliant pop-post-punk in the vein of B-52s. The new album from Gouge Away is incredible if you like things a little heavier.
What’s the best thing about working at Specialist Subject?
Being part of the Exchange and local community. One of my favourite parts is when touring bands wander up the stairs before soundcheck and discover the shop. It’s also fun keeping the shop open late during gigs, having a few beers and hanging out.
What is exciting in your local music scene?
It’s welcoming, supportive, incredibly talented and pretty diverse. We’re lucky enough to work with our friends Dogeyed and Neurotic Fiction through the label. Old friends in Woahnows, Austeros and Caves are all part of our social group in Bristol, along with many more brilliant bands like Toodles & the Hectic Pity and Slagheap.
Having started out as a record label, could you tell us a bit about how Specialist Subject became a shop and what the label is up to right now?
We’re still very much a record label. We just announced our 2019 Season Ticket – the fifth year of our vinyl subscription – which is our favourite part of everything we do. On average we put out ten releases a year from a range of new and established punk and indie bands from the UK and further afield. This year we worked with Jeff Rosenstock, Neurotic Fiction, Muncie Girls, Fresh and more – it’s been a good year!
The shop came about when the lease ended at our office in Exeter. We had a few months of not knowing what we were going to do then on a whim enquired about a retail space in Bristol. Through mutual friends, the owners of Exchange heard about our plan and asked us if we’d like to open a record shop in their green room – six weeks later we opened!
What are your top 5 albums of 2018 so far?
Screaming Females - All At Once
Camp Cope - How To Socialise & Make Friends
Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me