Repressed Records on Dusty Fingers: Chris & Nic look back on fifteen years

May 31st 2017

  • Repressed Records :: Dusty Fingers with Marty Doyle

From Penrith to Newtown, Chris Summut and Nic Warnock have turned their independent record store into an Australian music institution.

The brains behind Newtown’s Repressed Records dropped in on Dusty Fingers with Marty Doyle to chat memorable record sales, unconventional business models and the start of it all in Western Sydney. They’ve come a long way since meeting in Penrith where the store first opened.

Having moved from sunny North Queensland and not knowing the area, Nic checked out what local record stores existed in the white pages.


Nic: “I think one place was obviously a drug front. Another was just mouldy old stuff and then Repressed Records immediately had these signifiers on the wall of musical counter culture I was interested in.”


He had no idea that wearing a Stooges t-shirt would get him a job there.


Chris: “I thought oh my god, who’s this kid? It just happened that the guy I had working with me left and was going to move to Melbourne. So I asked a few uni students if they knew this guy who was into this music.”
Nic: “His wife told me it was that exciting in 2004 or whatever it was, that someone had a Stooges t-shirt. He told his wife about a seventeen year old boy wearing one.”


Together, they would go on to sell more than just second hand vinyls and CD’s…


Chris: “We were quite aware of it, even in Penrith, on building a community. We started having bands playing in the shop and it was a bit of a punk scene at the time too.”
Nic: “It wasn’t like annoying mohawk street punk kids wrecking the place. It was kind of respectful considering it was a carpark in Penrith. Still, their gear got impounded by the cops.”


Combining live in-store shows with a growing interest for Australian DIY, punk and alternative music, the duo found successful ways to “accidentally” sell a CD or two. But for Chris and Nic, it’s still all about spreading the word on good music, as witnessed IRL by Marty Doyle.


Marty: “I’ve seen you stop people from buying something in the shop. Absolutely, don’t deny it. I remember standing and flicking through the racks and some poor kid came up with something and you said ‘This is garbage, you don’t want this bullshit’ and threw it away at something and then steered them onto something good.”
Nic: “Sometimes [people are responsive to it], sometimes they’re sacred. I remember seeing some weird Tumblr post like ‘That guy doesn’t realise how intense and intimidating he is.’ I’m just excited.”


Obviously, Repressed Records hasn’t become one of the most respected stores across the country just by handing out whatever.


Chris: “I sold Brando’s Island to Henry Rollins, which is a pretty obscure band from Melbourne and he loved it. He played it on his American radio show.”
Nic: “I got the tip off next time he was coming into the shop and made a whole pile of records that I wanted to try and sell to him. I wasn’t even working that day. I just knew that he was in town and I made this entire pile of 30 records and just went ‘Have you heard this? Have you heard this?’ and he ended up buying 25 of them.”


With Repressed Records renowned amongst locals and heavyweight international artists alike, Chris and Nic have had plenty of memorable musical moments. When their last Opera House showcase ended in a police raid and made it onto the nightly news, Chris was really excited to swear at a reporter about it. Who knows what’s in store this time around, as they hit up the iconic venue for their fifteenth anniversary celebrations as part of Vivid LIVE.


WHO: Repressed Records 15th Anniversary Feat. Total Control, Severed Heads & More
WHEN: June 1
WHERE: Sydney Opera House – Northern Broadwalk
HOW MUCH: $39 + bf. More info here


Read more from Maia Bilyk