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The Other Repo Man: A look at the life of Repo Records owner Dan Matherson

Dan Matherson, owner of South Street music institution Repo Records | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com
Dan Matherson, owner of South Street music institution Repo Records | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

“We’ve been open, what, 26 years now?” His voice goes up at the end as if he’s asking me. Of course, Dan Matherson is aware of how long his store has been open. He’s just being modest, which is impressive given that he owns and operates a record store, selling music in a physical format even as the industry trends digital.

The first Repo Records opened in 1986 in the main line suburb of Wayne. The side street it was located on was the best location Matherson could find given his tight budget. “The rent was so cheap, like, $400 a month,” he says. The slab of real estate wasn’t the best, but Matherson was able to draw in customers by advertising on train stops and fliers posted around the locality. As his business expanded, he relocated to a second site in Bryn Mawr, where business took off. Eventually, he was able to open a second store on the 500 block of South Street in Philadelphia – the main hub for Repo since the Bryn Mawr location closed in the mid-aughts.

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LPs ranging from Iron Maiden to The Front Bottoms line the Repo Records walls | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

Matherson grew up in Devon, an area in which the few existing record stores were chains, which typically sold whatever was at the top of the charts that week. However, New York was his home away from home, and it was there that he would frequent record stores of a different type. The record stores in New York didn’t care about what was popular. They sold what was good. Knowing there was nothing like this in his Pennsylvania suburb, Matherson found his calling.

He nicked the store’s name from the 1984 movie, Repo Man. Given the movie’s punk rock soundtrack featuring artists like Iggy Pop and Circle Jerks, he figured it would make a good name for his store, which specializes in punk and underground records.

Matherson is a huge fan of punk; he loves bands like Joy Division and The Buzzcocks. In 1981, he traveled to New York to see The Clash play at Bond’s Casino, which he described as “one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”

As he lists some of his favorite bands, it’s clear he’s quite the rock and roll connoisseur. He gravitates towards lots of new wave bands from the late 70s and early 80s such as Wire, The Teardrop Explodes, and especially The Chameleons. In fact, Matherson helped organize a Chameleons concert at J.C. Dobbs when he found out the band had no Philadelphia dates on its 2006 American tour. Continue reading →

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Watch Philly’s Far Out Fangtooth deliver an intense peformance of “Red Hawk Desert” at Repo Records

Far-Out Fangtooth | Photo by Adam Wallacavage

As part of its Record Store Day festivities, Repo Records hosted a special gathering which included a performance by Philly goth punks Far Out Fangtooth. The technical quality may be a bit fuzzy but you can still feel their resounding energy as they tear through the intense track and leave you wanting them to rock your basement and spook out the neighbors. If the latter doesn’t work out, you can still catch them live at two of their upcoming local shows: May 13th at Boot and Saddle (supporting Amen Dunes; tickets here) and May 14th at The ICA Siltbreeze Closing Ceremony (info here). Check out the video below via Kyle Garvey (of The Interest Group).

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The Key’s guide to your Record Store Day shopping spree

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Siren Records | photo by Liora Arianna | via facebook.com/SirenRecordsDoylestown

It’s the time of year to trade in all those hard earned dollars for some new vinyl – as if you didn’t do that all year long already.

And if you don’t, Record Store Day - this Saturday, April 19th – is a good a day as any to start. While the debate continues as to whether or not the “holiday” has outgrown its original goal of celebrating independent record stores across the country, and turned more towards larger labels reissuing classics to cash in, that’s not to say you shouldn’t take advantage of what’s been released and take advantage of any potential deals.

When heading out this Saturday, be ready for something unavoidable – crowds. Blair Elliot, owner of Doylestown’s Siren Records, says that RSD has blown up a little more every year to the point of bringing more people through his shop’s doors than the Christmas shopping season. His store will have most of the RSD-exclusive releases. And if you check the RSD website; that’s quite a formidable list; must be a big investment for an independent store.

“We hope it’s big this year because it’s costing us a lot,” Elliot says laughing. “I don’t think it’s a risk, but you just need to make sure you sell enough of what you get.”

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Our Griffins will play an instore set at Siren Records in Doylestown

Siren Records will also be hosting Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band and Our Griffins for an in-store performance starting at 6 p.m. Forsyth and company will be releasing, Solar Live 11.15.13, a recording of the band’s November show at the Rotunda.

The show happening at Siren is just one of many in-store shows this year. Northern Liberties’ Creep Records is treating RSD as a “grand re-opening” as they expand into a neighboring store in the Piazza at Schmidt’s (shoppers will be able to enter from a new door on the inside of the Piazza). They plan to mark their stock down ten percent and expect to have all the RSD-exclusive releases. Goddamnit, Ex Friends, Good Graces and Families will be playing their in-store show starting around 4 p.m. Continue reading →

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Listen to Pythons with Surfer Blood at Repo Records tomorrow afternoon (playing The Electric Factory tomorrow night)

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In anticipation of their upcoming Python LP, Surfer Blood will swing by Repo Records to host a listening / pizza party tomorrow afternoon.  Python is the Floridian indie pop / rock’s second album, coming three years after their breakout debut Astro Coast.  More information for the free event can be found here.  Surfer Blood also has a show at The Electric Factory with Foals tomorrow night; tickets and information can be found here.  Below, stream their new song “Demon Dance.”