Musician recalls his days at HMV

Young Knives playing at Oxford’s HMV store in 2008. Henry, left, and Thomas Dartnall

Young Knives playing at Oxford’s HMV store in 2008. Henry, left, and Thomas Dartnall

First published in Oxford Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

ONE of Oxford’s top musicians has compared the demise of record store HMV to “watching your school burn down”.

Tom Dartnall, who performs as ‘House of Lords’ in the Young Knives, spent four years working behind the counter in the Oxford branch of the shop, which has just gone into administration.

Mr Dartnall said his initial application to work at the store in Cornmarket Street was turned down, while bandmate Oliver Askew landed a job there the first time he asked.

He later managed to secure a position – his first full-time job.

Mr Dartnall said: “As slightly musiciany types without much inspiration we thought we would go and work in a record shop. It’s nice to work with like-minded people.

“If you’re into music and you’re just hanging around talking about music all the time, it’s an extension of that and gives you the opportunity to wax on about music to more people.”

The pair worked there from 2000 to 2004, soon after they formed the band with Mr Dartnall’s brother, Henry.

Mr Dartnall said raiding the bargain buckets before customers had helped to develop the band’s musical tastes, introducing them to music they might not otherwise have encountered.

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And they returned after Young Knives hit the big time with their single The Decision in 2005 performing instore on several occasions.

Mr Dartnall, 35, who still lives in Oxford, said: “It was weird because obviously I knew people who were working there and it felt like going in there and being the big ‘I am’.

“Also the mangers were all really chummy and obviously in places like that, the management is the ‘enemy’, so that’s a bit strange.”

He said he did still pop in to HMV – but more to catch up with acquaintances working there than to stock up on music.

Mr Dartnall said: “I don’t think I would be too sad if it closes for good.

“I think about it with fondness but it’s a bit like watching your old school burn down.”

He added: “It’s not like people won’t be able to get music. If anything when you go to an online shop there’s much more available and if you go to an independent record shop, there’s probably a more interesting selection of music.”

l Young Knives are currently working on a fourth album, Sick Octave.

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