INTERVIEW: HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN RECORD PRESSING PLANT | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Andy Lochrie

A year after the first pressing machines arrived at Press On Vinyl in Middlesbrough, Steve Spithray’s latest book explores what it takes to build and run a record pressing plant.

Taking a look behind the scenes of Press On Vinyl’s first year in business, How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant is a tale of the highs and lows, the resilience, creativity and passion of its owners – David Todd and Danny Lowe – and their mission to create a sustainable business providing rare opportunities for indie musicians and artists.

A labour of love and a true local collaboration of North East creatives, Spithray’s book features eye-catching cover art from Rob Irish and is published by Butterfly Effect – a first for the record label.

Steve wanted to release the book via a record label because of the subject matter,” says Butterfly Effect founder Stephen Gill. “I agreed if I could bring in my friend Fran Harvey – she’s worked in the book industry for a while and knows how to edit and design an amazing book.”

Inspired by the passion and ethos that built Press On Vinyl, both Spithray and Gill knew this was a project they wanted to shout about: “Press On Vinyl at its core is about being proud of where they come from,” says Gill. “It’s about treating everyone fairly and with respect, and make something I’m very passionate about – vinyl records.”

Press On Vinyl at its core is about being proud of where they come from

Spithray agrees: “I had literally just finished my last book and had promised myself some time off, but the next thing I knew I was pitching the idea in a half-built galvanics lab in a vinyl factory that was yet to press a single record. The characters involved and the ethos behind Press On Vinyl are a perfect fit for everything I am about, and what a journey they have been on.”

A rags to riches tale that rightly champions the wealth of creative and entrepreneurial talent here in the North East, How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant also holds a wider message of the vital importance of the arts. “Levelling up is as much about culture as anything else,” says Gill. “Other countries financially support musicians, small venues and promoters. We need to invest in our talent at grassroots level.”

They both agree that part of the problem lies in the rarely addressed inequality which prevents so many from accessing the arts: “There was talk of a 5,000 seat arena being built in Redcar but even rail and bus links to Middlesbrough and Stockton are appalling. For Teesside that is still the main obstacle,” says Spithray. “People will always create. The closure of Base Camp and the Westgarth Social Club were a hammer blow for Middlesbrough, but the rise of the counterculture underground in places like Pineapple Black and The Auxiliary prove there is still an appetite for the arts in Middlesbrough. Build it and they will come (as long as public transport provisions are in place).”

Ultimately then, the driving force for everyone involved in How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant is the same: redressing that balance. Celebrating the thriving culture in the North East, and ensuring it is kept alive for generations to come.

How To Build Your Own Record Pressing Plant is published on Thursday 2nd November. A Q&A hosted by Alex Niven will take place at The Bound, Whitley Bay on Friday 10th November.

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