Record boss Geoff Travis tells tricks of the trade

Geoff Travis (centre) giving a talk at Pop Recs Ltd,  with music journalist Eamonn Forde (left) and Dave Harper of Frankie & the Heartstrings.

Geoff Travis (centre) giving a talk at Pop Recs Ltd, with music journalist Eamonn Forde (left) and Dave Harper of Frankie & the Heartstrings.

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AN icon of independent music delved into his decades in the business for an anecdotal talk on Wearside.

Rough Trade Records founder Geoff Travis regaled crowds at Pop Recs Ltd with a talk on how he signed some of Britain’s most well-respected bands, including The Smiths, The Strokes and The Libertines.

He offered to hold the talk for free after hearing about Pop Recs, a one-stop record shop, gallery and gig space set up by Mackem musicians Frankie & the Heartstrings.

It’s the latest sell-out event at the former derelict shop in Fawcett Street since the five-piece launched their drive to create a cultural hub in the city centre in June.

Drummer Dave Harper said: “There isn’t anyone in independent music who comes closer to being a Svengali than Geoff. He found The Smiths, then he went bankrupt, then he came back and found The Libertines. He’s done it all, and he’s done it with a very Marxist, hippy mentality.”

Geoff, who founded his pioneering label in 1978, has followed the band’s progress after their first single, a double A-side of Hunger and Fragile, was released through Rough Trade.

The band teamed up with music development agency Generator for the talk, which was a rare chance to hear Geoff speak of his label’s trade secrets.

It’s the latest coup for the venue, which has already staged free gigs by Edwyn Collins and Badly Drawn Boy.

“The talk was something a bit different for us,” said Dave. “We can’t just be a record shop – that won’t survive in this city.

“We’re listening to what people want, and it seems to be working.”

Boa, Slow Club and The Lanterns on the Lake will all perform at Pop Recs in the coming weeks.