He's got six tattoos, a room full of records, and a heck of a background story. Matt Anthony is one hip guy with class to spare. He's a WFPK radio personality, painter, writer, former ear-X-tacy buying manager and is now the owner of one of the newest small record shops in town. Matt Anthony's Record Shop is at 943 Franklin Ave. and is part of the Tim Faulkner building, a new arts complex and gallery.
The shop is a small room filled with CDs, books, posters and records. Anthony sits on his vintage orange stool behind a counter displaying treasures like record care kits, a Parliament record with pop up art depicting the city of Atlantis and a Dead Kennedy's album complete with anti-Nazi arm badge. There's also a Melvin's record that goes for more than $200 online that he has priced at $150.
Anthony was born in Hawaii but has also lived in Italy, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Colorado, California and Illinois. He traveled with a military family growing up, which landed him on an Air Force base in Italy for his early teen years. He said that living on the base in Italy left him and other kids hungry for American culture.
"There was no American music over there...very limited...especially in the late eighties, early nineties," he said. There was a lot of cheesy Euro-techno stuff, so you were ravenous for all the American music coming out. This was the golden age of hip hop, and that’s what all the kids wanted to hear, myself included."
Anthony had an affinity for music (especially hip hop) and spent his afternoons mowing lawns for money so he could purchase the incoming music at the Air Force Base Exchange. He said that the exchange only got one copy of each new album, and he kept track of which days they arrived so he could snatch them up; there wasn't much else to do around the base. There were no malls, amusement parks or other things with which American kids distracted themselves. Since he bought up all the music, he quickly became the first choice for the local party DJ at the young age of 13.
"I always wanted to be a DJ," said Anthony. "I never wanted to play guitar or bass in a band. I just wanted to DJ parties. We didn’t get concerts or anything. No one came to Italy. So, we made our own shows. I went to four different high schools, and would DJ parties or dances at all of them."
Matt Anthony behind the Tim Faulkner Building
The Air Force base was in the tip of the heel of Italy, which made it a layover spot for troops traveling all over the world; this made it a diverse place for discovering music. Anthony said that the kids would ask the visiting troops for American news and culture. There were also people from all over the world living at the base, making it a place where Anthony could learn about many types of music. One kid would bring the latest hip-hop tapes back from New York for him to cut and scratch.
"Most of us didn’t speak Italian, so our Italian friends were limited; you might have a few that you could barely communicate with," he said. "So we were all starved for information and news from the states."