Black tees, tatts and tight jeans aside, Young Henrys' connection to live music has always run deep through the brand. The brewery is constantly collaborating with bands – both local and those a little larger, such as the Foo Fighters – and sponsoring and hosting festivals, while you're more likely than not to find Newtowner or their Natural Lager pouring in Sydney's band rooms.
The brewery crew has kept working closely with their allies in music since venues closed too, hosting live gigs via Instagram and showcasing up-and-coming acts through their social media channels and website. Now, spurred on by the popularity of their own online store in recent weeks, Young Henrys are selling slabs of beer accompanied by vinyl from Australian acts.
Young Henrys co-founder Oscar McMahon (pictured below), who used to tour Australia in hard rock outfit Hell City Glamours, says partnering with local musicians to sell vinyl was a natural fit for the brewery.
“We’re just trying to push some records out to our beer fans,” he says. “And hopefully some of our fans will buy records off a new band or a band they’ve been meaning to support for a while.”
The featured musicians are all part of local outfit Inertia Music, with whom Young Henrys have had a longstanding relationship, including through the brewery's sponsorship of Fairgrounds Festival. And it was while chatting with the team about the trouble facing local musicians that the Inertia Record Club was born; for $85 you can now pick up the riffs of The Delta Riggs, the dream-pop sounds of Hazel English or records by Body Type and Alex Cameron alongside a case of tinnies.
“They were talking about how income for bands was at an all-time low; no one was touring, no one is selling merch, records aren’t selling,” Oscar says.
“We were saying our online store is actually going really well because people want stuff delivered to their home.”
He adds that, while being in a band has never been easy, the continual decline of album sales has made touring an increasingly important way in which local acts are able to survive; the COVID-19 closures of music venues are therefore particularly devastating. In parallel to the Keeping Local Alive campaign, there are still simple, if limited, ways to support local music – for example, Victoria's Save Our Scene – and Oscar also offers vinyl gives people a tactile way to listen to music.
“Jump online, buy a t-shirt of an independent band, go and buy a record, buy something,” he says. “It’s OK if you listen to their stuff on Spotify but buy something as well."
While many venues have started opening in accordance with government guidelines, a night spent in a sweaty mosh pit is still some way off and discussions around live music returning are focused on seated gigs. What's more, with the country now in recession, Oscars fears people’s spending habits may change.
“The state of the grassroots music scene is looking pretty grim,” he says. “There’s no festivals and for bands their ability to play and get better is all in jeopardy.
“Supporting musicians in any way you can is going to be a really important part of our music scene flourishing in the next year.”
Now more than ever, he says, people in different industries united by similar philosophies need to work together.
“You never get out of a negative situation without a fuck ton of positivity,” he says.
“Some of the silver lining that we’re going to see in this coming financial year – and hopefully beyond – is a lot of businesses supporting other businesses. Probably more than we have before because the stakes are higher and there’s a lot of risk around at the moment.”
As part of the #keepinglocalalive campaign we're running Postcards from the Edge stories, highlighting the ways in which people are adapting to survive. If you've got a story you think is suitable – or have something to add to the campaign resources online – get in touch.