An Interview with Mike Schutzman of Slipped Disc Records

0 0
Read Time:14 Minute, 4 Second

Photos from Rick Ernst (getthrashed) on Myspace

If you’re into vinyl, and you grew up or have spent any time on Long Island, or the greater NYC area, then you know the legend of Slipped Disc Records. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, and well into the early 2000’s, Slipped Disc was bar none, the premier record shop in this area. Simply put, there was nothing like it. Stacks upon stacks of Punk, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and UK imports that would make even the most seasoned collector’s mouth water. That was Slipped Disc Records, but that’s not all. Their legendary “in stores” which featured some of the greatest Hard Rock and Heavy Metal acts of the day attracted legions of fans and customers from miles around. I am sure that by now you’re wondering who the owner of this mythical record haven was? The man who started and has run Slipped Disc in all its forms since 1982 is Mike Schutzman.

Through the years, I am sure that most of us in the NY vinyl community have come to know Mike, and while Slipped Disc may have closed its doors back in 2008, Mike is still a highly visible presence with his Vinyl Revolution record shows, which travel up and down the east coast all year! If you want to learn more about Vinyl Revolution, you can check out their website here. It is at these shows that I first met Mike. I unfortunately never got the chance to shop in the original Slipped Disc, but I have had the pleasure of shopping at Mikes pop-up shops during the Vinyl Revolution record shows, and if his inventory there is any indication, then all of the legends regarding Slipped Disc Records are true. I’ve had the chance to get to know Mike a little better over the last year or so, and I can honestly say that he is one of the nicest, humble, honest and genuinely cool guys you will ever meet. Mike is still out there doing what he loves, and what he’s great at, buying collections, selling records, and as soon as COVID-19 lifts, I am sure he will be back out there working the tables at record shows to. If you want to learn more about Slipped Disc, you can visit their website here. It is truly my pleasure to present this interview to you all. So, take the time to get to know one of the pillars of our NY vinyl community, Mike Schutzman!

Andrew:
Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to! Tell us about your back story. Where did you grow up? What got you get into records? When did you know you wanted to sell records?

Mike:
Hi Andrew. I was born in Brooklyn and my family lived in Sheepshead Bay until I was 4 years old. My parents wanted to live on Long Island and bought a house in Elmont in 1961. I’ve lived on the Island since that time. I was introduced to records by my older brother in the late 60’s. He owned a small collection that was mostly rock and blues. I remember hearing a lot of Beatles, Stones, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. By the early 70’s I was hooked on records and started my own collection. Records became my passion and I decided in 1980 that I would like to eventually open a record store. I saved money while I was working as the Manager of Health and Welfare for North Shore Animal League. I left that job in late 1981 and searched for a storefront. I found what was to become Slipped Disc Records in early January 1982. The store opened on March 1st of that year in Valley Stream.

Andrew:
You’ve been running Slipped Disc Records, in all its forms, since 1982, and I have to say – I’m a big fan. Tell us how that started? What set Slipped Disc apart from other stores at the time?

Mike:
After realizing that owning a record store was what I wanted to do as a career, I pushed forward with a plan. I had to open the store with a budget of only $20,000 to start which was very difficult. Luckily the rent at the time was extremely affordable which allowed me to use the money towards stock, fixtures, improvements, advertising, etc. I was looking to fill the gap on Long Island and specialized in Punk, Hardcore, Metal, New Wave, and Alternative titles. I didn’t feel that was well represented on Long Island at the time.

Andrew:
I unfortunately never got the chance to shop in the physical store, but I’ve had the pleasure of buying from you online, and at record shows many times. You always have the most killer stuff! Imports, rarities, you name it, you always seem to have it. How do you do it? Where do you find it all?

Mike:
It’s not easy to find clean copies of the type of music that I’m looking for. I buy personal collections but will also follow any lead I can find. That might be from stores, flea markets, or other vendors at record shows. I have a very good relationship with other sellers.

Andrew:
As I mentioned before, Slipped Disc opened in 1982. What was the music landscape like at the time? I know back then NYC was loaded with good record shops, so many of which are gone now, but on Long Island it was a different story. It kind of feels like Slipped Disc was an answer to what LI was lacking at the time.

Mike:
I was told by my Father’s friend who was in the music industry that it was not a good time to open a record store. I didn’t agree and thought I could make it work. I was shopping in those NYC shops in the mid 70’s to early 80’s and I thought I had a pulse on what people were buying and it wasn’t really different than my own tastes in music. I felt that people on the Island were missing out. Why travel to all the NYC shops if I gave them an option on Long Island?

Andrew:
Throughout its history, Slipped Disc had some pretty incredible artists come through for your famous in-store autograph sessions. Tell us about some of your favorite memories and moments regarding that
.

Mike:
The in-stores were what put Slipped Disc Records on the map. Our first in-store ever was Metallica for the Kill ‘Em All album in 1983. That’s a pretty good way to start things off. We had hundreds of appearances through the years with some of my favorite bands. The high point for me were the two Motorhead in-stores, Wendy O. Williams from The Plasmatics, Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks, Slayer and so many more. I was always petrified that an artist or band that I loved would turn out to be jerks when I finally met them. Luckily that wasn’t the case.

Andrew:
During Slipped Discs heyday, there was a theater across the street from the shop called the Rio Theater, which featured early performances by Slayer, Metallica, Alcatrazz among others. I’m sure you have some interesting stories in relation to that theater. What was it like having your shop near there?

Mike:
I knew the promoters of those shows very well so we always tried to work together. We would set up an in-store appearance and sell advance tickets for the show. It was great to have Rock shows directly across the street and we would stay open late on those nights. Slayer actually drove across the country in a van to make the in-store appearance and play the show at the Rio. They called me at 2:00am after they arrived in New York and they had no place to stay. I lived about 10 minutes from the store and drove there to meet them. They followed me back to my parent’s house and they slept over. In the morning I woke up and my Mom was making Slayer breakfast (the band and two roadies). I had to leave and open the store at 11:00am. When I left, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman were folding Slayer merch in the driveway.

Andrew:
Retail is never easy, and I imagine owning a brick and mortar record store for nearly 30 years had its ups and downs. What was it like owning a record store over the years? Was there ever a time you thought you wouldn’t make it? Where there any mistakes you made along the way that you wish you could go back and change? 

Mike:
There was never one morning in the 26 years that I owned the store that I said to myself, “I don’t feel like going in today.” I honestly loved what I did and still do. At no time did I think that the store wasn’t going to survive, even towards the very end. I don’t have any regrets and I think I made wise choices over the years. Maybe I could have had more of an online presence when things started to get a little tough.

Andrew:
Is there anything within the industry that you would like to see change for the better? What improvements would you like to see that you feel would beneficial to us all within the vinyl community?

Mike:
I’m not a big fan of Record Store Day, with the inflated prices from the labels and eBay sellers grabbing titles to flip online that are meant for collectors. The margins are small on new product and some record stores don’t want to get involved. I would like to see more indie exclusives available to the Mom and Pop shops to drive customers into the store.

Andrew:
In 2008 you made the decision to close the physical location of Slipped Disc and change focus. I can only imagine how painful that must have been given time spent, and the respect earned. What was that decision like? Was it a hard choice?  

Mike:
It wasn’t that difficult at the time. My lease was coming up in 2008 and the landlord wanted to raise my rent by another $650.00 a month. The neighborhood was changing (not for the better) and CD sales were dropping. The vinyl resurgence hadn’t really kicked in yet and I was ready to try something else within the music industry. The 6 days a week and 12 hours a day of retail started to take a toll on me mentally.

Andrew:
After Slipped Disc closed its doors, many artists such as Mike Portnoy came out and said what Slipped Disc meant to them, and how much they would miss it. What did that mean to you?

Mike:
It felt great to get the recognition and to see how much the store meant to people. To this day I still hear from customers telling me how the store changed their life. Whether it was a relationship that began meeting at Slipped Disc or the influence of the music sold there. That store kept a lot of teenagers out of trouble. They knew they always had a place to go where they would be accepted.

Andrew:
In 2015 you started Vinyl Revolution, which is a sort of traveling record show all over the Northeast. I’ve personally been to the Garden City and Astoria shows many times, and it absolutely rocks! How did that get started, and how has it evolved to what it is today? 

Mike:
My involvement in promoting record shows began with the Collect-i-Bowl Record Show at the Brooklyn Bowl. I was contacted by Mike Schnapp who was the DJ there with an idea of running a show. Also involved was a fellow record vendor Paul Aaronson who I had known for years at a distributor and Randy Gregg who worked for me at Slipped Disc and is a musician. After a few shows, Randy and I decided to break away and started the Vinyl Revolution shows. Now I run the shows with my daughter Amanda who does an amazing job promoting and whatever else needs to be done. People also know her as the manager of Needle & Groove in Lynbrook and buyer at Generation Records in NYC. She is the best.

Andrew:
I assume you collect records, but beyond the collecting, what do records mean to you? More so, what does music mean to you in general? How many records do you have in your own personal collection?


Mike:
Record collecting and music are a huge part of my life. It’s all I’ve ever known. I can’t imagine life without it. I have pared down my record collection to about 3,000 at this time.

Andrew:
What are some albums you don’t have, but hope to find one day? Are there any albums you’ve given up that you wish you hadn’t? Are you like some of us who purge records only to rebuy them again? 

Mike:
I’ve been collecting heavy since the mid 70’s so there isn’t much that I’m looking for. Maybe an upgrade on a white label promo of the Stooges Funhouse. The three records that I regret selling back in the mid 2000’s are a first press of Wipers Is This Real?, Bathory S/T (with the yellow goat cover) and Plugz Electrify Me.

Andrew:
What are/were some of your favorite shops to buy vinyl in around NYC and Long Island? Do you like to travel and buy vinyl as well? How has the local vinyl scene changed over the last 40 years? 

Mike:
I used to love going to NYC every week to shop at Sounds, Free Being, Bleeker Bobs, Second Coming, etc. I was also a regular customer at Mad Platters in Yonkers and Metro Records and Scrooge in Little Neck. I would also take a trip once a week to Brooklyn to hit Zig Zag and Titus Oaks which were located blocks away from each other. Usually about once a month I still take a road trip to either Jersey, Connecticut or Massachusetts. A good buddy of mine owns Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA which is always worth a trip.

Andrew:
The legend of Slipped Disc has a mind of its own within the vinyl community. I’ve only ever had the chance to buy from you after your shop closed its doors, but still, all the records I’ve gotten from Slipped Disc hold a special place in my collection. I know many people feel the same way. You had a pretty special shop. With vinyl booming, and knowing what you know now, do you ever regret closing your shop?

Mike:
I don’t regret closing the store due to the circumstances that I was dealing with at the time, but there is no doubt in my mind that the store would be flourishing right now if I stuck with it.

Nov 5 | The Vinyl Revolution Record Show | Garden City, NY Patch

Andrew:
Piggybacking onto my last question, is there a chance that we might see Slipped Disc reopen its doors again someday?

Mike:
I haven’t closed the door on re-opening the store again but it would be my daughter running the day to day operations if it happened, not me. If the right situation presented itself, I would have to think about it.

Andrew:
I’ve often heard that you have to be at least a little bit crazy, and have a whole lot of drive and passion to open a record store, let alone succeed. You’ve done it twice, with Slipped Disc, and now Vinyl Revolution. Would you agree with that? What advice would you have for anyone who wants to open their own shop?

Mike:
I think you have to be a more than a little crazy. You have to be willing to put in the work. I think it’s important to have a plan and make sure you surround yourself with good people and always be open to new ideas.

Andrew:
Is there anything else you want all of us here at Vinyl Writer as well as the general record consuming public to know?

Mike:
Just for everyone to keep on digging and support your local record stores.

Six new Brooklyn Flea Market vendors boast jams, pies, music records,  women's clothing and more - New York Daily News

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Social profiles
%d bloggers like this: