Slipped Disc was a record store that was located in Valley Stream, NY which is just over the border that divides Queens and Long Island's Nassau County. As a teenager this store played a huge role in me finding my way with heavy music from thrash metal to hardcore. I am sure that there are many others from this area that can say the same. Slipped Disc specialized in hard to find metal as well as all the punk and hardcore stuff. When my parents got divorced my dad would come visit us every other weekend and when asked what we (my brother and I) wanted to do the answer was always Slipped Disc. I shopped at this store for years and when I finally got store owner Mike Schutzman to start carrying print copies of the old In Effect Fanzine it made a big difference as the store was a major player in the local underground scene. I remember buying a copy of Metal Forces Magazine here that had an amazing review of the Crumbsuckers "Life Of Dreams" album... I also remember buying "Life Of Dreams" there and driving right home and putting it on with a ton of excitement. I yelled out "Yeah!" as the needle lifted up off my turntable as Side A finished. I played that album straight through two times in a row and knew I had found something amazing. Finding bands like the Crumbsuckers and Agnostic Front led me and my friends down that rabbit hole where many of us are still today. Slipped Disc obviously played a big role in this happening. Mike Schutzman is still currently involved in selling records and we caught up with him to discuss Slipped Disc history as well as what he is doing these days with Vinyl Revolution Record Show. Interview conducted in early October, 2020, additional questions by Dean Miller. Graphics by: John Franko with photos provided by Slipped Disc.
IE: Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. How old were you in 1982 when Slipped Disc first opened its doors and what made you want to open a record store?
Mike: Hi Chris, thanks so much for giving me an opportunity to connect with some of the customers who supported Slipped Disc throughout our 26 year run. I was 24 years old when I rented the store and turned 25 before the store opened on March 1st 1982. I started collecting records heavily in the mid 70's and it became my passion. After two years of college I started working at North Shore Animal League in 1978. I was promoted to Director Of Health and Welfare where I gained valuable management experience. In late 1981 I decided to leave NSAL and take my love of records to try make a career of it.
IE: What were some of the factors in choosing the Rockaway Avenue location in Valley Stream and were there other locations that were being considered?
Mike: I lived in Elmont at the time and wanted something near by that was in a shopping area of town. At the time there weren't many record stores on the South Shore so I started looking in Valley Stream. The only other area that I looked at was Bell Blvd. in Bayside which was too expensive at the time. I was very lucky when I found the storefront in Valley Stream. The rent was only $425.00 a month!
IE: How was the initial response to the store in terms of sales and popularity? Did it take off right away or was it more of a slow and steady rise?
Mike: The store grew in popularity quicker than I had imagined. When we opened I was only using half of the store area. We had put up a divider wall until we were able to acquire more stock to use the extra space. It only took one year for that to happen.
IE: Having rising bands like Slayer and Metallica doing in store autograph signings brought a lot of attention to the store. How did you go about getting bands to agree to come in and do in store autograph sessions?
Mike: Most of the time we were contacting the labels directly. We had a lot of label reps who stopped into the store with promo materials so it wasn't difficult getting in touch to set up the in-stores. At the time most of the chain stores shied away from doing heavy metal and punk in-stores. Metallica was our first band signing for the "Kill 'Em All" album.
IE: Who were some of the other bands that did in store signings? Any crazy stories from the signings?
Mike: We did over 100 in-store signings over the 26 years. Some of my favorites were Motorhead, Slayer, Wendy O. Williams, Dio, Rob Halford, and Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks. WASP drew the largest crowd with over 2,000 people followed by Ratt with over 1,500. Over the years we also had Twisted Sister, Circle Jerks, Mick Taylor from the Rolling Stones, Queensryche, Exodus, Sepultura, Megadeth, Cradle Of Filth, Stryper, Sebastian Bach and Zakk Wylde just to name a few. The Exodus in store got a little out of hand with Paul Baloff repeatedly jumping on and off the signing counter for some strange reason. Other memories were Zakk Wylde drinking over 20 beers in a two hour signing, and the band Paw who came to the store drunk and played a live set while trying to hand out shots of gin to underage kids in the audience. For obvious reasons that in-store was cut short and the band was literally thrown out of the store. Metallica thought it was a good idea to walk down the street to Roy Rogers and get something to eat 5 minutes before the in store was about to begin. It goes without saying that we didn't start on time.
IE: Across the street from the store was The Rio Theatre (early to mid-80's) who had separate shows played both by Slayer and Metallica. Did you have any hand in putting these shows on and what can you tell us about how those shows were?
Mike: The Rio shows were booked by Lou Vetere and his partner at the time. We coordinated the in stores with the shows and cross promoted the events. Slipped Disc also sold tickets for the shows. I remember being blown away by both bands but was certainly more of a Slayer guy.
IE: On the Slipped Disc website it says that before the Slayer in store session that they drove cross country and stayed at your house with your mom making everyone breakfast. What do you remember from that experience?
Mike: I remember it like it was yesterday. They travelled across country in a van and arrived in front of the store a little after midnight on Wednesday. They called me around 12:30 am saying that they had arrived and needed to store some equipment and a place to stay. They followed me back to my parents house in Elmont (4 band members and 2 roadies). They split up and slept in a spare bedroom and the basement, some on beds and some on the floor. In the morning I had to get ready for work and came down to the kitchen with everyone sitting around the table and my mom cooking them breakfast. I left a little later with Kerry King and Dave Lombardo folding Slayer tee shirts in the driveway for sale at the Rio show that evening.
IE: Rockaway Avenue is a main shopping area in Valley Stream which back then was pretty much a typical quiet Long Island type of town. How was the store and the influx of metalheads and punks accepted by local merchants and the community?
Mike: It wasn't. At all. The customers loved the store but the town just didn't get it at first. We would get big crowds for the in-stores who were always well behaved, but the merchants on the block felt it was disrupting their business. In time everyone in the town calmed down and I think they appreciated the extra business it brought in to the neighborhood.
IE: What kind of impact did the rise of compact discs have on the store?
Mike: CD's seriously affected record sales in the 90's. We restructured the record bins with dividers to fit CD's in plastic holders and moved the vinyl to another smaller area. The profit margins on CD's were terrible but we would make it up in volume. Luckily we also had many areas of the store to balance out the margins selling buttons, posters, t-shirts, stickers, patches, books and magazines.
IE: What releases do you recall as being “big deals’ for Slipped Disc over the years, whether in actual sales or what they may have meant for the stores overall success?
Mike: The 3 largest sellers on the first day of release were Metallica "Master Of Puppets, Motley Crue "Shout At The Devil" and Iron Maiden " Powerslave". WLIR was very influential on Long Island and we would sell a ton of New Wave 7''s, 12"s and albums from the bands that they played in the 80's. As far as everyday catalog items it was always punk and metal that paid the bills at Slipped Disc.
IE: Lots of local bands used Slipped Disc to sell their 7” records, CD’s, etc... which local bands do you remember selling a lot of? Who was most requested, who had the biggest impact on LI??
Mike: Without a doubt the biggest selling local piece was the Vision Of Disorder cassette demo tape. It wasn't even close. We were selling so many at the store that the band couldn't even keep up with the demand. We literally sold hundreds.
IE: All of my memories from visiting Slipped Disc were normal typical record store types of interactions. Look for records, go up to the counter, pay and leave. Having been open for over 25 years I am sure you have some stories that probably conflict with my experiences.
Mike: There were a couple of scary incidents that happened over the years. One night a customer came into the store that was obviously intoxicated, holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. He started to get very loud and agitated. He went to the back area of the store and broke the bottle over the counter like it was the wild west. There were about 5 customers in the store at the time and he started approaching a couple with the jagged end of the bottle threatening them. I grabbed a nylon baseball bat that we kept behind a curtain in front and clocked him in the back of the head and knocked him out right before he reached them. We also had a middle aged woman who came in the store holding a large container of Great Bear water. She started reciting scriptures and spraying the Great Bear around like it was holy water telling me that I was selling the devils music and that I was going to go to hell. She continued rambling while beginning to take her clothes off. At that point I felt it was a good time to dial 911.
IE: Can you talk about the closing of Slipped Disc? You probably saw the industry changing long before you closed, please talk about how long you tried to keep things going and any changes in strategy you may have used to prolong the stores tenure?
Mike: It was becoming very difficult in 2007 with the downloading affecting CD sales and the resurgence of vinyl hadn't kicked in yet. My lease was ending in 2008 and the property owners wanted a big increase in rent. (an additional $650 a month).The neighborhood was also changing a bit and I just felt it was a good time to get out.
IE: You are still connected to the business of selling vinyl records these days through Vinyl Revolution Record Show. Can you tell people about it and how it was doing pre-Covid and maybe give a timeline when you think things will be back to normal and you having shows again?
Mike: We were doing great with the Vinyl Revolution shows which I run with my daughter Amanda. As a matter of fact we had our largest attended show ever in Astoria on March 1st with just under 1,000 people. Two weeks later all hell broke loose with the Covid scare. Right now in New York with the restrictions in place, it makes it impossible to plan for any shows. We are just going to have to wait it out and hope we can start up again in the middle of 2021.
IE: Have you considered making an online store to sell records as well?
Mike: I have considered selling on Discogs. I don't enjoy that end of the business. I would rather sell to customers I know face to face at shows than doing mail order. If things don't change in the near future it's something I'd have to look at. Right now I'm just selling Slipped Disc Records merch on the website.
IE: At the old Slipped Disc location there is now a coffee shop called Sip This. Do you have any connection to this store? They have hosted a few “pop up” record shows that you were involved with and they always have Slipped Disc merch for sale there too.
Mike: Unfortunately, Sip This has now closed. One of the owners David was a regular at Slipped Disc back in the day. When they had the opportunity to open a coffeehouse in the old Slipped Disc storefront they jumped at the chance. They asked if I would mind if they called it Sip This to keep that connection. I was flattered and was more than happy to agree. We did do a few pop ups over the years there that were very well received and they continued to sell the Slipped Disc merchandise for the full 9 years that they were open.
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