This month, the logo-ubiquitous Heavy Metal Shop (63 Exchange Place, HeavyMetalShop.com) celebrates 25 years of rock & retail, and owner Kevin Kirk is throwing a party on Sunday, June 10, kicking off at 4 p.m. and featuring live performances by Michael Dean Damron, Kleveland’s Stephanie Smith, James Kottak of Scorpions and more (Black Oak Arkansas were too pricey). Kirk shares a few memories from a quarter-century of metal:
How many times a week does someone walk in and ask, “What kind of music do ya have?”
I could write a book of stupid Heavy Metal Shop questions and comments. My favorite: "I didn't know that they allowed head shops in Utah!" I’ve heard this comment more than once over the years: "Are your CDs in alphabetical order?"
Which band has made the worst Heavy Metal Shop in-store appearance?
Most of the bands that we’ve hosted in-stores with have been cool; there are only a couple of exceptions. I’m not going to name names, but had one band dude get pissed off that we had Coke rather than Pepsi, which was not very metal of him. Another one who was not cool at all got a new nickname from us: “Cheeseburger Beard of the Black Angus Society.”
The most memorable ones are the Slayer in-stores; Slayer and all to the people who work with them have always been way cool to us. They have their own security dude who travels with them who used to work for Michael Bolton. He told me that Michael Bolton fans were scarier than Slayer fans.
Is Record Store Day an actual benefit for music retailers, or just a vast hipster conspiracy that excludes niche stores like the Heavy Metal Shop?
Definitely a hipster conspiracy. The first couple of years we weren't involved at all, then Slayer put out a single for Record Store Day—that was the first time that we had anything to do with it. The RSD people have never sent us any of the promo stuff, not even the Ozzy display shit that they promised us last year. But it's not like we need them. I wouldn't say that I embrace it, but we kind of have to be involved, since there are so few record stores left. This past Record Store Day was our best one yet, but we still sold more Shop merchandise than records.
Any plans to move the Heavy Metal Shop to City Creek Center?
I would like to move the shop a little closer to the Temple. We spent our first two years in Sandy, which is kind of like being by the Temple. The gypsies who lived next door to our old Sugar House store once asked the landlord if I worshiped the devil—he told them that he thought I did. They were afraid of me.
Have you ever considered changing the name of the store to the Nice Music For the Whole Family Shop or Kev’s House of Hoodies or something less scary to the average Joe?
Never. When we were located in Sandy, we were right next to a popular family restaurant, and their patrons would literally be lined up right in front of the Heavy Metal Shop waiting for a table. Occasionally, some of the braver ones would venture into the Shop—we called them “thrill seekers.” When we moved and had everything out of there, I noticed that the carpet had big stains from my son Kelly spilling drinks, so we drew chalk outlines of our bodies, including my son Kelly, who was 3 at the time.
Did you ever think you’d become more well-known for HMS-branded merchandise than the music you sell?
I certainly didn't plan that. I'm not that smart, but I’m happy it worked out. It's cool to see the Shop stuff all over.
What’s the most un-metal band you’d dare admit to being crazy about?
Sparks. My wife used to tease me about them, but now that we’ve been married for 29 years, she’s grown to kind of like them.
Summer Guide bonus question: What’s the best cut of meat for a summer BBQ?
That's easy: a K-Bone.