Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Other Side with UHF's Scotty Hagen

After many weekend trips from Essexville, Michigan to Detroit to visit record shops and see live music, it was only a matter of time before Scotty Hagen made the Motor City his new home. Hagen crash landed in Ferndale in the late 90’s. By 2002, he tuned up his bass, teamed up with Stevie Michael on vocals, and put together the Grande Nationals, who after a few line-up changes are back in the studio to finish their latest album, which is set to be released on Hagen's own record label, Bellyache Records, in January 2011. As an avid record collector, Scotty Hagen spent much of his free time in record stores, which eventually lead to a management position at Rock-a-Billy’s in Utica. After spending five years as an independent record store manager, he moved up to the corporate world to work for Borders’ music department in 2004. Last winter, when Lost and Found Vintage’s Tommy Dorr and former record store owner Jeff Bubeck approached Hagen with the idea to open an all-vinyl independent record store in Royal Oak, Michigan, he jumped at the opportunity to become the UHF general manager. On September 11, 2010, the doors of UHF opened for business next to Lost and Found Vintage on Washington Street and the local vinyl shop has been thriving ever since.

Green Light Go was able to catch up with UHF’s Scotty Hagen (who is pictured to the right of UHF owners Jeff Bubeck and Tommy Dorr) in between helping customers and pricing records to find out what it’s like to be on the other side:

Green Light Go: UHF has a ton of used vinyl, where do you get the inventory?

Scotty Hagen: The records mainly come from a number of connections around town. Jeff (Bubeck) has been hunting for people selling record collections for years, so a lot of the UHF records were stockpiled in storage units before the store opened. When Jeff was trying to persuade me to work for him, he took me over to the storage units in Fraser, MI. I took one look and thought, “Oh my God!” I spent hours looking through crates of crazy records that I had heard of, but had never seen in person before. UHF carries many new releases by independent bands and labels, but we have repressed vinyl as well. [Our customers] are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rare and "hard to find" records we have.

GLG: Are UHF customers able to buy records online as well?

SH: We have an eBay store, but that is temporary until we have our website up. Right now, we only have a domain, which is Soon, customers will be able to buy records from our website as well as in the store. Every day we are chipping away at something else.

GLG: With so many record stores closing in Detroit, what made you take the plunge and open a new record store?

SH: Well, opening a record store is always a gamble, but location is key. Royal Oak has always been one of the only window shopping cities in the Metro Detroit area. We get so many people coming into the store that are just walking by, because we’re in an ideal location and we’re next door to Lost and Found. The businesses go hand in hand.

GLG: We’ve heard you also get a number of celebrity window shoppers, like Glenn Danzig?

SH: Yeah, he just popped in! Danzig was playing at the Royal Oak Music Theater, so Steve Zing (Danzig’s bassist) was in here first. Steve was looking around the store, he saw our Elvis records and said, “I have to call Glenn and let him know there are tons of Elvis Presley records here.” I am sitting in UHF thinking, “Is he calling Danzig?!” Sure enough, 20 minutes later, Glenn Danzig walked through the door. It was crazy, he was super cool. Danzig posed for pictures with us, bought some records, and took a few of our business cards.

A few weeks before that, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones from The Clash dropped in. We have only been open for two months and we’ve had all of these punk rock gods in the store…it’s really cool. We’re hoping that UHF will become a destination, because [touring bands] are always telling us that when they’re on the road, it's difficult to find record stores to shop at.

GLG: I know you’ve started to host in-store performances recently, so when are those scheduled and how might an independent artist go about booking a show at UHF?

SH: So far we are doing an in-store every Saturday at 4pm through the winter. We’ve been scheduling the in-stores at 4pm because it has been a peak shopping time for us. We had The Wall Clocks in last weekend and right before the band started playing, we had [a surge of] people pour into the store and start shopping. If a band would like to do an in-store at UHF, they can contact me at the store by calling (248) 545-5955. We’d prefer that the band has an album to promote, so when people come in to see the band, they have something to take home with them.

GLG: Can local or independent bands sell their records in the store?

SH: Absolutely, we have a consignment program. We let the band pick the price and we’ll set up an 80/20 split. Since I play in bands, I know how tough it is to make the money back [that is spent on recording]. Many record stores offer a 70/30 split, but we want to be fair and do a good thing for [local and independent] bands, so we stick with 80/20.

GLG: Since you work in a record store, I’m sure you get this question all of the time, but what have you been listening to lately?

SH: Everything! I really like the new stuff on Jack White’s label, Third Man Records, especially the new Greenhorns album, Four Stars. I am really into the 5,6,7,8’s reissue, re-press stuff like Blues Magoos and The Lollipop Shoppe, and I'm forever listening to The Monkees and Alice Cooper. I always look for weird records to put on in the store, like the Dick Hyman album, The Age of Electronicus, which is a compilation of Beatles’ songs and other covers played on a Moog synth.

The Other Side highlights the talented folks behind the scenes of the music we listen to. The Other Side features producers, engineers, booking agents, photographers, radio DJs, management teams, and label representatives.

This week’s The Other Side is brought to you by: Lauren Roberts

UHF Staff Photo Credit: Jeremy Carroll


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