Do you recall the first records you bought or had as a kid? It was probably some Disney or childrens records back when I was like 2 years old, that’s my earliest memory. and the album covers. I used to get a big kick out of….I was big on cars & trains. So an album that had cars or trains on it I could spend hours just looking at the cover.
How has record sales going by & large over the last few years? They are there, they could be better, they could be worse but I see a lot more young people getting into music via records which is a good thing. They have an enthusiasm for ‘the records’. They’re more consumer friendly. You don’t need a magnifying glass to read the lyrics like you do for the lyrics from the booklets for the little CD’s.
So how long has Hip Cat Records been in business? We opened in November of 1987.
How did you come up with the name Hip Cat or is that all you? I had a cat who I nicknamed ‘hip cat’ but the name also comes from the Pink Floyd song named “Lucifer Sam” ….their original guitar player and songwriter Syd Barrett wrote they lyrics “be a hip cat, be a ship’s cat, somewhere, anywhere”. I was a big Pink Floyd fan so I just ran with the name ‘hip cat’; it just seemed a natural name for a store.
When did you move to the new location (3540 Lake Ave, Wilmette) and how is it going? Well we moved to this location in June of 2006 and its been a good, plus it’s nearer to where I live so the commute is a lot shorter.
Do you guys have a website or is it all word-of-mouth? No, it’s pretty much word of mouth or customers who have been coming here for a long time. I’m not computerized. I’m old school. Somebody did set up a website at some point but i don’t what happened with it (laughs).
I imagine you’ve had some interesting Chicago musicians walk through the door? Well we’ve had Ben Weasel come in before. He probably didn’t know I recognized him. When a known musician comes in I never acknowledge that I know who they are. I just treat them like some regular customers, I don’t give them any preferential treatment, they can just be a regular Joe looking through records. and they seem to like it that way.
What are the DMM stickers on some vinyl re-issues and what do we need to know about records today? DMM stands for ‘direct metal mastering’ and it actually encodes more information from the original recording so it’s going to sound better. The recordings done with 1/2 speed mastering make the biggest impact improving sound. Another ingredient for better sound is the deeper grooves in (some) records. So they might be advertising different vinyl weights like 180 gram heavy weight vinyl or 200 gram audio file vinyl but the real jist of it is the fact that the grooves are deeper. The industry has decided to hype the weight; They aren’t going to tell you on the sticker that it has deeper grooves, they are going to tell you it weighs more.
You’ve been doing this a long time and you’ve seen a lot of records come through and leave the door, who are the top 5 that still move records? Definitely Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and of course The Beatles. But we also do really well with Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. On the blues side it’s probably Muddy Waters and then Buddy Guy… he puts a new album out every year or so and they re-issue some of his older albums every now and then. He does great.