Photo: John Carlisle
Since 1987, The Heavy Metal Shop has been everything that stores like Hot Topic and FYE aren’t—legit, neighborly and stocked with great music, posters and apparel—plus, there’s no embarrassment if you’re seen hanging out there. If you ever want to talk music, take a minute and go chat with HMS owner Kevin Kirk. He’s an absolute fountain of rock/metal facts and anecdotes. Kirk has done something few shop owners have done: He’s created one of the most recognizable brands to come out of Salt Lake. It’s not uncommon to see a slew of bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Alice in Chains and Exodus clothed in the unholy garb of the HMS. If you haven’t already, go buy yourself a shirt down at 63 Exchange Place (between 300 and 400 South downtown).
SLUG: Tell us about your first experience with SLUG Magazine.
Kirk: It was when JR had it out in Sandy. It seemed like it might have even been stapled together back then. I had an in-store concert coming with Dark Angel and he came and approached me, and I did an ad with him.
SLUG: How have you seen the magazine change since then?
Kirk: It’s gotten much bigger. JR did a lot of trade with me. He’d take $100 worth of music in exchange for ad space.
SLUG: What is one of the most memorable SLUG articles that you have read?
Kirk: I liked Helen Wolf a lot. That was Bill Frost, and I liked his column—everyone thought he was a woman, and that was pretty funny. I like Mike Brown—he’s funny. There have been some good interviews, too. I did an interview with [rock & roll photographer] Roberta Bayley. She did the first Ramones album cover. I also got to interview Tom Petersson from Cheap Trick over the phone—I was pretty nervous.
SLUG: What is your favorite SLUG cover?
Kirk: I remember the Maggotheads cover, because I had given SLUG pictures of the Ventures, and that’s what they used. That was fun because we went down to the Pompadour, since JR was running that too, and we did the interview there.
SLUG: Tell us about the most memorable SLUG event that you’ve attended.
Kirk: The Sabbathons at the Speedway. Those were fun. And the ones that Angela did at the Gallivan Center were really cool. We set up a booth there, and it got really cold that night, so I sold a lot of hoodies [laughs].
SLUG: How has SLUG affected your life?
Kirk: It was nice, especially in the beginning, to work together and be interested in the same things. JR and I were friends, and those were cool times. It was pre-internet days, when you actually had to go down to the record store to hear new music and hang out.
SLUG: Why do you think SLUG has continued to be relevant in Utah for the last 22 years?
Kirk: Some people are surprised that Salt Lake needs something like this, but there are a lot of music fans in Salt Lake