Can you give a brief history of your store?
Monster Music began as “Island Wide Music” in 1988 and was founded by J.D. Sarantakos. I was a 20 year old kid with a music book distribution business at the time and J.D. had a sign up that said “Coming Soon — Music Store”. I pitched him on putting a couple racks of Music Books into his store in time for his grand opening. We started a relationship that continued for about 17 years. J.D.’s brother is magician Criss Angel and as his star was on the rise J.D. wanted to leave to music business to participate in Mindfreak’s success. I had always wanted to buy my own shop and, with a young daughter on the way, wanted my time as an ever-traveling music products rep to end. J.D. and I made a deal where I bought the business, now called Monster Music.
Was there a particular person — a teacher, another store owner, a family member or friend, etc. — who inspired you to go into this business?
Good question. There were lots of influences. I sold music products to more than 500 independent Musical Instrument dealers all across the country at the time that I bought Monster Music. Everyone in this business has heard some version of the same joke…Question: How do you end up with $1 million in the music business? Answer: Start out with $2 million. Despite this rap and despite the challenges that an independent business person faces these days each one of these 500 stores had a real owner fighting the good fight each and every day. Each of them in their own way were a true motivation for me to buy my own store.
What instrument(s) do you play personally? Do you have a band?
I play guitar but “play” is absolutely in quotation marks. I am a total hack. I certainly wouldn’t hire myself to be a teacher at my own store. I obviously have both a love for music and for beautiful things. I also like to surround myself with people that have musical talent, however, no talent whatsoever resides in me.
What makes your store different from the average “Big Box” music store?
Just the fact that the bald guy who owns the place is always behind the counter. I can make any deal, solve any problem (I’ve been known to cause a few too), in short I provide the type of constant presence that customers appreciate.
What has been your proudest moment as a musical instrument dealer so far?
Every few months we hold a student performance showcase where I rent out a local club, fill the stage with gear, and give all of the students an opportunity to perform. We pack the place and these kids get a chance to experience performing in front of a packed house. We had over 50 performers at our most recent showcase. There are always a handful of prodigies that just take your breath away. Just knowing that my store and staff is preparing these kids to have this life filled with music fills me with immense pride.
How did you hear about Reverend?
A local player told me back in early 2006 about this great line of guitars. Ken Haas made a trip to my shop, all six foot fifteen of him. I was really impressed with the instruments. Beyond the instruments, however, were a core of people every bit as impressive.
What Reverend models do you stock regularly?
I try to stock the entire line. I like people to know that when we carry a line, we really carry it. I have about 20 total Reverend pieces in stock. I don’t want someone to come to my store after seeing that we are a Reverend dealer and find only two guitars hanging on hooks. That doesn’t work for me.
What do you like about working with Reverend Guitars?
That I can get the Boss on his cell at a moments notice.
What amp brands do you sell? What pedal brands?
My guitar lines are cooler than my amp lines. We are mainly Marshall/Vox in the amp department. We’ve added Blackstar recently. Excellent tube line from the UK.
Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?
No discernible skills to speak of. My hobby is staying a few steps ahead of the bill collectors.
Do you have any advice for up and coming players?
Have a couple of day jobs and don’t quit either of them.
Please tell us about any events you have coming up?
I am awaiting the next Reverend Guitars clinic — Ken, how about one in support of the new basses?