Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we meet some of the people behind the local music scene -- those who aren't necessarily members of local bands, but more the people who make the scene move.
Back in 2004, Mike Schoder took over ownership of Greenville Avenue's Granada Theater. But, unlike a lot of venues that have changed hands in this town, Schoder didn't just just start taking over the cash register. He literally transformed the Granada from a just-OK, sorely under-air-conditioned spot to his own real visionary music destination -- complete with expressive, passion-filled print advertising, oversized-portion pizza slices, and screens full of music, video and information to soak in before the curtains draw back.
Before that, though, in 1992, after spending his younger years selling CDs out of the back of his car, Schoder opened CD World, also on Greenville. Later, he opened an auxiliary branch of it on Belt Line Road in Addison.
Changing time times saw them both shuttered in 2008, but Schoder has soldiered on, fully investing his time these days in his work at the Granada.
Yeah, he's known for a few things in Dallas music. But, mainly, he's just one of the biggest music fans this town has ever seen -- so much so that he made it his life's work.
After the jump, he shares his amazing recipe for organic pick-me-up tea, and helps us get to know him a little bit better.
I'm excited to hear about the early event(s) in your life that affected you to the point where music basically became your life and your focus.
Church and AM radio in the late '70s, of course. But seeing the last Texass Jam at the Cotton Bowl in 1987 -- with Aerosmith, Boston, Tesla, Poison and Whitesnake -- couldn't have been cooler. By the way, we just booked Whitesnake for May 22 at the Wildflower Festival in Richardson. Can't believe it's really been almost 25 years.
How easy, or hard, was it to start up a record store? Did you start by just dumping in your own personal collection as starter inventory?
I started with my own 250 CDs, selling out of the back of my '87 Toyota Supra at Park Lane and Greenville Avenue. Just on the street, every day, in the summer. I bought more CDs for $3 to $4 at pawn shops and sold them for $7. By the end of summer, I had 1,200 CDs, two tables and my two finger-painted "CDs...$6.99" signs in the hatchback. I sold about 100 a day. The original location at Greenville and Mockingbird was 782 square feet and cost $1,100 a month to rent.
What do you miss the most about your stores?
The customers were so cool. It was fun learning from them every day for 16 years. I liked how everyone waited for your turn to put a CD in the store player, seeing if you could sell it.
Was there ever a live-performance element at CD world? It seems like it's so right up your alley. If not, why not?
Every inch was packed with CDs! I wish we had a cool stage like the one at Good Records. We managed few, though, like The Gourds, Ian Moore and David Garza.
Tell us about that first list you started formulating in your head the first time you walked into the Granada space, with the intention of making it your baby.
It was no big list of things! All I knew at that time was that I wanted to make it comfortable and friendly, like the resort setting I grew up in.
Obviously your Granada staff have a great creative braintrust, and thought-chemistry going -- hence all the fun and innovative elements for the music lover inside the theater. Tell us about the process the you and the staff go through, from translating a good idea into a part of the program.
The eight-person staff during the day does booking, artist relations and promotions. We do promo meetings to brainstorm, but leave a lot of creative space for all. Everyone there is an incredible artist with a strong vision for creating a perfect rock n roll vacation for the people of Dallas.
What's the trick to remaining such a people person, and running such a personable style of business, but at the same time, being so overwhelmingly busy with the technical logistics of it all, too? It seems like most businesses lose that the moment things start to get hectic.
I know that I can't ever lose sight of the fact that the music fans give me the ability to book and produce live music. Hearing appreciation could never get old, and that is what you get as an artist or a behind-the-scenes person. They say "Thanks! This is awesome!" And you say it back. It's a conversation I will never get tired of having.
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Asking you for a live music performance that stands out in your head is probably too tough a question. How about the best local music show in recent memory?
This St. Patty's day, for one. The Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights show was just a sonic explosion of '70s guitar. It's hard to believe these guys are still conjuring more raw power live. And remembering the Polyphonic Spree covering Nirvana's "Lithium" and the entire sold-out crowd bouncing to the beat and screaming every word still causes me to feel weightless.
What do you see in the future for new music in the area?
I'm working on opening a smaller venue by end of this year. Beyond that, it's just continuing to urge people to see a band they have not seen before --.that's a ton of the magic of live music. Just like going to see a new movie.
Please share you and your significant other Julia's amazing tea recipe with everyone. You know the one.
Mate' Tea! It has a natural caffeine equivalent. It has a nice slow ride with no highs and lows like in coffee. We add 1/16 teaspoon of cayenne, 1/2 an organic lemon, and 2 tablespoons of raw agave nectar. It's based on the recipe of the master cleanse. I do one every morning, for sure. Have four, and you will fly.
For fun, how about the most pain-in-the-ass national touring act to come through in recent memory?
No way. The glass is always half full. If you give kindness and do your best, you can even win over Peter Murphy.