Saturday, July 12, 2008

Interview: Pete Genest of Hits and Misses

There is a new punk store in town around Bloor and Ossington and it is called “Hits and Misses” and the shop owner – Pete has come in to guest host the radio show tonight bringing a smattering of things from the shop, which is good for you because you get to hear some of the latest things in the city.

Tell me about the name “Hits and Misses”. Where does it come from ?
I took it from the STIFF LITTLE FINGERS song. I’ve had stores in the past and I’ve taken names from either albums or songs. The last one was from an album. This one’s from a song. And the first one was from a club actually.
Oh yeah. And why did you choose this song in particular ? It’s a great name.
I just thought it would be a good name for a record shop. Your going to have the hits and then you’re going to have some misses. I wanted to go with some STIFF LITTLE FINGERS name actually. They are one of my favourite bands. It was between them and the CLASH and I couldn’t really think of what to take from the CLASH.
Garageland ? I don’t know.
Yeah? That seems kind of corny. I don’t know. I love that song. It is one of my favourites but I was thinking maybe something in Strummer’s lyrics. I was going to take some lyrics from somewhere, but I don’t know. This one just seemed like a good idea.
This isn’t the first punk store you have done.
No. I had a shop in Seattle called “Singles Going Steady”.
Now that store seemed pretty much legendary. A lot of people who I have heard from who visited that store described it like Mecca for punk rock. It was the place to go. Tell us about when that started up.
I did that for about eleven years. I moved up there in ’98 and ran it until about the end of 2007.
Is it still going ?
Yeah. There is a guy that bought part of the stock and kept it going. Kept the same employees.
That’s a good thing.
Yeah. It was easier for me to leave the city just having “Singles Going Steady” still open. People were bummed that I was leaving, but it made it easier to tell people that the store was going to stay.
A bit of a legacy almost.
Yeah. And the guy who took it over is going to do a good job. There is just not enough stock as when I had it. It’s still okay in there.
What was the idea of the store when you first started up ?
I just wanted to run a good store. To concentrate on collectible punk vinyl and have fair prices and no attitude when you walk in and just all the stuff I hated about other record stores I wanted to do the exact opposite. Owning a record store is a labour of love. I’m never going to own a house or a new car or anything but if I can pay my bills that’s all I care about.
What was the store before ?
I was in Portland before that and I named the store after that famous club in London called “Roundhouse”. SHAM did a lot of recordings there and the BUZZCOCKS did a few recordings there. It was one of the early punk clubs so I called it Roundhouse Records. I guess I lean towards the UK stuff.
That’s okay. That’s what we all listened to when we first got into it. And “Singles going Steady”, what a great name for a record store.
Yeah. I wanted to use that here but I told the guy that I wouldn’t so….
But there is an awesome 7” wall when you walk in so in some ways it’s there.
Was there a big singles collection at the old store ?
Oh yeah. The store here is set up fairly similar to the store there. I don’t have quite the same amount of stock yet but that’ll be coming.
It seems like it is building. There is a lot of stuff in there now. I don’t think Toronto has ever seen a punk store like this.
Not since the heyday of the Peddler for sure. But I don’t think I could ever … man that store back in the day they had everything in there. That was an amazing shop.
It was. That is where I bought my first punk records. Lets get into some other stuff. Your brother was in the legendary YOUNG LIONS. There is this releases coming out …. I don’t want to jinx it by even talking about it, but I hope there is going to be this early release of the demos coming out on Brian’s label right ?
On Blue Fog ?
Yeah. Fingers crossed. My brother went about three or four years ago and took whatever tapes he still had of the original masters and re-produced them in a proper studio.
Re-generated them somehow.
Yeah. Some of them were just wasted. They couldn’t use them, but some of them he got some stuff on and he got that to Brian a while ago.
And Brian has some other material apparently.
Yeah. Apparently he has some stuff too. When they first started talking word was that Brain was going to do a YOUTH YOUTH YOUTH CD, then a YOUNG LIONS CD, then a split YYY / LIONS live CD because Brian has lots of good recordings of live shows by both bands.
Well lets hope that is still the plan.
Yes. I would love to hear all of them.
Can you tell us about when you first got into punk ?
Through my brother. We were always into music, everybody. When he first started listening to punk I would hear it from his room but I was listening to BAY CITY ROLLERS and KISS and that kind of rock stuff. I was just a little too young for it. He took the attic and I would go up there and he would play records up there and he would have SEX PISTOLS spray painted on the wall and stuff like that.
That is awesome.
Yeah. He had this little wall with spray painted bands on there. I actually moved away before I got into punk.
Did you move out of the city ?
Yeah. I moved from Toronto to Salem Oregon, which is where my folks lived and here I lived with my grandparents and out there I went to high school and lived with my folks. So Chris just started sending me tapes.
Of Toronto bands ?
Toronto bands and UK bands and DOA and SUBHUMAN stuff.
So you guys stayed in touch by letter writing and tape trading.
Yeah and if he didn’t have a tape to send me then he would send a letter saying check these guys out and these guys and these guys. Just go and start buying stuff.
That’s pretty good though because at least it gives you an idea of what is good and what to look for ?
Everything he told me to listen to was good. I definitely liked it and a couple of times I would come back for visits and I would weed through his collection and just make tapes of stuff. I would also go through Mike’s collection from the LIONS and make a few tapes from his. You know records that Chris didn’t have. I just did that stuff.
Did you get to see any shows before you left ?
In your visits ?
Of course the LIONS were never playing when I came back so I never saw them.
What a drag.
Yeah I know.
Did you ever get to see them practise ?
Yeah I did get to see them practise once so that was okay. I saw YYY once.
What were they like ?
They were really good. I can’t remember the name of the club it was at. That was a long time ago. I probably saw DIRECT ACTION three times. They always seemed to be playing a lot when I was here.
That’s a curious thing because when I first started getting into the scene I always used to see DIRECT ACTION play too. And also their spin off band, or Buzz’s spin off band A.P.B. I saw them play a million times.
I don’t think I ever saw them. I saw CHRONIC SUBMISSION one time. I think it was on a DIRECT ACTION bill or something. And I think A.P.B. was on that bill too.
Probably. They were playing a lot together.
Oh I remember where I saw YYY, it was at Larry’s Hideaway.
That place was great.
Yeah. A neat little place. I think the only other show I saw was in ’85 and the CIRCLE JERKS played. The club you had to walk up some stairs. I don’t even remember.
Not the Upper Lip or the Turning Point.
I don’t know, but that was kind of cool. But I saw some great shows when I was out in Portland when I moved there, so …. I made all these guys jealous here that I saw POISON IDEA so many times that I would stop going to see them. They played every show.
I only got to see them once. I think they only played here once and Jerry did blow fire. It was at a club in Kensington Market called the Siboney. A short lived place. DAG NASTY played there once and not too many others. That was a good night. He was bleeding from the forehead.
When was that roughly ?
It was before “Feel the Darkness” had come out. It was just after “Kings of Punk”. Sort of in between there.
Still a good era.
Yeah definitely. Where was the first record store ?
In Portland a city with the most record stores out of any place in the world.
Does the place still exist there ?
No. I just closed that place down and moved out to Seattle. It was a neat little store. It was a fun experience. Every kid growing up buying records wants to grow up and open up a record store and I actually did.
Totally. It’s a dream.
Yeah. It was a dream. It’s a lot of work. It still is a lot of work, but it’s alright.
What was the scene like in Portland at the time because it seems like it has exploded there, but it always had a crust scene out there, like with RESIST and DEPRIVED and a bunch of other bands like that. Along with POISON IDEA being a constant out there and more recently there has been a new crust explosion that has taken part as well as all kinds of styles of bands. I mean you just can’t say it is just crust anymore with bands like the OBSERVERS.
In the 90’s for sure. Like I opened my shop there in ’92 and all those bands like RESIST and DEPRIVED were all releasing records and those guys all shopped at the store. They were really nice guys.
Yeah I was penpals with some of those guys like Kelly. He seemed to have a good record collection. You could tell he knew his stuff.
Portland, while I had my shop open I had a rep from one of the major labels said that Portland bought the most vinyl out of any city in the U.S.
Wow. That’s amazing. There still is a lot of shops there. And they all survive. Everybody buys records there. It doesn’t happen so much here but people turn into junkies there and so they sell their records to the shop. So you have people selling great record collections to the shop. Lord knows I got a fair amount of those so God bless drugs.
At least for us record collectors. How do you stock the store ? You told me of these shopping ventures that you have gone on to England. Do you still do that ?
I want to start doing that again in the future because it is great to go over there and look for records all day long. It is work but it’s fun. It’s work because I am getting up at 5:30 in the morning to go to these record conventions and to travel to as many cities as I can in one day. For new releases I use several different distributors.
Where is the store located ?
860 Bloor Street West, just east of the Ossington subway station.
And I have seen regular postings on the Toronto Hardcore message Board. Is there anywhere else people can find out about the store ?
I also post on, which is more of an indie rock board. I also post on the kill decibel board, which is Coming very soon there will be a Hits and Misses website which will be at

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