Everything Must Go

Mike Lohrman puts Underdog to sleep

His independent punk rock record store, Underdog Records in Laguna Beach, is closing, but it gets sadder because Mike Lohrman—39, Stitches founder, punk rocker, ex-pro skater—is a great interview. And after November, will we ever have another chance to hear about how he got his dad's station wagon stuck in the sand trap at the golf course? You bastards!

When's the sad day?

I'm turning the keys in on Nov. 1, but I think the actual last day of selling stuff out of there will be the 24th or 25th of October.

What happened?

With MP3s killing my CD sales and eBay killing my vinyl sales, the low rent I had up until then, it was manageable. But then the landlord hit the last straw—I was paying about $1,150, and she said now you gotta pay about $2,300.

This changes Laguna Beach, doesn't it?

Now that [we're] gone, what's left—Tippecanoe's and Thalia Street Surf Shop? I think that's about it. It's [what] they wanna do in Laguna Beach—they wanna bring the Irvine Spectrum to the beach.

So what will all the punks born in the '90s do now?

I have a daughter [Ruby, 3 1/2] and I live in Laguna—and what are the kids going to look at in the future when they want to do something? They don't have anything for a follow-your-dreams kind of trip. The area's already just completely riddled with BMW-Mercedes kind of shit anyway.

It wasn't all that way when you opened. When was that?

I opened in 1992. I was a delivery boy with seven years of school under my belt and the only thing that made me do it was Darren from Vinyl Solution [the record store in Huntington Beach]. He wasn't making a whole lot of money but he was going to work and he sure was happy. I sold my [record] collection and he fronted me some stuff out of his shop and I went for it.

How do you feel about closing?

As much of a bummer as it is, we totally won. Fifteen years of running a punk rock record store in Laguna—we totally won. [Someone in the background says, "Run by monkeys."] Yeah—run by monkeys.

I could do a lot of complaining about eBay—"Hey, you're taking my business away"—but the reality is, it just made it real easy to go shopping worldwide. But it's taken away the human element—you don't get to have conversations with people you're shopping with. I'm going to miss that the most—hanging out there and talking to like-minded people. I really get a kick out of the kids coming in and talking to them. To be able to talk to them and maybe give them some positive affirmation, try to get them excited on something so they don't feel like death all the time. That is so rewarding I can't even tell you.

What's next for you? Do you have another job?

I am—what would you call what I do here? I work for a skin-care products company [Epicuren in Laguna Hills], I'm, like, a sales rep and stuff, but I'm kind of switching it up. How rad is this? I give people drug tests when they hire in.

So can we get a deal on some records or what?

Everything's 20 percent to 90 percent off.

UNDERDOG RECORDS, 812 S. COAST HWY., LAGUNA BEACH, (949) 494-9490. OPEN NOON-8 P.M. DAILY.

 
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