Vic Hudak grew up a music lover and turned his passion into a business. Manager and co-owner of Atom Heart Music in Pullman, Hudak works with his wife, Gabrielle Schilling, and shares ownership with traveling local Steve Ashby. Atom Heart Music offers music sales, rentals, consignments, repairs, services and lessons, but here, Hudak answers questions about the store and the ever-changing era of music.Q. What do you do day to day?
A. When we first opened, it was just me and Steve (Ashby), and I did all the sort of managerial- type stuff, like ordering, customer service. He left to travel the world in 2008, so since then I’ve been owner/manager, so I kind of do everything.
Q. What’s the biggest challenge as manager and owner of Atom Heart Music?
A. Part of it is just the hours. I work six days a week. Those hours add up, being down here eight-plus hours a day. Past that, just the day-to-day logistics of keeping up with everything. We have lots of stuff, so trying to anticipate any kind of question you could possibly have with music and music instruments. I’d say that’s challenging, but I feel it’s pretty rewarding to be in a position where I’m capable of needing to learn something everyday. There’s always something new that someone may ask about that I have to keep up with. Technology is just exponentially changing.
Q. How did you get involved with music?
A. Both me and Steve went to Pullman High School and then WSU, as well. He studied music.
He got his bachelor’s degree in music performance in 1989, and I actually studied art. I got my bachelor’s in ’91 … I graduated in ceramics and sculpture, but I’ve honestly done more music than I have art in the last 10 years … And at that time, we were both in bands and so we both kind of came to it from a musician’s standpoint. We both just love music and have had bands since the ‘80s.
Q. How did you turn your music passion into a business?
A. Steve used to work at a guitar store in Moscow. I would come in there and chat with him and the owner, and then I was working retail, so I got hired by those guys, too. He was managing the store, and I was basically his counter guy. We were there together for 4½ years. That ran its course, and the following year, we created Atom Heart together. Growing up, neither one of us had a music store in Pullman, so we decided that it would be nice being in Pullman, because we both have the history of long-term locals here.
Q. What do you play?
A. I started on guitar, but I consider myself more of a bass player … I kind of monkey around
on some other stuff, like ukulele.
Q. Do you have a favorite instrument or model?
A. I would usually try and recommend a couple different types, specifically for people who haven’t started developing their own preferences, because really it’s only through trying things out that a player can understand what they do or don’t like. And everyone tends to develop a preference, a specific style. I would typically suggest, Schecter’s SGR series, Squiers, Yamahas. I try to lead people in a certain direction that don’t know what they’re looking for.
Q. What’s the store’s top seller?
A. The single most popular thing that we carry would just be basic Yamaha acoustic guitars in the $150-$200 range, which is what I’d consider an entry-level instrument.
Q. What are your album recommendations?
A. We’re buddies with the guys at Deadbeat Records in Moscow, so they bring us in vinyl and CDs, so we’ll sometimes have people asking us about that. I have some favorite work music, which would be … reggae, classic rock and pop stuff … Beatles, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix are the top tiers of players. I like to listen to new stuff whenever I get a chance. If I can, I listen to either of the student-run stations, like KUOI or KZZU both.
Q. What else should people know?
A. We do a ton of lessons. We recently added on three new instructors, so we have five instructors. We do guitar, bass, drums, piano, violin, viola and then a little bit of mandolin and ukulele, as well … Our focus is to get people who are interested in music, or who are students in music, and get them to keep progressing and part of that is through instruction. And just helping current students and everybody get new accessories. In keeping up with this basic idea … we have created the triptych of what we do here, which is science, soul and sound. The technical, scientifi c aspect of music, obviously with soul being the artistic side of it, and sound, just what you’ve accomplished through both of those things.