This post was guest-written by Matthew Hutchison, a longtime Gearhead fan. We had been emailing back and forth and he mentioned he first got turned onto Gearhead when he was 15 (he's now 29)! I was surprised, pleased and curious and asked him to tell me his story. Matt did PR for Self Destructo Records, and is now a freelance publicist. With his permission I'm sharing his story with you. Thanks Matt! xo Rev. Michelle
Gearhead Records was 33% of my introduction to punk, garage and underground rock in general. I was introduced to the label as a 15 year old kid by a friend of mine named Rob Greene who was an employee of a record store I visited often back in the day called Do Dah Depot. He was always wearing a Gearhead shirt and the store had both the magazine and Gearhead apparel on display. One Sunday afternoon, Rob threw me and my oldest friend in a listening booth and began force feeding us Iggy Pop’s Kill City, Turbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes, Fireballs Of Freedom’s Welcome To The Octagon and Mensen’s Delusions of Grandeur. It was an introduction to a new world that would impact me and leave a lasting impression.
When I asked him about Mensen, he told me about Gearhead and the Scandinavian rock scene. Thanks to an allowance from my folks and Internet access, I bought CD’s from the Gearhead family when I could (first one being New Bomb Turks The Night Before The Day The Earth Stood Still, which I still play regularly.)
Thanks to Michelle, Mike and crew, I was given a good introduction to Scandinavian and Japanese rnr, everything from “Demons” to Gito Gito Hustler and then some. Gearhead Records introduced North America to The Hives (who were a hell of a lot better than White Stripes could ever be).
I started looking through the magazine well after it went under and wish I started earlier on that, so much cool shit was crammed into that and the scene needs that back. It’s rare to have two people join forces to bring together all the best in punk/garage, drag racing, and counter culture artists into a brand that is globally recognized! Hell, they even pulled off their own festival in Sweden (Gearfest) and the compilations they released were incredible, I personally recommend the Welcome To Gearhead Country compilation to anyone who is reading this and is interested in learning more!
I still remember what it felt like “accidently” creating the record label. Mike had been talking for years about starting a record label, and since I had actually worked in the industry for a number of years, first at record stores, then as a sales person at the hipster distribution company Mordam, I felt I knew a thing or two about record labels. “You’ll never get it off the ground without someone like me,” I told him.
I was working full time with a good paying job, benefits, vacations, and an IRA. Starting Gearhead Records was really just a hobby for me, something to do in my spare time. I’d never seen myself as a business owner, much less entrepreneur. It wasn’t something even in my scope of interest. I have a degree in Anthropology/Ethnobotany for God’s sake, what did I know about running a business?!
Since Mike never filed official paper work for Gearhead Magazine, I started by filing paperwork with the state which included announcing a fictitious business name, and running notices of it in the paper. Once that was done, I could then register for a resale number and open a business bank account and then get a tax ID so I could pay taxes on all the money we were gonna make.
It makes me laugh now how genuinely in the dark I was about running a business. Make money? Really? I figured we’d put out a record, sell it all, recoup our money and we were off and rolling. Actually, that’s pretty much what happened, although I never recouped my initial investment. Any money from sales went right back into the next project, which was how we ended up putting out thirteen records that first year. Two years later, a little band from Sweden that we had released three records with called The Hives would become a household word, and the course of Gearhead would shift dramatically.
Stories about cars, pop culture, music, art, and other related topics written by GEARHEAD owner Rev. Michelle Haunold. Guest writers are also encouraged to get in touch to share content that might be of interest to GEARHEAD customers.