The New Year arrived in a torrent of rain and wind here in Northern California, washing away optimistic thoughts of sunny outings in the hot rod with my sweetheart happening any time soon. It sits parked in the garage, waiting for an oil change that will signal driving season again.
Until then, I hunker down at Gearhead HQ, planning the game of attack for this fresh New Year filled with possibilities and new opportunities
Everyone needs new duds for the New Year, so some new shirts and hats are the first up. Snag one of the cool new Wrench shirts, a foam Sparkplug trucker hat, or a snazzy baseball jersey featuring the ubiquitous GEARHEAD logo from our newly designed web store.
Issue #20 of GEARHEAD MAGAZINE is due out in April. Ad space is still available if you have product or business you want the GEARHEAD community to know about. Email for a rate sheet!
Car show season kicks off this year with Gearhead’s first appearance at the Sacramento Autorama in over ten years! If you’re in the area, stop by Booth B28 Feb. 17-19, 2017 and enter the free raffle to win a goody bag. This massive three-day event features all types of rides from mouth-watering high-end gems restored in bright candy colors to rusty rods lovingly restored with the DIY spirit in home garages.
That DIY spirit permeates everything here at GEARHEAD. This includes sharing articles and stories written by our customers. This month, the featured story is Five Car Shows You Should Attend written by Guest Writer Jason Muelle. If you have something cool you think Gearhead readers would dig,hit me up: maybe you will be our next guest writer!
While the world crashes and storms around us my hope is for Gearhead to continue focusing even more on our unique community. After all, that’s what brings us together right? Our mutual love of hot rods and rock and roll; this is a unifying bond like nothing else.
Speaking of community, my heart is saddened by the death of Hellacopters guitarist Robert “Strings” Dahlqvist Feb. 3, 2017. The loss to his band mates, family, loved ones and our rock and roll community is deep and painful. Sharing how he touched my life is my way of honoring his memory. If you have memories to share, please feel free to add positive comments to this space.
Thank you for your ongoing support and enthusiasm as I continue to change and grow Gearhead. I love reading the email responses to the newsletter as well as your comments onFacebook, Twitter and Instagram. Connecting directly with you all through social media reminds me every day why I’m doing this: our community! So here’s to a rockin’ 2017 everyone.
Live Fast, Be Weird! Xoxo Rev. Michelle
I am supposed to be working on my newsletter but my mind is in such turmoil, I can’t concentrate on anything. I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams as I anxiously flip from one news channel to another, then bound over to the computer to google online news sources and then back again to the TV.
The armed occupation that’s been going on at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for most of January and now part of February is very personal to me. Having spent several years there in the early 80s working as a cook at the field station, feeding various groups of bird watchers, biology and botany students and elder hostel groups, the desert area of South Eastern Oregon bubbles deep in my blood, having infected my soul with the wide open spaces, the spicy-sweet smell of sage brush, and the wailing call of coyotes at night. In this remote, almost isolated location, you learn how to rely on yourself for entertainment, which often involves lots of alcohol and listening to all sorts of music.
The take-over has ended in death, federal agents arresting some of the militants and those remaining at the field station vowing to fight on, although more arrests are imminent. Even though the occupiers are mostly dissipated, toxic emotions from those who feel they are speaking for all Americans continue to infect the small surrounding communities, leaving locals hiding in their houses for fear of getting caught up with the lunatic fringe of individuals who think everyone should think and act like they do.
What does any of this have to do with Gearhead? My business is an extension of myself and what goes on in my personal life directly affects my business, and by extension, you the customer. The events going on at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge matter to me and to pretend like nothing is happening except working on my business would be lying to myself and lying to Gearhead fans. Maybe I’m too open about the changing emotions that run through my mind and body as I try to run my company. Maybe I’m too earnest for my own good. But this is who I am and this is how I choose to run my company. I like people to know what goes on behind the scenes. I like people to feel like they know Gearhead.
A former business associate once told me that you should never let your customers see what’s really going on behind the scenes of your business, that you should keep up a false front that everything is great, even if it’s not. Even though Gearhead is a very small company, it has the reputation of being a huge corporation, with many employees. It has always had that larger than life footprint. It makes me laugh to think it’s just me, wearing many different hats through out the day, but I was warned never to destroy that illusion by revealing too much personal stuff. Apparently, that’s good business. Hmmmm….
The high I felt when I brought the new issue of Gearhead home was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. A mix of pride, and a stunned sense of accomplishment washed through my body, and continues to every time I pack a new order. This magazine is very personal to me. It is an extension of myself; all the stories mean something to me. To me, the more you know what goes into a project, the more you know about the people working on something, the more you know the stories, the more something matters to you, and the more personal it becomes. You become part of the community, you develop a relationship, and by extension, you become part of that thing too. What happens to it matters to you because you are now personally involved.
Everything we create and put out there is an extension of ourselves: the car you hobble together from scraps you pull from a junkyard, the song you labor over, getting the chorus just right, the garden you plant, the silly painting or doodle you make for your kids…. It’s all a part of who you are. When you say “I Made This”, it’s like saying look, this is a part of me!
Despite the fact that subscribers live around the world, if you see someone reading Gearhead, or commenting on it in their social media, you knowingly nod your head. They’re part of the club. They’re someone you could relate to. Back in the day (I sound like an old grandma, ha ha ha!) when you saw someone standing across the street with spiked purple hair, a leather jacket, and combat boots on, you knew they were part of the club. You knew you would have something in common with that person. They were punk, and you shared a common language expressed by how you looked. Not so much any more, now that “punk” is part of the mainstream Justin Beeber look. So you have to look for other clues, other signals.
Gearhead is more than a magazine. It is a lifestyle, a brand, a mindset, a community. It’s a place where we find like-minded “others” who we can relate to, with all our past experiences leading us to who we are now, in the present. Sharing what matters to us. It’s personal.
Well, we did it! I'm still a little blown away by how awesome reaching my goal to crowdfund the printing of GEARHEAD feels! However, I experienced elation at the good news and then later that same day, panic. When you're doing something creative where you have to rely on others to help bring your dream to life, sometimes shit happens. And there's nothing you can do except move onto Plan B.
As I mentioned before, one of the challenges I might face bringing this project to fruition was finding a reliable designer with the technical skills to help me lay out the magazine and get it ready for printing. It's a pretty specific set of skills, and some of the money raised from Kickstarter was designated to pay that person.
I had been working with someone for the last few months, and when I called her to let her know the campaign funded and it was all systems go on the lay out, she quit. Just like that. She said she really didn't feel like doing magazine design and lay out any more and that I needed to find someone else.
After a day of freaking out, I did what I always do: I reached out to my community for help. I found someone new this last Friday, Dec. 4, thankfully, so it looks like everything is still on track for a Christmas 2015 release. Whew!
Hopefully this is the only blip on the road to production, but just in case something else comes up, I know I have a supportive community around me ready to rally if I call for help. That means a great deal to me, and I"m grateful for the support that comes so readily from the GEARHEAD community. Thank you!
Till the next time, keepin' the rubber on the road!
xo Rev. Michelle
As Dione Warwick sings, "Do you know the way to San Jose....oooo oooo oooo oooo....." You better figure it out quick so you can Join the Gearhead Crew when we head to San Jose, CA Sunday July 12, 2015 to join the Strangers Car Club as they celebrate their sixteenth year hosting a car show and BBQ! The event runs 10 am t0 4 pm and is located at History Park, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112. For more information, check out their website. Music, food, vendors, and of course, the cars! I'm pretty sure they won't be playing that song, so you'll have to provide it yourself as you head out!
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
This quote from T.S. Eliot jumped out at me as I struggled to pull this newsletter together. It states so clearly what I’ve been feeling about reviving Gearhead®, but was having trouble putting into words. After fifteen years of ups and downs, feeling as if I were sitting in the front seat of a rickety old wooden roller coaster banking sharply to one side or the other and sometimes almost going off the rails, I have arrived back at the beginning. It’s all the same, yet it feels like I’m seeing it all for the first time.
I’ve toyed with the idea of rebranding Gearhead® for the past year, and in my mind it totally made sense. My heart however had a different idea, and that disconnect kept things stalled out as I struggled to figure out what the best plan of action was.
The more I explored the idea though, the more I realized it was exactly the right next action to take. So as 2015 picks up speed, I’m going for it. Lots of companies go through this rebranding process of reinventing themselves. Look at MacDonald’s using hip hop music to reach a new generation, or Apple, going from nearly bankrupt to Visionary by connecting with peoples’ desires for simple and beautiful technology. Changes are sometimes jarring to the fans who have supported the old guard, but when you give it a chance sometimes the changes are exactly what is needed to breathe fresh air and life into a company and make it fun and exciting again.
Fifteen years ago, I joined forces with founder Mike, and together we created Gearhead Records. Mike had set the stage back in 1993, creating Gearhead Magazine and making some shirts to help spread the word about his new project. We became partners because we had a similar desire to add some cool shit to the exciting mix of music and clothing that was just starting to pick up steam in early 2000, and each of us had a valuable part to play in growing the company.
We officially added Gearhead Magazine and Gearhead Apparel making these divisions an integral part of the business plan that already included Gearhead Records. But it also ended up making things a little confusing for Gearhead customers. Many didn’t realize all these separate brands were all actually different products from the same company!
The redesign of the 22-year-old Gearhead brand has not been something I entered into lightly. The process of mulling over this decision forced me to ask deeper questions about who Gearhead is and what exactly this company, most notably the role of the magazine, should be in this age of Facebook blogs Twitter and Instagram where little is left to the imagination, and trends come and go with the blink of an eye.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Gearhead Headquarters., or for short Gearhead HQ
Going forward, each division will no longer be referred by using records, apparel, or magazine. It will all just be Gearhead from here on out, all collected under the mother ship, Gearhead HQ.
The changes are kicking off with the re-launch of Gearhead Magazine (now to be called just Gearhead!), with the long-awaited issue #19 due out Spring 2015. Despite the fact that founder Mike will no longer be involved, the original spirit of the magazine will still be there, focusing on the culture, the stories and people that drive the many faceted world of independent music, art and cars.
Gearhead is a lifestyle brand built on images, words and sounds, of anticipating trends and pop culture years in advance of mass media. Gearhead has always been way ahead of the curve, balancing nostalgia and reverence for the past with current cultural trends.
Now when you turn on the TV, there are shows about underground movements that Gearhead touched on years earlier. Punk Rock is now mainstream with companies like cellular giant T Mobile usurping the gritty raw punk n’ roll sound that many Gearhead bands championed. Lowbrow art and Kustom Kulture are now as much a part of the American pop experience as Pepsi and Burger King.
The truth is that is exactly what Gearhead has always been good at, and why Gearhead is still relevant today: Someone has to find the cool shit first and share it with the world.
Since taking a few years off to do some soul-searching and clutter clearing, there have literally been hundreds of companies laying claim to the Gearhead name. But due to Mike’s foresight, we were there first, creating the pathway for a lifestyle combining hot rods, rock ‘n roll and pop culture that you all supported and helped grow. The name Gearhead didn’t exist in popular culture the way it does now (check out the urban dictionary for a really jaw-dropping look at today’s use) but try explaining that to these newbies is like ramming a priceless t bucket into a brick wall. Better just to let it go and focus on what started the whole trip in the first place!
As Thee Gearhead® brand emerges I am pleased to carry forward the tradition of shining the light in dingy clubs, dusty garages and pulling open closet doors to uncover the interesting and unique stories, music and pop culture from the past that hold relevance in today’s disconnected world. I feel incredibly lucky to still be here, guiding this company into the future. Who knows where it will go, but the one thing I DO know is it will be fun, interesting, challenging and exciting to navigate this new leg of the journey.
Advertisers, you can grab some ad space at the original super-low rates from 2008, just for this issue. There is limited space available as the magazine undergoes this metamorphosis, so get in touch right away to reserve your spot. It’s a chance to be part of something big once again, right from the beginning.
Its’ a super exciting time to be part of Gearhead, and I’m thrilled that you are all still along for the ride. There’s bound to be bumps along the way, but that’s part of what makes a road trip or a rollercoaster ride fun right? More than anything else, 22 years is a long time to be in business. I missed celebrating that, so with the my official 15 year anniversary upon us now, it’s time to rock and roll, and get things moving so we can continue to celebrate the rebirth of all parts of the Gearhead brand.
Thanks for joining me on this new leg of our journey! Keepin’ the rubber on the road,
I've been going through old scrap books and found this and throught I would share! It's the first and only Christmas Card from Gearhead® painted for us by Dirty Donny back in 2003. On the flip is the explanation of who everyone was that was working with Gearhead at that time. I love this card, it makes me laugh every time I see it!
Over the years, many fabulous customers have sent me pictures of themselves or their kids wearing various Gearhead® shirts, and all sorts of other pictures featuring Gearhead® products in their lives. I love getting these pictures; it is so awesome to see people connecting with Gearhead in these real-life settings.
I've started a new album on Facebook called "Flyin' The Gearhead® Colors" featuring pictures customers have sent in. If you'd like to be a part of this album, send me your photos, with a description of the picture, where it was taken and your name (if you want me to include it), along with your permission to post it up on the Gearhead Facebook Page for public viewing. You can email them to Gearhead® at infoATgearheadrecordsDOTcom with the subject "Flyin' The Gearhead Colors"
Looking forward to seeing all your smiling faces!
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,