Brand new Gearhead Wrenches women's v-neck t-shirt now in stock! This shirt features a weathered Gearhead logo flanked by wrenches. Cream ink screened on a charcoal gray 100% cotton pre-shrunk t shirt.
Here it is, the dog days of summer, and this is the first GEARHEAD newsletter since April. It really has been “dog days” for me: I put Gearhead on hold to raise a litter of 7 corgi puppies these last few months. Born May 1 to my dog Twix, it has been an incredibly wonderful, exhausting process. You can see pictures on Instagram using #gearheadmascot. The pups have now all gone on to their new forever homes, so I am once again able to pick up the wrench and start work again on Gearhead.
While I’ve been raising these pups, I haven’t been idle. Several new products, including the new “Live Fast. Be Weird” shirt and a Gearhead Trucker Cap (in 3 different colors no less!) were under construction, and they’re now available in the web store.
I’ve also been hard at work on the details of GEARFEST 2016, the rock and roll/hot rod show that was revived last year to much ballyhoo and fanfare. Scheduled for Sept 24 at The Blue Lamp in Sacramento, the line up this year makes my heart sing: Sacramento’s Troublemakers, The Roxy Suicide from Colorado featuring Dave Mansfield from Gearhead recording artists The Mansfields, the long loved Bay area band Red Planet coming out of retirement especially for this show, and Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders with special guest Leesa G from the Creamers (one of my all time favorite bands), performing a bunch of Creamers songs with the Rank Outsiders backing her!
At intermission the contest to crown Ms. Gearhead 2016 will once again take place, with the proceeds going to local women’s shelter Chicks in Crisis. Last year’s Ms. Gearhead, Jennifer Long from Thee Merry Widows, will be featured in the upcoming issue of Gearhead #20 (more info on that next newsletter). And of course there will be cars, food and other contests plus a cool poster for all participants!
If you’re interested in being a sponsor, shoot me an email for more details. Our sponsors help defray the cost of putting on such an event and we treat your right!
Finally, the vinyl frenzy seems to be picking up more speed every day. I can’t believe some of the old records being reissued now on vinyl. Lest you forget that Gearhead was WAY ahead of the curve on the vinyl thing, we’re running a Summer Sale on Vinyl. $5 LPs and $2s are yours to be had at the web store, but you only have until Monday August 15 to cash in on this crazy deal. Other out of print titles are also on sale, greatly reduced from their collector pricing, so hop on that as well.
Only a couple days left to buy this totally offensive, but funny limited edition Gearhead® shirt! Based on this classic 70's photo of Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones sporting a "Who The Fuck is Mick Jagger?" shirt, this is a nod to the totally punk-rock roots of Gearhead. It will only be available through our campaign on Teespring.com, and once that ends, this shirt will never be printed again. So buy your limited edition Keith-inspired shirt today!
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,
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!
I am slowly but surely getting through emails. It's something I struggle with on a daily basis. Do I stop and answer all the wonderful emails that come through from my customers and community? Or do I focus on trying to get Gearhead moving again? Usually the emails get pushed to the back seat; any of you that have written, just accept my apology, and know I save ALL emails and answer them at some point!
Back in April I got such a nice email from a long time Gearhead supporter in response to my newsletter. He took my newsletter and added pictures, which is something I had wanted to do, but never got around to! I have been meaning to share his blog with this for months now, and on the eve of sending out my next newsletter, I figured it's now or never. So Frank, thank you for your support! Thank you for making this newsletter extra special by adding the pictures. It was exactly what I would have done, had I done it!
Please read this blog, and support this guy, he truly rocks!! xo Michelle
"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Ernest Hemingway said this, and I have to admit, I have been struggling to do exactly that for a very long time, ever since I published my first article back in 1987, a record review for Oregon State Unitersity's paper The Barometer.
It's hard to write what's in your head sometimes, but I keep trying. I like it when people are real, authentic, and totally themselves and that's what I'd like to convey when I write about something I'm passionate about.
Which leads me to this project I'm currently working on....a little thing called the next, long awaited issue of Gearhead Magazine, #19. I've been involved in putting the magazine together in the past, but it's been a long long time, so I'm starting at ground zero here, trying to figure out what I want to write about, what content should go into a beloved magazine that certainly has a history and a following, and knowing I won't be able to make it what the former editor, Mike, did. Instead, I have to make it my own. I know it's gonna get a few people bent out of shape, but I can't worry about that.
I'll never be able to make it exactly like what Mike did, but I can make it something new, something that reflects my outlook on life, cars, pop culture, rock 'n' roll and this crazy little upside down world we all inhabit. All I can do is write the truest sentence I can.
I'm looking for contributors by the way. Are you interested? If you have always had a burning desire to write an article, story or review for Gearhead, now's your chance! Drop me a line! Maybe your time has come!
Automotive Journalist, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine, Gearhead Records, Gearhead Apparel, DJ, Punk Rocker, Master Gardener, Minister, Environmental Activist and Animal Lover... who IS this person?!