Gearhead Says Goodbye and Hello
Baby if you just say you care
Follow you most anywhere
Roll away the stone
Roll away the stone
-Mott The Hoople
2016 has only just begun, but it has been filled with endings. The passing of classic rockers David Bowie, Lemmy (Motorhead), Dan Hicks, Alan Rickman (who played CBGB founder Hilly Krystal in the film of the same name), Glenn Frey from The Eagles, Dale Griffin from Mott The Hoople, Maurice White (Earth Wind and Fire), Gary Loizzo (American Breed), Jimmy Bain from Dio, and Paul Kantner from Jefferson Airplane, each in quick succession of one another has left music fans devastated. How can this not affect us? I’ve mourned each death by pulling out the records from these folks, playing them, enjoying them, and remembering how each was a moment in time for me, how much my life was shaped by that music and by extension, how GEARHEAD was shaped as well.
It leaves me saddened yet inspired to keep following the beat of my own drummer as I explore my own creative gifts. The new issue of GEARHEAD is flying out the door, with almost 400 (out of a limited edition pressing of 2500) copies shipped so far. If you haven’t picked a copy up yet, you should do it soon. At this rate, it should sell out by the end of spring! It’s exciting and humbling that people are interested in the project that I labored over for almost a year, fighting fear and personal demons along the way of creating it. I imagine all those musicians mentioned above experienced similar things as they took leap after leap in the dark, expressing what mattered to them with songs that have left lasting impressions on generations of aspiring rock stars, artists and music fans.
Honestly, I like to write these newsletters thinking I’m talking to you, having a conversation, and sharing what matters to me. Of course I’d like to sell stuff (hint hint) but I also love connecting with my community. If there was nothing else learned from the deaths of those rockers we all so passionately care about, it is this: what we do affects those around us, even is we don’t personally know those people. The outpouring of grief and love for the music that shaped many of our lives shows just how much influence a single act of artistic creation can have. So pull out those records, sing at the top of your lungs, and be inspired!
Speaking of being inspired, I’ve started a new project: sharing the stories sent in by you the readers, and how Gearhead inspired you or shaped your life. You can read the first one here sent in by long-time Gearhead fan Matt Hutchinson. Do you have your own story you’d like to share? Please email me and let’s put it out there! I know some people want “just the facts” but I like the stories and the behind the scenes details, so I’ve also started sharing personal anecdotes and memories in to the NEWS section of the website. If you want to read more about my personal reflections, as well as your fellow GEARHEADS, please head over there!
Another long-time Gearhead supporter Steve “Pheck” Ritsuo created a fantastic new t-shirt for Gearhead. Originally only available to Kickstarter supporters, the Count Gearhead t shirt is now available for the first time to the general public as a men’s or women’s shirt so pick one up today. Are you an artist that would love to design for Gearhead? Again, drop me an email and let’s see about bringing your art to life!
2016 is gonna be a great year, I can feel it in my bones. I’m excited about starting to work on another new issue of Gearhead, about releasing some fantastic new records and about the cool new shirts in the pipeline. But most of all I’m excited and inspired by you guys, the Gearhead community, and getting to know you either in person, by email, or through your orders.
Like Mott The Hoople sing “Just Say You Care”!
Keep on rockin’!
Growing Up On Gearhead
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 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.
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,