As you’ve all heard by now, we will be selecting the first annual Ms. Gearhead this weekend during the Gearhead Anniversary Party! All women are welcome to enter, the only stipulation is that you have or once had, ovaries. Sorry fellas, no drag!
This is a fundraiser for the Sacramento SPCA, who does so much good in this area for animals, sheltering them, rehoming them, and providing classes and training for the people who choose to love and adopt them.
It’s simple to enter! Once you’ve paid your admission to the show Sept 26, 2015 at The Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra, Sacramento, CA make your way over to the Gearhead Merch table and for a donation of $5, you’re enter! It’s for the animals people, so let’s have some fun with this!
No matter what you look like, any woman should enter for a chance to win fabulous prizes! You can be an “every woman”, or you can look like Wonder Woman (a personal favorite of mine). You can be punk rock or pin up, rockabilly or a rad mom. It really doesn’t matter. What you’re going to be judged on is your speech, and why you think you’d make the perfect Ms. Gearhead! After all, you’ll be representing for the next year, till a new one is chosen! So practice your speeches ladies:
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE CHOSEN AS MS. GEARHEAD?
The winner will get ALL these lovely prizes, so for a $5 donation and a few seconds on stage, why the heck not?!
The prizes include a two-page spread in a future issue of Gearhead, which includes a photo shoot and interview for the story. The winner also gets a fabulous set of sunglasses from Tres Noir as well as some cute t-shirts; this prize is worth over $150. Sacramento Tattoo has donated a gift certificate of $50 towards a tattoo; Cock Grease has donated a goody bag with Beaver Cream, a hair pomade perfect for women, as well as a cute t-shirt, and Illumination Vacations donated a gift basket of Kona Coffee and gourmet chocolate.
But Wait! That's Not All! The winner also gets a $25 gift certificate from Phono Select, a gift certificate from Kylie at AJF Salon, and two fabulous signed screened prints from Bruce Gossett Studios. She'll also get a handmade Gearhead crown and scepter as well as a bouquet of flowers!
So remember, as soon as you get into the club, head over to the Gearhead Merch Booth and sign up!
And remember, It’s not about what you look like, it’s about your heart and soul.
Special Thanks to our Ms. Gearhead Contest Sponsors Tres Noir and Norcal Knock Out!
The Gearhead Anniversary Party/Gearfest is right around the corner! There is so much cool stuff planned for Saturday Sept. 26, 2015, but the biggest part of the party is the bands that will be performing. It's time to meet the bands and get familiar with them if you're not already!
Headlining our event is the newest band to sign to Gearhead, Thee Merry Widows. Fronted by Eva Von Slut who also fronts The White Barons, these ladies (and now 1 fellow!) broke ground years ago as the first all-female psychobilly band. Having opened for such bands as Demented Are Go and Mad Sin, I fell in love with this band when they played the Gearhead Showcase at the Lady Luck Tattoo Convention in Reno, NV.
Sexy, Classy, fun, and crazy talented, these ladies put on a show that will have you dancing and wishing you had dressed up in your ghoulish glam finest. Their first two records are out digitally now on Itunes, and a new record will be out in early 2016. Make sure you bring your video cameras! You'll want to share what you witnessed with everyone who missed it, trust me!
I am so thrilled that Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders are joining the party! Based out of Los Angeles, you are in for a treat! No on rocks as hard as Pat! I'm gonna let our friends at The Big Takeover take it from here: " Pat Todd, from the legendary Lazy Cowgirls, has unleashed a fifteen track wrecking ball of rock ‘n’ roll upon the world. This is the third offering from Todd and his Rankoutsiders, and these grooves are as raw, dirty, and driving as ever. Thunder drums kick out from under broken bottle guitars, and the vocals snarl and sneer in pure rockin’ joy. Hints of the Ramones and the Rolling Stones, alongside, of course, them Lazy Cowgirls, fill out the tracks, but the sleazy swinging and smoke stained street smart songs remain purely Pat Todd. This is one of those albums that should be in the curriculum of every so-called “School of Rock”, because if you don’t know these songs, you should. (www.rankoutsiderrecords.com) Jack Rabid - The Big Takeover (Dec 1, 2013) Thank you Jack! I couldn't have said it any better myself!
The party starts when San Francisco’s White Barons take the stage — and soon mushrooms into a legendary rager, energized by ripping riffs, shout-along choruses, and lyrics about no-regrets good times. The band has been trading in raw-boned punk ‘n’ roll brutality since 2007, the year the four-piece released its Gearhead debut, Up All Night with the White Barons. The songs range from broken-hearted barnstormers ("You Never Were") to a battery of unapologetic drinkin' and druggin' party anthems — "Wicked Ways," "How High" — that recall epic nights spent pounding shots at the bar and waking up the next afternoon stoked to do it all over again! Their brand new record, out on Gearhead takes the band in a slightly different direction, more 70s rock and roll. The towering pipes of Ms. Eva are especially suited to the new material!
Mixing Ska, Punk, Reggae and Roots music, The Sacto Storytellers have taken Sacramento's music scene by storm. I'm thrilled to include them as the opening band for the party. What a great way to kick things off!
Each live performance generates a buzz among audiences, entrancing them with jazzy trumpet verses, strong rhythm, and groovy bass lines. Together, they bring a true familiar vibe and their performances are nothing but positive & powerful.
The band takes the stage at 7 PM, with each following band taking the stage at the top of the hour. For a full schedule of events, click here!
There's so much happening before and during the upcoming party at The Blue Lamp, Saturday Sept. 26, 2015 I figured I'd make it real easy and post a time-line. Please feel free to share and post on your own social media pages! See y'all there!
5:30- 6 PM HOT RODS, CARS, MOTORCYCLES MEET IN FRONT OF THE BLUE LAMP. There will be cones set up in front of the club for hot rods and bikes to park, but please note, Space is Limited! All are welcome but you may have to park farther away.
6 PM BLESSING OF THE CARS RALLY BY REV. MICHELLE HAUNOLD
This will be a short non-denominational blessing free to all attendees, and held in front of the Blue Lamp. All participants will get a coupon for $1 off entrance fee for the show.
6:30 DOORS OPEN— TIX ARE $10 AT THE DOOR, $8 ADVANCE
Thank you to our party sponsors So-Cal Speed Shop, Sacramento Tattoo and Piercing and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Everyone attending the party gets a free poster!
FIRST 25 DOOR ENTRANTS GET A FREE GEARHEAD GOODY BAG!
7 PM THE SACTO STORYTELLERS
8 PM THE WHITE BARONS
9 PM MS. GEARHEAD CONTEST and Fundraiser for the SPCA $5 to ENTER
All women are welcome, no matter what shape, size, or style of dress. Each participant will get a chance on stage to introduce herself and share why she thinks she should be Ms. Gearhead. The winner will get a 2 page spread in a future issue of Gearhead, a goody bag from Tres Noir Optics, a gift certificate for $50 towards a tattoo from Sacramento Tattoo, a $25 gift certificate from Phono Select Records, a goody bag from Cock Grease Hair Pomade, a goody basket from Illumination Vacations, 2 Limited edition signed prints from Bruce Gossett Studios and a gift certificate for a hair cut by Kylie from AJF Salon worth $50.WOW!! Plus a very cool home-made scepter and crown and flowers, and the chance to wear the title of Ms. Gearhead for a year. How cool is that?!
Thanks to our sponsors Tres Noir Optics and Norcal Knock Out!
10 PM PAT TODD AND RANKOUTSIDERS
11 PM THEE MERRY WIDOWS
Food trucks will be available during the event, and there will be a GEARHEAD merch booth.
Gearfest Anniversary Party Sponsors
To pull off a party like the Gearhead Anniversary Party/Gearfest, getting help from sponsors makes all the difference. Take a moment to read about each of our sponsors and please support them!
Our main sponsor is locally owned So-Cal Speed Shop. Located at 1715 Del Paso Blvd, Sacramento CA 95621. They are located just minutes off of Highway 80! and minutes from Downtown via Highway 160. Established in 2008, So Cal Speed Shop Sacramento is more than a Speed Shop or Auto Parts Store, it’s a destination for anyone interested in or dedicated to the tradition of old school hot-rodding and the automotive industry. Whether you have a 32 Ford, a low rider, traditional rod or kustom, the staff at So Cal can help you in finding that just right part, accessory, motor or complete body you need to finish, or start, your project. So Cal takes pride in having the best selection of traditional hot rod parts and accessories available in store, on line and on site at the nearly 20 shows we attend yearly.
They also have a fantastic selection of t shirts, magazines, and other really cool shit to look at and buy, so there's something there for everyone that likes to support Mom and Pop style shops. Unique products, super friendly staff, and cool cars....what else could you ask for?
Sacramento Tattoo and Piercing, also one of our main sponsors, is one of the best and oldest tattoo shops in Sacramento. Originally opened in 1991, the shop has a staff of 3 full time tattoo artists as well as 1 part time tattoo artist and 2 full-time piercing artists.
Sacramento Tattoo is a traditional street shop, open to anyone who comes in and wants flash or custom work. Everyone in the shop is open, friendly and willing to talk to people just toying with the idea of getting their first tattoo, as well as the seasoned customer who wants to add to their collection of skin art. I started getting tattooed here back in 2006, and was impressed with how cool and down to earth all the artists are here, no rock star bullshit!
Located at 2722 X St, Sacramento CA 95818, between 27th and 28th St. at top end of Midtown, and the edge of Oak Park, they work on a first come first serve basis. The shop is open every day from 12 Noon until 10 PM. Call 916-737-8282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Our third main sponsor, originating in Wisconsin in the 1844s, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer has been the beer of choice for rockers and rebels for decades. Easy to drink and affordable, the company is also very dedicated to supporting the independent music industry.
Having earned awards at US and international competitions, Pabst begins hand-tying a blue silk ribbon around the neck of each Best Select beer to identify it as a first-place winner. You know, because it was.
Even without traditional advertising, Pabst Blue Ribbon continues to be one of the fastest-growing consumer brands in the country, embraced by a wide cross-section of the population. Including South Park fans. Now owned by American beer entrepreneur Eugene Kashper, Pabst remains American owned and operated, as they have been for 170 years.
Hand built in Southern California by a passionate family team, Tres Noir Optics are THEE choice of sunglasses for hotrodders, rock and rollers and anyone who just wants to look cool, but protect their eyes. Tres Noir is one of the sponsors for our Ms. Gearhead Contest, and whom ever wins will get a killer goody bag featuring a cool pair of sunglasses, cute t shirts and other delights!
Each pair of glasses is handmade and comes with a heavy duty case to protect them when you're not using them. And best of all? They are guaranteed for life, so if they crack, or chip or whatever, they'll take care of you, no problem. I personally own a pair of their terrific glasses and am delighted to welcome them as a sponsor.
And finally, helping spread the word about the party and supporting the Ms. Gearhead Contest, we have Nor Cal Knockout based out of Sacramento.
Norcal Knockout is a nostalgic rock'n'roll car & bike show held annually on the first weekend in July at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo, California. Come join us for a day full of amazing Pre-70 American made Traditional Hot Rods, Kustoms, Bombs, Lowriders, Gassers, Nostalgic Race cars, and 40's - 60's style Choppers, Bobbers, & Cafe Racers.
Owner "Hollywood" Hank and his wife Korena were at the original Gearfest in Sweden in 1998 so we're thrilled and blessed to have them join us for this US revival of Gearfest and Anniversary Celebration!
6 PM BLESSING OF THE CARS RALLY BY REV. MICHELLE HAUNOLD
This will be a short non-denominational blessing free to all attendees, and held in front of the Blue Lamp. All participants will get a coupon for $1 off entrance fee for the show.
I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but there should be a Ms. Gearhead! And what better way to find her than throw a Ms. Gearhead contest!? GEAHEAD is pleased to announce there will be the 1st Annual Ms. Gearhead Contest as part of our Fifteen Year Anniversary Celebration Party at the Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95816 Sept. 26, 2015. The event will begin at 6 pm with a free car rally in front of the club and a non-denominational blessing by Rev. Michelle, followed by a show for 21+ featuring bands, food trucks and the Ms. Gearhead contest. The party will end at midnight. This event also marks the revival of our underground rock festival, Gearfest. Space is limited and guests are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance from the Blue Lamp website. The cost for the party is $8 in advance or $10 at the door. The cost of the Ms. Gearhead Contest is an extra $5 donation with all proceeds being donated to the Sacramento SPCA. Sponsor for the contest is Tres Noir Optics and Norcal Knockout. Sponsors for the Gearhead Party are So Cal Speed Shop, Sacramento Tattoo and Pabst Beer.
The Ms. Gearhead Contest will be held during intermission between bands. All women are encouraged to enter regardless of their body type, hair, make up or dress.
“Everybody thinks this is a Pin Up Girl contest, but it’s not,” says owner Rev. Michelle Haunold. “I want real women, with real bodies, clothes and their own style to enter! I’m no model, and I want a real woman to represent GEARHEAD for this Ms. Gearhead Contest. You can dress how ever you feel your best, and for some that’s in cute outfits and for some it’s jeans and Converse! I love women celebrating their bodies and individual style, no matter what they look like. Just as long as they’re comfortable in their own skin, that’s punk rock and that’s what I see Ms. Gearhead being!”
The contest will be MC’d by Eva Von Slut, singer for The White Barons and Thee Merry Widows, two of the bands who will be playing the party. All contestants will get a chance to get on stage and tell the audience and judges why they would make the best Ms. Gearhead. The winner will be chosen by an independent panel of three judges, who will decide who the winner is. The prizes for Ms. Gearhead include a two-page story and photos in a future issue of Gearhead Magazine, shot by a professional photographer. Other prizes include a GEARHEAD goody bag, a gift bag from Tres Noir Optics, featuring a stunning pair of sunglasses and cute t shirts, a gift certificate to Phono Select Records, a gift certificate from Sacramento Tattoo, a gift bag from Cock Grease, limited edition art prints from Bruce Gossett Studios, and a hair cut and style by Kylie at AJF Salon. Plus she'll get a cute scepter, a crown and some flowers!
To enter, the women simply need to pay a $5 dontation to enter once they're inside the club. All proceeds will benefit the Sacramento SPCA. Entries will be accepted up to the 9 PM start time of the contest. All women are welcome to enter for a chance to hold the title of the very first Ms. Gearhead.
“Gearhead is run by a woman, and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate a female’s perspective on what Gearhead is, as well as raise some money for the animals in need at the SPCA,” claims Haunold, who is a passionate animal lover. “I want all women to feel comfortable with their bodies, no matter what their look is. We’re all unique and beautiful in our own way, and I want to share that message with everyone who takes part in the contest.”
Following the crash of the US economy and personal differences between the two co-owners, Haunold put Gearhead on hold for the last five years to assess the business and figure out what new direction to take the company. Moving to Elk Grove in 2013, Haunold rediscovered her passion for rock and roll and hot rods, and decided to revive the dormant lifestyle brand by releasing a new record by L.A. rockers The Lords of Altamont. She quickly followed that successful record with several new clothing designs created by Sacramento-based tattoo artist “Cuz’n” Bill Lorenz, from Sacramento Tattoo.
“We’d worked together on several records and projects in the past, and asking him to draw up some new t shirt designs seemed like a logical step,” commented Haunold. The two had started dating several years previously and the personal and creative collaborations have been going strong ever since. “I’ve started to get the word out about the revival of Gearhead by vending at car shows up and down the state, and bringing it all back home to Sacramento with a party just makes sense! People have been so supportive and enthusiastic here, and this is agreat way to say thank you,” exclaimed Haunold.
The party will start at 6 pm, in front of The Blue Lamp with a car rally and a non-denominational “Blessing of The Cars” performed by Haunold who is a minister. The blessing and rally are free and open to the public. “Any one with wheels can show up for the rally and blessing,” says Haunold. “Bring your strollers, bikes, cars or whatever!” All participants will be given a coupon for $1 off the entrance fee. Following the blessing, local reggae-rockers The Sacto Storytellers will take the stage at 7pm for the 21 and over portion of the party, followed by The White Barons, who will be playing selections from their new record Electric Revenge, out now on Gearhead.
The first ever Ms. Gearhead contest will follow. Entrance to the contest is a $5 donation with all the money going to the SPCA. All women are encouraged to dress up in their best idea of what a Ms. Gearhead would look like and compete for a Gearhead Goody Bag and a a 2 page spread in a future issue of Gearhead, complete with photos and story. The contest is sponsored by Tres Noir, who will also provide a goody bag to the winner worth over $150! “Gearhead is run by a woman, and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate a female’s perspective on what a Gearhead is, as well as raise some money for the animals in need at the SPCA,” claims Haunold, who is a passionate animal lover.
Gearfest then continues with Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders, from Los Angeles, who play high-energy “punk ‘n’ roll”, a term coined by Haunold. The show ends with Thee Merry Widows taking the stage. The world’s first all-women Psychobilly band has an internatinoal following. They’ve shared the stage with international rock stars such as The Necromantix and The Misfits. Food Trucks will be available through out the party for hungry guests. There will also be an extensive merchandise table featuring the Gearhead brand of clothing, music and magazines.
For more information, please visit the Gearhead website at http://www.gearheadhq.com
Contact Information: Michelle Haunold
So many people have asked me about The Hives story that I decided to start a section called Friday Flashback and share some of these stories with you all. Gearhead is often left out of the history of this band, but trust me friends, we were very involved!
Mike and I had just finished our first year of Gearhead Records, releasing a flood of garage punk rock gems from The "Demons" to Red Planet. It was amazing; the response was overwhelming to the music, the packaging, and everything we touched just rocked. It was pretty fun and pretty cool. We already had our second year of releases lined up and were talking about all the new bands we wanted to work with.
Mike had just returned from a visit to Sweden, where a bunch of Gearhead fans had organized the second Gearfest. He and his then-girlfriend Cathy had spent several weeks rockin’ out with some of the best Scandinavian up and coming bands and he was really excited to share some new demos with me for possible release on Gearhead.
One of those bands was called The Hives, a scrappy little 5 piece from a tiny Swedish town called Fagersta. They had played a killer set one night during Gearfest and Mike had really hit it off with them. As we pulled away from the Mordam warehouse in my little Ford station wagon, Mike popped in a cassette, bursting with excitement. “You’re gonna dig this!” he exclaimed, and he was right. Raw, fast, loud, melodic, literally bursting from the speakers, the demo he played me had everything that we were looking for in a Gearhead release. We were both so excited about this band; we knew we had something special. They had a couple releases out on a label called Burning Heart in Sweden, but no US presence, so I reached out to the owner, Peter, and suggested we license his records and put them out in North America. It was a pretty easy negotiation, and once the contracts were signed we moved forward at lightening speed to get the art and masters put together for the first release, the A.K.A.I.D.I.O.T 12” E.P, which we quickly followed with the 7” Hate To Say I Told You So.
I really wanted to release them together as a full-length for the US market. 12”s were a hard sell with the American audience; they didn’t have as much perceived value as a full-length. It was also a lot more work and way more expensive to release two separate titles than one. I was out-voted by Mike and the band; they had a vision they wanted to preserve releasing their music that way, and despite my certainty it was a mistake, I did it anyway. Those records came out in February 2001 to a disappointing showing, 300 copies of each sold.
Shortly afterwards I moved Gearhead to a new distributor. I had gotten fired from Mordam a week before Christmas 2000 for insubordination and my hurt and distrust of the punk rock distributor ran deep. Owner Ruth had made some pretty big changes in the company that seemed to go against everything it stood for, and I really didn’t want Gearhead to be a part of it anymore if I wasn’t there to over see things. Sales were down for all the labels, not just Gearhead. Luckily, I had got a new job pretty quickly as Sales Manager for the brand new Emerge Distribution owned and operated by DNA/Valley Media in Woodland, CA. My job, starting January 2001 was to find as many smaller emerging indie labels and fuse them together into a cohesive collective that was attractive to stores trying to take advantage of the explosion of indie bands in the sales market, which up until that time, really weren’t viewed as a money-making segment of the music industry. Bands like Modest Mouse, Jets To Brazil and Jawbreaker had broken into the Billboard Top 100 and the industry was starting to take notice of the bubbling underground rock and garage scene. Because I had worked with all of those bands and labels first at the record store I managed, Reckless Records on Haight St. in San Francisco, as a writer at Maximum Rock and Roll and finally as a sales person at Mordam, the powers that be felt I would be the best choice to head up this new venture.
It was a no-brainer to move Gearhead over to this new, bigger distribution company that I was heading up. I was anxious to take full advantage of the expanded sales network to get those Hives records out into the market place. Coincidently, Epitaph Records had recently signed a deal with Burning Heart as well, and the Hives second full-length Veni Vidi Vicious was scheduled to come out that spring. They had a much bigger marketing budget (read, Gearhead had none) to take ads and place the record in listening stations, so my plan was to piggy back on their marketing to get my records out too. So in June 2001 with a new distributor ready to rocket the Gearhead brand into the market place, I re-released those two Hives records, followed shortly by the reissue of the Hives debut record Barely Legal, their first full-length.
Sales were again disappointing, with only about 500 copies going out into the market place, but the Epitaph release had moved about 1500 units, so my goal was to use those numbers to bump our numbers up. I kept feeding sales reports to the Emerge sales team and little by little it was working.
Unfortunately, things weren’t looking so good for DNA/Valley, Emerge Distribution’s parent company. Rumors of bankruptcy were floating around and labels were getting nervous. The labels weren’t being paid, and there was some talk of the company going under with all of us losing our jobs. I went to my boss Tim with these fears and was assured everything was fine, to keep selling records and to keep encouraging the labels to send inventory to fill those orders. I knew something wasn’t right, so I started telling the labels to hold off restocking orders. I did that for my own label, why wouldn’t I do that for the labels I was responsible for? Sales were picking up, but I knew something wasn’t quite right and I didn’t want it to be worse in case we did close.
And then Sept 11, 2001 hit. This day has gone down in many Americans’ mind as the worst day of their lives. When the Twin Towers crumbled at the impact of those suicide planes, we all watched in shock and horror at what was happening. Work came to a standstill as we crowded around computers and television screens watching the devastation unfold on national TV. I had just released Red Planet’s epic Let’s Degenerate record and the band was supposed to travel to Las Vegas to play the Las Vegas Shakedown Sept 28-30 2001 with fellow label-mates “Demons”. I was really hoping this would launch that record with great press. Red Planet was supposed to tour opening for New York Dolls' Syl Sylvain and I was counting on this tour and festival to boost sales. But with the events of 9/11 shaking up travel plans across the country, we weren’t sure if “Demons” would even be allowed into the country, much less that the festival would even happen, or the following tours to take place. But it did, and despite the almost empty casinos, the festival was really fun and pretty well attended.
Barely Legal was sputtering along, as was the Red Planet record. No one was really interested in stocking their shelves with new garage punk records when their faith in the safety of the American marketplace was in question because of the attacks. Rumors were getting worse that Valley might close down and everyone was jittery.
Demand for The Hives records was picking up steam however as the band was getting great press and preparing for their first US tour. I rented the boys a huge white cargo van and arranged for a back line so all the band had to do was show up and play. Epitaph had gotten them on an opening slot for some major label band I can’t even remember the name of. Needless to say, probably no one who saw that tour remembers who else played on those shows because The Hives simply blew everyone away. I still remember Mike pacing nervously back and forth in front of the stage at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, as the band was getting ready to take the stage. He so badly wanted them to be well received, and we had stationed ourselves right in front so we could be a friendly enthusiastic presence in case things went terribly wrong during their set. Suffice it to say, the exact opposite happened. The entire audience seemed to get sucked into a boiling rocking singing dancing frenzy as The Hives ripped through their set in just less than thirty minutes and by the end, they had won over the sweaty dancing crowd. No one could believe what he or she had just witnessed. It was epic. We ran backstage to hug and kiss the band and congratulate them with beers all around.
We went to China Town afterwards to celebrate with drinks and karaoke, and to this day, I still regret not getting up on stage to sing a duet, Islands in The Stream, The Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton hit, with Niklas. He had asked me to sing it with him but I was too shy and embarrassed to get up on stage. I wasn’t drinking like the rest of them because I was driving, darn it! Maybe if I had enjoyed some liquid courage I would be sharing that memory as well.
We sent them on their way in that white van to play one of the most pivotal tours of their career, and as they say, the rest is history.
Valley Media did indeed file bankruptcy one week before Thanksgiving 2001, and I lost my job, along with 400 other employees. I also lost almost all the Gearhead inventory and over $10,000 in unpaid invoices. I was devastated. I had never filed for unemployment before, and now in less than a year, I had to do it for the second time. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth pulled that fateful week, and Mike came to stay with me and nurse me through pain and heartache as we planned what our next step was.
I have never thought of myself as an organizer before, but I wasn’t gong down without a fight. I got on the phone and organized about ten labels that were affected by the Valley shutdown. We hired a lawyer and fought Valley for a year to get our inventory back, which had gotten rolled into the bankruptcy even though Valley didn’t own that stock. We won, and eventually got all that inventory back.
I had been looking for a job, but no one was hiring in the area. In the meantime, The Hives were starting to explode, and demand for their product was skyrocketing. Since I was a sales person, I got on the phone with stores I had done business with at Mordam and Emerge and sold to them directly, shipping everything from my tiny living room in Davis, CA. Epitaph got Hate To Say I Told You So placed in the new Spiderman movie, and a Sacramento news team came out to interview me because Gearhead had released that song first.
I decided I didn’t have a choice but to make Gearhead my full-time gig. What else was I gonna do? They say everything happens for a reason, and looking back, I can say with certainty this is true, although at the time it sure didn’t feel like it. I had been really frustrated balancing a full-time job with the increasing demands of Gearhead. I had contemplated quitting and trying to make a go of Gearhead, but the fear of not having a steady paycheck or benefits had kept me from taking that step. The Universe clearly had different ideas, and with the loss of my job, I had no choice but to jump in with both feet.
It was crazy trying to keep up with the demand. I could barely move around my tiny house. It was like a maze with boxes of CDs and albums piled everywhere. But sales were steady so I eventually got an office and hired an assistant. By February of 2002, I had found a new distributor, Big Daddy out of New Jersey and they took over the sales, while I focused on running Gearhead. The Hives legend was increasing every day and they were starting to get coverage from all the media outlets including Time Magazine and Newsweek! Their song Hate To Say I Told You So was breaking sales records and was becoming a national anthem. When I heard it played on Regis and Kelly I almost fainted.
The boys were coming back to the states for a headlining tour February 2002. Warner Brothers had signed the band and taken over Veni Vidi Vicious. They asked Gearhead to handle the vinyl since they only were interested in pressing CDs, so I went back to Burning Heart and negotiated a separate contract for that record, with Warner Bros.’ blessing. Epitaph was out of the loop by that point since they had sold the record to Warner Bros.although we put their logo on the record too.
Mike and I drove to L.A. to hang out with the band during that tour. I felt like such a country bumpkin. I had never seen a body guard before, and had no clue that the heavy set gentleman keeping people away from Pelle while we chatted was exactly that. Mike had to fill me in later, much to my surprise! It was weird seeing the band up on stage holding court to an audience of thousands. I was so proud of them, and a little dazed at all the commotion. I knew they were great, but honestly hadn’t expected this sudden rise to stardom. It was unreal, like being in a dream that I wasn’t sure I wanted to wake up from. I can’t imagine how it affected the band. They seemed to just take it all in stride, like they knew at some point they would be a household name.
People think Gearhead made a fortune on The Hives, and the truth is we were able to finally pay ourselves a small salary, get offices and put out a bunch more records. Our deal with Burning Heart was a 50/50 split after expenses were recouped, so any profit was split up. I have no idea what Burning Heart paid the band, but that was between them and the band. We got hammered with taxes because we were a partnership at that time, so there was no store house of cash being stashed for a rainy day. By the end of 2003, things were slowing down tremendously, and our contract was coming up for renewal with Burning Heart. Peter wanted to renew the contract with Gearhead, and the band wanted those records to stay with Gearhead, but Epitaph had bought Burning Heart by then, so technically they got to make the decision.
They decided they wanted to re-issue those records on Epitaph, so we had to finish selling off what inventory we could before the contract ran out. Epitaph did a really shitty thing though. They started pressing records before our deal was up, which crippled our ability to sell through our stock. When I called them up to tell them I still had six months left on my contract, they told me to fuck off and sue them if I didn’t like it. Of course I didn’t have the resources to do that, so we just had to suck it up. I lost respect for Epitaph that day.
Working with The Hives was one of the best, and most surreal experiences of my life. I made a lot of mistakes mostly due to ignorance and being unprepared for success of this kind. I learned so much and best of all, got to work with an amazing group of guys on some records that I really dig. I hope this sort of an opportunity comes my way again. I’m much better prepared to handle the commotion now and enjoy the ride.
I fell asleep last night with the words "I live in my heart" repeating in my head. I had no idea what that meant, but I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget.
The first thing I read when I woke up were the words "Trust the changes you are experiencing as they are answers to your prayers about your career and finances."
As I drank my morning coffee, I pondered these two seemingly separate sentences, and I realized, they were actually connected.
If I live in my heart, then I am living in love. And if I'm living in love then I am following my passion. And following my passion means I'm following my bliss, which means in the long run, it will all be ok, no matter what is going on.
Things have felt pretty shitty lately. It feels like I"m struggling to make things happen instead of following my passion. I love my company. I never set out to just have a company to make stuff and be detached from it.
I created this company from love and passion and enthusiasm and ecstatic exuberance. And then it became something bigger than me. It was authentic. It was born from the heart and created in love and heat and passion, and the knowing I had to do this.
Maybe that's why it feels like a struggle now. It has become detached from me and I am in effort to make it be something again, instead of just allowing it to blossom like it once did.
Dr. Wayne Dyer passed away last week quite suddenly. He was a motivational speaker and my mentor. His books and lectures really helped me in some of my darkest days of running this company. I was fortunate enough to get some counseling from him, and he told me to live in my passion, follow my heart and it would all be ok. He was right. He lived from love. He touched many people. He lived spherically.
Part of what I'm running into with Gearhead is I've taken someone else's vision and tried to put it on. Instead of inhabiting it, I'm swimming in it, desperately looking for a floatie to save my drowning ass. Wayne Dyer told me to find my passion and live in it, but there was a time my passion was drowning me.
The Pizz, a tremendously talented artist who created a style many copied killed himself a few days ago. Why? Was his passion drowning him? Had he stopped living in love and instead was being consumed by it? We will never know, but I have felt that bleak, that drained, that destroyed by my passion.
Neil Young says it's better to burn out than fade away. That place of burn out is excruciating. When you are so tired you can't even open your eyes, when you breathe in and it feels like scorching flames in your lungs and your body is so heavy it feels like you're dragging a two-ton automobile behind you....
This weekend at Ventura, sales were disappointing and all the magic that I had felt when I first started going to car shows again was gone. Each car seemed like a shapeless lump of metal, each face a foreign blur. I know these clues now. I am no longer living in love, in my heart center but from duty and effort. Willing each person who walks by my booth to stop and buy something. That desperateness repels people. Its like having dog shit smeared all around my booth. Who wants to go near that?
Maybe that is the place The Pizz got to. Maybe his life smelled like crap and he was no longer living in his heart. Maybe he was so weary and discouraged because what once was his alone had now become second nature and mundane to the world. So many people copying his style and vision that his gifts and creations no longer stood out in this sea of wanna-bes.
Things have changed so much. What once was original and unique is now common place and boring. Every mall has a "punk" shop where you can just go in and and buy mass produced "punk" items and clothing by dropping a couple hundred bucks, and walk out looking like you've inhabited that segment of the underground for years because that's what you see celebrities wearing.
I remember how revolutionary it was to get your nose pierced or to get a tattoo, and now its part of our everyday landscape. Garage punk music now sets the pace for advertising everything from telephones to take out food. But when it first started, it was mind-blowing! As an artist and originator, you long for your work to be accepted and for it to make you a decent living wage so you can keep creating. But when it achieves that, then what? Where do you turn? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that trust, and faith in love and passion to keep guiding us as trailblazers is essential. When the horizon is dark and cloudy those are the only lights we have to guide us through the darkness to the new day dawning.
Gearhead was there for the very first Ventura Nationals, then called The Primer Nationals. Things have sure come a long way since then! The beach town of Ventura will be hopping for all three days of this Labor Day Weekend, kicking things off Friday night with a cruise, art and photography show and music. Saturday, head to the fairgrounds for a feast for the eyes and ears, where hot rods and kustoms will fill the venue, along with vendors, food, and music!
Gearhead will be sharing a booth with our pals from Cock Grease, so make sure to pop inside and come say hi. While you're there, sign up for our free raffle for a chance to win a Gearhead Goody Bag!
For pricing and show information, make sure you check out the Ventura Nationals website.
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,