Spring has gently arrived in the beautiful Sacramento Valley. The bright yellow heads of daffodils wave gently in the breeze. Star Magnolias have exploded in a haze of soft pinks and purples, emitting waves of fragrance from these clouds of color as one walks past. The intoxicating sweet spicy scents of orange blossoms, honeysuckle and jasmine fill the air. The earth is waking up again, poking up exploratory leaves, color and sound and I find my mood matching the awakening of new life all around me.
I too am slowly waking up from a deep dark winter. This month, I celebrate the 12th Anniversary of Gearhead Record’s first release, the CD compilation called “Runnin’ on Fumes”. In quick succession, my former partner and I released 8 more records, and Gearhead Records was off and zooming down the drag strip. Twelve years later, things are very different. I’ve spent the last few weeks digging through the past to find out just where my original pure intentions of finding great music and sharing it with the world hit the wall and exploded in a spectacular display of flames and smoke. Bankruptcy, frustration, anger, blame, betrayal, competition, and jealousy—if the story of Gearhead were a soap opera, Days of our Lives would have nothing on us.
Old battered cardboard boxes of show fliers I’ve kept since the early 80s have captured my attention lately; It’s like finding a diamond mine in your own backyard. Just looking at those fliers and remembering all the amazing bands I've seen, I have slowly been rediscovering the love and passion I felt for the music at the beginning of this long winding journey. There was a pure childlike intention at the start of creating Gearhead; find great new music and share it with the world. I just wanted to put out records I wanted to buy for bands I loved. It was fun!! Nothing more, nothing less. Put out a great record that people might really dig of a fantastic band I saw play at a crumby little dive-bar.
I consciously took a step back these last two years, not putting out any records, not striving to find the “next big thing”; just selling the existing catalog and merchandise, trying to clear some space. Because of this, the wonderful people I worked with daily to keep Gearhead going, my beloved Wrecking Crew, all moved on, so now it’s just me. You’re shocked and surprised, right?
Maybe I’ve done all I could do, and it is time to let it go and move on. The world of independent music has changed so much; I don’t recognize it anymore. But as I looked at all those old fliers, and remembered how great I felt witnessing something new, something fresh, I see now I had to go through this time of darkness to discover the tiny little flicker of life that is still there, like that bud of a new leaf just waiting for the warmth of a spring day to burst again.
Change is always scary. It’s hard for us to change, and it’s really hard to let others change. But we change or we die. It’s that simple. Clearly, Gearhead is not ready to die yet. The amazing letters I get every day from people thanking me for the records I’ve released give me hope. But I can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. Gearhead needs to change. It’s time to roll up that checked flag, and reach for something new. What that is, I don’t know yet.
As I celebrate twelve years in business, a remarkable feat in this day and age, I am excited and inspired for what may be around the corner. Eventually, that will mean re-doing the Gearhead website, something I’ve wanted to do for several years. As I wait for inspiration, the right person to help design it, and the financial resources to upgrade, I continue to clear out the old. Since the current website is hopelessly out of date, you can find all the great Gearhead products in the EBay store. There's some nifty options, like paying what you want with the “make an offer” feature. Think that Red Planet CD is too expensive? Make an offer on what you think is a fair price, and chances are, I’m gonna say yes and sell it to you for what you want to pay, because everyone should hear this great band!! I still regularly process orders from the webstore, but just be aware there’s probably a lot more cool stuff worth checking out on EBay. There is also an Amazon.com storefront, so check there too for special deals just for that site.
I’ve started listing rare and out of print records, posters, limited edition colored vinyl and more for auction; another neat feature on EBay that I’ve not really taken advantage of. You’d be surprised the things I’ve found while digging through those dusty boxes, and now I’m letting them see the light of day, and hopefully a new home where someone will love and appreciate these things as much as I have.
Gearhead has also finally won a very long trademark battle, which started over 7 years ago. The word Gearhead is now officially a registered trademark, so this opens the door to opportunities for expansion that I’ve dreamed about almost since the beginning of the company. It also means I now have the right to go after other companies using the name Gearhead without permission, and once and for all clean up all the imposters out there who have been hanging on the Gearhead bumper.
Little by little, the Gearhead Facebook page is taking shape as I find stashes of pictures from the last twelve years documenting the incredible ride this little company has been on. I’m not the fastest at this whole Facebook posting thing: frankly, I get a little overwhelmed at how easy it is to kill a day just reading all the updates. In the meantime, you can also friend me directly, (where you’ll get the first heads up on new stuff going up on the EBay site) and follow Gearhead on Twitter (@GearheadRecords) as well. As I decide what I’m doing that’s where I’ll be posting it first.
For now, let’s all sing Happy Birthday to Gearhead Records. I’m excited to see how this year will unfold, and while I can’t say for sure I’m ready yet to put out a new record, I’m at least ready to share more of the behind the scenes stuff that occurs every day.
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Here’s to a joyful, change-filled spring!