Merch Revolution

Your Name Here

Steve Depace: Nobody was into merchandise back then. There was no thought of like, wow, we could sell a million T-shirts.

Danny Norwood: There was a period when Social Unrest went to Europe, I felt like the kids cared more about merch. It’s music. It’s the scene. It’s not about merch.

Ray Vegas: People would come up, “Hey, you got any stickers? You got any T-shirts?” That would be the first thing out of their mouths. They were all into collecting this shit from all these bands. “Stickers — what do you mean you don’t have no stickers?”

Danny Norwood: It was the merch revolution. Merch became such a big deal. Corrosion of Conformity — they had everything.

Ray Vegas: DRI too. Their bread and butter was their merchandise.

Kurt Brecht: I was in art school with my brother. One of our projects was to use signage. His was a skanker with an anti-sign running through it, like “No Thrashing.” Something that would be up in a club. Originally the man had a mohawk. We decided that’ll be our record company logo, and then it became so popular we just used it as the DRI logo.

Ray Vegas: That’s a great logo.

Kurt Brecht: We were the kings of merchandise. None of the bands had any money back then. Little by little we just found people that would help us. In Houston, a guy made T-shirts without asking us, and then he just said, “Here, y’all want these?” We’d catch a guy making our pins and selling them, and we’d say, “Hey, you’ve already been making a bunch of money off of us, why don’t you give us a hundred pins?”

I did the merchandise so my whole deal was to have every size of every design at all times. You gotta have all the CDs, DVDs, buttons, a bunch of different pin designs. We always had a bunch of other weird novelty items, like Frisbees and coffee cups and even skateboards. We got too big and our guy in Houston finally told us, “I can’t make enough shirts for you guys. You need a real company.”

Adam Pfahler: Cinder Block was the first place to ever print our Jawbreaker shirts. At the time, it was Green Day, Samiam, and Jawbreaker, and that was it. Up on Telegraph, they sold tie-dye shirts.

Jeffrey Bischoff: We were selling out there on Telegraph Avenue with stuff that catered to students and tourists. We had a math problem design that said “The Natural Law.” We had a double helix that said “DNA.” We had a hammer and sickle that said “People’s Republic of Berkeley.”

Cinder Bischoff: We learned every single tie-dye pattern.

Jeffrey Bischoff: During that same time, we’d meet people in bands. Samiam, Jawbreaker, some of the first Lookout! bands came to us because they heard we had a silkscreen press. So we started making stuff to put in the back of their van to go out on tour.

Davey Havok: They were out there on the Ave. with the rest of the gypsies selling bongs and beaded hemp necklaces and Free Mumia shirts. But they were selling Green Day T-shirts and Op Ivy T-shirts.

Martin Sprouse: If Rancid was never around Operation Ivy would still be millionaires, just from selling T-shirts.

Bucky Sinister: Working for Green Day is what turned Cinder Block from a couple people with a few screens, into a totally vertical merchandising and licensing company.

Jeffrey Bischoff: I hate to say it but we live in a world of marketing and branding. It’s about spreading the lore of your band. It’s a very important part of a new band’s economy, now more than ever.

Davey Havok: In keeping it in the family, like everything was back then, we asked Jeffrey if he would do our AFI shirts.

Jeffrey Bischoff: There was a time where it was real punk rockers working at Cinder Block. We just pulled from the people we knew. Scott Kelly and Jason from Neurosis. Jake Filth, Kamala, Brian Stern from Dead and Gone, Paula from Spitboy worked for us for a long time. We had Jake Filth selling tie-dyes for us in front of Blondie’s Pizza for one summer.

Zarah Manos: At one time, every ex-boyfriend I ever had worked at Cinder Block. I worked there for three days and I fuckin’ hated it, so I left.

Jeffrey Bischoff: It got to the point where we were not hiring any more California kids because they were too laidback. No sense of urgency to get that order out. I was coming from the Midwest, man. You went to work in a factory. You fucking went to work, you know.

Davey Havok: Jeffrey was an original punk rocker. I mean, he was old-school. To go from the place that he began in the music scene to today is astounding.

Cinder Bischoff: Somebody that shall remain nameless spraypainted “YUPPIE PUNKS” up on the side of Cinder Block in the mid-‘80s. That’s the caveat.

Jeffrey Bischoff: Merch is good. I remember opening the Who Live at Leeds and getting a poster. It was cool stuff.

Ryan Mattos: For years band T-shirts were our currency. If we went to get food, and burgers were five dollars, that was like half a band shirt. I had to get a new tire on my car, and it was like eight band shirts.

# # #

Be nice and share:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • MySpace
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter