Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SSD and Motorcycles

A strip of original SSD stickers from Al to Scott and now to Gordo, Photo: Gordo

The story I'm about to tell could be viewed by many as relatively insignificant - even amongst a hardcore audience...but if there is in fact an audience for it, I figured it is here on Double Cross. Plus, it seems like there are more and more grown up hardcore/punk/skate dudes into motorcycles as I'm getting older, which is awesome.

Some backstory: I've been obsessed with motorcycles since I was a little kid. Specifically, old style, custom-built, Harley-powered bikes that are blatantly illegal and ridiculous looking...classic, cool "choppers" and "bobbers" if you will. I have minimal mechanical aptitude and am lacking the necessary tools and machinery, so building my own ride as desired has always been an illogical pipedream of sorts. In the meantime, I had settled on a Harley Sportster, excessive daydreaming, and the sad conclusion that in some far off time and place where money and time was abundant, I would obtain a wild machine that oozed of 1960s/1970s gasonline-drenched testosterone and koolness.

Gasoline-drenched Boston Hardcore, Photo: Gordo

In the meantime, my buddy Evan is a long time straight edge dude who has been into punk/HC since the eighties, helped me a lot when I was coming up, and taught me a ton about motorcycles as I got into them more and more. Some of you may even know him, as he plays guitar for Wisdom In Chains and has been around forever. He has built three sick, old style custom Harleys on his own and is a motorcycle genius, and he recently decided he'd sell me the first custom bike he built himself. It's a kick-start only, four speed, rigid framed beast with a 1972 Shovelhead motor and everything you'd deem appropriate on such a subtle monster, and it's been one of my absolute favorite motorcycles since the day I saw it eight years ago right after he finished it.

When he unexpectedly decided to sell it, I drained my savings and sold all unnecessary material possessions without hesitation. Now that I have it a few weeks later, I'll just say that I have again concluded that money can in fact buy happiness (just be sure to pay cash). Of course I wish I could say I built the bike myself, but there's always a 'next bike.' Either way, it was cool to buy my dream bike from him after all the cool shit he's exposed me to, and I think he'd agree I was the appropriate new owner.

Scott Hill with Fu Manchu, notice the original SSD sticker under his strings, Photo courtesy of: Scott Hill

So - back to SSD...

I wanted to have something on the bike that gave a somewhat subdued but appropriate nod to my similar obsession with punk/hardcore/straight edge. Crimson Ghost sticker or The Bars? Already seen it done on bikes. Minor Threat sheep? Eh. SSD sticker? Woah, that would be awesome, and that would say it all. I instantly thought of the fact that Scott Hill from Fu Manchu plays Dan Armstrong guitars that often times have a black/yellow original SSD sticker under the strings next to the pick up. I thought it was cool because that sticker in a way sends a very concise but clear message to anybody in the know. It's loud, it's bold, it's stripped down, it's confrontational and commanding...and that is exactly what hardcore is to me in an aesthetic design sense. Oh, SSD is one of my all-time favorites, too.

I wrote Scott and asked me if he could scan me the sticker for the purpose I had in mind, because I honestly considered having a replica one-off made, and I knew Scott digs bikes. Scott asked me my address, and without expecting it, I realized he was clearly going to be sending me something. Only a few days later, and voila:

Letter from Scott with accompanying SSD stickers, Photo: Gordo

Woah! Just like that, dude sent me an original SSD sticker from 1983 that he had gotten direct from Al Barile. Now, I guess this is "only" a sticker and some may think my enthusiasm is a little goofy...but I have visions of Al getting fan mail and orders for Get It Away nearly 30 years ago, and firing off stickers to a young Scott Hill all the way out in SoCal. To me, that's awesome. So not only is Fu Manchu awesome and one of my favorite bands, but Scott is THE MAN for just hooking me up like that (and it's not the first time either!).

Perhaps a crazy move, but I put the sticker on the oil tank of my bike, and it's honestly one of my favorite things about it now. Simple, brutal artwork being placed on simple, brutal artwork...paying my respects to SSD and Boston, and giving a nod to Fu. It's hardcore and motorcycles, two of my favorite worlds colliding, and both make perfect sense together in my mind. When I'm ripping down the highway and someone sees "SSD" next to an evil kicker pedal, I want them to feel like they just got slayed.

I thought I'd share the story as well as some good pics of the sticker.
Big thanks to Al SSD, big thanks to Evan, and big thanks again to Scott Hill.


ps - Mike Judge and Todd Schwartz: dudes, let's ride!!!


Gordo's machine in all its glory, original SSD sticker included, Photo: Gordo


Anonymous said...

Nice story bro.
I like when you guy's really nerd out on here..
*I have a sealed copy of SSD "Kids" LP with the same 3 stickers in it... Classic HC treasure's.

Anonymous said...

not the biggest ssd fan but that is a sweet ride bro!!!

Burai Core Distro said...

How do you know the stickers are in there if it's sealed? Better open it up and check!

Helge said...

Great post. Congrats on the bike. I've been tinkering with bikes for about 10 years now. Due to a lack of funds my current project (should be done by Friday) is a '66 Triumph 650. But I've also had a couple Ironheads that I've cannibalized.

Keep up the great site and ride the shit out of that thing! Hell take a ride out here to Chicago!

Anonymous said...

i still think ssd's at their peak, were the fuckin' greatest!!!, thanks double cross.

Anonymous said...

hardcore dudes riding choppers! thats a sick ass bike forget all that discovery channel b.s. thats some perfect old skool chopper style right there my friend.

Anonymous said...

that bike rules, if you do get to ride the with mike judge that would be the coolest thing in the world!

Billy said...

Did you give one of those stickers to Jim Burke too?

Anonymous said...

didnt expect this. very cool. now im gonna go ride.

Bastard Rob said...

"Settled" for a Sportster?!?


Chris Graf said...


D said...

U r right Gordo's ride rocksss..cool