- Tell me a bit about yourself.
“I’m basically an aging punk who’s worked in the merch/music industry in some form for half my life. I worked my way up from cleaning screens to designing, and then art directing, at a major music merchandiser here in Oakland. If you bought a Misfits shirt between 2002 and 2013, I either stacked it next to the press to get printed, stocked it onto a shelf, packed it in an order, mocked it up in a presentation for retailers, or designed it.
But I’m a transplant, before all that I grew up in the south listening to Ritchie Valens and Jerry Lee Lewis, and by high school it was the mid nineties and I was deep into punk rock and that was a good time. Things were thoughtful, hardcore was smart, and as a white male growing up in the south (with all the baggage that entails), it was also the first time I started taking inventory of my role in the white sausage fest that is punk and its place in sexism, racism, and homophobia.”
2. Where did you get your idea to start your clothing line Rock Roll Repeat?
“Rock Roll Repeat started as a button design, a 1-2-3 list. When I first got to Oakland I made these button boards and would take them to Telegraph Ave and the thrift shops (RIP Sharks) would let me put them on the wall. People could take buttons for free. But shirts started happening after the merch company I was working for moved to LA and I was left freelancing and working the counter at tattoo shops. To support my family I needed to evolve and shirts was all I knew.
I still have (had, thanks to Covid-19) a 9-5 at a union print shop, but the brand is finally starting to take shape. I’ve gone from lyric based tees to collaborating with people who have huge roles in punk and rock history, whether people or know it or not, and using fashion (I use that word lightly) to keep the history alive and people physically in touch with it. A shirt is the biggest most affordable flag you can fly to support a band, artist or movement.”
3. What are you 3 favorite design concepts you came up with and why?
“Without a doubt Abort Unwanted Presidencies is number one. As the 2016 inauguration was kicking off around the same time as the first Women’s March I just had to do something. I read a quote that said it’s the artist’s job to make the revolution irresistible, so, after a day of completely being distracted, pretending to work when I was actually scribbling ideas all day, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Kathleen Hanna actually tweeted about it, Bust posted about it on IG, and it took off and I was about to raise a ton of money for Planned Parenthood. After the march happened I was searching the hashtag and saw one or two people actually had signs that said it too. Maybe they saw my shirt, but I think it was one of those things where I tapped into something, and of course others equally motivated would arrive at that same conclusion, tapping into that same outrage and hit on it too. So I’m super proud of that.
Street Walkin’ Cheetah would be next, I came up with that while I had down-time at the tattoo shop and listening to the Stooges a lot. I think it’s resonated with the most people, you see it and instantly feel raw power, and it’s still one of my most successful designs. Jimmy Webb, who is also a huge Iggy fan, saw it and got in touch years ago and we’ve been great friends ever since, one of the sweetest people I know, true blue friend, I owe a lot to his support and his friendship to that tee! He got it into the hands of
Duff McKagan who wore it on GnR’s last tour as a matter of face. Anyhow, I still have the original art, all photocopied, each letter taped into place…
Last but not least, Rock Roll Repeat. I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic punk directive: ‘This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.’
That inspired the 3 steps button that became the shirt, and where the button used typewriter lettering the shirt version was inspired by the big bold lettering of The Damned, The Who, and old 45 record labels. Someone once pointed out it reminded them of The James Gang haha.”
4. Can you talk about your most memorable collaboration.
“I think the most memorable would be my collaboration with the Karlheinz Weinberger estate which actually began almost 3 years ago.
This was my first attempt to do what the brand is currently evolving into now: turning people on to artists and musicians that I love, in a tangible way, that they might not have known much about. I feel like I’m making artifacts more than licensed merch.
This collaboration is just that. Weinberger’s photos of rockers in 60’s Zürich have influenced fashion for decades, they’ve reached cult status. If you see them you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about: dangerous girls with bouffants, guys with giant belt buckles with Elvis on them, chain necklaces and bolted zippers… Just in the last 10 years he’s been written about or cited in Dazed & Confused, AnotherMan, Fader, The New York Times, Mui Mui based an entire collection on his photos, I know of two music videos that borrowed these kids’ style…on and on. John Waters even wrote the intro to one of his most famous and out of print books, Rebel Youth! (That’s also the name of the collection I released with the estate.) But most people couldn’t tell you his name if they saw his photos!
His story is amazing, there really should be a documentary about him; his work has been on fashion designers’ mood boards for decades. He was unabashedly gay in a dangerous time for such a man, and teen subcultures and outlaws accepted him into their world to document it for years. Just a 9-5 factory worker, man. He figured his real life began on the weekends when he was shooting film.
It was unreal that the estate had never worked with a brand before.
I regularly wrote to the archive’s manager in New York to try and get a deal to do shirts, and for two years was politely turned down. I think, being that KHW’s work was known on-sight but not substantially celebrated, that the archive didn’t have the infrastructure or enthusiasm to dive into a merch line, contracts, providing scans, etc. Most of this stuff was (and is) still in boxes, on slides, in Zürich. And I don’t blame them, after years of influencing major fashion houses and getting just an article here and there, would you you jump at the chance to work with an unknown brand run some guy out of his house?
But I didn’t give up, and I ended up finding and contacting the owner of the KHW estate, pitching my idea, and a couple of weeks later the archive manager wrote me back and Rock Roll Repeat became the first brand to ever partner with the Karlheinz Weinberger estate, right then and there.
It took 6 months of picking the best shirts, deciding which photos, design approvals and sampling, before we could move into production, and they are incredible. It’s by far the most intense thing my brand has ever done, and I’m honored as hell to be a part of Karlheinz’s story and to bring it to others in a way that they can touch and feel.”
5. Do you haven any exciting news or events that you would to share?
“Yes! Pandemic permitting:
New collaborations with Disgraceland podcast, punk photographer Jim Jocoy, new Jenny Lens designs and few others I shall not name just yet.
But more importantly: Because of the health crisis people are hurting financially and I’m using my platform to try and help. I lost my 9-5 because of the lock-down in CA, so my shirts are my only income right now. But there are others who don’t have a side hustle to fall back on.
So, every week I’m donating 10% of the profits from each shirt I sell to a charity or organization that is helping those affected by the health crisis. The first week we raised over $100 for Bay Area Workers Support which has an emergency relief fund for sex workers affected by the crisis. Week two we’re raising money for East Oakland Collective, they provide food and sanitary supplies to the homeless and vulnerable members of our community.
And to make it easier all around I’ve also made a code, NOTMEUS, that takes 10% off of each shirt you buy so you can save a little and help a little, too.
You can find out which charity I’m sponsoring each week by following me on IG: @_rockrollrepeat_
If you like more information on Joshua and his clothing line. He is available through the following outlets:
“For collaborations or questions/comments or to talk shop email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org