Ethan Blackburn – Impressions of Her

Ethan Blackburn
Impressions of Her

L.A Blue Records
Street: 04.30
Ethan Blackburn = Herbie Hancock + Jaco Pastorius

I think someone is playing a joke on me with this album. Ethan Blackburn’s Impressions of Her consists of two lengthy, non-sequitur tracks and is the strangest cacophony of soft-toned keyboard sounds that has ever intruded my ears. It’s like a bunch of self-proclaimed jazz musicians went into Guitar Center at the same time and tested out different instruments. I don’t … hate it? But I certainly don’t like it, and I listen to weird shit—I’ve been an avid Mike Patton supporter for years. I suppose if someone put this album on at a philosophy professor’s house party in the Avenues, someone might pretend they enjoy it, then they’d steal all of the silverware. The only cool thing about this album was that when you download it you also get the sheet music. Is that cool? I don’t know. –D. Mimms

Melvins | A Walk With Love & Death | Ipecac Recordings

Melvins
A Walk With Love and Death

Ipecac Recordings
Street: 07.07
Melvins = Acid Bath + Mike Patton: Adult Themes for Voice

Melvins fans will be dusting off their intergalactic muumuus in preparation for what is surprisingly the first-ever double album from the band, A Walk With Love and Death, and the subsequent huge summer tour.

Following their 2016 release of Basses Loaded, this pivotal undertaking marks not only the first double album for the legendary experi-METAL band, but also explores the versatility of the trio through music and film. The album is split between two very distinct motifs de Melvins, both true to the menagerie of sound one can expect from the avant-metal group. On the one hand, Tracks 1 through 9 make up the album’s first half, Death—a fucking good Melvins album. On the other, the remaining 14 tracks compose Love—a Fantômas-esque cacophony of terror-inducing sounds. It’s ASMR for the devil, if you will, and it’s the soundtrack to a short film of the same name self-produced by the Melvins and directed by the Melvins’ experimental remix (Chicken Switch), producer, Jesse Nieminen, with a release date yet to be determined.

The album’s more straightforward half, Death, has all the makings of a great Melvins album, featuring long-standing members Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover with bassist Steven McDonald (Redd Kross/OFF!). “Black Heath,” the album opener, begins with a gentle instrumental tickle that fades out into another mellow, aptly named stoner jam, “Sober-Delic (Acid Only).” Just when you thought you were going to get bored, you find yourself wading through the thick sludge of “Euthanasia,” which is promptly parted by Osborne’s sharp guitar and billowing vocals. Only then do you emerge sparkly and clean a few tracks later with “Christ Hammer,” a nod to the Houdini-era Melvins’ grungier side with just a little bit of a cleaner production than we’re used to hearing from the Melvins.

I don’t think that, even if I had written the short film, I could parse any context or implied theme from the ambient noises and sounds that make up the Love soundtrack portion of the double album. “Aim High,” from what I can gather, is ambient talking from, let’s say, Cheesecake Factory, with a disjointed piano tune and synth noises that remind me of an out-of-tune version of the song from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The whale sounds on “Street Level St. Paul” pissed off my cat big time and activated a primal rage within me via disembodied guitar riffs and theremin shrieks. “Eat Yourself Out” is five minutes of nerve-racking, repetitive noises—kind of like a Saturday morning in a cul-de-sac where one of your neighbors is having a domestic dispute that involves robots and the other’s kids are fighting while their drunk uncle plays a bent trumpet.

After watching the trailer for the film, it all made so much sense! Just kidding, I still have no idea what is happening.

The Melvins have been producing albums—scratch that, AMAZING albums—for 30 years, and though this reviewer didn’t buy into the “Melvins take on the silver screen” aspect of this double album, the Melvins have still produced another reliably doom-filled jelly donut of a release here with A Walk With Love and Death. You will find me at another awesome Melvins show this August, probably in glitter frock, à la King Buzzo. (Urban Lounge, 08.17) –Darcy Mimms

"I want to inspire girls to just be them and do what they want," says creator of The Litas, Jessica Haggett.

When Jessica Haggett first created The Litas, she had no idea what an impact it would have within the women’s motorcycle community. Originally a play on the word “leaders,” Haggett has become just that: a leader—both in her fearless mission to inspire women to ride motorcycles and as proof that you can turn a hobby into a career.

Jessica Haggett has grown The Litas to a worldwide sisterhood.
Photo: @clancycoop

The Litas are now celebrating two years of inspiring women, and Haggett remains their humble founder, staying true to the original vision that she created for The Litas and their mission for inclusiveness within the motorcycle community. “I want to inspire girls to just be them and do what they want,” she says. “If that goes against gender norms, that’s not really on my mind.” Above all else, her love of motorcycling and the joy it has brought to her life keeps her devoted to creating a safe motorcycling community for women of all skill levels and riding styles. “I get messages from girls,” Haggett says, “saying I’ve inspired them to take the [motorcycle] rider course.”

The Litas have grown exponentially over the past two years, both locally and internationally, to over 2,000 women worldwide. As Jessica says, “It’s not that number that gets me. It’s the 96 cities that gets me.”

At the time of Jessica’s first interview with SLUG, the group comprised 22 women and had just organized their first Sunday Mass ride with Salt City Builds. Haggett says, “It’s funny to think back at our first interview—why were you even interviewing me?” Since then, The Litas have taken off and have nailed a notable one-year sponsorship with Indian Motorcycles, garnering The Litas more attention within the motorcycle community. Even before the sponsorship, The Litas continued to grow, and they now span the globe to include chapters from Argentina to the Netherlands to South Africa.

Haggett’s success with expanding The Litas globally, she says, was surprisingly easy through social media. “Geography isn’t really an issue anymore,” she says. However, this expansion didn’t come without hurdles. The main challenge was the time constraints she faced while working a full-time job. The success of the Litas and Hell Babes, the ever-growing motorcycle fashion line—which features local badass Moldie Goldie’s creations—has allowed Haggett to pursue her passion for motorcycle culture full-time by leaving her former company. With time no longer an issue, Haggett can devote herself to growing The Litas as not only their founder but also their content developer, event organizer and marketing expert, while also devoting more time to grow Hell Babes. Haggett looks forward to the coming year and is excited to watch what she has created grow and evolve. “I had no time,” she says. “I was always getting Mondays and Fridays off work to go to this stuff. I’m super excited to go on some long trips.”

Locally, Haggett says that she is still combatting stereotypes and criticism within the community, but that she has learned a lot about herself in how she battles negativity toward The Litas. “I’ve had to learn to ignore it, because more people get happiness from what I’m doing than are mad about it,” she says. “All of these women now have friends to ride with and an easy community to be a part of.” When reflecting on the past year, Haggett is grateful for the amazing opportunities that The Litas have opened up. Haggett says she, personally, has a lot to be proud of: “I’ve learned so much by just doing it,” she says. “I’ve pushed myself in ways I’ve never pushed myself before. If I have to get something done, I have to learn how to do it.” Her biggest motivator for pursuing The Litas full-time remains: to inspire women to be brave and do something hard. “It doesn’t have to be motorcycles,” Haggett says.

Despite the challenges, the heart of it all is Haggett’s love of two wheels. “Oh my god, The Dream Roll in August—that’s the farthest I’ve ever ridden,” she says. “We rode to Portland and then to Mt. Adams. My knees felt like they were going to explode out of my pants.” The best part of hitting the open road was the opportunity to hang out and go camping and swimming with other Litas from around North America. “It was cool meeting girls from other cities and to be given the opportunity to see what I’m doing,” she says.

Now that she can devote more time to running the group and riding, Haggett is excited to see what lies ahead for The Litas. She hopes to continue to grow The Litas with the same values of inclusiveness and community that she has engrained in the group since the beginning. “I want to stay open to different stuff happening, because that’s how you get excited about the next big thing,” she says.

While Haggett is enjoying the ride, we are eager to see what exciting events the ladies put on in the next season. Check out
thelitas.co for info on joining a chapter or upcoming rides. If you’re interested in learning how to ride a motorcycle, hop on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website to find a skills class near you.

Photos courtesy of Grant Peterson

The Born-Free Vintage and Classic Moto Show is an annual gathering of the motorcycle masses hosted on 17 acres of moto-friendly Southern California ranch land. The Oak Canyon Ranch has become the destination for gear heads, moto hobbyists and car and motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages from all over North America. In preparation for the eighth annual Born-Free Show on June 25 and 26, co-founder and Salt Lake native Grant Peterson reflects on the culture of growing up in Utah and how BF has evolved yet stayed true to its “glorified barbecue” roots.

SLUG: As a Salt Lake native, what was your childhood like and what made you relocate?

Peterson: Yep, born and raised in Sugarhouse. Growing up in Salt Lake back then as a kid was a lot of fun. You could still go and adventure and do all the kinds of stuff kids used to be able to do. As I got older, I got into old cars right around the age of 15. I got obsessed with vintage cars and Ford Pre-War hot rods. Anybody under 50 in Salt Lake wasn’t really doing anything like that, but I had found a group of guys my age in Southern California. That was my catalyst for moving.

SLUG: Since moving out of the Salt Lake scene, how has the moto culture changed?

Peterson: Back then, there wasn’t really a scene or culture. The antique car and hot rod stuff there was only a handful of us doing it. There weren’t any younger people with shops—fabricators, engine builders—not like there is now. We’ve worked with Andy Carter of Pangea Speed now for a few years. He’s been a featured builder at the show.

SLUG: How did Born-Free get started?

Peterson: It kind of got started with my friend Mike Davis and me and our little niche of motorcycles that we like. There wasn’t really a show that catered to [us]. We would go to these big shows, and it was a whole convention-center-type setup, with maybe two or three bikes that we liked. It’s not really our style. We like more traditional kinds of bikes—mostly vintage Harleys. Mike is into vintage Triumphs. We decided to do something, because when we would have a barbecue at a friend’s house, we would have better bikes there than at most of these shows.

We threw [the show] together in 30 days. I made a flier in Photoshop and passed it around, and it got reposted. We had friends from across the country who came to the first [BF], which was a glorified barbecue. What showed up as far as people and bikes was exactly what we wanted. There were about 200–300 bikes, and 400 or so people showed up. For the second BF show, we had moved it to Signal Hill, and it was 10 times as big as the first one. We only had 10 Porta-Potties. We had a great time, and that was kind of just flying by the seat of our pants. We decided to give a bike away and built a 1950s Harley Panhead.

SLUG: Why is the show such a success, and how has it changed?

Peterson: I think a lot of it has to do with Southern California being a destination for a lot of out-of-towners. The Southern California hot rod, car and motorcycle culture is still a draw for people. We’ve worked hard to stay where we are, even though we hit at least 20,000 people at Born-Free 5. That was a pivotal show for us. There were so many people. It was almost too much for what we wanted. We’ve always been open arms, but there was too much late-model stuff—it wasn’t what we wanted. It didn’t help that there was a heat wave going across the country. It was like the Woodstock of choppers. Until then, the show had been free for five years, but we went to a $10 admission. It weeded out the people who weren’t contributing to the show. Because of that, it has continued to grow.

SLUG: How has making Born-Free a two-day event changed the show?

Peterson: It was really just four or five hours of pandemonium before [the change]. It was kind of just a blur for one day that we worked all year for. So, the two-day thing has really been cool, especially for people who are traveling. They can have time to visit with friends. A lot of people plan their whole summer vacations around [the show]. I get goosebumps every time I think about the thousands of people who do these trips. They may forget the show, but [they’re] not going to forget the journey.

Strap on your Pendleton blanket and $1 black bandana from Wal-Mart, and head to the eighth annual Born-Free, hosted June 25 and 26. For more info, check out BF on Facebook, Instagram or bornfreeshow.com.

Addictive Behavior

Photos: Tyson Call

Candice Davis, owner and operator of Addictive Behavior Motor Works, is not as rough around the edges as many would imagine a woman who runs a motorcycle and 4×4 service and customization shop to be. “People hear my voice on the radio and come in just because they want to see what I look like,” she says. Davis is refined and graceful, professional and eloquent—a mother of nine, a businesswoman and a gearhead with a passion for anything that runs on gasoline.

Addictive Behavior Motor Works sits in the historic Granary District of Salt Lake City. Parked outside are lifted Jeeps and trucks that could chew up and spit out my little Subi, but I park next to the biggest one anyway and hope for the best. An impressive warehouse is home to countless motorcycles, ATVs and trucks that are either for sale or being serviced by the experts at Addictive Behavior. Head Service Writer Mick Dolce greets me at the door with a huge smile and offers me the warmth of the customer waiting room, where the entire shop comes to refill their coffee and introduce themselves while I wait. Addictive Behavior’s Service Manager, Daryl Radford, has been with Davis since the beginning. He may not own the shop, but has “the passion and dedication as though he does,” he says.

Addictive Behavior
“Davis’ vision for Addictive Behavior is to be the destination shop for power sportspeople of all interests and to support their passion for motorcycles, trucks and Jeeps.”

Davis grew up in South Jordan, the eldest of four. “When Grease and then Grease 2 came out, I wore out my 8-track copy of the soundtrack, went through several copies of the movies and bought a leather jacket,” Davis says. “The black jacket meant you were going to get in trouble, which I wasn’t. I learned to ride on the biggest bike I could find so I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.”

Davis’ love for motorsports grew into a business five years ago when she went to buy her first road bike. She says, “I had a friend who rode Big Dog Motorcycles—they are beautiful and have so much power behind them. I said, ‘I want one of these.’ My husband asked me what bike I wanted and I said, ‘I think I want them all.’” Davis then bought the Big Dog Dealership. Three weeks later, Big Dog closed its doors, and she lost everything. Davis is not one to go down without a fight, though. “I refuse to lose,” she says. After changing her business concept and putting her family’s toys up for sale to support the business, Addictive Behavior has become one of the most versatile power sport dealers and service shops in the state since 2011.

Davis’ vision for Addictive Behavior is to be the destination shop for power sportspeople of all interests and to support their passion for motorcycles, trucks and Jeeps. The shop continues to grow as the team hones in on its niche in the community. In 2015, they featured two Jeeps and one truck in the SEMA Automotive Specialty Products Trade Show and hope to absolutely trump last year’s entry this year. Currently, Addictive Behavior specializes in service, repair, customization and fabrication for motorcycles, trucks and jeeps. Davis’ skilled team of technicians will work on any style of bike and provide their customers with the parts and knowledge that they need to start their own projects. Davis’ philosophy on motorcycling is comparable to how parents of kids in little league talk about sports: “When I have kids come in who’ve just bought their first ride, it is my love and hope to get it running so they can use it until they can afford a [custom bike],” she says.

Getting into the male-dominated power sports business in a community where many small shops already exist poses a unique blend of challenges, scrutiny and intimidation. “To go into a male-owned shop and feel like their equal is really hard,” Davis says. There are a number of misogynistic assumptions that Davis deals with on an astonishingly regular basis. “At first, I was told I’m a moron and I don’t know what I’m doing,” Davis says of her initial jump into the industry. Surprisingly, she still gets phone calls requesting to speak with a male technician for help with parts and service. “I hope they adapt one day,” she says. The stereotypes continue to run strong in the motorcycle community, she claims, with many people assuming that all female motorcyclists are “expected to be heavy, or biker girls are all lesbians, or biker girls don’t have families,” she says.

Davis has taken her entrepreneurial spirit to the streets, so to speak, and has used her experience to educate not only young women, but also youngsters in general on the importance of locally owned small businesses and the importance of a college education. Davis continues to advocate for entrepreneurship and education in Salt Lake City. Stop by Addictive Behavior’s new location and check out their impressive inventory, and visit abmotorworks.com for upcoming events and workshops.

SFK

Photo: johnnybetts.com

As a metal fabricator with a talent for sculpture, Simon Larson introduced SFK (Stupid Fucking Kids) to the custom motorcycle world eight years ago. The shop, currently operated by Larson and right-hand man Jake Brimley, combines classic American craftsmanship with modern technology. Larson possesses a near obsession with metal, a passion for creating and a relentless spirit that keeps him growing and evolving. He talks about it with a humbled respect and understanding that only someone who truly knows their medium can have. His eyes get big and his hands play out his words as he explains all the different forms and shapes metal can take.

Larson’s garage is currently packed with custom-bike projects of his own design, as well as his customers’ creations manifested through his own hands. Larson combines his talent for metal sculpture and his love for two-wheeled machines with his homegrown work ethic. “My dad was a redneck, a country boy,” he says. “I enjoy working hard. I’ve always wanted to be a blue-collar worker. I’ve never wanted to be a businessman.” Whether he wanted it or not though, Larson has become a successful businessman on his own terms.

Larson’s garage is packed with custom-bike projects of his own design. Photo: johnnybetts.com

Larson’s roots run deep in Utah’s snowboarding scene, but after suffering a knee injury and enduring the subsequent surgeries involved, Larson’s path changed. He got his degree in Fine Arts at the University of Utah with an emphasis in sculpture. All Larson had to do after that was to start creating things. “I decided to grab an angle grinder and a welder, and it turned into this,” he says. “It has completely changed my whole life.” Larson pays a lot of respect to the local moto scene that has helped pave a path for him and the next generation. “Rick [White] out at Dirty Rat is at the top of the fucking pyramid,” he says. “I am mechanically inclined. I built my own engine, but it was over Rick’s shoulders.”

Larson is a self-proclaimed tinkerer. “I always took things apart and put them back together,” he says of his early childhood fascination. “I wanted to learn. I’m a hands-on person.” Larson’s been taking things apart and rebuilding them since he was a kid: “When I was 5 or 6 years old, my dad gave me an old lawnmower as my first project. I was outside with an axle and wheels when my dad walked out. I had seen him melt metal with a soldering iron, so I thought that’s what that does. My dad didn’t even tell me that’s wrong; he just said [to] keep tryin’.”

Business doubled once he moved his shop out of his backyard in the 9th and 9th East neighborhood and into the current location on 121 W. Commonwealth Ave. in South Salt Lake. Larson owes a lot of this success to being in a more convenient location. “The intimidation factor is completely gone,” he says. “I had my old shop in my garage in the back of my house. You’d have to drive 100-plus yards into my backyard. I had my friends chilling there. We had badminton set up. It was intimidating. I didn’t realize I was missing out on this much business.

He takes a lot of his inspiration from Industrial-era America and early manufacturing methods from the ’50s in his motorcycle designs, as well furniture designs. “The ideal situation would be to build what I want and how I want it,” Larson says. Building motorcycles will always be a major part of SFK, but a large portion of Larson’s business is spent on high-profile projects ranging anywhere from custom furniture for J. Thompson to being the Field Engineer for Salt City Supply Industrial Refrigeration.

It’s apparent just how connected Larson is to the metal he manipulates. “I’m a metaller,” he says. “I’m passionate about metal.” With that level of skill and understanding naturally comes frustrations. “My least favorite thing is drilling holes and getting metal shavings in my eyes.”

The next level for Larson is to continuously improve his efficiency through different techniques in metal-working. The advancements in laser-cutting and water-jetting technology allow him to take on bigger projects and double his production. Larson says that he will always build bikes, but as with most creative minds, riding doesn’t take much skill—the skill lies in his ability to create and in his passion for design.

The patience he possesses and his attention to detail are that of another time as well. “Just because I spent 40 hours building this thing doesn’t mean it needs to go on [a bike],” he says. “I’ll just put it on the shelf with everything else.” SFK is reviving the old-school American craftsmanship of a previous generation, and it takes a passionately creative mind like Larson’s to truly live the saying, “It takes 10,000 hours to make you an expert.”

 Photo: johnnybetts.com

For Andy Carter, Brook Lund and Danny Payne, becoming custom motorcycle craftsmen and showing their amazing builds to the world was not where they would have envisioned themselves 10 years ago. Today, after years on the custom-bike-build scene, the trio are able to travel and showcase their bikes in elite custom shows around the world and in their newly opened custom parts and accessories shop, Short Fuse.

Short Fuse is the retail storefront to Carter’s custom business, Pangea Speed, offering custom parts ranging in difficulty from bolt-on bars to custom front-end fabrications, as well as a wealth of knowledge from true chopper aficionados. The store is operated by Carter, Payne and Lund, the latter being the owner of the downtown Este Pizzeria by day and a total gearhead at night. Though Payne travels a lot working for bands, he is the third gear in this motorcycle tri-force. Located across from Kilby Court, the buzz on the block adds to the heritage feel surrounding the shop. Kids waiting anxiously for a band to go onstage look like curiously hopeful moto enthusiasts wondering what awaits them in the depths of this small but welcoming brick building.

Carter began his career as a hot rod mechanic in California and—due to the inconvenience of a small garage space limiting the size of what he could work on—started tinkering with motorcycles. After moving back to Utah, Carter started blogging, taking inspiration from custom chopper-centric blogs like 4Q, Jockey Journal and Chop Cult, all the while honing his craft. He began to fabricate various parts, from seats to handlebars to entire front ends. Finally, after being fired from his day job, Carter—who is known as the mastermind behind Pangea Speed’s custom creations—says, “The Pangea thing kinda took off, so I said, ’Screw it. I’ll just try it full time until I run out of money.’” Carter is proud to say that Pangea Speed is now his day job. It is remarkable how passion is born out of necessity.

Short Fuse began as the name of Carter and Lund’s “crew”—referring to a trip to Mexico they took a few years back and the enormous firecrackers they exploded there. “[We thought] that would be a good name of a crew because it sounds intimidating, but it’s really just in reference to us being idiots,” Lund says of their crew of friends. Short Fuse later evolved into “[an] excuse to have a house for me to do the Pangea stuff,” Carter says, which he had been doing from his home after moving from his shop in North Salt Lake, where he did custom parts, full builds and custom fabrication jobs. “We had been talking about doing a retail store for a while,” Carter says. What sparked the need of a retail storefront was Carter’s desire to limit the amount of custom builds he was doing, stating his frustrations with some custom requests. Carter also admits to some of the tedium of the administrative duties of the custom business. “It’s hard to do the paperwork side of the job,” he says.

Weighing in on his previous opinions and misconceptions of Salt Lake’s moto scene, Lund says, “We have a running joke that if you didn’t take a picture of yourself riding your bike, did you actually ride it?” Lund admits that his “old, jaded” opinion doesn’t matter anymore because if people are stoked about riding, that’s great. “Our friend Danny is a lot more positive about the scene,” Lund says of their third wheel. Lund is just more stoked on the product knowledge he gains through research and hard work. Lund says, “I don’t see the pride in riding a motorcycle, but now I take a step back and I see that they are excited about it. I live to go to work and ride to lunch,” Lund says. His passion lies in his catalogue like knowledge of just about any part’s origin, and if he doesn’t already know, he will find out. This is where Short Fuse will make an impact on Utah’s motorcycle culture.

Inspiring, teaching and motivating people to do their own custom work is the mission behind Short Fuse. “We want to create an environment of non-intimidation,” Carter says. “Come down here and we can absolutely talk you through how you can build your own custom motorcycle. If it’s on a motorcycle, chances are, between the three of us, we’ve done it.”

Carter aims to always compound his knowledge and challenge his skill by traveling with his bikes from one end of the country to the other, whether it’s Born Free in California or Brooklyn Invitational in New York. This year, they will be traveling to Japan for the 25th annual Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom Show that features world-class builds, which is the direction Carter wants to continue to go with his bikes. “Getting your bike invited to that within the chopper scene is the ultimate,” Carter says. “The best custom bikes in the world are invited.” It’s both humbling and motivating for Carter when he thinks his bike was the best in Salt Lake, but when he travels to shows, he realizes all of the rad stuff that’s out there.

Short Fuse aims to revive what they consider to be the true chopper culture buried in Salt Lake. What lies behind this seemingly quiet, little building is a wealth of knowledge about motorcycles waiting to be shared, to hopefully inspire the next generation of moto-enthusiasts. Stop by and chat the guys up at the shop or check out their website at pangeaspeed.bigcartel.com.

Grim Cycles

Photo: Chris Kiernan

Grim Cycle Salvage has established itself over the past seven years as not only a super-professional custom mechanic shop specializing primarily in Harley Davidson, but also as the parts store for all of your DIY needs, helping to empower the community to get messy and tear into their bike projects themselves. Owner and MMI-certified mechanic Sean Jordan has been riding and working on motorcycles for most of his life. “I pride myself in doing stuff right,” says Sean. “I’ve been doing it long enough to know what does break and how to keep it from breaking. We’re definitely mechanics first.”

After selling his first bike in order to buy tools, Jordan’s dedication to the craft brought him from Georgia to Orem nearly 20 years ago, where he and his family have found their niche in the community.

I met up with Jordan at his massive shop, located at 554 Commerce Road in Orem, as he and his wife Cat were busy coordinating their concessions booth for a local charity soccer tournament. “Everyone always wants to see The Yard,” Sean says as we meander through his shop and out the back door—Sean cautions my every step through the battlefield of parts and fluids: “Oh, I’ve got some tire grease leaking.” As we enter the backyard, I begin to understand what he meant. The Yard is an unbelievable collection of dismembered motorcycles, with nearly 400 bikes neatly organized in rows waiting to be torn apart by Sean and his small crew. “We get people who just want to come walk through, and we’re not really a pick-n-pull,” says Jordan. “We strip everything down—good parts go into inventory, bad parts go in the scrap bin.” Sean says it’s nearly impossible to keep up on the neverending disassembly necessary to move some of these bikes from his massive collection and that a lot of bikes are donated or end up as scrap metal. “Every year we donate three Chinese bikes to be blown up for a charity run for juvenile diabetes, which is the best thing to do with one of those!”

Between regular summer maintenance and custom work, the shop is full of enough work to keep Sean and his small crew busy all summer. He says, “We do all the stuff most shops won’t do; we build from the ground up.” Grim is also a full-service machine shop. Sean himself has over 20 years of experience with welding and fabrication, and he shows me one of his custom gas tanks on one of the many bikes being rebuilt. The other side of the shop, however, is another impressive sight to be seen. “This is our constant battle,” says Jordan. “We inventory everything. We’re not in the business of selling bad parts. My wife has singlehandedly done all of this.”

Sean and Cat have spent the past seven years not only tearing apart the 400 bikes in The Yard, but also cataloguing and inventorying every part by make and model, creating an impressively organized parts store and available worldwide at your fingertips on their easy-to-navigate website, grimcyclesalvage.com. Sean tests and guarantees all of Grim’s used parts and has an amazing cataloguing system to keep track of what they have in stock. Cat has catalogued and photographed roughly 6,000 parts for the website, all done in a small office/photo studio in the shop. Grim is also a certified parts dealer for major manufacturers and can get any new part you need into the shop as well.

In March of 2013, Sean and four friends set out on an epic 24-day journey to Costa Rica, with 4,000 miles of all the stress, breakdowns and tribulations you would expect on such a massive undertaking. Photographer Steven Stone chronicled their amazing trip from Salt Lake to the Panama Canal. In April of this year, I got to witness that journey over beer and tacos as they shared it with the two-wheeled community of Salt Lake City via the CR2013 photo show at The Commonwealth. You can see their journey, the bikes and learn more about the guys at cr-2013.com. Following an experience that extraordinary is difficult, and Sean wishes he could spend more time riding and taking long trips. But, as with many small business owners, Sean says, “If I take time off, I just pay for it dearly.”

Thanks to Sean’s mechanical knowhow, a lot of potential problems on the CR2013 trip were avoided, however, not every rider is so mechanically inclined. Sean’s mission is to educate the community on the machines they are riding, to ensure safety and to keep everyone on the road.  After many late nights “talking shop,” so to speak, Sean and Cat have committed to holding motorcycle maintenance classes in Grim Cycle Shop for the average motorcyclist beginning in the fall of this year. Be sure to check their website for more info on upcoming classes, as well as instructional videos on basic motorcycle maintenance and repair so that you don’t do something silly like forget to put new oil back in after your home oil change.

Sean’s passion for what he does truly comes from a dedication to keeping “the average guy on the road,” as his website says. Check out grimcyclesalvage.com for parts new and used, as well as for photos of award-winning custom work.

Dirty Rat Moto Cyco shop

Photos: Russel Daniels

Dirty Rat Moto Cyco is a shop packed with Harleys of every generation in varying degrees of dissection, countless tool chests, guitars and amps and two friendly shop dogs, Natas and Cooter, who play with a cannonball as a toy. Rick and Ashlyn White have both owned and operated the shop at its current location for over nine years. With a combined 60-plus years of experience working on motorcycles, Rick and mechanics Nick Kennedy and Wolf make up the Dirty Rat crew. From oil changes to engine rebuilds, the Dirty Rats offer a wide range of services at a competitive price.

The Dirty Rats are advocates of the “buy local first” mentality, and foster an environment of DIY badassery. “Keep the money in Utah,” says Rick, after he and Ashlyn give me a tour of their impressive home and motorcycle repair shop, located on 1515 South Major Street in Salt Lake City, which they have painstakingly built themselves. They don’t care about competition with other local mechanics: They stay true to their punk rock roots with the “FTF” motto—”fuck the factory”—which Ashlyn says they live by. “Especially with the smaller shops in town,” she says, “to help each other out does nothing but benefit everybody.” Their customers are their family, and support from the local (and loco) moto community has developed a strong cult following, allowing them to live the American Dream. Ashlyn quickly corrects me: “A lot of people say it’s a dream,” she says, “but we call it the American Nightmare—our fun nightmare.”

As I’m shooting the shit with Rick, Nick and Ashlyn, I have the privilege of seeing Rick, “The Chopfather,” in action. A longtime customer and friend rolls in after an incident on I-15 involving some poorly planned construction. I watch as Rick fixed the issue in less than five minutes, sending the customer safely on his way. “Laid-back professionalism” is how Rick and Ashlyn describe the atmosphere around their shop. It becomes more apparent the longer I hang out how much of a family dynamic they have with their customers. “I don’t have a sign on the front of the building for a reason,” Rick says. “We don’t need it—we’ve got really good customers who help us out as much as we help them out.” Referred to as “The Motherfucking Spa” by a regular, the shop often turns into a place of refuge where everyone is welcome and encouraged to ask questions.

Dirty Rat Moto Cyco shop
The Dirty Rats are advocates of the “buy local first” mentality, and foster an environment of DIY badassery.

Rick says they “don’t see a lot of new, shiny bikes,” but he is not opposed to working on newer models. Rick has watched pop culture influence bike culture, from “the bigger the tire the better” to the Sons of Anarchy chopper trend and ‘70s rat bikes. “Kids are even dressing like they’re from the ‘70s,” Ashlyn says, also pointing out that they’re riding bikes that were never intended to be ridden. Rick can fix them all, though. “Rick fixed our bike on a trip with an earplug and a nail the other day,” Ashlyn says of Rick’s superior mechanic skills. “Dig something out of the dirt and Rick can figure it out.” He’s the McGyver of bikes—once, on a trip to Wendover, he even fixed a bike with a gum wrapper.

As a co-owner of the shop and a wife and mother, Ashlyn, who is incredibly supportive of Rick and dedicated to the shop, says, “It has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.” But they wouldn’t have it any other way. “My job in this shop is to support [Rick],” she says. “The hard part is him working 24/7 and how much time, blood, sweat and tears [the crew] put in to make each customer happy, but that’s what they’re known for.”

Rick loves seeing people wear out their tires and put miles on their bikes—and the often comical and sometimes tragic stories that come with those miles. As with all families, tragedy will eventually strike, and within the motorcycle community, unfortunately, tragedy seems to strike more frequently. “There’s two types of riders,” Rick says, “those who have crashed and those who will.” Rick admits to at least six different collisions he’s been involved in. Ashlyn tears up when she talks about the friends they’ve lost over the years, and Nick shows me the “burnout” tires on the shop wall that they’ve collected in memoriam of friends lost. “It’s always those left-hand turns,” Ashlyn says, referring to the most common type of car-versus-motorcycle collision, where the car driver either doesn’t see you over their Snapchat or judges your speed incorrectly, introducing their hood to your face. Proper safety gear is never guaranteed to save your life, but your odds sure as hell increase—helmets are a great way to keep your meathead on your tattooed shoulders.

Rick calls motorcycling the tie that binds. “You can have a Mormon next to a murderer and it won’t matter,” he says. Stop by the shop or check out dirtyratmotocyco.com to see some of their work, or just to meet some really cool people.