LOS ANGELES, February 21, 2014 — Slabratory is a clothing company that is based out of San Diego. They are quickly making a name for themselves in the southern California punk rock scene by putting on some epic punk lineups with bands such as Good Riddance, Strung Out, Implants, and Sprung Monkey among others. One of the Slabratory owners, Robert Gray, took some time to talk to Wells On Music regarding Slabratory.
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Kevin Wells: What made you want to start a clothing company?
Robert Gray: I’ll let Chris answer this one. (Chris) – The idea for a clothing company stems back to a high school screen-printing class in the early ‘90s. I took the class for a year and a half and by the last semester I was free to do my own projects. I would print up punk rock shirts from bands like Battalion of Saints, Lagwagon and Bad Religion most notably. That gave me the vision to one day start my own clothing company.
KW: What made you want to have punk music as such an integral part of your company?
RG: There never really was a “plan” to do so I don’t think. Music changed our lives and is a part of who we are. Music in general has always been a huge part of our lives. We grew up in SD and the “scene” was great. Skateboarding, BMX and punk shows were the norm. So many rad memories were made growing up and at shows. Stories we still talk about today.
Slabratory’s motto has “punk” all over it, but punk isn’t about the color of your mohawk or how many studs you have on your jacket. It’s about friendship and unity. It’s a lifestyle and belief that comes from within. A way of life that only few will understand, with rules made up for you and a home where you’re always welcome. DIY attitude, that’s what Slabratory is about. Slabratory is a San Diego based clothing company dedicated to preserving the foundation of action sports and punk rock. We feature eye gouging graphics and a Reagan era punk rock attitude and that’s what we are here to do.
Somewhere things got a little soft and those epic shows with solid lineups stopped coming around. We’re bringing them back! We had great success with our first few events and just decided to keep it going. The support and outreach from the music community, San Diego and actually all over the world has been amazing and really, more than we ever imagined.
We are very thankful for the support that has been thrown our way and we’ve had some pretty epic shows go down so far and hope to keep it growing. We put a lot into planning these shows and if we can create a place for people to show up, have a great time and create some great memories of their own then we succeeded. It’s not about a paycheck. It’s about holding onto our punk rock ethics and sharing what’s in our hearts with others. It’s what we believe in.
KW: How did the relationship with Implants happen?
RG: Right around the time I came aboard the Slab team, I had started managing Implants, so it all came together very quickly. We were moving in the direction to start bringing some rad bands and shows to San Diego and Implants had just started playing live so it was perfect timing really. We had our “official” launch party June of 2012 and we placed Implants as direct support for the ‘un-announced’ headliner who happened to be Strung Out. The place held about 100 people and just about 300 showed up to celebrate with Slabratory and the bands. It was such a hot sweaty mess inside, but everyone had a blast and enjoyed themselves. There is some good video on Youtube from the evening. Wade from Unwritten Law came out and sang a Bad Religion song with Implants to close out their set. We had I Don’t Wanna Hear It from Santa Cruz open the show, Sederra as well on the bill and Strung Out closed it down! I think that morning after the launch we were already planning the next show, riding the energy from the evening and wanting to create something even larger.
With managing Implants, it was a no brainer to have them on all future Slabratory shows. What better way to promote their music, help build their fan base and also have them cross promote with Slabratory? Implants are some of our great friends and are such rad dudes who happen to shred at what they do, nothing but respect for them and anything Slabratory can do to help them we are down for. They’ve worn our product all over the world and we are grateful for that. The support is very mutual. Hopefully we’ll get them back down to SD soon!
KW: Slabratory has put on some epic punk shows, do you have a favorite lineup?
RG: For me personally it hasn’t happened yet, but that’s just my thinking. I’m always trying to push forward and be as creative as possible and the ideas are insane that we have. There is a lot on the table right now moving forward and it will happen sooner than later. For the ones we have done though, they have all been awesome in their own way. The launch party was insane. Next we brought Good Riddance back to San Diego after not playing here in over 8 years, Implants were direct support and during their set,. Russ came onstage to sing “Soulmate” as a tribute to Tony Sly (R.I.P.). It was pretty amazing Russ(GR) on Vocals, Rob Ramos(Strung Out) on backup vocals, Jim Blowers (Pulley) on guitar, Chris Del Rio(Implants/Ten Foot Pole/CrimeWave) on bass, original No Use For A Name guitarist Ed Gregor on Guitar and Jordan Burns (Strung Out) was on drums. It was an all-star jam for sure and a very touching one also.
We’ve had Authority Zero and D.I. on the same bill, Strung Out, Ten Foot Pole, Implants and The Darlings sold out show, Good Riddance back a second time, which sold out as well, with Pulley and Battalion of Saints. Even the smaller scale bar shows we’ve hosted have all been amazing and so much fun. Pour Habit was rad, Assuming We Survive, Versus The World, Rick Thorne, SkipJack, Death On Wednesday, Christian Martucci, Sprung Monkey, Jason Cruz and more. There is so much great talent out there and so many rad bands that we are blessed to call our friends, we would put every single one of them on a show if we could. Rock n Roll is alive and well and making a full circle, Slabratory is going to do everything we can to throw it in your face!
KW: Do you have any plans of expanding Slabratory outside of Los Angeles and San Diego? Perhaps a Slabratory tour? A Slabratour, if you will?
RG: Yeah, for sure it’s been talked about. So Cal is our home base and we’re keeping it local for now with shows, but Slabratory Clothing? yes, World Wide!
KW: Recently Slabratory released a compilation CD. Have you given thought to starting a label wing of the company and start making records?
RG: That as well has been talked about, pretty much everything you could imagine and then some has been brought to the table. We have been approached by several artist asking as well. We would love to grow as a company and branch out as much as possible. So, I’m not saying it isn’t possible.
KW: What has been the reaction of the action sports industry to Slabratory?
RG: Great so far! We have not yet started to really push promo in that area, as we’re still building our brand, but naturally Slabratory fits right in. Word of mouth has been huge and we have a good list of solid athletes that could build a great team from all areas of action sports. BMX, Skateboarding, Motocross, Surfing, etc. It’s one step at a time right now and we all believe with the continued hard work we put forth and support from our friends and family Slabratory will continue to become a household name.
KW: What is up next for you guys?
RG: Building our brand is our main goal right now. More designs and full catalogue of product. Really for 2014 we would like to focus more on Slabratory Clothing and with our team we have right now it’s looking really good! I can’t wait for everyone to see the new product we have coming later this year. We think everyone will be stoked! With that being said though, we do have an awesome show April 19 at the Soda Bar featuring Death By Stereo, Nations Afire (members of Ignite and ex-Rise Against), Assuming We Survive and Bankers Hill. Then we are working on something very special for August and in December we will be hosting our 3rd annual “Slabby Holidaze show” with some very special guests! And who knows? Maybe some stuff will pop up in between those dates. Don’t worry Slabratory won’t leave you hanging.
KW: As for the compilation, how were you able to get so many great bands to be a part of this?
RG: It was a group effort really. I had reached out to so many artists I know, some I just liked and others that were making a name for themselves or I thought would fit the comp well. Chris and Trent had specific songs/artist that they were working with and Jimbo Phillips, our design artist, also contributed a track from his band, I Don’t Wanna Hear It, along with a few others, but once the word got out that Slabratory was doing a comp cd, submissions started pouring in. So we figured let’s just do a double disc and make this cd as insane as possible.
After all the artist submissions we had to narrow it down to about 100 then 75 and from there down to the 53 that made the final cut. It was really hard though and such a tough decision on the final track listing. There were so many rad songs that we would have loved to have a part of this, but due to space, quality and style, some unfortunately didn’t make it this round. Basically though, it was all about networking and team work that made this project happen. So far, it seems that everyone is super stoked on it and it’s looking like a second press will be happening soon.
KW: Where can people get the comp?
RG: Most artists will be receiving their shipments over the next couple weeks. Then via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., Slabratory will be posting places we have dropped off discs around town at skate/surf/lifestyle shops so you can go scoop one up. And of course you can grab a copy at any Slabratory event. Also we will be posting a PO BOX very soon where you’ll be able to send a self-addressed envelope to and well send one out to you!
KW: Will there be a Slabratory movie at some point with skateboarding, surfing, etc.?
RG: Yes, Yes, Yes! So much coming soon!
KW: Is there anything else you would like people to know about anything you’re working on?
RG: No, just thank you for all the support. We are very humbled and just super stoked that everyone is pumped on our vision. This is only the beginning!
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities and also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music, and food. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball