Guides
August 20, 2017

How to make a DIY marketing plan

You know what creative people are really good at? Making stuff. And you know what they are usually really, really shitty at? Selling it! I get it - for most people making stuff is fun, selling stuff isn't (I love it, but that's why I do marketing for a living). But good products don't sell themselves, so if you want to get any kind of traction for your work - your art, book, blog, band, t-shirts, whatever - you're gonna have to get good at marketing. And that's exactly why I'm writing this long-ass article-- it's a complete blueprint for non-marketers to make a simple but super effective marketing plan that works for any kind of product or service - it's a simplified version of the same approach I've used to sell a shitload of digital products like Nail The Mix and Getgood Drums, physical products like Horizon Devices' Precision Drive or A…
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Guides
August 14, 2017

How to NOT eff up your education

Let's be real: college is a big deal. Not only is it usually expensive as shit, in many ways it sets the tone for the rest of your life. The stakes are high and it can definitely seem overwhelming, but the keys to successfully navigating college are the same simple things that you hear me repeat a lot on this site: stay focused, grind hard, and work on building authentic relationships with cool people who will help you level up (aka networking). And yes, I get it - most of this is probably stuff you’ve already heard from parents and teachers and you might not want to hear it. Maybe you think it doesn't apply to you, but I assure you that it does - you are not special. And I didn’t listen to my parents or teachers and you probably don’t either, so I’m going to say it again…
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Guides
August 7, 2017

Real talk about starting a clothing company

I know a few things to be true: That many of you are interested in starting a clothing company, that the apparel business is hard as fuck, and that there is very, very little information out there on the actual tactics of building a brand or the day-to-day operations of running the business. There's plenty of fluffy interviews with vague advice like "follow your passion," but almost nothing about how to actually DO the shit it takes to get there: design the right product, build a brand, and convince people to actually give you their money. I don't have any experience working for a cool streetwear company, but I did spend about four years doing design and marketing for Abercrombie/Hollister a few years back when they were crushing it (I designed a few hundred Hollister girls shirts and spent months in Asian factories getting shit made), and I learned a…
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Guides
July 23, 2017

Why you should go to college (with a few exceptions)

If I have one regret in life, it's that I didn't go to college until I was 25. I'm very happy with my life today, so I guess it's all good - but I always wonder what would have happened if I didn't drop out of college when I was 18, after one quarter. How many years of frustration and failure would I have avoided? Because the next 5 or so years were NOT fun for me. I spent most of them working shitty dead-end jobs at print shops (if you've ever worked in one, you know it's fucking soul-crushing), trying desperately to get a job that didn't make me want to put a bullet in my head - and getting almost zero traction. I wanted to be a graphic designer, and I spent every waking moment on nights and weekends teaching myself. I kept telling myself that I didn't…
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Alumni Profiles
July 13, 2017

Alumni Profile: Gavin Van Vlack of Burn

Back in the day, at least in the circles I traveled in, the idea of being into punk and any kind of athletic pursuit was like petting the cat backwards... it just wasn't an option. Sports were for jocks, and jocks were NOT punk! But now that's all changed, especially in the hardcore scene - hardcore and fitness go hand in hand, especially the more intense flavors of fitness like jiu-jitsu, muay thai, Crossfit and powerlifting. Go to any BJJ academy and count the number of guys and girls with a bunch of tattoos who change into a Judge or Black Flag shirt after class... you'll lose count fast! It makes sense to me, because in my opinion a core element of hardcore is self-improvement, fearlessly looking in the mirror and asking yourself how you could be a better human - and in my experience there's no better way to…
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scott viscomi alliance mma
Alumni Profiles
June 20, 2017

Alumni Profile: Scott Viscomi of Alliance MMA

I've had a lot of hobbies and interests come and go, but two things that have stayed with me are hardcore and combat sports. I've been an MMA, jiu-jitsu and muay thai superfan since UFC 1, trained off and on since the late 90's and currently do jiu-jitsu 4 or 5 days a week - to make a long story short, I'm a lifer in combat sports. So I have a lot in common with Scott Viscomi, who is the Director of Event Sales & Marketing for Alliance MMA, a hardcore lifer, and fellow business dork - and I'm very happy to finally talk to him after trying to make this happen for a while. I'm especially stoked on this one because it represents almost exactly what I had in mind when I started this site a couple years ago: documenting those who never lost their fire - their connection to DIY culture…
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Thoughts
June 4, 2017

Create your own scene, and other lessons from Green Day, 924 Gilman and MRR

Back in 1992 or so, my friend Kevin showed up to school with a tape by some random pop-punk band in his Walkman. They were called Green Day, and I'd heard their name a lot from their shows with other Lookout bands like Operation Ivy and Crimpshrine as well as some of the Bay Area crust/hardcore bands I was into like Neurosis and Stikky. They were an integral part of the 924 Gilman St/MRR scene, and for all its many faults, that scene was truly something special and unique. Although I only went to Gilman a couple times, the culture of that era was incredibly influential and in many ways still the template for how I think and approach projects. It was DIY to the core, smart and focused not on the dumb, self-destructive stuff that kneecapped a lot of earlier punk but on CREATING things. It was fundamentally a maker…
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Thoughts
May 17, 2017

How Adam Carolla saved my life

It's no exaggeration to say that Loveline taught me more life skills than anything else in my life (at least from the ages of 19-24 or so). I listened to the show obsessively - sometimes 3 or 4 episodes a day - for years, and I soaked it all up like a sponge because every show helped one more piece of the puzzle called life click into place. When it comes to life advice, in my opinion what makes it stick (as opposed to going in one ear and out the other) is that you trust the person you're hearing it from - you listen to what they tell you because you believe that they understand you and where you're coming from. And that's why Adam's words resonated with me so deeply: the way we grew up was scarily similar, with moderately-but-not-severely dysfunctional hippie moms and plenty of stories about being…
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Reviews
April 16, 2017

Why you MUST read Harley Flanagan’s book

Musician's memoirs and books documenting some long-gone music scene are among my least favorite things to read. They usually amount to little more than some old guy telling a bunch of stories about how things were so much better back in HIS day (old farts in "American Hardcore" talking about how hardcore died in 1984, I'm looking at you) and glamorizing/romanticizing a lot of self-destructive or anti-social behavior-- and with a stark lack of reflection, introspection or critical thinking about the times documented in the book. You usually get the sense that the person writing the book really wishes they could hop in a time machine and just relive that period over and over again, like some weird punk version of "Groundhog Day." And maybe to normies it's interesting to read a bunch of stories about fighting, drugs, and debauchery, but to those of us who have seen and/or lived…
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Lessons
March 27, 2017

Choose Your Friends Wisely

There are about 9 million punk/hardcore documentaries now, and even though I think most of them are pretty lame I watch every one - and ditto for any any graffiti-related thing I come across on YouTube. Why? Because although easily 80%+ of it is total shit, when there's something good it's GOOD - it connects with me in the way that leaves you thinking about it for days. Such is the case for a movie I stumbled across called "Quality Of Life," which tells the story of two friends in the San Francisco graffiti scene (watch the full movie here, I highly recommend it). To make a long story short, after getting in some trouble with the law, one of them gets scared straight and becomes a graphic designer while the other one continues down the path of self-destruction and spirals out of control - the point of the movie…
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