30…FRIGGIN’ years. I can’t believe that my favorite Elm Street movie turned 30 a few weeks ago. To me, the most memory etched, influential horror movie from my childhood. I have discussed this many times over Electric Zombie’s 10 years of existence. I was born and lived on Elm Street the first 5 years of my life. Being born in 1983, you can imagine how much of a big deal this was for me, and literally anyone who lived on my street of a boring, lack luster town in nowheresville, Illinois. Freddy has, and always will be a big piece of me. (He’s INSIDEEEE MEEEE) I had planned for this release for almost 7 months. I knew that it was going to be a big one for me. I had a lot of these ideas locked in and mapped out about a year, or even the Taryn one, was an idea I had 6 years ago. I can’t believe I sat it for so long. There were 100% shoe in’s from the start. I knew I wanted to redo the Tetanus design, which was first released in 2010, in the summer and had a back print. I originally wanted to make a faux tour shirt with all the cities that the movie premiered in in 1987, deciding against it at the last minute. I wanted to revisit the Slasher hoodie from 2012, and went in a completely different direction. I didn’t want to make a line full of rehash of older things. I wanted to branch out and do something new, something that wouldn’t be a complete eyesore. Something that didn’t look like it came from a Spirit Halloween store, as a shitty knockoff Freddy Costume. I wanted to make something I would be proud of and customers would be excited to wear. Like my past blogs, I plan on going all over the place with this write up. I figured I would talk about the ups and downs and what into the release, as well as inspiration and ideas came.
So grab a pillow, and lets dive in!
THE MAN BEHIND THE MONSTER
It started with a t-shirt design. Not the kind you would think at first. In 2006, band merchandise designer, Kyle Crawford, saved a design that would shape the rest of his future. Power cords, lightning bolts and of course zombies, for the band From First To Last, was dubbed "Electric Zombie". Liking the name so much that he began placing the moniker on posters and wherever the name would get noticed. It was while working with Rockett Clothing, that he began to find his niche, HORROR. The already popular California based clothing company was brought to another level with Kyle's over the top monster shirts. Having designed for the brand for almost two years, both sides went separate ways. During this time, his band merchandise career began to take off. Having designed hundreds of t-shirts in such a short time, his name finally got into the right ears. Warner Bros Records. Not only did the new job bring in bigger named clients, but quite the hefty pay check. He immediately knew what to do, make Electric Zombie, not just a name, but a BRAND. In just a few months, 6 shirts were printed, folded and released. December 2nd, 2007, Electric Zombie went from being a man, to a MONSTER. It didn't take long to catch on. The brand was easily relatable to Kyle's past work with Rockett and how he designed for band's. Months later, another line was released, and another. Before Electric Zombie hit the one year mark, they had already released 4 lines and a Christmas line.
Before too long, he took a risk, he decided to move to New York, to start a career with Equal Vision Records who's sister company was Merch Now, who after years of designing for them and their bands it only made sense to take the next step. Making the move brought many opportunities. With Merch Now’s printing facilities, being only a few feet away from his desk, he could pick ink colors, see shirts come off the press, folded and put on shelves and out the door. Not only was knowledge being gained, it also brought on capabilities for bigger and better lines. It also opened the door to a new world, the world of cut and sew. It began with a custom hoodie, with an all over zombie print and brains printed into the hood, to even more crazier products such as jeans, flannels, polos and even pajamas. With unlimited options and capabilities, he was able to really push the limits of his imagination and some of the brand's best pieces were born.
Drawing influences of skateboarding, music, punk, horror, comic books, toys, cartoons, and pieces from his childhood, which struck the heart of many. "I just want to make what I love. Even if I don't wear the shirt, I put 100% into it. I don't want to put out a product that would sellout. Or make something that wasn't something I believe in. Every design, every thought, every color, is me. It's a piece of my brain, my memories, and my life. To me, it's like when you smell a smell, or eat Oreos with milk, or a peanut butter and jelly, watching your favorite movie. It's like a walking time capsule. It just takes you back, and brings a smile to your face. All my favorite shows, my favorite toys, thrown into my mind, given a twist and then pressed on a shirt. I still collect toys, watch wrestling, eat junk food and watch scary movies. I'm still a kid. I think everyone still has that part of them. I do my best to bring it out and re-imagine it in cotton form. You can't help but point and smile, and want that on your torso. Even if I don't use a subject for an idea, something can be used to spark a new idea, or a fresh take on one. I used to be a huge nickelodeon kid. So of course, orange and green, is a big part of my aesthetic and theme. When you see the green, it pops into your brain, SLIMER, NINJA TURTLES, MUTAGEN, OOZE, YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON TELEVISION, just from a color. It's amazing how the brain works and how the smallest of things can trigger a memory. It's all about doing what you love, be true to yourself and just be real. People are drawn to that, and can easily relate to it, and respect it. I'm a goofy nerdy guy, and there's lots of goofy nerdy people out there. They love the things I love, and it's like making a new friend, just by sharing an idea with the world. All it takes is one to reach someone, lucky for me the ideas don't run out. Not only that, but, people seem to enjoy them. I know I'm not exactly a people person, but I think me being that way, just brings me closer to the fans. I just want to connect with people and be as honest and forward as I can be. I don't do this for money. It's all about respect and integrity for what I do and the person I am. I just want to put out great product and be the best. To me, it's about, not giving a shit what people say or think, make what you love and be proud to be part of something, as an artist, as a person, and as a fan. You can't let anything get in your way. There's a lot of people who say, I wish I could do this. I'm just one guy, with a lot of crazy ideas, and I am lucky enough to share them and be successful at it, who didn't just wish it, I did it. I’m not a horror brand, or a Ninja Turtle brand, or wrestling brand, I’m a pop culture brand. This is everything that made me me, and you, you. I couldn't have done it with the support of everyone. Because of that love and drive and way of thought, and the ongoing support, I wouldn't have been to be able to keep going for as long as I have.” For over five years Electric Zombie has made it's mark in the world of shirts, music and the internet. With each release the up and coming company seems to always find a way to turn heads and break outside the box.
“Everyone is still that kid, running home from school to watch cartoons, or ride their bike to the gas station to buy candy and play arcade games, when they should be doing their homework. Sleepovers with friends on Friday nights, eating pizza and gorging on either a Beavis and Butt-Head Moronathon, or a stack of outdated VHS’ covered in artwork that would resonate in our minds for the rest of our lives. Commercials, cereal, toys, or trapper keepers. Even the dumbest of products, can make the biggest impact in our lives. Seeing it again, is like digging up an old relic, unearthing this memory that has been scratching to get out. It’s that feeling and that memory, this ongoing nerd secret society, where no one else get’s us, but us. Everyone wants to go back and relive that feeling, or carry it onto our children. While it may be my creation, but it’s OUR BRAND, OUR PAST, OUR CULTURE. We are Electric Zombie.”