Now that the holidays have finally come to an end and your favorite soft rock station can switch back from the horrific holiday onslaught of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion to... well, the regular, horrific onslaught of Marian Carey and Celine Dion, it's time to take stock in what Santa did or didn't bring you. Perhaps you should think about treating yourself to something that you didn't get. Maybe that EVH Frankenstein replica with the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop pickups that didn't show up under your tree; or perhaps that Series 1 Marshall Bluesbreaker JTM 45 amp that your significant other didn't get for you because he/she doesn't really like you anyway. Rather not drop the price of a Lexus on your post-Christmas treat? Yeah, I don't blame you. I do, however, have a suggestion, and it will only set you back +/- dinner for two at Ruth's Chris steakhouse. Hey, if your significant other wanted you two to go there you'd have gotten that guitar. Fact. As a general rule I hate merchandising. No, not t-shirts or patches or stickers- you know, the stuff that lets others know that your taste in music doesn't suck. But whether it's AC/DC oven mitts, Rammstein's dildos that are modeled after each member of the band (yes, they exist), or anything Gene Simmons makes a freaking nickel off of, I have absolutely no use for it. I get it, no one wants to pay for music anymore and these bands, just like the rest of us, have bills too. Regardless, I still feel that officially licensed Rammstein sex toys are tacky and in bad taste, before or after use. But like most things in life there is certainly an exception to the rule. Back in 1986 the best little arena-filling band in the world MTV never heard of was Metallica. During the band's early years they were more or less punks who could play their instruments. They'd drink... a lot, hook up with the one chick who came to their shows, and skate. Skateboarding was going through something of a renaissance in the mid-80's, with deck designs and graphics moving away from the bland stripes and penny boards of the 70's to wide, radically shaped boards that showcased artwork not found anywhere else.
Enter Jeff Newton and his small, independent skateboard company, Zorlac. Formed in Texas in the early 80's, Zorlac quickly became synonymous with the skater as outlaw image. Their radical deck designs, family un-friendly graphics and "Shut Up And Skate" mantra not only reflected their anti-establishment mentality, but it married up perfectly with the DIY ethos of both punk and thrash. This outsider image served Newton and Zorlac well as the company aligned themselves with Brian "Pushead" Schroeder, formerly of punk/thrash band Septic Death, who moonlighted as an artist for, you guessed it, punk and thrash bands. His art, which typically features skulls, skeletons, or rotting flesh, set the Zorlac decks apart from the family friendly boards offered by Vision, Powell Peralta and Sims.
When they weren't being equal parts weird and gross by smearing bodily fluids on their album covers, Pushead became Metallica's go-to artist. It made perfect sense then for Zorlac to make Metallica's skateboards. And make them they did. Through the rest of the 80's and into the early 90's, Zorlac made a ton of now highly coveted Metallica decks, each featuring unique artwork from Pushead. As the vast majority of those decks were used for their intended purpose (i.e. thrashed to hell on ramps, curbs and rails), few survive in what is termed NOS (New Old Stock) condition, making them extremely valuable today. Sadly, thanks to shady business dealings and a copyright lawsuit that would make your head spin (I'll include a link below for those interested), Zorlac is no more. For decades, Pushead's unique and (for its time) disturbing skateboard art has remained under lock and key. Shameful. Enter British skateboard manufacturer (and the whole reason for this ridiculously long article), Lovenskate. They have just acquired the rights to not only produce official Metallica skateboards, they're using vintage Pushead artwork to do it. To top it off they've released a very limited number of old school "Zorlove" decks that pay homage to the famous Zorlac shapes of the 80's. These are by no means garbage pieces of wood that someone stuck a band sticker on and now wants you to shell out a hundred bucks for. These are high quality screened decks that not only look great hanging on a wall, but are made to be ridden and thrashed and enjoyed. In fairness, Rammstein's merchandising department can make the same claim.
So while I still can't justify buying an Alice Cooper stuffed Panda or even an Eddie bobblehead from Iron Maiden, I am all about these new Metallica decks from Lovenskate. They are not making millions of these things so if you want one it's best to get over to their site sooner as opposed to later... or just go to eBay and pay too much, your choice. Many thanks to Max Saxon for the use of the Lovenkate images. Rage on! JPR