Klutch, the mastermind behind Vinyl Killers, is neither a little bit country nor a little bit rock-and-roll. He’s 100% punk. For life.
“Even though I’m originally from Oklahoma, I have this trail, and it’s all connected to punk rock. I skated all through the 70’s. In the 80’s, hard-core was my whole life. Eventually all my friends said, “Come on!” I left my job making t-shirts for a skateboard company and went to work for insurance company. I was the punk guy in the mail room. I stayed in that company, worked my way up, and wound up in a V.P. position. After 13 years of that, I was pretty miserable. So I decided to go have fun.”
Klutch went back to skateboarding, street art, and the glories of the punk lifestyle.
“The flip side is that I have no security, no health care . . . Makin’ it is very tough, but I’m making it doing what I want to do.”
What he does, or what he’s best known for, is “repurposing” old vinyl records into original artwork. He’s also a graffiti artist, but doesn’t publicize it because Portland, where he has lived for the past three years, has one of the most rigorous anti-billboard programs in the country. Though the law keeps open-air advertising to a minimum, it also prohibited mural paintings up until a few months ago. And naturally, the city imposes stiff fines on street artists.
“One record store has done battle for two years with the city. Guys from all over the world come to Portland, put a mural on the outside of the store, it’s up a day or two, and then the city sends someone out to buff it. I paid this guy $3000 to come over and do this. In Germany he’s a cultural asset—here he’s a criminal. There’s a $1000 reward for turning someone in for “marking.” If you turn in a gun, it’s $100.”
In preparation for his Hotel des Arts room, Klutch spent two months painting records. While in residence, he experienced the “art camp” phenomenon that so many Painted Rooms artists have enjoyed. The collective helped remind him why he’s not in the insurance business any longer.
“The record thing—that’s how everybody knows me. I keep that underground and elusive. For whatever reason, that really strikes a nerve in me [and in others]. People really like paintings on records. It’s my approach to art in general: not ‘we’re really cool, look at us,’ but ‘we’re really cool, come join in!’ I’m trying to inspire and include others in everything I do. Because ultimately, that’s the cool part of it for me. Every good thing I have from this.”