The Hardcore Archivist: Gavin Blosser On Keeping the 90s Underground Flame (And T-Shirt Designs) Alive

As a kid growing up in the small, rural town of Harrisonburg, Virginia, 90s underground hardcore and metal tossed young Gavin Blosser a much-needed life preserver. Back then he’d scour the shelves of the one local record shop, magazine review sections, and mail order catalogs with a fervent, unremitting zeal for clues to the next riff, breakdown, or anthem might make life a little bit better.

Now, via Hardcore Archive Shirts—a new company doing elegant and inspiring official reprints/resurrections of bands such as Die My Will and Insight that burned bright and changed lives, but today often teeter on the edge of obscurity—the certified scene lifer and father of two young burgeoning extreme music aficionados is doing his damnedest to carry that flame forward for future generations.

“You know, the fire still burns because, in the beginning, this music meant so much to me growing up in a home of abuse,” Blosser tells Decibel. “It was an outlet for me to release that rage I kept inside. It is still a release for me. A lot of the people I’ve met over the years have become like family to me. It truly is a community, a lifestyle,a place where those who don’t conform to society standards fit in. I pour my heart out, scream to the top of my lungs, get sweaty—and sometimes bloody—and go without sleep going to shows, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I have not one single regret seeing over a thousand different bands in my life.”

Hardcore Archive began with a casual but fateful phone call a couple months ago. Blosser was talking music with pals Kyle Edwards and Brandon O’Brien. When the seminal Salt Lake City straight edge outfit Lifeless came up, Blosser made an offhand comment about how cool it would be if someone did a reprint of the only T-shirt the band ever put out. Serendipitously, O’Brien is not only originally from Salt Lake City, but also friends with former members of the band.

“So, naturally, I said, ‘Ask them if I can do it!'”

Blosser, it turns out, was the one he was waiting for.

Soon thereafter another friend, Troy Trujillo, put him in touch with Insight. A Facebook hardcore merch swap group connection with Jeff Mielcarz—the former drummer of Die My Will, i.e. “the greatest metallic hardcore band you’ve (probably) never heard of”—helped usher a little cult classic Connecticut Hardcore into the party. A DeadEyesUnder hoodie is on the horizon along with a slew of other yet-to-be-revealed surprises.

The overwhelmingly positive response from both bands and fellow fans, Blosser says, has been “beyond gratifying.”

“I love this music,” he says. “I live for this music. And if this is my way of giving back to a community that has meant so much to me…well, I’m just happy to be a part of it all. With the help of my guy Rodney at Marble City Graphics, who does all of my mock-up artwork, and Joe Stanley of Nameless Prints, who prints my shirts for me, this has started off as an exciting new project that I hope to keep running as long as possible.”

It’s also proven to be a fun bonding experience for Blosser and his Hardcore Archive right-hand man—the eleven year-old son Jacob who he proudly notes has already seen more than 180 bands live and owns over two hundred band T-shirts(!)

Perhaps most importantly, the company serves as a vital homage to the vital and enduring role of the T-shirt in the hardcore/metal subculture.

“For me, personally, [band T-shirt collecting] started as a way of me showing others the bands I care about,” Blosser says. “I couldn’t tell you how many times a conversation has been struck up by someone asking me about a band whose shirt I was wearing. It’s also a way of supporting the bands you love. Let’s be honest, most of these bands are not making a killing, but if you attend their shows, buy their merch and music, and scream their lyrics, you’re at least doing your part in keeping this scene alive. The T-shirt is important in the sense that it’s something physical for someone to hold onto, to wear, to keep those memories of a band whose music and lyrics mean something to that person wearing it. Today, unfortunately, it is also sometimes a fashion statement outside of the scene—and somewhat inside the scene as well—but to true fans it’s our lifestyle!”

Be sure to keep up with Hardcore Archive on Instagram.