Article By: Darren McKeag
Photos By: Jeremy Pederson and Darren McKeag trophy helmet for the Cycle Source
Originally Published In The August 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
There I stood, the officer staring me deep in the eyes, as if I were hiding something, standing in the customs line in Dusseldorf, Germany. My suitcase was full of artwork, prints, t-shirts and paintings. He looked at my passport and asked me to remove my cap. “Why are you here?” he asked, “Holiday” I replied. “Holiday?” he asked, as he scanned my tattooed body up and down with his suspicious eyes, “Yes sir, holiday, I’m here to take photographs!” Slamming his stamp on to my passport, he said, “Enjoy your trip”. I suddenly felt an amazing amount of calmness go through my body, followed by a charge of energy. We were in! Now it’s time to kick this journey into high gear.
It was several months prior to standing here, that I was enjoying a beer (ok, several beers) in Sturgis with my close brother Jeremy, from Relic Kustoms in Minnesota. Hell, truth be told, we were buzzed pretty good, collaborating some striping on a Article By: Darren McKeag Photos By: Jeremy Pederson and Darren McKeag trophy helmet for the Cycle Source Bike Show. Jeremy mentioned that I should join him on his trip to the Kustom Kulture Show in Germany, hosted by Michael Perrech. Possibly, Germany’s largest gathering of motorbikes, hot rods, art and kulture lifestyle, to include pin striping, tattooing and live music. If any of you know me you know I’m down for a trip anywhere on the globe. I immediately said “Sure brother, I’m in“.
Many months went in to preparing for this epic trip, but the day finally came and Jeremy, his wife Krystal (she’s silly and likes to party) and I finally boarded the plane. Hours before , we were packing as much stuff as possible into our suitcases, while trying to stay under the 50lb weight limit, not an easy task. The 9 hour flight that took us across the Atlantic pond was long, but once there, it seemed to have gone quickly.
Our good friend and amazing driver “Schullyeck” met us at the airport and quickly, via the autobahn got us to our hotel. You can imagine how tired we were from this trip, so, the logical thing to do after checking in, yes, you guessed it, was to start drinking beer. We relaxed for a few hours before meeting up with Michael, and we were literally having such a great time, that we partied until 4 a.m. the following morning. So much for catching up on any sleep. Even at the end of the trip, Jeremy made the comment about how this trip had been the one with the least amount of sleep. Seems strange, right? Michael had plenty of things to do, so he parted ways with us around 9 or 10 p.m. The rest of us weren’t ready to shut down, and in the midst of our conversation, someone mentioned “strip club” (wasn’t me) and the next thing I knew, a 50.00 Euro cab ride had us smack dab in the middle of some weird village. Now when I say weird, I mean all the lights were glowing different tones of red, there were neon lights shaped like naked ladies and the strangest part about this little village, all the windows had live, almost naked, women in them. Jeremy and I looked at each other, gave a nod and said, “SHIZA” we are here. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t too weird.
By the time Thursday arrived, we had acclimated a bit better to our surroundings and made our way to the venue grounds. The show was set on an abandoned mining area from the early 1900’s. There are some really cool buildings that have survived a lot of time. Thursday was a day for us to set up our booth area, meet up with other artists, have some beers and catch up with friends. I have been to many shows around the world, and I can assure you, Michael is one of the best hosts that I’ve ever met. As motorbikes started rolling in Thursday afternoon and evening, Michael had a fresh wooden keg of beer tapped for us and a barbeque grille going with fresh brats and Brochten rolls, an absolute amazing way to start off the weekend. As the Friday sun came up over the German countryside, we made our way to the show grounds to finish setting up our art. Jeremy and I had a nice corner section. The sun was shining perfectly that day and it wasn’t long before the grounds were filled with cars and motorbikes. Michael had plenty of entertainment this year. The German Moto Drome Wall of Death, Bumper Cars, two separate tents with bands on opposite ends of the grounds, motorbike parts swap, t-shirt vendors and people selling everything. There was a separate large building for the tattoo artist to work out of and literally beer vendors in every corner of the venue, life was truly good.
It didn’t take long for the venue to fill up. All of the pinstripe / enamel artist were set up in a large tent. There was so much energy and artistic ability in this tent, you couldn’t help but be excited and inspired. This tent was packed with talent from the United States, Germany, Japan, Finland, and Sweden, Spain as well as several other countries. By late afternoon, the tent was crowded with onlookers, trying to get a view of all the art that was on display and for sale. It wasn’t an easy task to get away from your booth to go check out other artists and their work but fortunately for me, Krystal and Jeremy were able to watch my booth a few times so I could get out and see some people and get some photos. We managed to roll out of our booth around 10 p.m. Friday night. The plan, have a nice dinner with Mario, our good brother from Amsterdam, Jenny from Trophy Queen and get a good night’s rest. Well, you can again, imagine how that plan worked out, we were out until 3 a.m. the next morning, and I might add, feeling damn good. We closed down the Italian restaurant and ended up partying with a few of the staff members and doing shots. I know what you’re thinking, weird huh?
Saturday the show would prove to be even better. Being the last day, the crowd was even bigger. I recall several times being at my booth and the tent was simply packed with so many people, you couldn’t even move. I believe at one point, Michael said that 6000 plus people had entered through the gate. It was a great day for Jeremy and me as artists, very busy. Later, towards the 10 p.m. hour, we decided to pack up and enjoy the party. Jeremy and I took in the Moto Drome Wall of Death, an amazing show indeed. This Wall of Death seemed taller and tighter than any of the ones I’ve seen in the States and they put on one hell of a show. We managed to make it around the entire venue grounds, enjoying beers, listening to live music and visiting with friends. By the 1 a.m. hour, I think it was safe to say we were shot.
The next few days were spent relaxing, drinking beer and traveling around the countryside, getting in some great sightseeing. Thanks to Mario, Schullyeck and several other friends for those amazing days. A special thanks to Michael for hosting such an amazing event and treating us like royalty. We closed out Monday night with a wonderful shrimp dinner and drinks with good friends from the show, until midnight, only to catch a 6 am ride to the airport. Nonstop until the last minute. If you’re thinking of doing a motorbike event in Germany, I can assure you, Michael’s show, Kustom Kulture Forever is worth the trip. See you somewhere in the world… Much Love – Darren