Culture Capture: Chris Galley
Posted on May 19 2018
In every subculture there are always those key people who really keep the flame going, trying new things, putting work out there and taking pride in their community. To build that community is to connect with new people as often as you can and create an inviting space to nurture that. We decided to pull the trigger on this blog series where you can get an inside look at some of the people who are making waves. Those who maybe you’ve seen around, recognize from the internet, are familiar with their work, or have heard their name. The idea of this blog is to dive into personal questions to find out what makes them tick, what fuels their passion, their day to day activities and a good capture of their personalities. We are going to start this series local to Buffalo and branch from there as time goes on and this evolves. SO, without further ado here is Spoke & Dagger Co.'s first CULTURE CAPTURE.
“I’ve always had this connection to the macabre and the horrifying.
I think that’s why I became a public school teacher…” - Chris Galley
What is your name?
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Buffalo, NY and moved around a lot as a kid. It was a little bit of a gypsy childhood. I'm glad we're back in Buffalo to see all of the cool developments happening in the city now.
What bikes do you have and ride?
Over the years I've managed to put together a decent collection of bikes. The garage is now up to seven bikes between my wife, Jo and me. We have a couple of old Honda's ('72 cb450 & '73 cb500) and a handful of Harley's ('59 Ironhead, '80 Shovelhead, '00 Sportster Sport, 04' Softail Springer & 04' Sportster). I try to ride the Shovel as much as possible, but if I need to jump on a bike and get somewhere quick, the '04 Sportster is my go-to.
How did you get into motorcycles?
I've always been into bikes. One of my earliest memories is my dad sitting me on the tank of his Husqvarna dirt bike and ripping up and down the street. Between that and Evel Knievel on the Wide World of Sports, I was hooked! I had a 3 wheel ATV growing up and picked up my first road bike in my early 20's. That bike pretty much locked up my motorcycle obsession.
What do you do for work?
I am a high school art teacher. I've been teaching for 22 years. It can be a frustrating and demanding job at times, but I think you get that with any job. By and large, I get to work with some pretty cool and talented kids. In the big picture, teaching has been great for me. The administration in West Seneca has been incredibly supportive of me as an artist. You really can't ask for more than that.
Tell us about Devil Chicken Design
It's basically the artwork I produce. I've been running it for the last 5 or 6 years. It's been amazing to see how well my work has gone over.
My art has given me the opportunity to travel all over the country and even into Canada and Europe. If you're into motorcycles or skulls, you might dig it.
Photo Cred: Mikey Revolt
Where did the name Devil Chicken come from?
I've had the Devil Chicken name since high school. It basically came from a time when we were busting balls on a friend. For some reason, the name stuck with me. I always knew I was going to do something with it. I was cleaning out a file cabinet in my classroom a month or so ago and came across a box of old 3.5" floppy disks. I found my first four disks of logo designs in it. They have to date back to the early 90's. The interesting thing is that those early logos, albeit they are rough, are still red, white and black.
Photo Cred: Jo Galley
What made you decide to start DCD as a business?
I definitely didn't start doing this with the idea of making it a business. I just wanted to get my work out there. The fact that people dug it and wanted something to take home with them pushed me to keep coming up with new art. Some of the smaller items, like t-shirts, mugs and ornaments were things that I could sell at a reasonable price to help pay for gas to get from show to show. It's definitely taken on another life over the past couple of years. If I'm not in my studio working on a new painting, I'm on the computer answering emails or sending out show applications. It's become a business in that sense, but for me it will always be about the art. If people decide that they aren't into the pictures I'm making, I'm still going to be working in my studio everyday. I'll just have a larger pile of paintings stuffed in the closet…
Check his work out here!
You and your wife put on a bike show, what’s up with that?
Voodoo and Burnt Rubber Six will be this summer on July 7th. If you dig vintage or custom motorcycles and cars, photographers and art, please come out. We're working on putting together another roster of talented artists and builders for this year's show. It definitely won't disappoint!
You can find all of the details for the show here!
Whats your work life balance between family/friends, motorcycles & your job?
I don't know if I would call what I do "balanced". I'm pretty obsessive when it comes to work. I've made art a 7 day a week gig. I'm lucky I have an understanding wife who tolerates me working in the studio everyday and gives up her weekends to travel to shows. I'm trying to make more time for friends and fun. We'll see what happens with that this summer...
Any other hobbies besides motorcycle stuff?
Art, motorcycles and shows pretty take up the majority of my time. Outside of that, I would say travel is my biggest hobby. My wife and I got our scuba certification a year ago. We are in the early stages of planning a vacation for next year where we can get some dives in. We dove last year in Hawaii and got to see some amazing wildlife. It's really peaceful down there. You should check it out.
What do you think about while riding?
Nothing, which is great. My brain is usually going in what feels like a hundred different directions. Riding allows me to just focus on my bike, the road and shut everything else off.
Tell us the story of the Ocracoke Death Run!
A bunch of years ago my wife and I rented a beach house in NC with some friends for spring break. They were all surfers, so we brought down our Honda's to rip around on while they were at the beach. My '72 definitely didn't like the change in elevation and put up a hell of a fight to get running. When I finally got the bugs worked out we made a run for the Ocracoke ferry. We had visions of riding around the beach in the sun. We couldn't have been more wrong... By the time we got on the ferry, it was raining sideways. It turns out that you have to stay with your bike while you're on the water. By the time we made it to the island the wind had picked up and was soaking us with cold rain as we wove around the dunes to get to town. I still had visions of at least walking around dipping into some stores and bars to get out of the rain. It turned out that we were too early and everything was still closed for the season. By the time we found a restaurant that was open we were water logged and freezing. By the time we were starting to warm up it was time to head back to the ferry. Unfortunately the rain and win had picked up. To bolster ourselves for the weather we dipped into a tourist trap convenience store and grabbed the cheapest layers for warmth that we could. It turned out they were a couple of 90's era "Drug Rugs" and a pair of $0.99 emergency poncho's. We suited up and made a mad dash across the island for the ferry. For being out of season, there was a monstrous line of cars waiting ahead of us. By the time we made the call to split lanes and cut around all the cars we heard the ferry horn sound and as we made our way to the front we watched it pull away into the darkness. We had a two hour wait for the ship to return. Luckily the next truck in line was a couple of fishing buddies who set us up with some drinks from their cooler. These guys were prepared. Before the ship left the dock they had the lawn chairs and the cooler out. Pier-side tailgating at it's finest! Needless to say we were the only bikes on the ferry ride back to the mainland. I can still remember the face of the kid in the backseat of the car next to us as he stared in amazement of the people sitting on motorcycles, in the rain, on a boat, in the dark. That was the night I learned that I could sleep with my helmet on laying across the tank of my bike. By the time we made it back to the dock the wind was whipping and I was almost out of gas. We rode from gas station to gas station in town before finally finding something open. We filled up and made a mad dash for our rental house. As we rode back through the dunes it felt like we were riding through a sandblaster. I remember pinning the throttle and screaming at the night. We made it back to our rental after 2:00 AM. We had planned a fun run out to the island that turned out to be a test of fortitude. It was terrible; and some of the most fun I've had on a motorcycle all at the same time.
I've got Knucklehead dreams. Most of the money I make from art I pump back into the business, but the little bit that is left over goes into my piggy bank. I had the opportunity to pick up a 1940 this winter, but slept on it and missed out. That close call really has me motivated. It's becoming an obsession.
You have a nice little chopper, can you tell us about it?
1959 Harley Davidson XLCH (900 Ironhead)
I first picked this bike up from eBay in February 2006. The seller actually delivered it to my house. Because the bike rode in the back of a truck for 4 hours in subzero temperatures it wouldn't kick over. We must have spent 2 hours trying to get it to catch. I finally got her fired up on the first warm day that spring. I'll never forget the sound when it came to life. I'll also never forget the quart of oil it puked all over the driveway...
This looks great but people always say “its never done” are you done?
It's pretty close to what I've had in mind for it, but I know it will always be an evolving project... I'm always looking for parts. The front end was the last big score. I had a narrow glide on it for a year, but it didn't feel right. Adding the springer made a big difference. Right now I'm working on modding out a brass holey air cleaner to fit the Mikuni carb.
Any help with the fabrication?
Dave Roberts at Broken Sprocket Garage in East Aurora, NY was a huge help in building this bike.
You can reach out for custom builds or repairs to Dave Roberts at Broken Sprocket Garage HERE!Broken Sprocket Garage or on instagram @brokensprocketgarage
What was/is the best part or feature or moment during this build?
The best part of the current state was when I got the bike back. I traded the bike to a guy in Baltimore, MD around 10 years ago for another rigid Sportster (it seems I have a weakness for Sportsters...). As he was pulling out of my driveway with the '59 in the back of his truck I realized I made a mistake. Around 3-4 years ago I got an Instagram message from our Friend Tammy in Baltimore that the bike was back in Buffalo and for sale again. I turned out the bike had been back in Buffalo for a few years and was now right around the corner from where I worked. It had seen better days, but the current owner was bringing it back to life. I tried to make a deal but we couldn't come to a settled price. I was at a Manchester Orchestra concert a couple of days later when he texted me that if I had the cash, we had a deal. He brought the bike out to my place a couple of days later and I cleaned it up and brought it to Dave at Broken Sprocket. Dave fabbed up the sissy bar and Mooneyes Oil Tank mounts. The fender was made out of an old '29 Ford spare tire ring he had in the shop. The patina on the fender matched the bike perfectly. They were definitely made for each other. I found the front end and stabilizer in Nashville, TN. Thanks Instagram for the connection! I scored the seat and p-pad at another swap. Last summer I scored a set of brass exhaust clamps at Wauseon. I've never seen a set of brass clamps. The guy selling them was stoked on the fact that they were going on this bike and hooked me up with a great price. Like I said, it's an evolving project...
Anything you’re not happy with?
"Sportster knee" is no joke. The bike has always been a bear to start. It's not that it takes a lot of kicks to fire, but that it kicks back like a mule. I'm pretty sure it chipped a bone in my ankle last summer kicking back. I talked with Christian Newman "The Mag Whisperer" about it and he's agreed to give me a hand timing it. I'm pretty confident this will help.
When somethings not going as planned, how do you blow off steam?
There's usually a lot of cursing... I used to get really angry at things and attack the problem. That rarely worked. As I got older I learned to take a breath and think it through. Try to figure out another way to go at the problem. That's definitely yielded much better results. There's still a lot of cursing...
Did you have any inspiration for this project?
Max Schaff's 4Q knucklehead. I remember being blown away by that bike. I still am. I got to see it a few years ago at the Brooklyn Invitational. I must have stared at it for a solid hour. The bike initially reads as a simple build, but the detail work is incredible. It just reads "tough".
I got to spend a some time in Switzerland with Max when we were both there for the Art and Wheels show in Basel. I'll admit it, I was a little "star struck". He couldn't have been a nicer, more down to earth guy. When I told him I was interested in getting started painting tanks he must have spent a couple of hours giving me advice. That's basically the chopper community in a nut shell, giving back to build up the community.
Any muscle put into the motor?
The bike started its life in California. It was stripped down and the motor was built out with a hopped up cam for racing. This might explain the kick back...
Motor: 1959 HD XLCH
Front End: re-pop springer swap meet score
Front Wheel: 21" mini drum
Front Tire: Avon Speed Master
Rear Wheel: 16" spoked rim that I painstakingly removed all the Plastidip from...
Rear Tire: Avon MKII
Seat & P-Pad: Swap meet score
Tank: alien 2.2 gallon
Oil Tank: Mooneyes 3 qt.
Sissy Bar: Broken Sprocket Garage custom built
Tail Light: After Hours Chopper Brass Titmouse LED
License Plate Bracket: Biltwell (modded by Broken Sprocket Garage)
Rear Fender: 1929 Ford spare tire ring (modded by Broken Sprocket Garage)
Handlebars: Barber Vintage Days swap meet score
Wiring: Broken Sprocket Garage custom wire harness
Hand Controls: modded by Broken Sprocket Garage
Exhaust: custom stainless steel by Filthy Habits Fabrication
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks Chris and Jodi at Spoke and Dagger Co. for featuring my bike and all the support you've given me and for being a big part of Voodoo & Burnt Rubber.
THANK YOU TO CHRIS GALLEY FOR TAKING THE TIME OUT OF HIS DAY TO DO THIS WITH US. HIS BIKE WILL BE IN THE STORE FRONT FOR A COUPLE MORE WEEKS IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE THIS INPERSON AS WELL AS PRINTS OF HIS WORK AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!
THANK YOU TO JACKSON ZIMMERMAN FOR PUTTING IN THE TIME AND MUSCLE TO BANG OUT THESE PHOTOS FOR US AND TO SEE MORE PLEASE VISIT HIS WEBSITE SNAPJACKZ AND CHECK OUT HIS INSTAGRAM @JACKSONZIMMERMANPHOTO
All PHOTOS SHOT BY JACKSON ZIMMERMAN UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED