Q & A with Chris & Jodi Drew
What was your upbringing like?
CHRIS: Pretty standard suburban kid stuff. Great parents, ton of neighborhood friends, we would all get together and ride bmx or play street hockey. Raced Bmx from a young age til my mid teens or so, pretty thankful for the decisions my parents made back then keeping me going with bmx stuff.
JODI: Although it’s not believable at this stage in life but I was super athletic. Played volleyball in school and travel leagues all year round (#1 in the photo below). Came from a small town where there was nothing to do but play sports or party. My parents marriage was rough but my mother is an absolute saint. She raised me to be creative, hardworking, honest, and independent. My parents had us experience many things at a young age, traveling, golf lessons, figure skating, four wheeling, concerts, so for that I am appreciative.
Where are you from?
CHRIS: Born in providence, Rhode Island….moved to Buffalo, NY when I was 11. I wish I still had the accent.
JODI: Alden, NY. Small farm town. As soon as I could, I moved to the city of Buffalo. Most days I crave the country life but being walking distance to the grocery store as opposed to a half hour, is one of the reasons I stay in civilization. I did not live on a farm but I miss the days of having land, four wheeling, bonfires, and making as much noise in your garage without neighbors calling the cops on you.
How old are you?
Who was your first hero?
CHRIS: My first hero was definitely Rob Harris. For those who aren't familiar… Rob Harris was THE world champion SkySurfer in the mid 90’s, unfortunately he died filming a Mt. Dew commercial. I remember being so amped seeing him at X-Games.
JODI: Gwen Stafani was my girl. In 4th grade I dressed as her for my halloween costume. My teacher was concerned and sent a note home. Independent and badass. I haven’t really followed her past the Tragic Kingdom days though. I wish I had a photo of this costume.
How did you get into motorcycles?
CHRIS: I’d like to think it was just natural progression, as a kid racing and riding bmx, I had a small 75cc Kawasaki, it didn't take as a passion then… a friend of mine was huge into dirt bikes so I was always around them. Mid teens I started thinking about wanting to get some kind of motorcycle with my first job. I got into the hardcore music scene and ended up spending a lot of money traveling and seeing bands. A bike didn’t come into fruition until I was 22. At that point I said “I'm gonna pull the trigger on this feeling I have” and bought a brand new sporty from a local dealer. Best and worst decision of my life.
JODI: Wanted to impress Chris (at the time we had barely started dating) and it was a time where I needed personal growth with a mental challenge of strength. I took the Ride with Pride course about 7 years ago maybe and haven’t looked back since. I also think a large part of it had to do with control, I didn’t like being on the back of a bike in the hands of someone else.
What was your first bike?
CHRIS: Schwinn super stock 3…...09 XL1200
JODI: Chris’ 09 XL 1200. I went from that first Sportster that was “mine” for 5 seasons, then traded it for an ‘88 Sportster that Chris has been chopping and building for me. In the meantime, I’ve been on Chris’ ‘98 Sportster Sport for the past 2 seasons.
How have motorcycles changed your life?
CHRIS: I would say there are positives and negatives. Riding is hands down the most mentally freeing thing I've ever done. I would assume flying a plane is probably a similar feeling. Just cruising and feeling the world around you, seeing things you normally ignore while sitting in a car. You smell the world around you, it’s real, it’s tangible, the pavement moving 70 mph under you is just an arms length away. It’s such a surreal feeling the first time you ride on the freeway. You can just shut off, all your stress, all the negativity, it’s just gone. You start feeling extremely grateful for the things you have and how you've gotten to this point in your life.
Riding definitely took me in another direction in life, not sure where I was headed but I was angry and aggressive and working a miserable swing shift factory job. After getting my first bike I started tinkering, that really took my interest, I ended up quitting my job and going to school for motorcycles. Which led me down the path I am today owning Spoke & Dagger Co. with my wife. Crazy.
JODI: In every possible way. My plan was to work my way up to be a creative director at some agency but 5 years into the design world, it was soul sucking (mostly because of the companies I worked for) but I knew plans needed to change. So motorcycles were career altering for me but has done wonders for my soul. I’ve challenged myself mentally, physically, and emotionally to even get on a bike let alone take the trips I have. Fun Fact: I am a big baby, least adventurous person you’ll ever meet, anxious to the max and always think I’m going to die in some horrific way, so the fact that I do what I do on motorcycles still has me confused. So this world that I am obsessed with has given me quite the identity crisis but with constant surprises of being pretty proud of myself. It has pushed me to grow into the person I am now and I realized I don’t give myself any credit. Motorcycles and Chris have done that for me. Maybe I’m not such a baby after all haha
What would your dream motorcycle trip be?
CHRIS: No ride destination, but in another country where laws are as questionable as the roads. Lots of camping, no timeline. Just living and riding. Has to be on an old bike to really set that adventure into stone. A bucket list is to do the Himalayan Heroes ride that Bear from Old Bike Barn has really been putting out there. THIS WILL HAPPEN.
JODI: I used to date this guy in a band who toured cross country. I was so envious of his lifestyle and wished I could just pack up and go. It wasn’t until I started riding motorcycles that it became a goal instead of a dream. Dream trip is to head West but detouring North and coming back South haha. I want to conquer the U.S. for the purpose of riding, meeting new people, learning & experiencing new cultures and proving to myself I could do it. If I wasn’t such a scaredy cat, I’d prefer to do it alone but I’d love to share that experience with Chris. I’d also like to think I would camp and couch surf my way but I love a good hotel and shower.
What’s your current bike line up?
CHRIS: ‘98 sportster sport. ‘74 CB360. ‘61 Duo glide. ‘75 RD200. ‘88 sporty chop project and an ‘84 shovel that’s in a few boxes in my basement. Cult complete off of Dans Comp
JODI: I have a fixed gear bike I used to ride from my apartment to college….. One bike is officially in my name which is the '88 Chopper. I get Chris’ hand me downs but I’m not mad about it. I’ve always been on a sportster and I’m glad he started me on one.
Photo by @reneesawyer
Builders or Bikes you are inspired by?
CHRIS: A bunch of years ago, the first bike that made me realize there is something more to motorcycles than just buying one new from Harley was Josh Kurpius’ bike The Locust. At that time, I was asking a friend some questions and they pointed me towards chopcult.com. I’m pretty sure that was the day my eyes really opened on motorcycle culture. I was hooked. I realized this is where I should be. It’s the “hardcore” of motorcycling. It’s the BMX for older kids. It just all feels very full circle seeing familiar faces from my childhood in the culture. Other builders who inspire me are Masa at LuckMC and Scott from Noise Cycles, also Jeff Wright Church of Choppers/FTW, they do some really wacky stuff and I love it. Although I’ve never met these guys personally, I see they are doing things a little outside the box and that is inspiration at its finest.
JODI: About 8 years ago, when Chris and I were barely dating, and I knew nothing about motorcycles, he asked me what kind of motorcycle I would want. I told him I really liked the ones with the long front ends that had springs on it. I also loved the ones where the seat sat low on the bike. (hahaha) Looking back, I sounded like a complete idiot. But apparently I have always been attracted to a good chopper. Hardtail, king queen seat, long springer front end. They are just sexy. But as I grew into the motorcycle culture, I’ve realized that you can really see the creativity of the builder come alive in a chopper. That’s probably what attracted me the most. People just going for it. I don’t like a flashy bike though, I like the ones that are dirty, seemingly thrown together, and you can tell they are well loved and someone has ridden the hell out of it. This photo is me sitting on his bike the day he asked me what kind of bike I like in which I poorly described a chopper. (Fun fact: 3 years after this picture was taken, that bike became my first bike)
What things do you obsess about?
CHRIS: Anything I’m working on that kind of stumps me or I feel just doesn't look right… I won't sleep while trying to figure it out, although a lot of the time I will come up with the answer for what I want or need to do in my sleep. True story, it happens pretty often. I just dwell on stuff.
JODI: I depends on what you are referring to. I am OCD by nature and a sucker for the details. I obsess over having a clean organized home, throwing a good party / entertaining friends and family, branding everything from top to bottom. Generalizing it though, the common thread is, I obsessed over having everything presentable, aesthetically pleasing, and making sure everyone around me is having a good time. Oh, and my cats, Pistachio, Vega & Pepperoni.
What things do you waste money on?
CHRIS: I don’t waste money, it comes and it goes, If I spend money, it’s on my bills and debts or food and gas.. When I have an extra penny, I buy parts or spend it traveling. I am a sucker for Intense Milk and oreos, which definitely isn’t wasting money but it’s a hefty part of my budget.
JODI: Home Decor or Kitchen Supplies. I love to cook so anything food related or the fancy bowls to put it in. Keep me away from Home Goods or Marshalls.
What kind of music do you listen to while you work?
CHRIS: I don’t.. I work in quiet. I like a fan on and candle burning. When I do listen it’s typically hardcore, I’ve been on a Twitching Tongues kick and the new Take Offense just came out. Always turn to some Metallica. Beastie boys, NWA, Mobb Deep, 60’s rock shuffle on spotify, I’ve got a pretty broad music taste, throw some Bjork or Portishead in the mix.
JODI: I listen to the same music I did 10-15 years ago. Pop Punk. The Starting Line, Say Anything, Bayside, Copeland, The Format etc. But since then I’ve added some Drake or Big Sean.
Describe your ideal party?
CHRIS: Green Tea tall boy in one hand, a bag of cheddar goldfish in the other, a band playing in a shitty basement, riders doing burnouts and wheelies, a mini ramp for bmx and skaters. Someone doing cool art. A ton of friends, the straight edge, hand poke tattoos, late night food at a shitty taco place.
JODI: Hanging with my friend. Which would involve a lot of good laughs and stupid things happening. I’m not a bar kind of person so it would be at someone's house or in the woods somewhere. It would include a bonfire I’m sure and playing some sort of game. Also, give me all the cheese trays.
How did you learn your trade?
CHRIS: I dove into manufacturing industry straight outta high school. Been in and around the paper industry since, it actually feels like a curse, that path has lead me to die making, using steel rule, some primitive cnc machines and a mallet to make dies for cutting out cardboard boxes… I went to the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute for motorcycle mechanics in early and late model Harley. This was for the purpose of having knowledge to a hobby in my spare time. The school actually fooled me into thinking I wanted to make a career out of repairing other peoples stuff, I tried it for a few years or so, wasn't into changing peoples oil or giving them an inspection, back to factory life! I enjoy working on my own stuff at my own pace with no expectations or guide to follow.
JODI: I gave all of my money to Buffalo State to graduate with a Bachelors of Fine Arts for Communication Design (aka Graphic Design with a ton of fine arts classes required). I went to school for 5 years. My first year was for marketing and I thought, this is stupid, I want to execute the ideas not just come up with them. So the next four years involved endless art history classes, drawing, painting, woodshop, photography, and a handful of graphic design courses. I really didn’t learn my trade until I graduated though. I threw myself into the freelance world and had two longer term in-house design jobs, in a very corporate setting, prior to opening our store. I learned my trade by making mistakes and googling questions I didn’t have answers to. However, I made most progress when collaborating with friends or other local businesses. Anchored By Design is my design company that is more or less my glorified freelance job. I fell into designing wedding invitations when I design the Buffalo bridal magazine “Buffalo Indie Weddings”. What I really enjoy is my branding clients or apparel designs. Creating an identity for a company is pretty rad. Getting creative with my designs in the motorcycle world through Spoke & Dagger Co. has probably been the highlight of my career. Finally creating designs I’m truly invested in.
What kind of projects do you like working on?
CHRIS: …..“LIKE” I actually really do enjoy any project I decide to dive into, whether its at home remodel stuff like kitchen, bathroom, flooring. To outdoor landscaping, they all seem to be pretty general stuff but I could see myself taking more on when time allows. I’ve had art ideas for a while, always had a creative side. Jodi usually comes up with some wacky idea and I gotta figure out how to make it work. Nail polish storage solutions or some dumb shit.
JODI: Ones with my husband. We have very different taste, yet the same. I’ll throw these ideas out there that he thinks are nuts but I think the strength I have is I am able to visualize a concept. His strengths is his creativity and execution. The problem is that we are both control freaks and perfectionists, it makes for an interesting household but we are all in when it comes to any project. I think my ideal project would be one that happened after I won the lottery. But give me an organization project to tackle and once I was finished you would think I smoked something as to why I’m so smiley. Thinking more about it, I like projects that I have time to finish haha.
What kind of bike projects are in the works?
CHRIS: a late 80’s sporty chopper for my wife, it’s been a long drawn out process, it seems to always hit the back burner. It started life as a stock 88 sportster deluxe, Angelo at Nickel City Metal Works and I put in a couple late nighters chopping the frame and doing some goofy mods to it. Neck is 3 up 1 out and 48.5 degrees of rake, super sketchy narrow springer, Weirdo looped hardtail from david bird, a ton of first time fab stuff for me to follow. It’s been a learning experience, only a small handful of things to do on it. We will get there. UPDATE: The bike is alive and riding!
JODI: See above : ) It is important to me to incorporate some cool old details. We found vintage brass fire extinguisher at an estate sale which kind of of sparked my theme. From then I had found this brass ornamental drawer handle and an outlet cover that practically matched it. I am hoping Chris will incorporate it in some how.
What kind of hobby projects do you like working on?
CHRIS: I’m currently wrapped up in a development plan at work, Working OT like crazy, as for hobby stuff, the chopper and maintenance on other bikes is my free time burner. Would like to get into some art ideas I've had, this is now my second time mentioning it so I guess I gotta put it in the schedule.
JODI: Non-motorcycle related, I love a good organizational project. I am also doing a community garden with some motorcycle chicks this year in my backyard. That should be fun. Any chance I get to cook, I am all for it. I destress by cooking and cleaning. That’s really annoying actually. Other than that, I don’t have time for hobbies.
What’s the creative process like for you?
CHRIS: I call it Idea Factory, get the idea factory moving, start blurting stuff out, and things start to come together. EXAMPLE: “I need a name for this apparel and gear store… I want it the feel to be exclusive, like oddfellows or illuminati kind of vibe but not over the top, CLOAKS, you wear a cloak, you’re secretive, you doing things cloak and dagger… how is this bike related? You wear our products like a cloak..what motorcycle stuff sounds like that? Spoke, Bagger, no… Spoke & Dagger… BOOM let’s do it.” Idea Factory complete.
JODI: I don’t know if it is because I’m expected to be ON creativity so much of my week being a graphic designer but I really have to be in the mood. It’s like the stars have to be aligned or something haha. If I’m not feeling it, I’ll spend a full day designing and at the end of the day move it to the trash folder because it’s shit. When I am ON though, I can crank out a bunch of client work in one day and be really satisfied with what I came up with. That’s probably the hardest part of deadlines for me. I am not a procrastinator at all, I’m also good with time management but I don’t want to hand in work I’m not stoked on just because it’s due by a certain date. That’s me being a brat and probably not realistic to the real world of design but it’s my truth.
What do you find the most challenging part of motorcycles?
CHRIS: Other people not paying attention while driving, Hands down, everything else is opportunity to enhance your skills.
JODI: Riding them. I have too much anxiety for that haha. However, I get absolutely high on the experience. Like soul altering happiness and peace. Pure euphoria. How both of those things can happen together, I’ll never understand but that’s how I feel. To block out the anxiety and fear, I crank my Sena and listen to music every time I ride. I like to challenge myself by pushing my boundaries and while parts of me are saying, “Are you nuts lady?” the majority of me is saying, “This is the best moment of my life”
What is it like working with your spouse?
Photo by @seanramses
CHRIS: It’s awesome, it can be challenging at time as we are both controlling in how we do stuff, in the end it works out for the better as where I slack she picks up and vice versa. Mostly where I slack as I have some multitasking issues haha what were we talking about again?
JODI: I’d be lying if I said it was butterflies and rainbows all the time, except most of the time it is pretty amazing. We have this dynamic that kind of just works for us even though most wouldn’t understand. I am pretty bossy by nature and organized to a fault while he is pretty scattered by nature. He just need a little direction to get things done but once he has it, he can execute it pretty flawlessly. He also reins me in from doing everything unnecessarily over the top. We just balance each other out. When one is stressed the other person takes over and vise versa. We also get really goofy and stupid sometimes, if there were on lookers they would probably think we were drunk or something. The amount of dance videos our security cameras have captured is pretty epic. We also rarely take a moment to sit back and look at what we just accomplished, but in those tiny moments that we do, it’s the best moments of being together. That and just going for a ride together.
What do you think about while you ride?
CHRIS: depends on the ride. Long cruises give me time to kinda chill and decompress and think my issues through til it's just wind noise, a long stare and no thought at all. Shorter fun rips around the city are usually filled with, can I jump that? Will I fit between here? Is that a short cut? Am I gonna break this thing?
JODI: I always have this weird emotional appreciation for everything I have in life and the good people a part of it. There also is a period where I am fully singing along to all my music out loud and if you buzzed into my Sena you would get a good live concert. I sometimes design my entire dream house in my head, depending on how long the ride is. It’s strange because while I ride, my mind is often completely clear. There is zero percent of my normal day where that happens otherwise.
How did you get S&D started?
CHRIS: Started with an idea and the fact that we both worked life sucking jobs and couldn’t see any other out besides doings something for ourselves. Our mission is to create a hub for the motorcycle community to share stories, network, work trade and to provide the people with good quality and affordable gear, parts and accessories.
JODI: One weekend we decided to spontaneously take off and head to Rhode Island. Chris grew up there and I’ve never been. He wanted to show me his old school, houses, bmx trails, and a stop we couldn’t miss was Del’s. We were beyond burnt out and depressed at our terrible jobs that we needed a getaway. It was while on that trip, during the 7 hour car ride home that Chris came up with the idea and then we planned everything top to bottom. It was sparked from the fact that he had just ordered me a Biltwell helmet for my birthday and when it arrived it didn’t fit. We thought, if only there was some place locally that you could try it on.
What lessons have S&D taught you?
CHRIS: the great fact that what you see on the internet and how you depict things in your head are an extreme exaggeration of reality. People actually care, and Buffalo supports Buffalo, I'm sure that goes for any local shop anywhere.
That there is no shortage of work to be done, something can always be changed or altered and there is not only 1 way to get to the finish line. Have definitely started sculpting some sort of people skills, I'm getting better!
JODI: To say no and set boundaries. To control my own happiness and not leave it up to other people. It has also taught me that I probably don’t give myself enough credit. It has shown me what true friendships are. Chosen family. Some of the people I would absolutely die for are people I met since the day we opened our store. I love this community and how supportive our customers turned family have been to us. I’ve also learned that running a business is no walk in the park and there are so many behind the scene responsibilities that demand your attention daily. It has also taught me that I need medication for anxiety : )
Any words of wisdom?
CHRIS: Build the bike you wanna ride. Start the business you wanna run. Play the music you wanna hear. Do the work you want to see done. And stick together as a community.
JODI: Don’t fight it. Allow yourself to see what the world is showing you, then do something about it.
If people show you who they really are, believe them.
Also, in the words of what Chris tells me all the time “Don’t like signs and rules dictate your life”.
I’d rather fear life I’m living after taking a risk than fear not living at all and completely settling.
Lastly, you can't get anywhere in life without your people, your community and your supporters. Community over competition, all day everyday!