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My Favorite Merch: David Chavez

David Chavez plays guitar and sings in the long-running Kansas City dream pop/shoegaze band Youth Pool, which is preparing to release some new material later this year. Hardcore fans may also recognize him as the vocalist of the now-defunct group Blindside USA. In this second edition of My Favorite Merch, we talked about his first interest in band merch, how he approaches designing merch for Youth Pool, and three favorites from his collection.

Can you remember the first time or one of the first times you were excited about or interested in a piece of music merch?
Yeah, one of the very first times that I was super excited about collecting shirts, and this kind of got me snowballing into where I'm at now. This was a good handful of years ago, I don't remember exactly, but the band Free Spirit from Boston, that band had these shirts, all it said was Free Spirit in college varsity letters and then had the Lockin’ Out logo, the lock on the back, which was automatically cool points. But the thing about that exact shirt was that they did so many different colorways and I'm a sucker for design and colors especially. And they did like five or six different colorways and I thought that was just this simple-ass design. I thought it was awesome.

Actually the first time I ever saw that shirt was Ned from Title Fight was wearing it at the Title Fight gig at the Jackpot in Lawrence, when there was only like, that was like on their tour for that one seven-inch ... Well, anyways, there's only like, 10 people there, 10-15 people give or take. And so I saw him wearing that shirt. I didn't even know that Free Spirit was a band at the time. I thought that design just looked so cool. I found out it was a band way later on and found out they're awesome. But anyways, those shirts were extremely hard to come by, by the way. But I ended up snagging the gray with yellow print on it, which I thought was awesome. And I eventually, a couple years down the road, got one of the red ones. But it was just a cool thing about those shirts, because I remember thinking the navy colorway was really cool and then finding out that there were only like 10 of those made, or they're only made for friends. So, you know, it was a really cool experience when I was just kind of getting into the shirt collecting.

You know, I didn't know about all these friends-only prints or all these like alternate colorways that exist. And you know, they were only released at the shows and it really influenced the way I thought about how I do my own band merch and colorways like that, too. So I'd say yeah, that was one of the first times I was really excited about a t-shirt.

Yeah, Lockin’ Out has always had great designs.
They were the cool label back then. I mean, I think they’re still a cool label now.

You kind of mentioned it there, but I was going to ask you about your process for making Youth Pool merch.
So when I do the Youth Pool merch, when it comes to the artwork -- and there's been a couple cases where I'll ask a friend to design something just because I have so many friends that are cool designers -- but usually, it's all me. I always have this one file saved of every single Youth Pool logo I've ever used and a bunch of alternate versions I made that a majority of people just haven't seen yet.

But the way I do the Youth Pool merch is I'll do them in kind of like -- I don't know a good way to describe them -- it’s almost like chapters in the band's life. So for example, like 2016 to 2017 era Youth Pool, I used this specific logo with this specific font with this specific symbol. And then as soon as those years were over and whatever album or song we're promoting, I think about the one that's coming out next, I view it as the next chapter and so therefore I'm going to change up everything just a little bit, maybe a whole entire different logo, different font, but I like looking at merch from that kind of standpoint.

It's kind of to really reflect different eras in the band's life as opposed to maybe a band being around for 10 years and using the same exact logo, even maybe the same exact colors throughout its entire career. You might see that shirt and think it's awesome, but have no idea that it came out in the ‘90s or the other way around, whereas you know with Youth Pool, if you see a certain design or certain logo on a certain shirt, you know that came out around the first EP. I've always thought it was cool when other bands did it, so naturally I kind of just incorporated it into my own style.

I don't know if you've seen this yet or got a copy, but I really love the Mil-Spec zine/book that came out recently where it catalogs all of their merch with timeline.
Yeah, I thought that was especially awesome, because I've always wanted to do that same exact thing. Every single shirt that my bands have ever printed, I have a single one that I've kept for myself. I have it tucked away somewhere in my parents’ basement. But I've always liked cataloging. The shirts are just history, especially for your own band. And yeah, when I saw Mil-Spec do that, especially with how nice theirs looked, I thought that was really cool.

I was wondering if you might be able to describe your personal style.
I like baggy stuff. I'm trying to think of my style. I honestly just wear whatever I want, you know, which is like, yeah, I guess everyone does that. But it's like, I don't care if I'm wearing fucking $5 sweatpants or if I'm wearing Supreme sweatpants. I wear whatever makes me comfortable, which happens to be a lot of fun and cool clothes, I guess. I really don't put a lot of thought into what my style is. And I've had people tell me my entire life that I had good style and I've always just been like, yeah, thanks, but I just don't do it on purpose. You know, it is what it is. But I'm flattered that people asked me about that. It's kind of cool.

I also wanted to know if working at a print shop, doing the screen printing and stuff, if that has impacted how you look at band merch and apparel and stuff like that.
Oh, yeah, definitely. Ever since I've been in the screen printing business, about six, seven years now, I’ve learned so much. I'm still learning so much about different garment types and such, but it's funny to see the types of shirts that certain bands prefer versus other bands preferring their certain styles. And it's real funny when you start to see patterns and what is something as simple as a type of t-shirt you know, something like a Bella Canvas, which is real slim fitting that all the hipster coffee bands, indie bands, they only print on those as opposed to like this punk band, who probably doesn't have a lot of money so they can only afford Gildan and so that's the reason why all these punk bands print on Gildan.

I’ve got my own pickiness and stuff about what shirts I wear, what shirts I like, but since I'm the one that's actually doing the work and I see all the behind the scenes stuff, there are definitely certain things make me view certain bands or the way they do stuff maybe not necessarily differently, but it really opens your eyes to a lot of fun behind the scenes stuff.


Alright, so what’s the first item of yours you’re going to share?
An Obituary shirt from their tour. The licensing says 1992, the tour says 1990. Not entirely sure how that works out. I'm not a big enough nerd to really care. But this shirt’s really special. First of all, not only is it on a ringer, which you know -- my knowledge with vintage shirts is pretty vast -- I've never, ever seen another vintage Obituary shirt that was printed on a ringer. This is the only one and I follow a ton of vintage dorks, all sorts of people that collect all these $500 Kanye metal shirts or whatever. But I've never seen another one of these.

So not only is that special, but this was actually my buddy Micah, this was his dad's and he actually bought it at the show in the ‘90s when his band opened up for them. And so it's basically you know, it's basically just been passed on down to me. And so aside from it being just an extremely rare and comfy piece, it's also just super special in that way.


Yeah, that is funny. I can’t think of another death metal tee I’ve seen on a ringer. What was Micah's dad's band called?
His band was called Purgatory. They were kind of like a black doom band. He played bass. He still plays bass. He's really cool. I think Micah’s dad loves me more than him, which is awesome. But yeah, they opened up for Pantera back in the day. His bass cab, Micah’s dad's, which is like this massive 215, that’s what we use in Youth Pool and Dysmorphosis.

Purgatory was from the KC area?
Yeah, they had to have been from Lawrence or KC way back. Let me grab my other shirt. This next one? I need to specify that this Primal Scream shirt is not one of the ones that just has a giant sun, but it has the sun and the logo on the bottom. That’s real shit. And it's also an old Screen Tags tee, so it's the real deal. This was actually from Ireland. I got this off eBay a long, long, long time ago. I think motherfuckers try and sell this thing for like, $200, $300, $400 a piece now. I think the price keeps going up. I don't know why. But I got this guy for like, I'm just gonna say way less than $100. Which, you know, some people will look at me and say, “Wow, you spent more than $20 on a t-shirt. You're crazy.” It's like, yeah, well, compared to most guys. I'm pretty sane. 



The guy I got it from, I don't know if he worked for Creation back in the day or what, but he specifically said that this was printed in Ireland and he was at the shop for the Creation office basically. And it's from, I think ‘92, Screamadelica, when the record came out, but this piece is extremely rare. It's in such good condition. It's one of my favorite records. I've never seen another one that wasn't Kanye prices, so I hold on very tightly.



Your next shirt?
Alright, third shirt. That was a tough one, but I'm probably going to go with this guy since everyone that knows me knows I wear this shirt all the time.

You've played some gigs in that one.
Yeah, this is my Catherine Wheel: Eat My Dust, You Insensitive Fuck shirt. And this thing is comfy. That's probably the reason why I wear it so much. I love Catherine Wheel. I wouldn't say they're one of my favorite bands, but they're up there. And also I mean, [one of] my favorite bands [is] Iron Maiden and Rob Dickinson, the singer of Catherine Wheel, is Bruce Dickinson's cousin. So that's an automatic plus for me.

Also, green’s my favorite color. So especially like this hunter green, on the big comfy Screen Stars tag. And also this one's awesome because it's a three print. So yeah, obviously you got the front print and then you got the cool little logo. I'm a sucker for good sleeve prints. And then you got the big Catherine Wheel logo on the back. I love this shirt just because I always have a soft spot for the big, fat ‘90s style font, just in your face.

I just love the balls for bands that print big profanity on their own shirts. Not the cheesy giant “Fuck God” tank tops you know the white bros wear, but it's just a real small right there, kind of classy, but I love getting funny looks from a middle-aged folk at Oak Park Mall and shit.


I see you have the S.O.D. shirt hanging behind you. Maybe tell me about that one as a bonus?
Yeah, I just got this so I didn't think it was fair enough to call it my favorites. I had always wanted an S.O.D. shirt and I actually got this one a really good price off this dude that I guess was in Texas and runs a record shop. They played there in 1985 on their one tour. But yeah, I snagged this bad boy. It's the classic S.O.D. shirt, Speak English Or Die. Definitely probably get my ass kicked maybe if I wore this now. I might try it someday. And the back says Fist Banging Mania. I assume you know a bit about S.O.D., but it's just like, yeah, the whole album is just insane. Like every single song is specifically made to piss someone off. I was telling someone that they're basically like the commercial version of Anal Cunt and got away with it on a bigger scale.

Okay, so who’s a bigger S.O.D. fan, you or Antonio Marquez? I know you’re both into them.
Well I'll tell you this right now: I didn't even know Antonio liked S.O.D. And you can run and tell him that. He never replied to my story on my Instagram. So what's he know?

I'm sure he'll read this and we'll figure it out in the comment section.
Yeah, publish this. Tell him he knows where he can find me.

Listen to Youth Pool at


[This article first appeared in Issue 2 of Shuttlecock's free monthly print edition. Click here to read more about the issue and find your copy.]   

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