Boomboxes and barbershops, shredding and shearing
The east coast festival circuit was certainly plentiful this past season — a balanced mix of seasoned veterans like Boston Calling with new creations like Asbury Park’s Sea.Hear.Now stepping on to the scene. As I navigated the grounds and explored all the various corners — getting to interviews, catching some killer acts or trying local delicacies, one thing caught my eye repeatedly — a pop-up barber shop in the artist area. Then, on August 14th I went to check out one of my favorite bands that perfectly exudes my Jersey pride, The Gaslight Anthem on The 59 Sound anniversary tour. What’s the connection here? Bassist and barber, Alex Levine.
Levine, is a founding member of The Gaslight Anthem who also credits barbering as one of his truest passions. Being on the road for extended periods of time, Levine saw an opportunity for the worlds to collide. After forming Tiger Cuts, a brand aimed at showcasing the creative culture of a barber, Levine with business partner Erik Zaiatz, launched Idle Hand Collective — a VIP pop up experience that literally sets up shop at various festivals and events around the country. The aim is an extension of art on stage and to give the performing artists on the bill the opportunity for an at-home feeling and an authentic clean-up.
This past September, Idle Hand Collective plugged right in to the music, surf, art, explosion that was Sea.Hear.Now — which was placed appropriately on the New Jersey boardwalk. Clients included members of Social Distortion and Jack Johnson stopping by for cut before taking the stage.
Fresh off the stage and shop, I had the chance to connect with Levine to talk balancing guitars with sheers.
How did you get into hair cutting? What is your history there?
I started cutting my own hair around 13, because every time I got a cut it never looked they way I wanted it to, so I decided to take matters in my own hands, haha. Soon after, I started cutting friends and family during high school and never looked back
At what point did you decide to pursue it further in addition to music?
Barbering was always with me, during the heavy touring years of Gaslight. My dreams besides music was to become an accomplished barber along with my music career.
What led to you Tiger Cuts and eventually Idle Hand Collective with Erik Zaiatz?
Tiger Cuts is a lifestyle brand based of barber culture, I was touring non stop so creating an outlet where I can be a a part of the culture was important to me. Idle Hand Collective is a VIP pop-up barbershop, we work with music festivals, athletes, and any other event that would see our services fit. I was introduced to my partner Erik Zaiatz by a mutual friend. Our friend Anthony knew we both wanted to do this so he put us in touch with each other. The fist official IHC pop up was at warped tour in the New England area.
Idle Hand Collective had quite the presence at the Sea.Hear.Now — which is fitting because it was such a unique and creative festival. What was that experience like for you?
Erik and I really looked at Sea.Hear.Now as our coming out party, it was a beautiful backdrop on the beach with perfect weather. We couldn’t of asked for more!
I noticed guys from Social Distortion and Jack Johnson stopped by for cut. What was that like?
I’ve personally toured with and known the Social D guys for many years. They were all very impressed with the IHC setup. Jack Johnson is one of the more humble artists I’ve ever met, very low maintenance when it came to his hair. His wife told me that she usually does it, she gave us pretty simple direction. A three clip all the way around with no shape up!
How do you balance playing music, being in a band and your barber gigs?
Haha, that’s a question for my beautiful wife, its not always easy juggling multiple gigs, but you figure it out as it comes.
Do you ever cut your bandmates hair on the road?
Of course, who else would they go to 🙂
What is on tap for you in both the music and hair cut worlds?
2019 is a very busy year for IHC so, I’ll be focusing a lot on that. We will be all over the country, from music fests, to sporting events, to private parties! Musically, I do have something that I’m very excited about in the works as well!