To those of you local to southern California, you’re probably fully aware that van culture is still alive and well on the west coast—and really, all over the country. Not aware? Never mind the ice cream-mobiles and creeper vans you’re probably thinking of. Imagine crazy paint jobs, groovy window panels and interior remodeling that enables van lovers to live their lives comfortably from the passenger area of their vehicles. Surfboards, motorcycles, couches, beds…they all fit comfortably inside these machines.
We got the inside scoop from Matt Grayson, the Los Angeles local who created Rolling Heavy Magazine. Keep scrollin’ for his story on Vans, Motorcycles, and unfortunate legal issues.
What is Rolling Heavy? Why did you decide to create a van-culture magazine?
MG: “Rolling Heavy Magazine is a Custom Van magazine that focuses on Vans from The Heyday of Vanning if you will. We mostly feature vans from the 60’s, 70’s and some early 80’s. I started the magazine as a form of art therapy after nearly losing my life in a motorcycle accident in October of 2011.”
“I was stuck in bed and homebound for a long time after getting out of the hospital and had been an avid collector of the first decade of Easyriders Magazine. I had read every issue I had from #1 till the early 80’s cover to cover. I had my van at that time to haul bikes with as most do and I just wanted something to do to get me out of my head and keep busy. I thought that no one had ever done something like a van version of Easyriders….So a couple other dudes I knew threw down and eventually the 1st issue of Rolling Heavy Magazine happened. This was right around the time that Instagram had come on the scene so I created an account, got that first issue done and kept pushing forward.”
What’s your connection to the motorcycle world?
MG: “I had been on 2 wheels off and on my whole life. Mini bikes and BMX to motorcycles and road bikes, etc. I wasn’t really doing anything in the motorcycle “scene” if you will. It was mostly just bikes for myself and as something I was into as transportation in town and to get away. With the fuel prices and parking costs in LA, a motorcycle just made the most sense in the world.”
Do you feel that you’ve been able to tie the van and motorcycle cultures together?
MG: “Bikes & Vans have always kinda gone hand since the van craze started in the 70’s. If you look at Vans & Bikes from back in the day, you’ll see they always seem to be together. The styling, paint jobs, party atmosphere and aspects have always just kinda jived together. But things come in waves. So when it came time to figure out which direction to market the magazine towards after it started to do something, I really kinda looked at things. The motorcycle community was what I knew best. I started to advertise Rolling Heavy with Chop Cult and to this day it was one of the best moves I ever made.
What happened with your motorcycle accident, legality-wise?
Matt’s accident involved t-boning an SUV after a car in oncoming traffic failed to yield and turned left in front of him. Matt spent months recovering from multiple surgeries, which included reattaching his leg after it was severed 98% of the way off after colliding with the SUV.
Although Matt’s been successful with the creation and distribution of RH, in the background he has simultaneously been in and out of courthouses fighting insurance companies for the money he was owed from the accident.
MG: “We spent about a month and a half in California Superior court from what I can remember. Basically we had gone to settle with the insurance company of the driver who hit me, and they tried to pull some really sneaky uncool stuff on us that my attorney caught them on. They blew our terms of settlement and my attorney in the end took them to court on a Bad Faith case. So we went before a judge and jury and they ruled that it was in fact a bad faith case. After that, we went back into court for the accident and the judge and jury again ruled in our favor and awarded us a settlement based on the facts that were presented. After all, [the SUV Driver’s] insurance company refused to pay what the court had awarded us flat out. So there we go, back in court for the next few years. They took it from Superior to Federal, and then we had to take them to Appellate. In the end, the Court System ruled in favor of the Big Insurance Company. We filed a Petition for Rehearing and were denied.”
What advice can you give to others looking to find an attorney for their case?
MG: “After finding out that we had lost, I called around to a couple other attorneys to see what their thoughts were and I remember speaking with Chuck Koro from over at Russ Brown. We spoke about my case and how it had gone down. Chuck was familiar with who my attorney was and backed that he was in fact an outstanding and well respected attorney in town. But Chuck’s one of those guys that’s gonna tell you how it is and in a way that pretty much anyone can understand, which I was really grateful for. If you can, find an attorney that’s gonna talk to you so you get it. The guys over at Russ Brown seem like those kinda guys.”