Rollas is made up of an eclectic group of people who love to ride and roll. A lifestyle collective of individuals sharing the love of motorcycles conceived in 2010, the group was brought together by its two founders, Gary and Jerms.
Lovers of alternative sub-culture—motorcycles, skateboarding, tattoos and the likes—the group recently went on a cafe run and we sat down with the founders to hear a little more about Rollas Culture in their own words.
Watch the CAFE ROLLAS 2014 video.
Footage & editing by Haiqal Anwar
Second Camera by Kelvin Blue Eyes
Photography by Yasin Rahim
Interview by Shannon E. Wee
Tell us about Rollas and how it started.
Gary: Rollas is a lifestyle collective gathering like-minded “social rejects” with a finer taste for customs, classics and retro bikes.
Jerms: The group sparked off from a shop we had. Business didn’t kick off as planned but the response was so overwhelming and that prompted us to maintain the group to see where it would go.
G: We had conversations between us both for many years, about being socially responsible to the alternative crowd in Singapore because the scene can get rather stifled. We just didn’t realise back then that it would take the form of a custom bike subculture group.
So you’ve known each other before you even knew you’d love bikes. How did you both meet?
G: Like all good love stories, we met during our art school days and became close buddies.
J: I was a still young mindless punk in the then Lasalle-SIA art college. We hit it off, did a few part time jobs together, Gary being the older one would regularly give me lifts back home on his KTM. 15 years later, here we are. If it wasn’t for his wife, we’d still be together.
What does Rollas do as a collective or hope to do?
J: Start a religion bigger than City Harvest! (laughs)
G: Life itself in Lion City can get very serious and we tend to forget to live over here. We do feel somewhat socially responsible to create awareness that there are other kinds of lifestyle options you can subscribe to—and be—instead of feeling like a social reject, left out by what’s usually a herd mentality in Singapore.
J: We’re all odd balls, a little eccentric. We don’t judge on what bike or models you ride. Rollas has adventure bikes, classics, road, sports bikes, and we all come from very different backgrounds. But collectively as a group it all comes together very nicely and we always have a good time riding together.
G: Maybe the near goal in the future is to have this group growing at a stable pace so we can then plan for better, bigger rides, with hopefully better things to follow.
Tell us a bit more about your individual backgrounds. How did you find the motorcycle culture?
G: I started skateboarding as a young teen. Punk rock mentality, went into art school and flunked art school. Then I enlisted into Military Service and picked up a dirt bike along the way for transport—a KTM 400 LC4—and absolutely loved the freedom I found on it, which was quite similar to what I felt while skateboarding.
J: I, on the other hand, have had an a lifelong relationship with design and video. Video is an important part of my life. It has been what I have been doing all my life. I was influenced to ride by my ah beng older brother 16 years ago. In some mishmash, all three interests have somehow intersected. I’m not in the video for the cafe run because I was in the car driving my video crew around.
Do you face any resistance or disapproval from loved ones, or even stereotyping from people you meet?
G: It’s the wrong crowd and wrong loved ones if they disapprove! (laughs)
What is riding to you?
J: Riding, at the most basic level, takes me places. Except that the journey there is never the same if you were in any other vehicle. It’s also given me new friends and fostered closer ties with some. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe and honestly, you’d have to try it at least once to understand. Beyond all the controversy and stereotypes that surrounds it… It’s the best feeling in the world.You just have to give it a chance.
G: Riding to me is the freedom of movement, which I get through skateboarding & cycling too—but those are done with plenty of perspiration and at much much slower pace.
J: The best part about being a rider in our island is the fact that we can pretty much get away from the awful jams every day. It gives you a sort of rare freedom in this congested concrete jungle.
G: It’s about getting around without relying on anyone else. It’s part of my identity so much, it’s an extension of my arms and legs. I’ll never stop riding.
Selected apparel from Obey. Check out the latest collection here.