coglogo2.gif (5379 bytes) The Heir Apparent:

Chris Harding Takes Over the Reins at the Cog Factory

"There are three ingredients to successfully running the Cog Factory. You have to be one-third businessman, one-third punk rock niceguy and one third asshole," says Robb Rathe. "Chris is good at the business and punk rock parts, now she has to work on being an asshole."

"Chris" is Chris Harding, 25, who will take over the Cog Factory after Rathe leaves for Portland in November. She's worked the door at the Cog, sold soda and booked the occasional show since 1995. "I just want to carry on what Robb's been doing," Harding says. "He's managed to keep the place open for six years."

She says she's not intimidated by the "asshole aspect" of the job. "I'm a pretty direct person, if there's a situation that needs to be dealt with, I'll deal with it. Robb has had a lot of experience sizing people up from the get-go and knowing who'll be jerks. Luckily, I haven't dealt with as many, so I'm more apt to communicate with them instead of trying to beat them to being a dick. Robb has had to put up with a lot. I've seem what some of the bands have done, and it was unacceptable."

Most bands are made up of pretty nice people, she says, but there have been "a few real doozies," who are used to booking shows in much larger venues with a lot more people. "We're talking the kinds of bands that used to be a lot bigger at one time and are now bitter," she says.

Harding says the hardest adjustment has been accepting how much money it takes to keep the Cog afloat. Rent, utilities and long-distance phone bills eat away at the bottom line. "I'd like to be able to call every band back that contacts us, but the phone bill gets atrocious," she says. "And heading into winter, the gas bill goes through the roof."

She has some ideas on how to generate more money, including offering the Cog as practice space during the day (though scheduling might make that impossible) and lining up more diverse shows, including touring photographic exhibits and spoken word performances.

"Our function at this point is to be a stop between Denver and Chicago for bands who don't want to take a day off between shows. In addition to punk, we have new wave, alternative, we even have acoustic shows. We try to have a lot of diversity."

(back to Rob Rathe Profile)

Originally printed in The Reader October 29, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.