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Interview with Duane Peters|
And an updated introduction by Kristen K.
By Todd Taylor
Tuesday, April 10 2012
To download this interview as an ebook, right click one of the two links below depending on your device.
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This interview initially ran in Razorcake #3, 2001. Here is the original intro-
Duane Peters is the lead singer of the U.S. Bombs and Duane Peters and the Hunns. He’s also a professional skater for Beer City. He’s 40. By all standards, he’s one indestructible motherfucker who should be very, very dead by now.
A lot of people in rock pretend to be a threat. It helps sell records. Sure, with the proper lighting, they can look scary or demented. Sure, they may be insufferable pricks who thrash hotel rooms, get arrested once or twice, or get their Masters degrees in Assholeishness. But a true rock threat? Folks like Marilyn Manson, Eminem, and Billy Idol are pussies. True threats to this nation’s youth don’t have movie star girlfriends, don’t get Grammies, and usually don’t have a great set of teeth. This one doesn’t even have clean underwear.
Enter the Master of Disaster, Duane Peters, in the dirty deep end of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. It’s been said that his influence on skating is as huge as Orville and Wilbur Wright’s was to flight. Slash and burn, coping-dusting, pool-defying mayhem. He’s forgotten all of the tricks he’s invented. He’s also forgotten all of the bands he’s been in. Amongst what he does remember is that he was once fired by his used car salesman dad for shooting speed into his neck during business hours. He has also robbed a 7-11. Twice. In one day. Without completely realizing it.
In the meantime, he’s maintained founder and godfather status as the person who connected the positive and negative battery terminals of skateboarding and punk rock, electrocuted a lot of people in the process—including himself—and doesn’t look like he’s going to let go any time soon.
I caught up with a very talkative, extremely nice, and sober Duane and his long-time girlfriend Trish. I had a fun time. –Todd Taylor
Update intro by Kristen K., February 2012
Minus a few more teeth and a few more arrests, the Master of Disaster has been busy in the eleven years since this interview. Peters was declared a legend by Transworld Skateboarding in 2003 and was the subject of a bio-pic, Who Cares: The Duane Peters Story, by Black Label Skateboards in ‘05. That same year he got hitched to Corey Parks of Nashville Pussy who bore him his youngest son, Clash Thomas Parks. Not a stranger to taking the good with the bad, Duane later divorced Parks in 2009. Between ’04 and ’07, Peters polyamorously split himself between Exploding Fuckdolls, the Die Hunns, and Gunfight, churning out countless recordings.
In ’07, DP took a serious blow when he got news his twenty-year-old son, Chess (Chelsea), was killed in a car accident. This ultimately landed Duane back in rehab later that year. Feeling inspired, Peters penned and starred in a screenplay, Hostility Hotel, a slice-of-life tale of junkie woe like only Duane can tell it: romantically bleak and charming. Shot on a hand-held, it’s been tied up in post-production and will tentatively be released later this year.
In 2010, he was rushed to a hospital for a gnarly gash nearly the length of his shin. Picture the San Andreas Fault of viscera and exposed bone. The doc wanted to amputate, but Duane’s skate notoriety saved his leg. An attending nurse recognized him and persuaded the doc to stitch him up. A slow, painful recovery began, but as we know by now, Peters isn’t a man to stay down long.
While still booking gigs with the Bombs and designing his own line of vegan skate shoes, Duane has become involved in two new acts, Duane Peters & The Great Unwashed and, An Evening with Charles Bukowski. The Great Unwashed, a six piece with violin, keys, and acoustic guitar is gearing up for their first full-length to drop in February off Black Vinyl, while the latter, performed in Germany, is an interactive stage-play while yours truly reads Bukowski. The ensemble is planning a European tour in the fall.
In January 2012, DP came upon two anniversaries: the formation of the U.S. Bombs an unbelievable nineteen years ago and the death of his son. Despite his leg still on the mend, Peters just returned to the States having competed at Vert Attack 6, a skate competition in Sweden. Fender has also pulled him into its rank and file by throwing him a biscuit of 500 limited edition models with all the trimmings featuring the orange and black design off his Pocket Pistol deck.
Todd: Did you ever get your high school diploma?
Duane: No. I quit at the end of the ninth grade. I made it almost to the end. I went to sixteen elementary schools, including middle schools, three high schools with the continuation school at the end. The last two weeks is when I quit. There was a guitar-player hippie teacher with his feet up on the table. Everyone was smoking and hanging out. I skated there, sat down for an hour, and left. Nobody noticed. I came back four or five days later, did the same thing, and just went, “fuck it,” and skated all day.
Todd: What was the band that most influenced you to cut your hair in 1978?
Duane: Then I cut my hair from The Pistols. It was all OK with The Ramones. I had a candy-striped jacket, pogoing, got a thin tie. We were all crazy, wearin’ ‘em, walking around the streets. Me and my friend Barclay. We had a homosexual friend we were really proud of. One of the loons. Bobby Shannon. I heard the Pistols. It’d already been out for awhile. I finally got my hands on an LP, played it at a friend’s house. Then I took it home. And I didn’t leave my house for three days, I swear to God. I sat there listening to it over and over and drank. Sat there listening to it, smoked some weed. I knew I had to cut my hair. I had to make a commitment. There was a really heavy Huntington contingency going on. The Crowd’s parties were starting right then. Then I went up to a skate contest up in Winchester and the guys in Lakewood were cutting their hair. Pat Brown (Immortalized by The Vandals in “The Legend of Pat Brown”) was one of them. He was skating. Todd Barnes (TSOL’s original drummer) was one of them. Then there was a scene up north. All of the Alotaflex guys had cut their hair and they were heavy hippies and they got really cool spiked hair. It was a heavy time. I lost every fucking friend I had except the guy who had his hair cut with me. He ended up being my first bass player and a very good friend. Chris Barclay. You left your house and you went to war. Bikers, everything. I started cutting other kids’ hair at Big-O Skatepark a year and a half later.
Todd: Did you ever serve any time in jail?
Duane: Yeah, a lot of county time. I spent most of my twenties going in and out. I did a lot of 30, 60, and 90 days. I had 180 days, but did 104 days, something like that. I got thrown in LA County for 54 days one time from a skate contest. I showed up really loaded. Tony Hawk’s dad – that’s why I had a big thing with him.
Todd: Why’d he get you arrested?
Duane: At Carson. I did three days. I’d never seen “Colors” before, the movie. ’86 or something. I’d been in a bathroom, shooting up every day. I was trying really hard to get off dope and the only time I could clean up was going to jail. That was the whole issue. Whoever I was hanging out with at the time, it was like, “When are you going to jail?” I’d try to give them my last bit of dope money and that would be my big promise. “I’ll go turn myself in.” I’d always had warrants. I was on methadone at that time. Three years already at 80 milligrams – now the state’s at 120. That’s how I kicked methadone. But I hated him, man. It was the hardest 54. A guy got butt-fucked. It was my first experience with The Crips and The Bloods. When I left Carson, I guess I was with one of them – The Crips or The Bloods – I don’t know. And I sat down and they have a cage in-between, in the bus, in the very middle. And you sat down, right in front of the cage. My nerves were shot. It was three days without my fucking dose. It was Memorial weekend or something. You sat on a curb in the county jail. There were no provisions at all. It was horrible and it was stinky, packed, and then we got to the bus, and the next thing I know, “Why is half of the bus closed?” They closed the thing. There’s a guard guy here and they let one of the other gangs in and these guys were on top of each other, fuckin’ hatred. I had no idea of what was going on. I sat there like I see it every day. My insides were completely shattered.
Then I thought I was black when I got out of there. ‘Cause I had to go to Orange County from there; expedited. So, we’re on an LA County bus and I was really fucked up in the head, ‘cause I didn’t sleep for thirty-three days. Twenty-three hour lockdown with three black guys that were trying to teach me how to meditate. One guy had one arm.
And I jumped down the stairs there to try to get some sort of medication. Head first, jumped into the bars. Had them yell, “Man down!” Drew blood, spit everywhere. I dove down the stairs. They just laughed at me. They tied me up, threw me in the infirmary for eight hours, then they wheelchaired me back. Everyone gave me a hand clap. Then I had to hock my shoes for ten Kool cigarettes. Finally got some money before I lost my shoes. If you lose your shoes, you’re fucked. You’re a bitch. I got mugged in front of my cell by the trustees. Threw my money to my guys. It was the smartest thing I did. I got beat down. They got ten bucks out of me. And then when I got to Orange County, I was like, “Yo got butter on yo pancakes?” I thought I was this black guy. “Yo, baby,” talking to my girlfriend. She’d be like, “What’s wrong with you?” ‘Cause I was a Mexican the other times, when I was copping dope. I used to tell myself, “Why do I talk Mexican every time I’m copping dope? Stop doing that.” [In Mexican-tinged accent] “Pacito, can I get skunky picante?”
Todd: Previous jobs. Who did you roadie for?
Duane: I got asked to road manage Face To Face once, but I didn’t know what I was going to do. Goldenvoice gave me a biscuit. (Duane-speak for a favor.) ‘Cause I was doing all of these shit jobs. I worked at a rehearsal hall. I didn’t get my first job until I was thirty. I was just a bum. I’ll be forty in a month. I just roadied for Goldenvoice—sound and lights. I’ve worked at Vinyl Solution. I worked at a rehearsal hall that we used to play in and do movie extras, skate boarding, and keep my band together.
Todd: Did you ever work with your Dad as a used car salesman?
Duane: Up in Sacramento. Yeah. And down in San Diego. Got kicked out because I was shooting coke in the bathroom. He made me the manager. He wanted me to work there so bad. I couldn’t even write up a contract. And I was shaking because I’d always be shooting up coke in the bathroom. He thought I was really nervous. That’s how I’d play it off. “Dad, could you just take this contract?” “OK, take it easy.” Then I got caught. He came in when I had a bloody neck. I wasn’t good. I was twenty-two and he wouldn’t have nothing to do with me no more. He tried to give me a biscuit, but I didn’t want that. These guys were all professional liars. I could never do anything right. I was like, “Dad, why don’t you just try fixing the cars and then it would be easier to sell?” He’d say, “That’s condensation,” “That’s a two dollar part,” “You want me to fix it? It’s going to cost ten dollars.” I’d be, “Have some of this fucking stuff work so I don’t always have to have a story.” He’d be “That’s not a good salesman.” My dad’s been selling used cars all his life. He’s a wreck.
Todd: Is he still?
Duane: Yeah. He’s still doing it.
Todd: The teeth. How did you lose your front teeth?
Duane: The first time, microphone. Then I got a fake one when I was a kid, probably about eighteen. When I was in Political Crap. I lost another one in the U.S. Bombs. And then I got punched. Some big guy who just got out of prison. He was just speeded out. I didn’t do nothing.
Trish: You were yelling to Baldy.
Duane: I was yelling to my roadie. He thought I was yelling at him. I’m just walking, “Baldy, take something, blah, blah, blah…” This guy thought I was talking to him. Big guy. One punch. It wasn’t even loose. Took it right out. God, well, that saved me a hundred bucks.
Trish: And when we ran after him to his car, he pulled out a gun.
Duane: A bunch of people. I was, “Yeah, that guy. That was weird.” And someone said, “Let’s get him.” We all started running, aaaahhhh. He opens his door and has a gun. Fuck that. I didn’t even care anyway… I just pulled out two more teeth in Germany. A back molar. I’m going to try and get some teeth down the road here.
Todd: I’ve read that once you got sober, you were going to get a couple of silver ones, which would definitely up your pirate quotient.
Duane: That’s what I wanted—a whole rack of silver teeth, like Jaws in “007.” But she doesn’t really… she wants to get married.
Trish: One would be all right, but not a whole rack.
Todd: What do you have buried in your backyard right now?
Duane: You know the answer. In my backyard now I don’t have nothing buried. But you’re talking about the fuck doll, right?
Duane: That was about seven houses and apartments ago. I buried it, stabbed it, got strung out on it. I had a horrible girlfriend that wouldn’t fuck me because I had all these jobs. She was a suit and she would still make me take her out to dinner and shit. And then I’d get home at three in the morning and I’d have to be up at seven. Most of the time I was like that. And I’d want to fuck, you know? It was like, snooty bitch. We had two bedrooms. I’d go to my punk room and I had a fuck doll, all tattooed up with a short dress and I never really thought of fucking one.
Trish: [laughs nervously]
Duane: But I’d go in that room and beat off, then come back to bed because it was too much of a hassle to romance this thing, you know what I mean? It was a lot of work. So there I was, whacking off in my punk room and I look up and there’s the fuck doll. I went, “It’s a fuck doll. You fuck it. I’m fucking this thing.” And I went to the bathroom, got some vaseline, stuck it in the puss, and starting fucking it.
Duane: The next thing you know, I got strung out on fucking this thing. It was amazing. I was like, “Hey.” [grins] So there I am on this doll, fucking it and choking it, making the ass get harder. I had to stop. I’d unflate it. We were going to move and I didn’t want her to know, ‘cause she was so weird that she’d act like I was cheating on her. I couldn’t even have any mags. She was a freak and I was scared I was going to get caught with her. So I took the air. “I can’t fuck this thing anymore. I’m going to get busted.” I stuck it into my closet. And I’d be out on the porch, bored. I’d be like, “Fuck, I wonder how long it is to blow that thing up.” That’s when I knew I had a problem. I’d be out on the porch blowing this thing up. It took about eighteen minutes. Then I’d take her in the room, fuck it, and then I ended up stabbing it, burying it. It’s still there, I’m sure. Haven’t fucked one since. It’s been about four or five years.
Todd: Where are you now in your sobriety?
Duane: Six and a half months now. I had about seven months. I’ve been struggling with sobriety for about twelve years and then I just gave up on it about three years ago. Three years back from that, I figured I can’t do it, I can’t get it. I’m a loser. The demoralization. I went, “Fuck it.”
When Chuck (first U.S. Bombs guitarist) died, I was hanging out with him. ‘Cause he called me. We didn’t talk for a year. When he had AIDS, he didn’t let anyone know. And he found out and pretty much just hung out with his girlfriend. Me and Chuck and his girlfriend Donna, and Trish, we were like Ricky, Fred, Lucy, and Ethel. We were very close. They’d fly out to see us. Me and Chuck were roommates in the band. When he left The U.S. Bombs, it was a big blowout. And he was just sick all of the time. I’d call all the time and maybe once every three months he’d talk to his mom and he’d always be sick. Then, finally, I got a call from his mom, “Chuck wants to see you. He’s at the hospital.” I dropped everything, went down there, saw him. “Hey Chuck, what are you doing?” “Oh, just sitting here, dying of AIDS.” Total sense of humor, but he looked totally thin. It was really good to have my friend back. So I sat down. “Bullshit. Where’s you cop shades?” He’d been with his mom and his girlfriend, so surrounded by women, he lost all of his style. “I’m fucking turning into a geek,” he said. I said, “I’m fucking getting your creepers, getting you some CDs, I’ve got some killer new videos.” We started hanging out every day. I’d get him Jamba Juice. I’d walk him around in the wheelchair in the yard, sneak a cigarette out for him ‘cause his mom didn’t want him smoking no more. I was feeding him. Then I got him a bootleg Bombs shirt from Cleveland. It was so great. We were best friends.
Then he was going to join the band for this record. We were exercising. He was going to get better. It was the biggest roller coaster. And then something else would go out. His liver, this, that, and the other. And then I had to go to Germany. When I said goodbye to him, I had a feeling that that was it. And when I was in Europe, Chip’s daughter died, we got our van broken into, stolen everything—money, my passport, my plane ticket—you name it. None of us could fly back. We wanted to end the fucking tour. I wanted to come home and go to Chuck’s funeral. They’re Germans. They all just turned us down. Chip can only go back because of a death in the family.
Todd: What happened to Chip’s daughter?
Duane: She was born with a really rare disease. There were only two hundred cases ever documented. She was mentally and physically disabled from birth. It was his only daughter. She had already way, way outlived her life expectancy.
Trish: She wasn’t supposed to live at all.
Duane: It just kind of hit him for a loop ‘cause they didn’t expect it at all. They had a nurse over there and it just happened. It was heavy. Everybody went into deep depression. I had seven months. I threw it away in Amsterdam. My whole world’s crumbling. I went to a bar and got some orange skunk. We had a show at a festival with Slayer, Buzzcocks, 40,000 people, and this German van driver as our drummer. And all these people are dead. And then they’re sneaking me into other countries because my passport’s gone. So I could go to prison. It says right there that “The U.S. Embassy will not help you” if you do these things and these are the things I’m doing. Fucking sure enough. It was a dramatic nightmare.
So I got home, locked myself up in a room for four months and then decided I’m tired of being depressed. Opened the curtains one day, went “You know what? I’m going to do it this time. I’m fucking over it. I’m going to do it for Chuck.” I saw “Shawshank Redemption,” where it says, “get busy living or get busy dying,” I fucking totally held that in. You know what, that’s so fucking right. What am I doing? I’m over this. I’m not dying. So let’s get busy. That’s when I started writing. Skating. This is the first time I’m going to Europe and not fucking up. I don’t feel like I’m missing nothing. Something weird’s happening. I’m going with it.
Todd: You picked up the name “Master of Disaster” as a skater.
Duane: Yeah, when I was a kid. D. David Morin (at the time, the Associate Producer of Skateboarder Magazine) gave me that name during a contest in Marina Del Rey.
Duane: Because I used to cause a lot of shit at the contests. I was always getting chased by somebody. The Hobie team was actually pretty rad when I got on it. Eddie Elguera was the good guy, but me and Darrell Miller would start shit with everybody. We were
pissing on George Orton (the first skateboarder in history to do an aerial) – who was his buddy? Some other jock-y guy. On the overhang of the hotel, we’d knock late at night. We’d get all drunk and think of things to do and knock on their door. We’d see them lifting weights and shit. And they’d come out, “Who the fuck? Huh?” And we’d been up on the roof, going “Yeahh.”Then they came out one time. “We’re going to kill you.” It was like the third time. We both started pissing on them. And then we had to hide all night long because they were going to kill us. Big guys. Then when we got the Santa Cruz team later, me, Olson, and Alva, and then Orton was our whipping boy. It was pretty cool.
Todd: Is that where the name for your record company, Disaster Records, came from?
Todd: Name some bands you’ve been in besides The U.S. Bombs, Duane Peters and the Hunns, Political Crap, The Sharkx, and The Mess.
Duane:The Mess, Santa Ana, 1986. Not Mess, from Texas. Probably about fifteen other bands. Horrible bands. I used to join a band to stay in their garage. I went through a period where I built studios and I just got good at grabbing junk plywood and nailing them together. I’m not no carpenter at all, but I actually could build those pretty good and get the carpet. I was a good little thief. I was in a bunch of bands. I don’t really know any of their names. I just went from band to band that would last a month or two, and it’d be embarrassing, and I’d steal all of their equipment and run and hide. I moved all over the state.
One of the bands I was in after Political Crap with some guys from The Rayons was called File 17. We supported the Misfits at the Cuckoos Nest there first time thru O.C. in ‘80 or ’81 and one of ‘em asked if he could borrow my mikes that I just bought. I was young and weirdly had my own mikes. I would never let anyone use ‘em and no one had seen these monsters before and they scared the shit out of me. I said yes, “Of course!” Gave him the mikes. My band was like, “You pussy!” Jerry smashed one of my mikes the second song with the end of his bat bass and it went flying! My band goes, “What are you gonna do about that?” I go, “Absolutely nothing!” I had never seen a band like that they were so fucking pissed, huge, and on fire. It was a great show. There were probably 35 people there. File 17 got a full page in Slash from that show. The Bombs supported the Misfits a couple of years ago in London and in Switzerland. It was my birthday at the Swiss show and me and Jerry smoked some homegrown Swiss bud that would blow away any of our so-called chronic and I mentioned that show and we had a great laugh because he said that so many thousands of people over the years say they were at that show and it’s amazing how empty it was. He gave me a pair of Misfit sweats for the mike! And had a great show.
I had a band called Firesports in San Francisco in 1984. We actually got signed. We started shooting up in front of the guys from the studio who were signing our shit. That was Michael Belfer. He was in it from the Sleeper with Ricky Sleeper (also Toiling Midgets).
Trish: The band Cracker.
Duane: Yeah, he ended up in that. Anyways. He’s been doing a lot of weird stuff up there. Arty stuff. Make sure—I never was in Cracker. Never even heard it. Make that much clear.
Todd: Why have there been so many band member changes in The Hunns already? Isn’t the eyepatch drummer out now, too?
Duane: No, he’s in. It was questionable but he’s good. We had a talk with him. I want a guy who’s not all fucking lazy on the road. Mark’s (“Anarchy” Lee—(ex-Humpers, ex-Crowd) the only one out. We’ve got Bill from The Authority. He’s working out really good. I want to do some good, double vocal stuff because he’s a singer. He’s gotten really good over the years and I’ve known him for a long time. When we brought him out there, some drunk guy was trying to hold me hostage. I was running away from him and Bill just comes in [makes a smacking sound]—just like a dog. I just pointed. Fucking took the guy out. He went over the barricade. Bleeding at the head. I was like, “This guy rules.” The Bombs went through a lot of members, but it was mostly to get going on the road. Reynolds is still on methadone. It’s hard to tour around that.
Todd: Who’s been your longest band compatriot?
Duane: Kerri, by far. Plus, I’ve known him for twenty-three years. When he was in the first Shattered Faith, Political Crap and Shattered Faith used to play together. And we used to fight side by side. We took out this place in Pomona. Later on, they reaped the benefits. They jumped me, kicked the fuck out of me at Godzillas. But, yeah, me and Kerri go way back.
Todd: You guys are on the same comp with The Cheifs. “Who Cares?”
Todd: What’s the main difference between The U.S. Bombs and The Hunns?
Duane: Everyone in the Hunns is actually in California. I just wanted to play the clubs again. Kerri lives in New York, everyone’s doing side stuff now. It’s good for the band. It makes us get along good. Chip’s going to drum, I think, in One Man Army. He’s going to do their new record. Kerri’s going to do some side thing with some gnarly guy in New York…
Todd: [being a wise-ass] Cracker?
Duane: I don’t know who he is. Then I can be home and I have a label. It’s pretty cool.
Todd: Do your bands get along?
Duane: I think so. From afar, probably. I don’t think they’re fighting over me or nothing.
Todd: Why is it Duane Peters and the Hunns as opposed to just being The Hunns?
Duane: Well, Patrick (who runs Disaster along with Duane) suggested that I do that. He goes, “Do you want to sell records? Nobody’s gonna know who The Hunns is.” I wanted to call it The Hunns. I was totally down with that. Mark Lee wanted to call it The Hunns. We got in a big argument over it. Then Shane McGowan and the Popes. He was my hero before he did The Dropkick Murphys thing. [laughter]
Todd: The slur-along.
Duane: Yeah, fuckin’ OK. But anyway… I don’t care. It’s ego, anyway.
Duane: That’s why I put the Hunns together. To do a single ‘cause I was so emotionally torn up. I’d got kicked out of the Bombs, I just got sent home. The whole Unity Tour didn’t want nothing to do with me. “Nobody wants you on this bus!” I was a nightmare. I was at war with that whole tour the whole time. They thought I was going to be at the next gig. I packed my shit. I was going to work for a German family and work my way back to the States. I was so fucked up. But I had enough money on me to just get back to the States. When I got back, she (Trish) had my bags by the door. She didn’t want me around. She wanted me to quit drinking. I’m a fucking nightmare.
Trish: I stood back at the airport to see if he was drunk and I watched him come off because I was going to leave if he was.
Duane: I went to one of those sober places with all of these musicians and I was like, “I wanna write a song about my chick. It’ll give me something to do in the studio,” and all these guys started intervening and going, “Fuck, let’s put a band together.” It turned into an album and I wrote the song, with the guitar. The Bombs never let me write (the music to) a song. “I wanna play this,” and they’re “cool,” and they’re saying yes to everything. “I want to do one more. Here’s another one that I’ve been fucking around with.” God, I talk too much.
Todd: Here’s a record question. Where do you file it? “D” for Duane, “P” for Peters or “H” for Hunns?
Duane: All of those and I’ve seen it under “U”—U.S. Bombs, too.
Todd: The Swingin’ Utters used to be Johnny Peebucks and the Swingin’ Utters and they couldn’t find their records, even though sometimes it was in the store.
Duane: I think I’m going to keep it that way, but it might turn into The Hunns. I change my mind fifty times a day. It’s horrible to write a record with me. Every song changes a million times, right down to the last thing. The title, everything, so you never know.
Todd: I’m assuming that you have two “n”s on the Hunns because of the Huns from Texas?
Duane: Rob was like, “I think there was a Hunns,” and Mark was like, “Yeah, but I think they did just a single.” Then I went down to Vinyl Solution, saw they did that live record. I liked the name so much, let’s just put another “n” on it. Budda bing, done deal.
Todd: Do you know what happened to the lead singer of the Huns, Phil Tolstead (Who once went to jail for kissing a cop)?
Todd: He’s an evangelical minister. Someone told me he was on the 700 Club a couple of times… How did the U.S. Bombs end up as the house band on a comedy show?
Duane: They called us. We had no idea. We were in Georgia on tour and we got a phone call. We were beat up. Nancy Severinsen—Doc Severinsen’s daughter—she was in charge of the music and saw our record, “War Birth,” and she turned it over and saw the picture. She said [in Hollywood voice] “Very apocalyptic. That’s going to be the theme of the new show. Find these guys.” Wade goes, “Hey, we’re going home for four days. We’re going to be on Comedy Central.” We had to jump some tour we were on, said we’ll meet you in four cities. Me and Chuck were going, “Why would we be on Comedy Central? It’s not that fucking hard to figure out. They want to fucking laugh at us, but let’s do it ‘cause we’ll get to see our chicks. Let ‘em laugh. How much are they payin’?” Seven grand. We had to pay for our own tickets. That was $3,500 and the other $3,500 to get even on our merch.
We met that Jim Brewer guy. He was so fucking cool. I was shaking like a motherfucker when we showed up. We were so beat up and I had to get a bottle really bad. And they were doing sound checks. I first me Jim Brewer at the crap table. He goes, “How’re you doing, buddy?” and I go, “Doin’ a lot better now” and I had my Captain’s bottle. And he said, “Me too,” and he had a bottle of Jack Daniels. Talkin’ up a storm. Kooky comedians, they’re just like us. They thought all the other guys were geeks. It was really cool. Everybody was really hammered.
Todd: Who is David Allan Grier?
Duane: The black guy from “DAG.” He had his own sitcom.
Trish: He’s a huge “In Living Color” guy. Kind of like a “Mad TV” kind of like thing.
Todd: You did some stuff for him, too?
Duane: Yeah. I think Tim (Lint) from Hellcat (and Rancid) set it up. That was a quick $1,500 in the pocket. It was cool. What’s that lady’s name?
Trish: Delta Burke.
Duane: She was in it.
Todd: Is there any truth to the rumor that Epitaph tried to get you killed by having you play Yugoslavia?
Duane: We thought that, definitely.
Todd: When people were being taken hostage and they didn’t give you the courtesy to tell you not to be there…
Duane: Nobody told us a thing. When we were getting out of there, Slapshot was like, “You guys went in and played?” We got held at the Slovenian border eight hours and they took Chip to jail. He’d never been to jail his whole life and he had a bottle of penicillin with two valiums in it. His wife put it in there, “In case he gets sleepy.” And he didn’t even know. I came back from the duty free with a carton of smokes and went “Oh fuck.” It was like National Geographic, when they have the guns. They were taking him away. “Why couldn’tthey take a roadie?” I thought they were going to execute him. “How am I going to get a drummer?” That’s what I was thinkin’. “Somebody more expendable, please.” Then we got back to the next country to where you’re free—or somewhat—and they pulled out all of the U.S. bands. “We’re going to bomb that place.” That’s why those countries really hated us. We had “U.S. Bombs” all over our gear. We were standing in a cavity search for fucking hours, going, “They’re going to ream us. Get ready. Pucker up.” That’s where the conspiracy theory came. “The label. They want us fucking dead.” We were laughing at that.
Trish: But they made it out.
Todd: [to Trish] What does Duane smell like?
Todd: Does he?
Trish: Even if he doesn’t take a shower for a week.
Todd: That’s love.
Duane: She loves me. I’ll never find another one like her. Even my band guys go, “How does she fuckin’ do it?” I won’t wash my long underwear. There’s shit stains along the back…
Trish: Oh, honey…
Duane: When everyone else does laundry on the road, I won’t. My chick’ll wash ‘em when I get home. “You’re kidding me.” Eh, she loves me. Go figure.
Todd: One thing I’ve noticed about you, is that you’re a style person. The style of the music is definitely ’77 punk, but it’s not just a copy of it. It’s taking the spirit of it and exploring it. Like your skating.
Duane: As far as skating, I made up a lot of tricks. And I used to skate 14 hours a day. Skating saved my life and got me out of a lot of trouble.I got in a lot of trouble with skating anyway. My whole trip is that I wanted to die without learning any other tricks, but I’ll learn a trick every couple years now. It’s a little one – like invert roll-in reverts. I used to do those in the clover, but now I can do them on vert, no matter how big. I can still do my old tricks. I still have a good array of shit that keeps me happy. I don’t want to go to a gym.
Skateboarding and punk rock are the key to having a good day. Get all your shit out. Almost spiritual, like in an angry way. Whenever I get bundled up, she says, “Go skate. I’ll take care of this, that, and the other.” I’ll come back the happiest fucking little kid. If you get to go to the punk rock show or play, it’s double what I love. I did so much time on junk that all that stuff I used to be shooting up in bathrooms, sitting there or wherever I ended up—in ditches, getting stabbed—so many times low guy at the hospital, getting abscesses cut out. All that shit was gone. It was never going to come back. You get brain dead. Water in the brain. I used to beat myself up. “Can I even skate any more?” Then you get thrown in jail. It’s been a long, weird, learning life. That’s the style I like. I don’t see any rule book.
Todd: We go skating a lot now and it’s great to see old-style skaters skating ditches and banks. It sounds cheesy, but it’s very soulful.
Trish: It’s better.
Duane: I can’t remember this kid’s name. I can never remember it, but he’s a top half pipe skater. This kid didn’t know what to do in a full pipe. This guy could barely hit vert. He was totally mind blown and there was a little rough spot at the bottom. Olson would have laughed at him. Olson’s like, “Kick flip now, you little fucker!” When you throw these guys in a pool, they’re straight up and down, ready to flip, no style at all, and it’s like, “Come on, do you know how to carve?” It’s amazing.
Todd: What do you account for the number one reason that you’re still alive today? You’ve been through so much shit, you’ve broken so many bones…
Duane: Every day I wake up, I’m stoked, dude. It’s a good day, you know what I mean? Sun’s up. My life used to be so full of trauma. Every day something would happen that was life-threatening. I lost track of everything. Seven motorcycles. All totaled. Over seventy miles-per-hour, without helmets, back in the non-helmet days. DOA several times. I had a seizure on a motorcycle one time. Riding with Mike Lohrman (The Stitches). They lost me. I had a really embarrassing Yamaha and him and this other guy on their Triumphs would always be a half a mile ahead and I was all strung out. I was doing all of this bad coke or something and I just had a seizure and I guess I just missed a freeway pole. My bike got totaled. I went into some bushes, woke up in an ambulance,
Mike and all those guys are staring, going, “Fuck, man.”… I don’t know, but I’m grateful.
Todd: Do you even need glasses?
Duane: No. Perfect sight. I don’t get it.
Todd: You fucker.
Duane: I’ve got plenty of flaws, plenty of scars.
Todd: When was the day you realized, “Duane, going to a party, knocking on the door, punching the guy who opens the door, and trying to take on the whole party” wasn’t such a good idea?
Duane: I’ve done that several times. I got everyone to stair dive up in San Jose at some guy’s house that everybody knows, but I can’t think of his name. But I got all of these guys to stair dive. I did all of the stairs in America and Chuck put me into retirement. I was like Evil Knevil. I would run—I did Maritime Hall, Coney Island High—dive, flip, and keep going. I’d slam into doors. I could barely walk. Every day I had a cane. Horrible shit. I did that then all these chicks were mad at me. All these guys broke their arms and shit. I was the last guy left with a big bottle of whisky.
We were standing in their living room. “Have you ever seen someone do this?” It was one of those old glass-plate doors with the old windows, and just smashed my whole face into it. Did my “Here’s Johnny” thing. Half of my nose was left on the thing. My lip was cut completely the other way. [Duane pauses to point out the scars on his face.] I used to take parties on. It had to be ten people or more. Ask Mike Lohrman. He used to have to pick me up. I used to yell at him. “Why don’t you help me?” He’d wait until after the beating and then he’d take me back home. I used to hate him for that.
Todd: Did you really rob the same 7-11 twice without realizing it?
Duane: Yeah. And I ended up on the TV up in Sacramento. We dumped a guy out of a truck. We had to leave town.
Todd: How did you not know it was the same 7-11?
Duane: I was with Pat Stratford from Tales of Terror. We were hanging out every day and we were bored. We had such a blast. We ended up doing liquor store runs all of the time. We’d rip off Vivarin, take a bunch of those, and then go into the liquor store, and it was somebody’s turn, and somebody drives, and I just got a 502 (a DUI), but it was my turn to drive, and I’d rather drive than run right then. We got a case, went down the street, not even a mile away, sat in the back of the truck, the four of us, and drank it and then went back to the 7-11, “We’ll just go get another one.” We’re just, you know, drunk. Went into the same place. They’re completely on to us. The 7-11 worker jumped into the back of the truck. Two of the guys stayed behind. This guy, Mike McCorkendale up there, they had this knock-down, drag-out fight. I guess the guy was hanging by the fingertips and he kicked him. I pulled over down the street. I didn’t want to get a 502. I heard a thump, and that’s when I took off. “What happened?” Then I didn’t believe him. Stole a bottle of vodka ‘cause I was like, “This is really fucked up if that guy got dumped.” I was going along at 50, 60 miles per hour. A 7-11 worker? Oh my god. So, yeah, it really happened.
Todd: So, was the guy all right?
Duane: He ended up living. Everything went fine. I don’t talk about that shit much. I didn’t kick him out. I was just driving.
Todd: You have a boy named Chelsea, is that correct?
Duane: One named Chelsea and one named Schulyer.
Todd: No offense, but isn’t that like naming a boy Sue?
Duane: Yeah, kinda. I guess. I was really strung out, but I named him after the Chelsea Hotel and at the time I didn’t know any kids named Chelsea.
Todd: But that guy Clinton comes along and gives his daughter the same name.
Duane: I thought it was a really cool name. The band, Chelsea. A cool kid. Schulyer. Very German. He went through a little period—his middle name’s Dylan—“Dad I want to go by Dylan.” He tried for six months but it didn’t fly.
Trish: He’s just like him, too. My God. Exactly.
Duane: Pretty cool. Real good skater. He got kicked out of his older brother’s band. He’s a drummer. They’re doing Corrupted Youth in Parker, Arizona.
Todd: What’s a skill that you’re really, really good at but you’d never want to do again?
Duane: Years ago, me and Darrell Miller in Cherry Hill, put on a pair of roller skates each and when the place was closed, and we could both do it right away. We were getting backside airs, the third time trying, back and forth. I think I could have been a good roller skater. I used to do roller derby as a kid, on the block.
Todd: What percentage of your liver is currently working?
Duane: They say ten percent, but that’s all you need to live. Your liver is supposed to be susceptible to things that you give it, but it leaks really bad. When I drink, it burns. The last ten years, every time I drink, especially playing, it burns because it doesn’t filter. It goes right to the bloodstream and goes to my inner skin or whatever’s underneath the skin, and my blood’s boiling when I’m drinking. I don’t know if it’ll get better or not, but I’m going with it.
Todd: Number of times you’ve re-broken the same bone?
Duane: Sixteen times. My collarbone. Both of them.
Todd: Number of DUIs?
Duane: Six or seven, total. I just got one when we were doing “The World” record. It was horrible. Five grand. Bunch of classes.
Todd: Number of cars you’ve wrecked?
Duane: Fourteen that I’ve counted since I was about thirty-two. I don’t think I’ve been in any since then. Fourteen that I’ve totaled. I’ve been in many more.
Todd: Number of cars that you owned that your friends wrecked?
Duane: Two or three. We used to get each other back.
Todd: Didn’t you shit on someone’s face because of one?
Duane: Barclay… yeah, yeah. In the early, early days we were fucked up. We were like brothers. I’d get in a wreck, he’d get in a wreck, and it was my turn. You know what I mean? We did that for awhile. We had some heavy wreck.
The last time I broke my nose, Chip, my drummer in London his birthday’s June 11th. Mine’s June 12th and we passed the buck with shots. He’s an inbred, so he’s shooting bourbon. We lined up six of them – for the month of June – and I lined up six Jaegermeisters. “Go!” It’s twelve o’clock. “Now it’s my birthday.” “What’s you want?” he’s all hammered Southern guy. “Break my fucking nose!” He goes boom. On the perfect break on the side of my face. I went, “no.” It was really bad.
I’d done two weeks in the hospital before, with tubes to breathe and everything and looked at my face. It was like a faucet. So I went out to the van, “Now or never.” Boxers do this. They have to. I totally cranked – I did my own nose job. All the bones, totally hammered, you could hear it like popcorn, backed and forthed it. I had it looking straighter than now, but two nights later, I jumped in the crowd like an idiot and they kinda fucked it up more, but it’s still pretty good.
Todd: Number of dead guys you’ve found at the bottom of a pool?
Duane: Never. Kerri found a dead guy. We used to break into rentals in Newport Beach and there was a dead guy in the bedroom and we left him in there and drank in another room.
Todd: Did you drink his liquor?
Duane: The guy had no liquor. He was just a bum laying in there. He was completely dead.
Todd: What’s the number of stories you jumped out of a parking garage to avoid the police?
Duane: Four. And I thought it was two stories. My knee went completely the other way. Hyperextension. Really, really bad. It was the most pain – it took me three years to get that thing healed.
Todd: What’s the largest dollar amount of drugs that you’ve put in your body at one time?
Duane: Probably about two or three hundred bucks, at one shot. When I had a really bad habit, I used to do about five hundred bucks a day, coke and dope. I’ve OD’d. I’ve never really intentionally tried to kill myself ever, but I thought I was going to be a dealer one time when I was living in San Francisco. We made a big run to San Jose and came back with all of this gnarly Persian and I shot way too much and my habit was really huge. That’s what saved my life is that I had a really big habit. It was pretty pure. There was two times I was DOA officially. Used to get ambulances at my house all the time. They all knew me. I owed ambulance companies in Orange County for a couple years.
Todd: Duane-speak. What’s a “verifag”?
Duane: A “veribot,” a Veriflex rider. (Veriflex was a skateboard company that isn’t very well respected. Maybe it has something to do that the company also makes yo-yos and trampolines. -Todd)
Todd: What’s “simplexity”?
Duane: Something’s that simple, I don’t know. I’d have to know what I was saying. I mix my words up all the time. The band knows that.
Todd: What are “tinker toy people”?
Duane: Tonka toy people? Robots, basically, probably.
Todd: “Stub people”?
Duane: What was I talking about?
Todd: You were talking about how few disabled skaters you see nowadays.
Duane: The guys with no legs. They used to skate at Lakewood. “What the fuck?” There they go and they’d be fucking riding the half pipe, using their hands, “Hey, ‘scuse me.” Those guys were hot. There was like three of them, every day at the skate park.
Todd: What’s a “beat hammer”?
Duane: That must have been awhile ago. Working 9 to 5 or construction and hating their lives. Broken capillaries and kids and nothing but bills.
Todd: How’s riding for Beer City?
Duane: Really good. They pay me every month. Mike Beer is true to his shit. He’s sending me to Australia. I’m 40 years old. I’m still getting paid to skate. He doesn’t really ask much of me other than to have new graphics a couple times a year. I skate all the time on the road when I’m sober. I just skated a bunch in Europe. Did some German sports channel thing with a downhill skier guy, doing this show. Weird shit. It’s really cool.
Todd: Have you been pro the whole time or have their been gaps?
Duane: I think I’ve been pro the whole time. Even when I was strung out, I rode a Circle A, Skull. Think picked me up. Chuck Holtz would make a board for me when I was in-between. I always had a board and always had something going. Independent. Because I was one of their first riders, used to give me money. Santa Cruz. I never went more than two years without riding. When I did my knee is the longest. I just started drinking like mad. Started drumming in a band called the Teddy Boys up in Sacramento. We were very Clash. We were a three piece. It just sounded wrong. It was made after the Teds in London. It sounded really rockabilly.
Todd: Not to sound like a commercial, but how is Duane Peters like Independent Trucks?
Todd: The design hasn’t changed in twenty years.
Duane: I’ll go with that.
Todd: What was your first tattoo?
Duane: “Peters” across my stomach. I wasn’t going to get one. I got one way late, like ’88. From going to jail. Me and Chuck went to parish prison. We got thrown in there for two days and the band had to pay to get us out. That was the oldest, gnarly prison. I think I thought I was Mexican at the time. Got my two kids here, my girl. Then I met Art and Steve Godoy (identical twin tattooists) when I climbed out of the ditch in 1992, they started Scratch Pad [points to chest]. I figured get a lot or keep none.
Todd: Why did you say that Tony Hawk probably did some really good shit in his last life to get the biscuits he gets because he’s a horrible looking skater?
Duane: Oh, he is.
Todd: Explain that to somebody who doesn’t know much about skating.
Duane: Well, I’ve seen him ever since he was a little geek kid with his dad hanging on the fence—no disrespect to his dad any more. I’m over all that shit. I used to tell his dad, “Go get a job.” We were all dysfunctional kids. We didn’t like seeing some dad caring about his kid.
Todd: Just like soccer moms.
Duane: Yeah. “Go buddy, go in there.” And he was padded from toe to fucking head. He was one of those annoying, skinny kids that looked like you could see their veins. Skin’s transparent. Can’t help but want to punch him. But he was too little to punch. I couldn’t believe that he became what he did. I was getting a Slurpee one day. That’s when it first started really hitting me. “You’ve got to be kidding me. This guy’s every where now.” I’m way over it. More power to him. I figured he did a lot of good things because he’s a kook. He’s done a lot for skating, so whatever. I used to get pissed about The Loop thing and everything else.
Todd: You did The Loop in ’78.
Duane: Yeah. I think it’s been done backside, forward. A few guys have done it now. They all did it with the same dimensions that I made. Fourteen feet, which I’d made after the Baldy pipeline and a Hot Wheels track. They came up to me when I was sixteen, sitting on a beach, because I was riding for Rad Ramp and there was a show called Skateboard Mania and it was going to do all these gnarly things. Sid and Marty Kroft Productions was backing it. It was going to go on the road. We did Seland Arena, The Forum, The Long Beach Arena, and then it closed. Three nights at The Forum. When I broke my collarbone I was very hammered and I was trying to teach Tony Gitone because he was a good-looking guy, a big muscle guy. He was the star of the show. They ended having Skitch Hitchcock double for him with the track. They wouldn’t let me near it when I broke my collarbone. I came back two weeks later with my brace on, doing fakies. “Get that fucking nut off the fucking track.” They wouldn’t even let me on it. I wanted to do successions. Nobody made that big of a deal out of it at all. I was embarrassed of it because when I started showing up at contests after that show folded, I had to make some money. I was already blowing away a lot of guys. It was like music—you’re not getting the coverage because you’re not the guy. I was, “That’s the guy that did The Loop. He can’t do nothing else.” I was skating better than Weed. I was on Hobie and they would all focus on Mike Weed when we’d be in the van and Jeff Ruis was the team photographer and I’d be blowing that guy away doing all kinds of tricks. That guy had two or three tricks that were nothing, but they would focus on him. Ruis finally started shooting me.
I went through a hard time to win my first one. I should have won contests way before Whittier. I used to have issues. “Now, this guy’s won a contest before me because I broke my elbows, both of them, at Del Mar during the bank slalom because I got hammered the night before and didn’t tighten my trucks at all. I just showed up, they called my name. I was just trying to get overall points. I was ripping the pool way more than Eddie. I was going to win. My trucks gapped. I went boom, I mean hard. I was riding the train home the next day, got home. Got a phone call. “Eddie won.”
Todd: Have you ever lined up the sponsors to do the jump over the thirty-six cars?
Duane: Years ago, when I was going to kill myself. All I wanted to do was get enough money for a lot of dope, some sort of way to jump a bunch of cars, and end my life that way. I could never see landing it, but I would have tried. I thought nobody knew about that. That’s hot.
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