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Entry date: 2-26-2022 - Elephants in the Room - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Do you like elephants?


What about elephants in a room? Do you like those? Since the beginning of this process, I’ve been feeling like I have got to address certain elephants who, at least in my psyche, have taken up residence in my proverbial room.


One of those elephants has to do with my involvement in Slope Records and one artist, Duane Peters. For the past six years, my interaction with DP has been one that rested uneasily on my mind, heart, and probably, reputation. While this is not the time or place to tell the whole Slope story, or I should say, my side of the Slope story, I will get there eventually.


Duane Peters is not someone I knew much about when the owner/founder of Slope, my friend Tom L., called me and said he had just gotten off the phone with him back in 2016. I was working at a non-profit organization on 21st Avenue and Northern in what I didn’t know was an extremely temporary position and I was intrigued by what I was hearing.


What I didn’t know then but know now is that Duane was searching for his next pay day. He had a bunch of stuff for sale on eBay and Tom found it and bought some. What we both know now is that this was a fishing expedition for Duane to find someone who had some dough and was interested in what he had to sell and say, too.


Pretty quickly, Duane was talking to Tom a lot and I was hearing about it, a lot, because we were knee deep in trying to get the Exterminators album out and their deal handled. Now Duane was in the picture and before too long, there was a deal in the works to get him in with Slope Records. Technically, I was the A&R Director for Slope, but really, I just helped where I could help.


Tom wanted Duane on the label, and I didn’t have an opinion on it, really, because I had never been a fan of the US Bombs or paid any attention to him outside of enjoying his “master of disaster” skateboarding persona. His boards were big and wide, and I contemplated buying them a few times, but never did except one I got from Vince at Van’s for my son Ryan’s birthday or Christmas one year.

Fast forward a few months and in the Spring of 2017, it became more and more real that DP was going to be a big part of the Slope world. I was concerned about the money Tom was funneling his way, but he was getting the rights to Bombs stuff for it and he seemed to be okay with the investment he was making. I didn’t have to deal with Duane, and it wasn’t my money. I also didn’t know what a terrible reputation Duane had. I really didn’t. I had heard, of course, that he was crazy and kind of a partying casualty, but his true nature was not something I had been privy to over the years.


I finally met DP in July, I think, after I had agreed to help Tom put a band together to record some songs that were going to be the first official US Bombs release on Slope. It was a tribute to the Clash and Duane and the band were going to cover “Straight to Hell” and “Death or Glory” and I ended up playing bass on it. I got Brandon from The Smoke Bombs and Bill (my bandmate in Brand New Christ and now in No Volcano) to play guitar and Jason from NSK on drums.


We got together a few times and learned the songs and then Duane came to town to record. Meeting him, at first, was kind of cool. He was on his best behavior, and I still didn’t realize what an utter nightmare he could be at times. I really think there are many different sides of the guy. Those first few meetings with him, he was charming as fuck and didn’t let on that he’s also a totally narcissistic, racist, misogynist. I’ll get to that.


We recorded the songs, and they came out quite good. Duane was happy and we were all kind of stoked to have created a couple of cool things to add to the legacy of the Bombs. A few people asked me, “Are you sure you want to be involved with him?” I should have listened. I should have done my homework and read all the fucked-up things he posted online. I didn’t, though, and I trusted Tom that everything would be cool, and DP was done being a weirdo Trump touter.


Duane wanted to go on a tour and wanted all of us to do the tour as the US Bombs. Jason was the first o say, “No, I can’t do that.” Once again, I should have followed suit, but it was only going to be for a few shows, so I said I would go. Bill and Brandon were on board, and we found another drummer, Phil, and set some time to learn a set and do a few shows at the end of August 2017.


Again, people said, “Are you sure you want to do that?”


Looking back, I was an idiot. I thought it was going to be good for the label and the guy I had met seemed like a crazy fucker, but in a good way. DP was super cool to me and my wife and my kids. He didn’t seem like the weird internet monster I was starting to hear about.


As the shows got closer, all the sudden three shows became six then twelve or so. I couldn’t take two weeks off work, and neither could Bill, so we got the late, great Stevie D to sign up for the rest of the tour on bass and agreed that Bill and I would leave after the third show.

Jamming with DP was intense and cool. He is one of the most creative dudes I have ever been around. We revamped a couple of his old Political Crap songs for the set since Slope was putting out a 7” of those tracks and it was amazing to work with him on those. Again, he was on his best behavior, and I just didn’t see the guy with the terrible reputation. At least not until the second day of being on the road.


Our first show was in Las Vegas, and it was a weird, drunken vibe. We didn’t play until 1am or so and by the time we went on, Duane was sauced. We were not tight and, while it was fun to play a show where the crowd was so into it (albeit a small crowd), it was still a strange night. I took care of getting everyone into their hotel rooms and such as Tom was not with us yet and I managed to wrangle Duane to bed around 4am or so.


He wanted to stay outside the Hard Rock Hotel/Casino smoking out, but I convinced him that it was best to save a little and smoke out before our long ride to San Diego the next day. He bought it and we all got a little bit of sleep. It was in the van the next day when his true colors began to show.


N bombs began to drop, and we were all like, “What the fuck?” It was subtle, as much as racism can be subtle, but it was wrong. Several of us were like, “Not cool, man” and you could see that the worm had turned. He shut up but it was out there.


We had a good show in San Diego and a bunch of my friends were there, but for me, it was important to do what I said I would do and play the shows and then get out of the situation. Duane cut out the racist crap, but again, the wind was out of our sails. Rhondi had come out to meet us in San Diego with our daughter, Devin, who was excited about the big punk festival we were playing the next day in San Bernadino with Rancid and Dropkick Murphy’s and tons of other cool bands.


That show didn’t go very well. Duane decided to change the set list completely and put in a bunch of songs we barely knew. It was one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve ever had on stage, and it was in front of 500 or so people, maybe more. To say I was happy to be heading home the next day was an understatement. At least we got to see a bunch of friends and a bunch of great bands.


As the Slope relationship with Duane and the new Bombs continued, it just got more and more dramatic. There was some potential there for Tom to recoup his money, but to me, it didn’t seem like a good idea. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would have given Tom an ultimatum like, drop the Bombs or I’m done, but I know what choice he would have made then. I also know what choice he would make now, though. Woulda, coulda, shoulda….


Duane showed his true colors and while I tried a few times to get him to see that his schtick, and I believe that is truly what it is, ignorant, racist schtick, was not good for business or him, he never listened to me. He just started asking people if I was trustworthy.

Ha.


Looking back, it’s an embarrassing chapter of my life, but the next time somebody says, are you sure you want to do that, I’ll listen a lot more closely. The drama got bad at the end and really soured me on what we were doing at Slope. Most of that stuff I am very proud of, but not my association with Duane Peters or the U.S. Bombs, even though some of the band I consider friends.


See you tomorrow.




No playlist today. If you want to find the Clash covers, I'm proud of them if you are willing to separate the artist from the art. I also played a few basslines on their last record, but my name is not on it and I'm okay with that.

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