THE MASTER OF DISASTER!
DUANE PETERS is a Californian punk rock warlord and skate punk legend. Whether he was world famous winning skate comps in the 1980s or later on rocking with his various bands like the U.S. BOMBS, DIE HUNNS or the DUANE PETERS GUNFIGHT, Duane has always skated and rocked hard and reckless. Duane sums up everything about Californian skate punk and all here at Vive Le Punk and Big Cheese magazine salute the dude. What follows is a Big Cheese interview Eugene El Prez did with Duane from Big Cheese’s archives back in
1997. Fuck yeah maannn!!!!!!!
THE LIFE AND DANGEROUS TIMES OF DUANE PETERS
DUANE PETERS IS THE MAN. HE’S ALSO A SKATEBOARDING LEGEND. A SPONSERED PROFESSIONAL SKATEBOARDER FOR OVER 20 YEARS, HE INVENTED MORE TRICKS THAN HE CAN EVEN REMEMBER AND VIRTUALLY DEFINED VERT SKATING IN THE LATE 70’S AND 80’S.
FIRST EVER TO THE FULL LOOP (LOOP OF DEATH), HE RIPPED APART POOL COMPETITIONS AT A TIME WHEN THE COMPETITION CONSISTED OF THE ALVAS, ALBAS AND ALAN ‘OLLIE’ GELFAND.
He’s been shot, stabbed, fucked up along the way, ripped off by the skate industry, but he still doesn’t give a fuck. He skates hard and lives it every day. He’s stayed true and lives for skating now as much as he did more than 20 years ago. The term ‘keeping it real’ was made for Duane Peters. He currently has 3 boards out on Milwaukee’s Beer City Skateboards and has just toured the UK for the first time with his old-skool styled West Coast punk band The US Bombs, who are signed to Tim Armstrong from Rancid’s Hellcat Label.
Duane was one of the first skaters to ditch the California surfer look way back in the day and get all punk rocked up (probably helping to invent the term ‘skatepunk’ along the way) and it’s been a long, crazy outta control ride ever since. It was a real privilege to meet one of my heroes from the pages of Skateboard magazine and Duane didn’t let me down. He was real cool.
BC: So how was it skating back in the old days? It must have been a magical time.
DP: It was cool for me. It was really great when I got on Santa Cruz with Steve Olsen and Steve Alba, we kinda fuckin’ just took everyone on and nobody fucked with us, and we fully loved it like that. We were down with punk rock and you better not fuck with us. Everybody were robots, the Varibots (Variflex), the Powell guys, we laughed at all of them. We got through it and never fell into the industry crap. I still talk to Olsen. When I was leaving we were trying to hook up for a session and when I get back hopefully we’re gunna, but Alva, he’s still skating good, Salba was still ripping so it’s like fucking cool. I’ve got a good crew, and now that the Vans park is open we’re set. We skate Chicken’s pool, drain it and really get into it. We’ve got a couple of mini ramps.
I’ve got a boy that’s 14, a boy that’s 12. Both my sons skate, both are in punk rock bands, both are A-students. My 18-year-old nephew sings in a band called The Worthless and he skates. It’s really cool ‘cause I didn’t make any of them do any of it. They’ve just fallen into it.
BC: So what tricks did you invent?
DP: Oh I dunno, a bunch of slides, the lay back rollout. I did the full loop 20 years ago. It really amazes me that Tony Hawk (who also recently did a full loop) came up with the same dimensions as me. He’s a computer fuckin’ wizard and that fuckin’ idiot (he’s so) worried about trying to hide and make himself look like the first one to do it. If he asked me I would have told him that he should make the pipe 18 feet, you know like 4 feet bigger would have done the shit. I don’t like to talk to that guy. I have nothing in common with him and he’s a total screwy.
BC: What matters more in skating, style or technique?
DP: Style and aggression. I like to do tricks too and probably have about 12-14 tricks I made up behind me. I don’t really give a fuck what anyone’s doing. I pick up my board because I don’t want to go to the gym, I don’t want to be a fat pig and I’ve been skating my whole life. The only thing that makes me feel good about myself is to skate, fuck my chic play punk rock. It’s the only things I live for.
BC: What’s the best skating you’ve ever seen?
DP: Oh shit, who’s my favourite skater right now? I change ‘em all the time. But I guess Chris Senn. I he’s a really great all-round skater. I’d probably go with him as my favourite skater.
BC: Did you ever make any money in skateboarding?
DP: No we didn’t get a lot of money. We didn’t sign contracts-they burned us. Yeah you know it was a family thing and we never got sales statements. They would buy me a bottle. I lived in garages. I did TV interviews and they couldn’t believe I didn’t own a car. I had bought all my band their equipment because I felt guilty having any money at all. I’ve been playing music since I was 17 in punk rock bands ya’ know so…it aint been about that anyway. It would be fuckin’ nice buy ya’ know, c’mon. If you’re about something else I think you’re gunna let yourself down I’ve been doing it for so long that I mean, I had nothing for so long. That’s why my band grows so slowly because we’ve all had nothing and we’ve never got anything from punk rock. All those other bands laugh at us because we don’t know how to do our taxes. We’re all bullshitting around and fuckin around and they don’t understand why we’re not paranoid. We’re just like we’ve never had anything so any little thing to us is great. We’re over here in England. We’ve all been playing music for 20 years, none of our guys except Jonny now who is in a band (he’s been in a couple over here) and Chip my drummer’s been over here. But me, Kerry and Wade have never been over here.
BC: So who are you sponsored by now?
DP: Beer City, Independent Trucks, Dogpile for a while. I just…I don’t ever stay in touch with anybody ‘til I get a band. Beer City is just a skate guy and his mum. They have a couple of people who come into the warehouse every now and then. It’s really personal, I mean, I see them go totally out of their way for me. I used to skate for Think and it was like being on a major label. You’re on the shelf and I felt like they only had me on there because maybe they felt sorry I didn’t get anything in the past, so they’re giving me little bits here and there and I’m the old fuckin authentic guy that they can’t have you know? And they’re running ads of me when I was 17. It’s like; you know what motherfucker come watch me skate now I still fuckin’ rip! Well, fuck you guys. These guys were calling me saying, “What are you doing with them? Ride with us, we know you’re ripping. We’ll try to get a loop built for you and have bands pay for it.” Fuckin’ I was gonna try and (this was like 2 years ago) do the Evil Knevil thing ‘cause I was so pissed about [Tony] Hawk not owning up to where he learnt it. I mean, he’s the editor of Skateboarder and there’s all this powerplay shit that I just don’t wanna deal with it. I just don’t have the time, I’m too old to sit around and worry about all the little politics and shit. A lot of them aren’t even having fun anymore, they’re so worried about being sponsored and the video shoot and this and that…I watched a street contest and I was not enthused because they fall all the time.
BC: Yeah man, we just used to skate this real shitty ramp, nails and patches everywhere, flying down this hill into this homemade rough as fuck bowl.
DP: Fuckin stunt man shit, that’s what I like! There’s such a thrill of watching, that “is he gunna make it?” Now it’s not very spectator. Even I just watch it and go wow that was really great, alright I’m for it, can we leave? You did that backwards and it was like, yeah wow, well who cares. No, he flipped it three times not twice. Oh yeah, wow. This is what it’s come to and there’s no guitars in the background. It’s [makes electronica noises] I can’t go skate to that [drum and bass]. It’s like kryptonite. It would suck all the life out of me.
BC: You got into punk when you began skating?
DP: Well, 1977 was when we started listening to it. I cut my hair in ’78, 4th July 1978 me and my best friend made the move and [we] just got the fuck kicked outta us for being different in California. All of a sudden our friends disowned us. We were totally on our own. Even Jay Adams, who is a very good friend of mine, came up and says “I thought you were cool man.” I had white hair, a fuckin’ trenchcoat and bleached my eyebrows. He’s all, “I thought you were cool man, you’re a fuckin’ freak now.” It’s like, man. And then I saw him six months later. He brings Jim Muir’s little brother, who ended up being Suicidal Tendencies singer, he was a little kid. They all showed up at Macy’s Hall and that’s how it was. It was like everyone’s putting it down and the next week they’re punk too.
BC: You’ve had some pretty well-documented drug problems.
DP: There was a long drug haul, but man, I don’t know. I don’t have nothing to say about it other than you know, I’m a stupid kid and I fell into stuff. I tried to tell a lot of my friends who fell in the same way, once you pick up a needle man expect at least a 10 year habit if you don’t die of it in the meantime, because it’s something I didn’t believe. I’ve learned the hard way in fuckin everything. I’m always ending up in jail and on the street. It took everything I owned and struggled with it for about 8 years trying to quit it. I’ve got a lot of friends that have died or gotten fucked up. It’s sad because they’re not even themselves. I look at them from the other side now going “wow that’s not even him. I hope he comes around again.” There’s nothing you can say to them, there really isn’t. I smoke weed every now and then and then I try not to drink. I’m struggling with that now but it’s been a couple of years now that I’ve been done with the needle and about a year before I was actually over it. It about a year of like constant mind fucking. I can’t imagine even poking myself now. It’s back to where I was when I was 18 and I want to stay there because I know the consequences.
BC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
DP: I’ve gotten away with so much more than I should have gotten away with. All the little bits of time I’ve done- I just can’t stand doing three hours.
BC: You mean jail?
DP: Year, about a year ago with my guitar player Chuck we got busted for drinking public in New Orleans. We were thrown into the prison and they were going to lose us in the system because it’s under the old law when they got it from the French so it’s very, very corrupt. We got in there and the blacks in the south do not like the whites at all…there’s nothing you can do. So it wasn’t fun. Our road guy got us out-I guess it was like three hundred bucks a piece and they paid it off. I had six years joint suspended on my last bust and I had to do three years probation. Those three years if I had stolen like a candy bar I’ve could been put away. It’s way too fanatical in LA now. You can’t even smoke in a fuckin bar there now! I can’t wait ‘til they start turning all the fuckin’ tolls on the East Coast into checkpoints. I’ll be waiting for it-the slow takeover!
BC: You know, you’re pretty much of a survivor
DP: I don’t really like to think of it like that. I just like to think of it as getting through shit, you know? Just breaking through new ground and in the end just trying to just trying to fuckin learn from your mistakes. I think if you get through all that shit maybe you can start doing better
BC: Do you think punk rock is getting too commercialised these days?
DP: I don’t know. I think a lot of bands that are nothing about what we’re about are getting a lot of fuckin’ hype, but that’s all bullshit. A lot of them I watch just fuckin’ come and go. We’re just on the slow route instead.
BC: So what about the US Bombs sound? It’s kind of got an old-skool flavour to it
DP: We try to stay real traditional because that’s all we listen to, but we also cover new ground and cross it with tunes that are fuckin’ out there. We have certain guidelines that we stay in and it’s gotta be music that we really love otherwise forget it. I’m not gunna play stuff because it’s popular.
BC: Describe the US Bombs
DP: Average fuckin’ kids man. We’re just trying to have fun in the end. We work to try and not really have to work you know and we’re true to what we’re into. Just try to keep on rockin’ every fuckin’ night. We’ve gotta keep writing new stuff and always try to make the new record better than the last. That’s pretty much about it. It’s getting better all the time, it’s slowly getting better. We’re finally over here. They shut us down a couple of times.
BC: What’s next for you?
DP: We’ve got a new record all done called The World, the single comes out in April. We’re gunna keep touring, try to get on some skatepunk tour so I can skate all day and rock with my band at night.
BC: Sounds like the Warped Tour?
DP: Yeah, we did it. I just really like hated that thing but I don’t know, it’s getting so big. I skateboard and there is supposedly a skatepunk thing over there. They gave us five shows and they had us open up, so it’s like 12 o’clock in the afternoon. The crowd is about 90ft away from you. It’s just a nightmare. The sun is on your face and it’s like fuck it man. That’s bullshit. I don’t feel real about it. It’s just too much commercial crap that bothers me. So we kinda went there and left.
Eugene Big Cheese