Coming soon!

Two new features coming to the blog soon. Bad Religion Vocabulary; I will go through each BR album and list words that are not in the typical punk’s personal lexicon. This will include the definition of sed word and the song it’s from.  Also What I’ve learned from skate boarding.  This one the readers can also submit entries to be posted. This is things you’ve learned from your life as a skater that the average person may not ever think of.

Advertisements

Maty’s Corner #13

Maty’s Corner #13
An Open Letter to Christians and the LGBT Community.

Christians; I respect and defend your right to refuse service to whomever you wish. But it is not following Christ to not provide services to someone based on sexual orientation. Jesus was the savior of gays, whores and criminals. To be Christian is to bring people into to Christ by showing unconditional love. Saying that your faith prohibits you from rendering services is a cop out and makes it sound like you don’t like them. Stop refusing to be good people! Also, remember free will, them getting married will not destroy America, but built up hatred between people who should unite will.

LGBT; It is fascist and categorically wrong to pursue legal or any other harmful action towards someone who doesn’t wish to make your wedding cake, do the photos any other service. A business reserves the right to refuse service. The best action is to take your money for a walk elsewhere. This happens so often that I feel like your community is being represented as a bunch of rage mongers who are looking to target these businesses. While the refusal isn’t Christ like, pull your heads outta where ever and bee the better person! If they refuse, get over it and buy elsewhere. Furthermore your going about marriage all wrong. Why are We the People letting the government tell us who we can and can’t marry? We pay the bills, we tell them what’s up!

-Maty Almost

Duane Peters Biography Update 2014

The Master Of Disaster Adds Another Chapter To His Skate Punk Book Of Horrors!

I’m sorry to announce this about a friend and hero of mine, Skateboarding and punk rock legend Duane Peters has come under the gun again in what looks to be yet another tragic chapter in Duane’s life. Last Friday the 7th of February, Duane Peters committed career suicide, which now we hear, may end up with time spent in state prison for felony domestic violence. Technically he was charged with, felony willful infliction of corporal injury.” This news has already affected the industry in some areas and has affected the rest of the existing year we just started in 2014. But this week has been one disaster after another for the pioneer of punk rock and skateboarding, (excuse the disaster pun). *Quick note, Duane Peters, actually took the time to help prepare me and coach me before I had to leave my world upside down and had to go do a prison sentence that fell in my lap a few years ago. The Master was there for me when not many others were. Anyway, the thing that worries me the most about Master Duane is, at the age of 52 years old he will be unable to rise above this latest escapade and reach those levels of success that he has worked so hard on for the last decade or two. Sadly this may be the end of a great skateboard career for us fans, who have followed the “Master Of Disaster” on a long ride now spanning over 30 years of walking the walk. This is my worry for Duane Peters and I hope the reality of it all doesn’t lead him down a dark road again he’s traveled in past years during devistating events. All I can say to Duane is this. The ones who have an unconditional understanding of these overwhelming human circumstances we all must experience in life, these are the ones who will help get you through this tragedy you’ve encountered. Trust me Duane, honest people, offering honest help, will come to your side and guide you through this terrible experience and you will have another chance to start a new chapter in this unique and extraordinary life you’ve lived.  God Bless This Mess!

duanepeters09-e1272596368457

Duane Peters And Maureen Noone 2013 Downtown LBC

A-me-maureen-boat-bench-620x465On Friday I notice a disturbing Facebook post coming from Duane Peters Wall. Duane has been a friend of mine dating back to first meeting him in southern California in the1980′s, during various contest’s. So after reading the Facebook post, I could see and feel that their was clearly a problem with Duane’s thinking and decision-making on that given day, so I tried to emailed D.P. but no reply came back. The Facebook post shown below obviously shows that Duane Peters was having a very tumultuous day and anyone who knows The Master Of Disaster and is familiar with his past trials, knows that when Duane falls, he falls hard and I feared this was the beginning of a crash and burn like days of old that all of us his friends have come very accustomed to over the last 30 years. I finally was able to speak with a mutual friend and Shane informed me that Duane had posted the $5000 bail and would be staying with friends to avoid any media questioning and rest up until his next arraignment at court on the 20th.

tumblr_lpoggyQiHN1qzrevko1_500

Here’s Duane’s Facebook Post Friday Just Before His Arrest

Duanes FacebookHere Is A Second Facebook Post Minutes After The First Post

Duanes Facebook 2

tumblr_monv4hQOIz1qaalwyo1_500

Below Are Some Of Duane Peters Skateboarding Sponsors Lost In Te Shuffle

123974716

stance

A-shoe-lep-dp-insta-if-3-620x465

tumblr_lyslt5v7DE1r5v15do1_500

irnfstbnr

OJ Skateboard Wheels - Duane Peters Green
32367_10151257633755983_807285369_n

tumblr_mbbzsw1ykc1r82lpno1_500

latest-skullcandy-uprock-blackrasta-mpe

US-Bombs8The Facebook post came as a shock to the fans of Duane Peters who has been so happy as of recent and very excited about his new relationship with girlfriend Maureen Noone. This year at the Santa Cruz 50th I had a chance to meet Maureen for the first time in San Jose at the Independent trucks pro skate session. Duane Peters didn’t pad up to skate with any of us, he only wanted to be with Maureen and none of his peers could persuade him otherwise, so the Master sat around with his lady at his arm and watched the festivities of the  staring cast at Lake Cunningham skate park host of the NHS Indy anniversary skate jam. The two seemed very happy and my wife commented later they seemed to be a match made in heaven. So this news was rather shocking to all of Duane Peters friends, family and fans who faithfully follow the Master whether it be his skating or his music.

tumblr_ly8ajlrEci1r2nakpo1_500Then I watched various people who read Duane’s Facebook post began to take sides and post their opinions and many arguments broke out and I just sat back and watched how fast people will throw you away like they never knew you, although they have made many mistakes themselves over the years, but now it was their time to kick one of their own while they were down, these idiots are really just a group of fake people showing their true colors at your expense and showing how much of a friend they really were to you. The majority of people who call themselves friends are liars and players and I caught a glimpse of this all weekend on online sites everywhere I went.

Copy of tumblr_muib4rLXQn1qgq2oco1_500

Image Gif Of The Duane Peters Famous Invented Trick “The Invert Revert”

tumblr_mb55xvE6WN1qhgkw4o1_500
Saturday February 8th there was an official report from the Los Angeles Daily News reporting that the professional skateboarder and legendary punk rock vocalist had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against his current girlfriend, which brings a felony charge and a possible prison sentence if convicted. http://www.dailynews.com/

So as a friend and long time fan of Duane, I went researching all possible outlets and asked friends of friends both from my side of the neighborhood and of D.P.’s huge click, looking for anything they might know about this newest drama in what us skaters like to call our Skateboard family.

Most Of These Photos Can Be Found At Duane Peters Official Website
http://duanepeters.net/

123-Skinnie-DP-_2-620x817

To be honest with you, I was worried about Duane’s frame of mind, so I got busy with my resources who would know more than I do and who would trust me enough to answer my concerned questions. Here’s what I found out and it’s all right here for those of you who call yourselves friends and fans of this legendary character known as the Master Of Disaster.

My Favorite Decks Of Duane Peters Is This Black Label Issue Shown Below

Duane-PetersContact002-620x753
Here was the report. Duane Peters was picked up and arrested at the 4000 block on Third street in downtown Long Beach Friday by the Long Beach Police Department. L.A. Daily also reported he was arrested late Friday night near midnight at 11:59 and Duane was booked in to jail early Saturday morning and was being held at a $50,000 bail. The report went on to say Duane Peters was scheduled to be in court on Tuesday morning February 11th. This information is according to Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Megan Zabel press release.

Duane And Maureen Pose For Fans As They Took To The Streets Of Long Beach

tumblr_mvt043fRgK1qgq2oco1_500
At the arraignment on Tuesday February 11th more details of the longtime professional skateboarder and punk rock band leader Duane Peters at age 52, has been charged with felony willful infliction of corporal injury following a domestic violence incident on Feb. 7 and faces a maximum of four years in state prison, according to Sarah Ardalani, the spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

duane11-e1286904880582Prosecutors said Peters became angry with his girlfriend and assaulted her at their residence in Long Beach, according to Sarah Ardalani, public information officer for District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Neighbors near by heard the all the arguing and commotion, they then interceded and were able to restrain Duane Peters until the Long Beach Police arrived at the scene, prosecutors said the woman involved is Maureen Noone, Duane Peters girlfriend, she had sustained injuries to her face and body.

7195

Duane Peters was officially charged Feb.11, but was unable to appear at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Long Beach due to unspecified medical reasons, Sarah Ardalani told National reporters, Duane Peters had posted the $50,000 bail on Thursday and postponed his court arraignment hearing until February 20th.

Image Gif Of The Duane Peters Invented Trick “The Acid Drop”

tumblr_mscgj5wGR01rfztr0o1_400

ESPN’S Report On Duane Peters Circumstances Leading To His Arrest.

Longtime professional skateboarder and punk rock front man Duane Peters, 52, has been charged with felony willful infliction of corporal injury following a domestic violence incident on Feb. 7 and faces a maximum of four years in state prison, according to a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Duane Peters Shown Below With His Patented Fast Plant At A California Skate Park

8958

Photo: MRZ

ESPN went on to say, prosecutors said Peters became angry with his girlfriend and assaulted her at their residence in Long Beach, according to Sarah Ardalani, public information officer for District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Neighbors heard the commotion, interceded and were able to restrain Peters until police arrived. Prosecutors said the woman sustained injuries from Peters and that the details were still coming in.

Duane Peters aka The Master Of Disaster whose pro skateboarding career dates as far back as the 1970s and who is also the front man for the band U.S. Bombs and Duane Peters & The Great Unwashed, was officially charged Feb. 11, but was unable to appear at Los Angeles County Superior Court in Long Beach due to unspecified medical reasons, Ardalani told ESPN. He posted $50,000 bail on Thursday and postponed his arraignment hearing to Feb. 20th as reported by ESPN sources.
http://xgames.espn.go.com/

tumblr_mxq5oePiE61qjiqmmo1_500

Peters has had one of pro skateboarding’s longest careers. He won some of the earliest pool skating contests in the 1970s and early 1980s, and his aggressive style earned him the nickname “Master of Disaster,” first cited in a December 1980 profile done by Glen E. Friedman for “Skateboarder’s Action Now” magazine after Peters invented the ollie 180 lip trick known as the “disaster.” He’s also credited with inventing several other classic pool skating tricks, including fast plants and the layback grind, which has become his signature moves.

5182
Photo: MRZ

Peters remains a fixture in masters-level pool contests and placed ninth at the Vans ProTec Pool Party in May 2013. He’s a member of the “lifers” team at Pocket Pistols Skateboards and has long, ongoing sponsorship deals with Independent Truck Company and OJ Wheels, among others. He also released two full-length albums in 2013: “Beautiful Tragedy,” the debut album from Duane Peters & The Great Unwashed, and “Generation Kennedy No More,” the 11th album from U.S. Bombs, a band he started in 1993.

10131

Duane Peters Destroys This Insanely Difficult Pool In Think Damaged Video

Reports Of Duane Peters Missing

This afternoon (February 14, 2014), legendary skate hero Duane Peter’s ex-wife Corey Parks-Castle took to Instagram (@Corey_Parks) to ask the skateboarding community to help find a missing Duane Peters.

peters.png

Ex-wife Corey Parks-Castle posted the following message to her Instagram: “Firstly we would like to thank everyone who’s helped or taken part in looking for Duane…WE HAVE FOUND DUANE, but cannot disclose any details at the time.” This is great news and we hope it gets better in the coming days!

In what we hope can be described as a happy ending to the sad story that broke last night, it appears that Duane Peters, legendary skateboarder and front man for bands like U.S. Bombs and Die Hunns, has been found. Corey Parks, Duane’s ex-wife and the mother of his ten-year-old son, Clash, relayed the following message via Instagram:

Firstly We would like to thank everyone who’s helped or taken part in looking for Duane and all the outpouring of pouring if support and love. We are deeply touched as I know he would be as well. WE HAVE FOUND DUANE, but cannot disclose any details at this time. Thank you all so much from my entire family as well as Duane’s for your unbelievably kind and generous efforts. We will NEVER forget this. Love, Corey, Rob and Clash.

duanepeters28-e1272597223575

Below Is One Of Duane Peters Many Invented Trick The FS Layback Grind

1011075_614891691856180_321118989_n

Duane Peters Frontman For The U.S. Bombs

tumblr_mc3ppzqcrT1qzrevko1_500

NOTE
To make this article of  Duane Peters more complete, I’ve included a full biography of Duane Peters life, which covers time before his life as a punk rock singer and before he was a professional skateboarder. I listed everything else I could remember, or find pertaining to his amazing life of being the Master Of Disaster. I hope you enjoy the information I’ve included below and share this link with friends.

Duane As A Lad

The Duane Peters Biography

Also Known As
The Master of Disaster

A Legend Is Born
June 12, 1961 (now age 52, 2014)
Orange County, California, U.S.A.

Genres
Hardcore – Punk Rock -Underground – Alternative

Occupations
Professional Skateboarder – Punk Rock Musician

Instruments
Lead Vocals – Bass Guitar

Years active
1978 Until Present

Associated Acts
U.S. Bombs, Political Crap, Die’ Hunns, THe Huns, Duane Peters Gunfight,
The Exploding Fuckdolls, Duane Peters And The Great Unwashed.

10129

Innovations

Peters is credited for inventing many tricks, such as the “acid drop” into a pool or bowl, the “layback grind,” “the layback roll out,” the “Indy air”, the “Sweeper”, the “backside layback grind revert”, the “fakie hang-up” (known as the disaster), the “invert revert”, the “fakie thruster”, and the “loop of death,” (a full 360-degree rotation in a specially designed loop). He also, along with Neil Blender, helped to evolve the “footplant” into the more dynamic move known as the “fastplant.”

Shown Below Is The Invert Revert Trick. Nobody Desires To Try This Trick

tumblr_mqo943oJE81r2m3n0o1_500

Photos not labeled are most likely MRZ

Peters was one of the very first high-profile skaters to embrace punk rock, cutting his hair short and narrowing his jeans when most skaters were still wearing 1970s fashions. As shown on an Eye on LA television segment, Duane left the punk rock movement for the softer sound of “New Romantic/White Funk” music; even forming a band by the name of Tan-Dane.

duanepeters40-e1272597498332

Peters was named Transworld Skateboarding’s “Legend” in 2003. He is a professional skateboarder who rides for Pocket Pistols Skates. In May 2005, Black Label Skateboards released a biographic film, entitled Who Cares: The Duane Peters Story,  A second documentary, planned by havocTV, and intended to focus on the supposed path to sobriety of Peters and then-wife Corey Parks, was publicized but failed to appear. In 2006, a sober Peters, had a cameo in the Joan Jett video Androgynous, directed by Morgan Higby Night.

One Of Duane Peters Most Popular Tricks Among Skaters “The Indy Air”

7180
Photo, MRZ

Here Is An Example Of How The Skateboard Family Worked Together To Help D.P.
rs_actionsrealized_dp1-511x600

Duane Peters Almost Lost His Leg IN 2010 After A Brutal Slam And Then Not Attending To The Injury Which Almost Resulted In The Loss Of His Leg From Gang Green. The Community Lead By Lance Mountain Stepped Up To The Plate And Helped Raise Money To Pay Duane’s Medical Bills Which Were Several Hundreds Of Thousands Dollars.
http://www.actionsrealized.com/duane-peters-actions-realized/

The Skateboard Community Came Together And Raised Money For Medical Bills
6022

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/17934313″>Duane Peters Actions Realized</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/dlxsf”>dlxsf</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Probably Duane Peters Most Famous Invented Trick,” The Sweeper”

08

9084
Along with skateboarding, Peters is a well-known punk rock singer among his peers. He has formed bands such as the US Bombs, Political Crap, Die’ Hunns (also known as Duane Peters and The Hunns), Duane Peters Gunfight, and The Exploding Fuckdolls. He was formerly connected with two defunct record labels: Disaster Records, (owned by Patrick Boissel of Alive Records), and – later – Indian Recordings (owned by Ponk Media).

Duane Peters And The Die Hunns
diehunns2

In 2000, Peters formed Duane Peters and The Hunns with Rob Milucky (previously of The Grabbers and The Pushers fame). Within two years, the band released three full-length albums and undertook both national and European tours. At a The Damned show in 2002, Peters met future wife Corey Parks, who had just left her previous band, Nashville Pussy. Parks joined Duane Peters and the Hunns on bass guitar and soon the band changed their name to Die Hunns, recorded a fourth full-length album entitled Long Legs, Die’ Hunns, and embarked on another tour.

Gunfight

Below Duane Peters Always Ready To Express His Opinion To The Inquiring Media

858

Duane Peters was cast to star in an independent film called “Hostility Hotel”, scheduled for release in 2010, but the film failed to appear to the public.

Was interviewed extensively for the award-winning 2011 documentary “The Other F Word”, a documentary about the lives of Punk Rockers after they have children.

Duane Peters Shown Here With Mike Valleley & Steve Olson At Jokers Skate Shop

Copy of tumblr_m3rrviHa431qizkl7o1_500  tumblr_mkx9wyVNIj1qgg9ueo1_500

tumblr_mi0o49Qecv1qgq2oco1_500

Personal Life

Peters was married to Corey Parks, with whom he has a son, Clash Thomas Peters (born in 2004). Clash is the half-brother to oldest child Schuyler and middle child Chess (Chelsea) Peters; Both from a previous marriage. In the late 00′s Duane and Corey separated.

Peters has also struggled with drug addictions, mainly heroin, for over 3 decades. In 2007, Peters and his then-current band, Die Hunns cancelled their tour as Peters once again entered rehabilitation facility.

Peters’ 20 year-old son Chess (Chelsea) Peters was killed in a car accident on July 6, 2007. To this day Duane Hosts annual skate charity events dedicated to his son Chess.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duane_Peters

3 Skateboard Icons Below, Steve Olson, Duane Peters And David Hackett 2013

Da_Boyz

Steve Olson, Duane Peters And Steve Alba (Salba), Down For Life

me-oloson-sally--620x465

More Biography Facts

Skateboard champion and punk-rock vocalist Duane Peters has been an idol of the underground skate-punk movement for nearly three decades. Known among his fans as the Master of Disaster, Peters is largely credited with pioneering the counterculture that unites skate-boarding and punk music. Skin-headed, missing his two front teeth, and festooned with tattoos and safety-pin earrings, he has been skateboarding since the late 1970s, and has led such punk bands as the U.S. Bombs and The Hunns. A heroin user in his earlier days, Peters renounced drugs in his mid-30s. Peters, who turned 40 in 2001, remains a strong presence in extreme sports and alternative music at his current age of 52 years old.

780

Duane Peters parents divorced when he was a child in Anaheim, California, and Duane went to live with his father, a used-car salesman, in nearby Newport Beach. He had a rebellious youth and Duane often skipped school to skateboard. Hoping to discipline his son, his father sent Peters to live for a year with relatives on a farm in Michigan. “I went to school every day that year because there was nothing else to do.”

Duane Peters Appears In A Circle-A Skateboard Advert. Before The Tattoos

4751

Returning to live with his father, Peters dropped out of school at age the young age of 14. By then he had discovered the underground skateboarding scene of the mid-1970s. Not having the money to buy a skateboard, he made one for himself by sawing off a piece of wood and nailing on roller-skate wheels. He spent his youthful days skate and surfing the sidewalks of Newport Beach and at nearby Balboa. “I just wanted to skate all the time and didn’t want to have to go to work. I didn’t want to grow up.”

D.P. Front Side Corner Air In Uplands Combi On His Way To World Cup Victory 1981

front-air-upland-corner-620x418

Photo: Glen E. Friedman

Through his drug addictions and rehabilitation, and during his long and varied punk music career, Peters has continued professional skateboarding. As a member of the skateboarding club “Beer City,” he has participated in contests nationwide through his late 30s and into his early 40s. Within the skate-punk subculture, he has maintained a devoted following of fans, and is celebrated as a skateboard pioneer.

7709
Photo: MRZ

In the days before skate parks, youths such as Peters and his friends liked to practice skating in empty swimming pools. Breaking into neighbors’ backyards, they skateboarded in underground pools until the police chased them out. In pools and empty half-pipes, Peters honed his skills and started inventing his own signature skateboarding tricks. Like his idol, motorcycle stunt rider Evel Knievel, Peters often injured himself. At 16, practicing in a 14-foot pipe, he perfected an upside-down, 360-degree stunt that seemed to defy the laws of gravity. With this trick he caught the attention of Skateboarder magazine; soon he was offered money to perform in skate shows, and even made a skateboarding appearance on the 1970s television show That’s Incredible! A regular winner in skating contests, Peters had developed a reputation in the skateboarding subculture.

Young Duane Peters Age 19 Before Adopting The Skate Punk Lifestyle

DP-profile-1980-gef-620x873

In 1978, Peters, then 17, discovered punk rock. Hearing a recording of punk band The Ramones, he took an instant liking to the music. Soon he was collecting records by such punk groups as Generation X, the Dead Boys, and the Sex Pistols. Peters and some of his friends cut their hair in punk styles and started frequenting punk clubs such as the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, California.

Duane Peters Showing Skills On New Board Sponsor Santa Cruz – NHS
Screen-shot-2010-12-18-at-9.55.51-PM
Eventually Peters and his cohorts started forming their own bands and performing in Southern California clubs. Out of the skateboarding subculture, a new punk-skate subculture was born, with Peters at the center. “A lot of us were from broken homes,” Peters told John Roos of the Los Angeles Times. “We were freaks and misfits. That’s why we found punk rock, and it took us in.… We suddenly had somewhere to go.”

On More Than One Occasion Duane Peters Arrived At Hospital DOA From HeroinA-Dp-meditate-620x465

Influenced by drug-using punk-idol Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, Peters and his friends started experimenting with heroin. It didn’t take long for the skate-punk to become hooked. For the next 15 years, he struggled with addiction, spending all of his skateboarding prize money on drugs. As a junkie, he was often in trouble with the law, charged with drug possession and trafficking. In and out of jail throughout his 20s and 30s, his time behind bars amounted to six or seven years.

These Photos And Various Nudes Posted By D.P. Landed Him A More Than 30 Day Suspension From Facebook.com –  This Stirred Controversy Among Followers
7621

Peters quit using heroin in his mid-30s, substituting alcohol for drugs. When he developed liver problems, he eventually quit drinking, too. Living a clean, drug-free lifestyle, Duane  Peters became more active in music and skateboarding and became very business responsible in his day-to-day affairs.
http://sports.jrank.org/pages/3704/Peters-Duane.html

duanepeters16_color-e1272596635762
duanepeters23_color-e1272596992133
duanepeters17-e1272596663699     tumblr_lpoggyQiHN1qzrevko1_500

Duane Peters Music Discography

tumblr_mw8rvbN7Pg1sypsz5o1_500

Exploding Fuckdolls
American Bomb 7″
Crack the Safe LP
2012 Double CD Vinyl Dog Singles & Live ’93 @ KUCI

usbombs

U.S. Bombs
Scouts of America double 7″
Put Strength in the Final Blow LP
U.S. Bombs EP
Garibaldi Guard! LP
Nevermind the Opened Minds EP
“Outtakes from a Beer City Basement” 7″
Jaks 10″ picture disc
War Birth LP
“split w/ The Bristles” 7″
The Great Lakes of Beer 7″
“Hobroken Dreams” 7″
The World LP
2001/Lost in America Live LP
“Tora Tora Tora” 7″
Back at the Laundromat LP
“Art Kills” 7″
Covert Action LP
Bomb Everything DVD
Put Strength in the Final Blow: Disaster Edition CD
“We are the Problem” 7″
We are the Problem LP

10135

Die Hunns
“Not Gonna Pay” 7″
Unite LP
Tickets to Heaven LP
Split with The Revolvers EP
Wayward Bantams LP
“Wild” 7″
Long Legs LP
“Time Has Come Today” 7″
“Marshall Law” 7″ Split with Radio One
You Rot Me LP
Live Fast… Die Hunns LP
Live In Chi-Town DVD (Ambervillain Films)

duanepetersgunfight

Gunfight
“Hell Mary” and “Gunfighter” 7″
Duane Peters Gunfight LP
split w/ GG Allin 7″ (2 different versions, US and UK)
Forever Chess 7″
Checkmate LP

duane11

The Great Unwashed
Beautiful Tragedy LP

The Master Of Disaster Is No Stranger To The Thrill Of Agony Of Defeat

tumblr_m2didq7NVT1qzrevko1_500
Duane Peters At The Del Mar Skate Ranch 1981. Glen E. Friedman Caught In Photo
duane
Photo: Swank

Shown Below Yet Another Duane Peters Invented Trick “The Indy Air”

7196
Photo: Friedman

-Punk Monday

Maty’s Corner #8

Maty’s Corner #8

Misfits Shirts at Wal-Mart?

            So I found myself in Wal-Mart at midnight this past weekend.  Never a happy prospect, but sometimes necessary.  Since I was already there I decided to go through the clothing area to see what’s going on.  And something caught my eye, a Misfits shirt.  Yes, it’s an officially licensed real deal, I did check the label. I had a discussion with one of my friends about this. He got in a huff and said “if anything, I’d rather go to Hot Topic.” My y question is what’s the difference between Wally World and Hot Topic?  I mean what’s actually less punk, going to Wal Mart, paying 7.50 for a shirt and under 20 for jeans or (in my case) baggy cargo pants, or going to Hot Topic, paying 20-25 for that same shirt and over 40 for bondage pants that are essentially pajama pants with shiny things on them? If anything I would say that Hot Topic is an outright mockery of subcultures in general.  I would think that living cheap is more in line with the punk ideal than paying top dollar at some sub culture emporium to get that punk by the book style. No, I didn’t buy the shirt, only because they were out of my size.  Any of these corporations only care about profit margins. Even the “ethical” ones have doors to keep open, employees to pay an all kinds of overhead to worry about.  You can’t actually extricate yourself from the system unless you’re naked levitating in the woods and feeding purely off of surrounding energy.  We all consume, I’d rather do it for cheaper.

-Maty Almost

Fast Food and the Music Industry by Greg Graffin

Fast Food and the Music Industry
Since I am known as a person who usually sings about serious issues, I figured I had better keep things very serious here today. I’d like to begin by relating a story to you about…Arbey’s Roast Beef.

I like fast food, I think it is a good product and a great invention. Last week I was standing in line looking over the simple menu and I decided I would get the #1 value meal. Then I realized my craving for lots of fries and I said “Can I have a large fries with that instead”? The cashier said: “Why don’t you just supersize? After I said okay, she reached for the supersize cola and I saw that this thing was the size of a small trash can. Who can drink that much cola? Who can carry it? You would have to strap it in, to a child-restraint harness, if you ordered it at the drive-thru window. I said, “That’s okay, I just want a regular cola but keep the supersize fries”. This is the point that all hell broke loose. The cashier said: “UUUUMMMM, we can’t do that sir. It was as if I asked her to derive Kepler’s law of orbital rotation or something! Apparently, the keypad on the cash register didn’t include an option that allowed a supersized fries without a supersized cola. Three other employees came forth from their posts to help out their confused co-worker. None of them could figure out how to accurately charge me for my simple request. I said “Don’t worry about it, just give me the regular sized drink and I’ll pay the full price of a supersized number one value meal. All of the co- workers, let out an appreciative sigh of relief. And the people behind me in line were relieved too: “Who is this guy holding up the line, taking all the employees for his own special needs? “That’s when it dawned on me: Things in our society have become too efficient. There is an over-efficiency problem to the extent that institutions offer you only a limited set of choices and what results is a subtle determinism of your behavior. I believe that this isn’t what people want. They want to be more free. They want to exercise their freedom of choice. Do you remember the old marketing slogan of Burger King? “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us. Today, special orders might not upset them, they just short-circuit their brain synapses. The “Have it your way” mentality of the past is no longer valid. Today, virtually all of the fast food chains are saying “Have it our way”. You are not free to choose. And this is a serious issue.

The music industry itself is not immune to this kind of simplistic, over-efficient, marketing mentality unfortunately. And I think this is something that needs to be addressed. It requires a lot more discussion than we can have here today, but I will break it down for you quickly and add some of my own analysis and maybe inspire some change.

Step One: Is there a problem?

I think so. Why do so many bands and artists sound the same? Artists have always emulated other artists, that’s not exactly the problem. Today, it seems, the similarities are getting profound. Lead singers are sounding identical to other singers on other labels. Combine that with the producers, using the same techniques for different bands, and we are left with: singers sounding the same, production sounding the same, two different labels, the same product, value meal mentality. Consider this: Epic has Pearl Jam, BMG has Creed, Sony music has Silverchair, Epitaph has NOFX, but MCA has Blink 182, Interscope has NIN but they figured they could amplify that so they offered us Marilyn Manson, WEA has Pantera, SONY has Korn, Geffen had Berlin in the 80’s so 10 years later they figured they could offer it to us again in the form of Garbage, WEA has Alanis Morrisette, ULG has Meredith Brooks, Arista has Sarah McLaughlin, WEA has Paula Cole. The list could go on and on….

Why is this the case?

I think it’s because art is hard to make, so artists copy other artists. But art is even harder to sell to the public, so the sellers copy the marketing strategies of other sellers. The artist and seller then form a bond of self-congratulation that destroys their desire to try something novel. The result is a lower diversity of musical styles and a more programmed, less realistic image of the artist. The other result is higher, more predictable sales, and thus a greater proportion of signed bands selling boat loads of cds. Why do we buy it? The music lover doesn’t have much of a choice. We either buy the music that is presented to us or give up listening to it. Most of us would choose the former.

Part Two: How does this problem come to be?

I will attempt to illustrate the process of how I think this problem is perpetuated through the industry. I would like to borrow an analogy from biology to show how evolutionary systems can progressively enhance efficiency through time, but only at a high cost…the cost of diversity. The music industry evolves just as a species evolve. In nature there is natural selection: Species must adapt, or they become extinct. In the music business, bands have to either sell records (a form of adaptation itself) or they get dropped (a form of extinction). Evolution depends not only on natural selection, but also on probability. The variety of animals that can be created in the next stage of evolution are not a random sample. They are determined to some degree by the variety of animals that exist today.

This can be stated simply in the following way “whatever comes next in any evolutionary system is dependent on what is available at present”. Biologists call this phenomenon a markovian process, a process of non-random probability that constrains the outcome of the evolutionary sequence of events. Think of how monkeys came to be. They didn’t just appear suddenly like some aliens landing from outer space. They were derived from animals in a previous stage of evolution that looked similar, but weren’t quite monkeys. The music industry also has evolved through a markovian process. For instance, it is not a random chance that we have Alanis Morrissette. She didn’t evolve out of the null-and-void. She came from a former template. She borrowed styles and sounds from a very limited set of other artists. The important thing to be learned is that it is possible to predict with some degree of accuracy what the next stage of evolution will look like, based on what things look like today. And if the music industry doesn’t cultivate a diverse array of artists today, they will extinguish the possibility of future musical revolutions.

Every time a species becomes extinct, its genes are removed from the gene-pool of the future and they don’t re-appear. Likewise, every time a band is dropped, or an artist’s catalog is discontinued, there is a negative effect on the next stage of music-industry evolution. Dropping bands severely limits the range of choices from which the next generation will take its inspiration. The crop of artists-to-be of the future is determined by the artists that exist today. Inspiration is analogous to hereditary.

So the question in the music industry is the same as the biggest question in modern biology: “How do we maintain diversity”?

If we continue to clear natural habitats, and pave them over with cities or agricultural land, we will cause a lot of species to go extinct because they cannot adapt to our rapid destruction. The net result: Fewer types of organisms in the next stage of evolution. Likewise, if the record labels only promote carbon copies of each other’s artists rosters, and ignore bands and artists that are qualitatively unique, there will be a very restrictive set of artistic styles available in the next decade. And a limited array of products is bad for any institution’s long-term prospectus. Now comes the difficult part: Suggesting reparations.

I think our values are askew. We have come to measure quality in the wrong way, usually in terms of dollars and cents and not in intellectual or emotional stimulation. This is probably both a symptom of our society, as well as an arrogant irreverence by those who wield the power. There is a common attitude among music industry people. I’ve heard numerous executives say: “Who are we to judge the music we release? The kids love it! We are just giving the people what they want to hear”.

In short this means that the reason they are putting out crappy music is because it is what the people really want. I don’t agree with this. I think it is logical to ask: Is it what they really want to hear, or does the industry determine what the people hear through “un-natural” selection? I think there has to be a set of quality standards other than how much money an artist generates. Less-popular bands deserve to be sustained. Their value should be measured by projecting their influence forward, into the future, and not merely by calculating last year’s profit and loss statement.

In order to maintain diversity, we need label executives who are willing to stick their necks out and say “This is good music, and this is poor quality. This has integrity, and this is a blatant rip off”. Artists need to be told when they sound like someone else. It helps them recognize what is and isn’t unique about themselves. It helps them develop. I think there has to be a more sophisticated approach to developing artists and bands. I know that bands need to be educated. They don’t need the pressure of their labels simply throwing money at them while they cross their fingers and hope for a hit. This isn’t real development.

Bad Religion took a long time to develop into gold-record- status artists. Every step of the way we learned and applied our knowledge. Atlantic helped us reach a larger audience all along the way. And although we are a unique situation, I still think we prove that real development can occur in the industry without sacrificing artistic integrity.

In conclusion then, I think there has to be an acknowledgment by the people who sell the music that they play a significant role in determining the public’s musical taste. By overlooking unique artists in the search for superstars, and by forsaking long- term development in lieu of instant one-hit wonders, industry executives actively winnow the choices of the musical styles and images that are presented to the public. Thus, the industry, through a markovian evolutionary process, facilitates its own demise, and contributes to the progressive senility of our society. It is as much a truism in music, as in politics: If you offer the people nothing but mediocrity, you will create a mediocre people.

Web-Surdites by Greg Graffin

Web-Surdities
The world-wide web is growing so exponentially fast that problems are arising and no one seems to notice them. This column will be a reality-check for those who have lost their sense of what it means to be human, and therefore have a twisted view of reality, because they spend far too much time on the world-wide web. Hopefully, my opinions will provoke some fruitful discussion.

Recently, I read an article in the paper that related the growing trend of “Digital Demonstrators” (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 3, 1998). It said that “virtual marches” could be an effective way to bring about social change. It stated that “activists can demonstrate with a mouse click… This really pissed me off! First of all, it is a gross misrepresentation of what motivates social and political change. Ultimately, social change comes from an emotionally based behavior pattern. The reason people change in unison is because we are united by a similar emotional response. We are not moved to change the laws if we don’t have an emotional experience that connects us to the political issue. For instance, those who have experienced a loved-one suffering in pain on their death-bed are deeply motivated to change the laws regarding doctor-assisted suicide because of the intense similarity of their emotional response to their dying loved-one. Or further, those who have experienced discrimination, or racism, or poverty, have an emotional connection to one another, and consequently, are deeply motivated to change the social conditions. “E-mail protests” barely even cross the threshold of lending support to an issue. The internet is so anonymous, and such a poor gauge of the emotional status of its users, that it is hard to verify if the words and pictures you are seeing were even generated by a human being at all.

Let us not blunder and assume that behaviors such as protest marches, sit-ins, benefit concerts, lectures, and other social gatherings can be reduced to electronic media that effectively filter out all human emotional connections. How do we measure the seriousness of a cause? We see it and experience it with our senses.

When a million people show up in Washington D.C. and demand to be heard, it is a powerful, moving expression of what it means to be human, social and conscious. Email effectively filters us from both sociality and consciousness, and that is why it fails as a means of protest. There is nothing dangerous about it either. What can the unruly “e-mob” do if their “e-cause” is not enacted? Send out more “e-hate- mail” (Stop it you’re scaring me!). But a huge throng, collected in one place is dangerous and moving. It says we have made huge errors in our policies. So huge in fact that these people were angry enough to leave the comfort and privacy of their homes to allow their faces to be seen, and voices to be heard. And if they are ignored, there will be trouble. In short, email can be used to alert people of pending problems, but it does not constitute the demonstration. “E-protests” will fail to bring the social change because they aren’t based on human contact. Contact, the merging of the senses, the coupling of human experience, is necessary for any kind of meaningful protest or demonstration. If protests become only electronic, they will be nothing more than an allegory of human nature, as whimsical and fickle as the charged electrons that dance across the computer screen, careening toward a strong nucleus, that only temporarily holds them.

A Punk Synopsis by Greg Graffin

A Punk Synopsis
About two weeks ago I received a letter from a punker who said he used to be a fan of Bad Religion. Used to be, that is, until we let him down by releasing our last two albums which didn’t fit his definition of punk. There weren’t any songs against the establishment, he claimed (which isn’t true by the way), so how can you call it Bad Religion? Indeed how can you guys call yourself punk? He went on to imply that we don’t know anything about what punk is because we are so out of it. He was clearly angry, and intolerant of what our recent music actually had to say.He believed that the sanctity of the punk establishment had been infringed on somehow by our last two albums (but he also noted that our previous seven albums weren’t guilty of such treason).

The very same day I ran into someone on the street in the town where I live and he recognized me as the singer of Bad Religion. Like the guy who sent me the letter, he too was a punker, but he wasn’t angry or judgmental. We talked for a short while and he spoke about how increasingly these days young people in general are hostile to strangers, and don’t want to listen to anyone but their own comfortable circle of friends. And about how people seem to be motivated these days by some unseen force to be closed minded. His open desire for opinion, and his focus on relevant issues were refreshing and it made me remember all the great things about the punkers I grew up with and still interact with today: open-minded, inclusive, unpretentious and not presumptuous, and willing to confront the people or institutions that seemed unfair or unjust. Instead of being concerned with establishing an institution within which we could exclude others (which, sadly, is what many punkers really want), we were interested in including people who felt estranged by, or disillusioned with their social surroundings. In that one day I experienced some of the best things about punk, the traits exhibited by the kid on the street, and the worst things about punk: the negative, self-righteous, dogmatic thinking of the kid who wrote the letter. Both of them were self-acknowledged punkers yet they were from almost opposite ideological poles. For 16 years now I have been a member of this strange sub-culture, and I have come to realize that there are both liberal and conservative wings of it. In that sense it is a microcosm of society in general. It is an inane task to try and define punk universally. Its meaning is fuzzied everywhere by contextual circumstance. A 16 year-old girl from an affluent religious family who consistently shows up to church on Sunday with her green mohawk and Fuck Jesus shirt is punk. But so is a 42 year old biology professor who claims that Charles Darwin’s ideas were wrong. Neither person has ever heard of, nor met, one another, nor hung out together at the same underground club. And yet their challenge to established institutions and revulsion to dogmatic thinking links them spiritually. Whether this is genetic or learned is unknown. But I too feel a kinship with everyone who shares these traits. I don’t feel allied with those who are exclusive, elitist, and who think that their way of life is a model for how others should live theirs. My philosophy was instilled by the open minded thinking of my parents of course, but also through the turmoil I experienced growing up. While I realize many kids had it harder than me, I have found that a lot of people who call themselves punks had similar experiences.

In 1976, At the age of 11 I moved with my mom and brother to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Like millions of other victims of divorce in the 1970s I had to deal with the fact that my father was now living far away (in Racine, Wisconsin) and I would not get to see him as much as most other kids see theirs. This pain was compounded by the bewildering alienation I felt as a Wisconsin boy at Junior High School in the Los Angeles unified school district. I had entered a landscape unlike anything I experienced in my 11 years of life. I had dark brown fluffy, wavy hair, unfeatherable, impossible to mold into the cool rock-and-roll hairdos of the 1970s that were so popular. I wore velour kids shirts from K-Mart, and corduroys and because they were less expensive than jeans and we didn’t have a lot of money. I had cheap shoes, usually also from K-Mart or Payless, always worn out, with goofy logos that emulated the real popular brands that all the other kids wore.

I rode a Sears 10-speed that was heavy, sluggish, and couldn’t jump or skid. I had a powder blue, plastic skateboard with noisy, open-bearing wheels, totally unfit for the skateboard parks that were so popular in southern California. I had never been to the beach in my life, and thought of it as a place to go swimming, not as a symbol for a way of life. People asked me dude!…..do you party? I thought of our annual kids new year’s parties back home in Racine. We stayed up past midnight and ate ice cream and soda, but other than those I didn’t have much experience throwing parties. It took me about six months to realize that party was a synonym of getting high.

I saw fellow 7th graders come to class with squinty eyes and euphoric smiles reeking of pot smoke (at first I didn’t know what that smokey odor was). Fellow classmates in shop-class had secretive projects that they brought out only when the teacher, Mr. Feers, took his cigarette break. Their works consisted of salvaged polyurethane cylinders, sealed at the bottom, sanded smooth around the top, and a few 1/4 inch holes quickly forged on the drill-press. I was bewildered when one of them asked me: dude!….check out my bong, isn’t it bitchin? Not only did I not know what a bong was….I didn’t understand the adjective he used to describe it, nor why he was hiding it.

All I knew was that there was some weird secret about all this, and I was not one of those who were welcome to the information. Kids moved up the social ladder by revealing their knowledge of rock and roll culture and sharing their covert collections of black beauties, Quaaludes, and joints. If you partook in their offers, you were one of them, a trusted confidant. If you were afraid to partake, you were a second-class loser. In other words, if you went along with the flow, unquestioning and complacent, you were accepted and rewarded with social status. If you questioned the norm, or went against the grain in any way, you were in for a rocky ride down the social ladder.

I shriveled under this pressure. Unable to compete yet unwilling to shut down, I came to be friends with a particular class of people who were labeled geeks, nerds, kooks, dorks, wimps, and pussies (or wussies if you combine these last two). We hung out together and did creative things after school, but the greatest alleviation of my suffering came from music. We had an old spinet piano that I would bang on and sing songs I learned by ear. I desired to gain a musical identity just like my peers at school, but I wasn’t inspired by the bands that formed the fabric of this burn-out drug culture: Led Zeppelin, Rush, Kiss, Journey, Foreigner, Styx, Ted Nugent, Bad Company, Lynard Skynard among many others. Luckily, by the time I was 14, I had discovered a radio show on Saturday and Sunday nights that showcased local bands from L.A. I discovered the station because it was the only one in L.A. that played Todd Rundgren from time to time. My friend in Wisconsin and I had grown to love Todd and Utopia because they were melodic rock, but somewhat beneath the mainstream of popular music. Those characteristics still appeal to me today, and often guide my preferences for other bands. I cannot overstate the importance of that radio show in the development of my musical personality. It was called Rodney on the Roq (on station KROQ) and it proved that there was an entire community of people right there in the same city that used music to share their alienation and confusion about the culture around them. It also proved that you didn’t have to be a virtuoso or signed to a major record label in order to be played over the airwaves. The actual recordings were not slick high-budget productions. Often times Rodney would simply play demo tapes, or acetate pressings (limited-use vinyl singles or e.p.s). It was gloriously vulgar, and inspiring in its simplicity.

I wanted to be part of this community of musicians. The music was heartfelt and desperate. It spoke of the suffering that comes from the pressure to conform, and the burden that is placed on us by those in power, and the celebration of belonging to a community of powerless misfits. Yet it was delivered by such a variety of bands, from different backgrounds. I went punk at 15. I cut my wavy hair very short, dyed it pitch black, and made my own t-shirts. I was creative enough and over the years I had experimented with songwriting on the piano along with my friends playing pots and pans and using cheap tape recorders. We were determined to send in a tape to Rodney on the Roq. But before any of that could materialize, I was introduced by a fellow wussie to the guys who would become Bad Religion. By the end of that same year, 1980, I had made my first record and Rodney played it. Usually this would make anyone a hero at his high school, a veritable recording artist as a classmate! But my high-school peers were violently opposed to this new evolving subculture. It was not the kind of music that glorified sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. It wasn’t mellow and it didn’t inspire people to get wasted. I was seen as an enemy of their way of life. There were three of us at the school who were punkers. And all three of us at one time or another were physically beaten by people at school who attacked us only because of our musical preference.

This scared me and at the same time made me feel powerful. It made me realize how frail most of the conformists really were, how easily they could be pushed to the point where they lose control. I found great solace in the community of other punkers from different schools, all with similar stories of oppression and abuse. My house became a hang-out and our garage became a rehearsal space (my mom was lenient, but also always at work, so there was no adult intervention). I began to feel like there was a way to deal with the disillusion of my cultural surroundings. But it was through questioning and challenging, not conforming and accepting. This stance probably made me more insightful about human social interaction, and a better critic; but it also made me more cynical, and less understanding of those close to me who weren’t punk, and therefore it definitely retarded my ability to have intimate relationships. We punkers were linked by what we thought was a deeper cause, our desire to overcome societal pressure. It was a tacit assumption that we all had the same feelings, because we were all treated similarly by our society. The emphasis was always on the collective turmoil of our group and not on individual personal issues (there were a lot more songs about us, our, and we than about I, mine, and me). Maybe this is why so many of my friends got hooked on hard drugs, and some killed themselves. My punk friends did not practice understanding, we only exhibited toleration.

This shortcoming naturally extended to the sexes. I just assumed that girls were equals on every level. They dressed similarly, had similar hairstyles, and even slam-danced with us boys. Their suffering was our suffering, it seemed to me. I never thought that maybe they saw the punk scene from a unique perspective. Women’s issues were not on our discussion agenda. Both sexes were too busy being stalwart, and tough. It was wonderfully equal, and I was proud of my egalitarian view of the sexes. Unfortunately, it was also an excuse not to address differences between the sexes. To this day, I am great at being tolerant with women’s expressions, but bad at understanding their needs. And the time with my male friends is spent talking about mundane issues or worldly problems, not personal desires or feelings. This has interfered with numerous close friendships, and it has undermined my ability to be a good husband.

I decided to go to college. I anticipated that it would be a place where dissenting voices were recognized and applauded. This romantic vision appealed to me. I loved playing in my band and contributing to the challenge of mainstream music, but I also wanted more. I felt an urge to question more of society than just the music scene and people’s fashions. I figured that I could play in the band on weekends and vacations, and I could write about the relevant issues I was discussing at the university.

But I realize now, in retrospect, that the university was as replete with the pressure to conform as my high school was.Students were rewarded for thinking like the professor. Only rarely did the professors try to educe original ideas from the students. More often we were rewarded for regurgitating the same rhetoric on tests that they professed in the lectures, which were more like state-of-the-union addresses in any given discipline.

Although I was lucky enough to find three wonderful and inspiring faculty advisors who praised my originality and made me feel smarter than I probably am, I was saddened that there were so few like them. I became acutely aware that the usual university experience for most students was one of indoctrination into the prescriptive thinking of a privileged society. It was a recipe for what was acceptable to society. And nowhere in that socialization process did they provide a troubleshooting guide to deal with alternative ways of thinking.

As a result, my undergraduate G.P.A. was only slightly better than average. But thanks to my advisors strong recommendations and insistence that I had original research ideas, I was able to continue and receive a Master of Science degree in Geology. I went on to a Ph.D. program too. Both of my higher-degree programs have taught me that the way to succeed in our society is to walk that fragile line between understanding the dogma that is inherent in the prevailing ideology and showing the people in power that you have your own ideas too but are not willing to infringe on their tolerance.&Originality has a low tolerance threshold. Over the last year and one-half I have been privileged enough to travel with more than most people do in a life-time. As I became more worldly, I realized that at every level of society and culture there are teachings that dictate how people are supposed to behave, and that in some way or another control people’s freedom to express themselves and live happy lives. I feel that it is the gift of being human to be able to challenge and confront those tenets, and share new ways to evoke originality from others. I’m glad that I’m not an animal.

Today, I have a more sophisticated view of my social surroundings.I have children, I own a house, I have insurance, I make financial decisions. My insight into the world comes from disparate sources: geology, organismic biology, music, travel, and fatherhood. This plurality insures my individuality. And learning to be an individual was the best gift I got from growing up punk. I am conscious of stereotypes, and try not to fit them. No geologist I have met is also knowledgeable about the music business and likewise no musician I know understands earth history like I do. I am proud of this unpredictable uniqueness.

Strangely, punk is quickly becoming mainstream. Last year, more people bought punk rock records, tapes, CDS, t-shirts, stickers, and show tickets, than ever before. As in any capitalistic situation, the punk market is experiencing a focal shift away from the original intent of the art (or product) toward the creation of a credo or indoctrination surrounding the marketing of the product. Why else would entire music labels market themselves as punk labels? Because they are selling fashion and building a sub-cultural retinue instead of promoting honesty and creativity of its artists. This is a sad state of affairs in the music industry that occurs at the independent-label level as well as in the majors. Therefore, it is no wonder that there are a bunch of punk police out there monitoring whether bands like ours fit the stereotype, and match their dogmatic view of acceptability. They exhibit the same behavior as the academic clones who graduate by the thousands each spring, ready to discriminate against others who challenge their learned ideology. The letter I received two weeks ago from that disgruntled fan was sadly reminiscent of the persecution I felt in high school from the stoners.It is also a shining example of how easy it is to follow the party line and advocate unoriginal, thoughtless sentiments, which in turn motivates me all the more to provoke.

Back to the top

Fast Food and the Music Industry
Since I am known as a person who usually sings about serious issues, I figured I had better keep things very serious here today. I’d like to begin by relating a story to you about…Arbey’s Roast Beef.

I like fast food, I think it is a good product and a great invention. Last week I was standing in line looking over the simple menu and I decided I would get the #1 value meal. Then I realized my craving for lots of fries and I said “Can I have a large fries with that instead”? The cashier said: “Why don’t you just supersize? After I said okay, she reached for the supersize cola and I saw that this thing was the size of a small trash can. Who can drink that much cola? Who can carry it? You would have to strap it in, to a child-restraint harness, if you ordered it at the drive-thru window. I said, “That’s okay, I just want a regular cola but keep the supersize fries”. This is the point that all hell broke loose. The cashier said: “UUUUMMMM, we can’t do that sir. It was as if I asked her to derive Kepler’s law of orbital rotation or something! Apparently, the keypad on the cash register didn’t include an option that allowed a supersized fries without a supersized cola. Three other employees came forth from their posts to help out their confused co-worker. None of them could figure out how to accurately charge me for my simple request. I said “Don’t worry about it, just give me the regular sized drink and I’ll pay the full price of a supersized number one value meal. All of the co- workers, let out an appreciative sigh of relief. And the people behind me in line were relieved too: “Who is this guy holding up the line, taking all the employees for his own special needs? “That’s when it dawned on me: Things in our society have become too efficient. There is an over-efficiency problem to the extent that institutions offer you only a limited set of choices and what results is a subtle determinism of your behavior. I believe that this isn’t what people want. They want to be more free. They want to exercise their freedom of choice. Do you remember the old marketing slogan of Burger King? “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us. Today, special orders might not upset them, they just short-circuit their brain synapses. The “Have it your way” mentality of the past is no longer valid. Today, virtually all of the fast food chains are saying “Have it our way”. You are not free to choose. And this is a serious issue.

The music industry itself is not immune to this kind of simplistic, over-efficient, marketing mentality unfortunately. And I think this is something that needs to be addressed. It requires a lot more discussion than we can have here today, but I will break it down for you quickly and add some of my own analysis and maybe inspire some change.

Step One: Is there a problem?

I think so. Why do so many bands and artists sound the same? Artists have always emulated other artists, that’s not exactly the problem. Today, it seems, the similarities are getting profound. Lead singers are sounding identical to other singers on other labels. Combine that with the producers, using the same techniques for different bands, and we are left with: singers sounding the same, production sounding the same, two different labels, the same product, value meal mentality. Consider this: Epic has Pearl Jam, BMG has Creed, Sony music has Silverchair, Epitaph has NOFX, but MCA has Blink 182, Interscope has NIN but they figured they could amplify that so they offered us Marilyn Manson, WEA has Pantera, SONY has Korn, Geffen had Berlin in the 80’s so 10 years later they figured they could offer it to us again in the form of Garbage, WEA has Alanis Morrisette, ULG has Meredith Brooks, Arista has Sarah McLaughlin, WEA has Paula Cole. The list could go on and on….

Why is this the case?

I think it’s because art is hard to make, so artists copy other artists. But art is even harder to sell to the public, so the sellers copy the marketing strategies of other sellers. The artist and seller then form a bond of self-congratulation that destroys their desire to try something novel. The result is a lower diversity of musical styles and a more programmed, less realistic image of the artist. The other result is higher, more predictable sales, and thus a greater proportion of signed bands selling boat loads of cds. Why do we buy it? The music lover doesn’t have much of a choice. We either buy the music that is presented to us or give up listening to it. Most of us would choose the former.

Part Two: How does this problem come to be?

I will attempt to illustrate the process of how I think this problem is perpetuated through the industry. I would like to borrow an analogy from biology to show how evolutionary systems can progressively enhance efficiency through time, but only at a high cost…the cost of diversity. The music industry evolves just as a species evolve. In nature there is natural selection: Species must adapt, or they become extinct. In the music business, bands have to either sell records (a form of adaptation itself) or they get dropped (a form of extinction). Evolution depends not only on natural selection, but also on probability. The variety of animals that can be created in the next stage of evolution are not a random sample. They are determined to some degree by the variety of animals that exist today.

This can be stated simply in the following way “whatever comes next in any evolutionary system is dependent on what is available at present”. Biologists call this phenomenon a markovian process, a process of non-random probability that constrains the outcome of the evolutionary sequence of events. Think of how monkeys came to be. They didn’t just appear suddenly like some aliens landing from outer space. They were derived from animals in a previous stage of evolution that looked similar, but weren’t quite monkeys. The music industry also has evolved through a markovian process. For instance, it is not a random chance that we have Alanis Morrissette. She didn’t evolve out of the null-and-void. She came from a former template. She borrowed styles and sounds from a very limited set of other artists. The important thing to be learned is that it is possible to predict with some degree of accuracy what the next stage of evolution will look like, based on what things look like today. And if the music industry doesn’t cultivate a diverse array of artists today, they will extinguish the possibility of future musical revolutions.

Every time a species becomes extinct, its genes are removed from the gene-pool of the future and they don’t re-appear. Likewise, every time a band is dropped, or an artist’s catalog is discontinued, there is a negative effect on the next stage of music-industry evolution. Dropping bands severely limits the range of choices from which the next generation will take its inspiration. The crop of artists-to-be of the future is determined by the artists that exist today. Inspiration is analogous to hereditary.

So the question in the music industry is the same as the biggest question in modern biology: “How do we maintain diversity”?

If we continue to clear natural habitats, and pave them over with cities or agricultural land, we will cause a lot of species to go extinct because they cannot adapt to our rapid destruction. The net result: Fewer types of organisms in the next stage of evolution. Likewise, if the record labels only promote carbon copies of each other’s artists rosters, and ignore bands and artists that are qualitatively unique, there will be a very restrictive set of artistic styles available in the next decade. And a limited array of products is bad for any institution’s long-term prospectus. Now comes the difficult part: Suggesting reparations.

I think our values are askew. We have come to measure quality in the wrong way, usually in terms of dollars and cents and not in intellectual or emotional stimulation. This is probably both a symptom of our society, as well as an arrogant irreverence by those who wield the power. There is a common attitude among music industry people. I’ve heard numerous executives say: “Who are we to judge the music we release? The kids love it! We are just giving the people what they want to hear”.

In short this means that the reason they are putting out crappy music is because it is what the people really want. I don’t agree with this. I think it is logical to ask: Is it what they really want to hear, or does the industry determine what the people hear through “un-natural” selection? I think there has to be a set of quality standards other than how much money an artist generates. Less-popular bands deserve to be sustained. Their value should be measured by projecting their influence forward, into the future, and not merely by calculating last year’s profit and loss statement.

In order to maintain diversity, we need label executives who are willing to stick their necks out and say “This is good music, and this is poor quality. This has integrity, and this is a blatant rip off”. Artists need to be told when they sound like someone else. It helps them recognize what is and isn’t unique about themselves. It helps them develop. I think there has to be a more sophisticated approach to developing artists and bands. I know that bands need to be educated. They don’t need the pressure of their labels simply throwing money at them while they cross their fingers and hope for a hit. This isn’t real development.

Bad Religion took a long time to develop into gold-record- status artists. Every step of the way we learned and applied our knowledge. Atlantic helped us reach a larger audience all along the way. And although we are a unique situation, I still think we prove that real development can occur in the industry without sacrificing artistic integrity.

In conclusion then, I think there has to be an acknowledgment by the people who sell the music that they play a significant role in determining the public’s musical taste. By overlooking unique artists in the search for superstars, and by forsaking long- term development in lieu of instant one-hit wonders, industry executives actively winnow the choices of the musical styles and images that are presented to the public. Thus, the industry, through a markovian evolutionary process, facilitates its own demise, and contributes to the progressive senility of our society. It is as much a truism in music, as in politics: If you offer the people nothing but mediocrity, you will create a mediocre people.