Legendary skateboarder, fashion muse, and musician Duane Peters “The Master of Disaster” was born and raised in Orange County, California. This is where he basically learned how to do the two most important things in life (aside from cheating death and living the life of a poor ghetto kid). He learned how to surf and skate.
As a kid, you could have found him dodging trains. There was a packing house to the left of where he lived, where bums hung out under the bridge next to a wash. He and his friends would go and watch the Mexicans shoot cows. These days, kids are too distracted by the digital world to be concerned with trying to be Evil Knievel and jump over streams with only a football helmet on. They are too afraid to get their hands dirty. They are the “potato chip kids.” Only future pirates grew up mimicking a record like Diana Ross and creating dance routines for old Hispanic ladies while jumping out of trees. Real ghetto shit.
At first glance, you wouldn’t guess that he grew up in Costa Mesa. Fans have often called him “an indestructible motherfucker.” Let’s put it this way: when he was 16-years-old, he did a loop and that was 19 years before Tony Hawk did one. It was the circus that started it all. “How can I be in the circus? How can I be on the road?” These are the types of questions a young Peters was often asking himself.
Peters recently joined Iron Fist’s roster of Heritage Icons to collaborate on a new footwear line (dPBroadways and dPClashers Hi-Lo’s), which pony-headed the party at Bread and Butter Berlin in July 2012. Constantly having to be on the road and come up with merchandise taught Peters a tremendous amount of business sense.
“I shopped hard. I spent two years searching for the right company because the previous one I was working with had horrible factory work and quality. The product began going downhill. When they stopped using glue and the rubber started falling apart, I was done. I want to be able to promote my product the right way. These places didn’t care about the fact that my name was on it,” Peters explained.
Fortunately, Iron Fist is everything he has ever dreamed of. Who wouldn’t love a company that doesn’t penny pinch? The guys over at Iron Fist are pretty rad and they want to do it all. They’ve also got some badass artists to work with.
“My gig is old school. I honestly just want a good product out there that I can totally back up and believe in. And I want my fans to buy another pair because their previous pair lasted so much longer than everyone else’s,” he says, when asked about his relationship with the alternative lifestyle brand. “I want my shoes to be way cooler than the next guy’s. It’s all about quality and style. I can’t even believe how great Iron Fist is. I’ve never seen such a large run of samples coming in from a company with so many colors. The first run was phenomenal! Everyone’s working so hard right now for that last dollar and who wants to be the enemy of the public when it comes to the last dollar? Everyone is getting ripped off so much these days. I just wanted to put a great shoe out there. Yes, I am very fanatical about my shoes."
Peters started to launch his own brand a couple years back. He did all the work of finding a factory in Mexico. They even had a name for it but he had to withdraw the deal. It’s a possibility that the guys he was starting the company with are probably still pissed at him.
“The meetings that took place just went really sour. I hated having the feeling that there was a secret government in the boardroom. You know, the top of the pyramid. We had no distribution and no money to really start it. So, of course, it went badly. We would have had to take out a big loan and deal with all this crap I didn’t want a part of. All I wanted to do was get a damn shoe out! I hate knocking on doors. It gets so old asking and a lot of people at these places, whether it be a record label or what have you, they don’t even know their jobs anymore. It’s annoying.”
Recently, Duane Peters and the Great Unwashed came out with a new record titled Busy Dying, which is a collaboration with producer and composer Greg Kuehn (TSOL, Bob Dylan). Next month, they are scheduled to play in Las Vegas at The Magic and the Double Down to debut the album, promote his new shoe, and just have a fun time. Once their release soaks with people for a month or two, they are looking to book some small bars. The Gunfight and Hunns just got an offer so he’ll most likely be playing with them at the Galaxy in Santa Ana come August.
When I asked him to what degree he’s truly living, Peters told me that he lives life fully and is still stoked about skateboarding. He’s 51 and still skating pools and pipes.
“When we were kids, we thought someone who was 27 was an old skateboarder. I remember seeing Bob Moore in Skateboard Mania and we looked at him like he was a fucking reptile! How was he still doing 360s at 27?!” Peters reminisces.
In the near future, he plans on reading Charles Bukowski poems alongside an orchestra in Europe since the act, Bukowski Rocks, just recently picked up a tour. “With this Bukowski gig, I still feel like it’s pioneering upon something extraordinary and that’s what I love doing.”
There have been so many rewarding moment of his career. Considering that he did not have a shoe out for two years and having his youngest son saying, “daddy is a shoemaker,” and being proud that he designs shoes has made every moment worth it.
“Shit. Man, I’m 51 and the economy is eating shit. It’s not looking good, you know. Everyone is so serious about that last dollar that people are forgetting to truly enjoy their lives, but I’m getting back to that. I won’t be known as a cheapskate.”
Although Peters is not currently completely sober, he proclaims that he is no longer doing drugs. Dope was a huge problem for him while in his twenties. “We lost a bunch of guys due to opiates,” Peters admitted. “It’s a big bummer with these types of action sports. Even I have broken about 12 to 15 bones in my career. The sober world really saved my life for about 20 years in and out. I’m either training or I’m not. To tell you the truth, the worst thing I do is smoke cigarettes when I’m training. Oh, and I take a shitload of dietary supplements to keep my body agile.”
Hey, we all have to find a way to keep on keepin’ on.
“Being a punk rock musician comes with the opportunity of being able to experience many crazy, crazy things,” Peters says with a hoarse chuckle. “We’ve had so many weird experiences on the road I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Everything was mainly sex-related. One time, a guy approached me and demanded I have sex with his wife. They had an entire bedroom set up for us. The whole deal.”
These guys were on the road 10 months out of the year. I can only imagine the type of shit they got themselves into.
“Typically, we’d find a way of demoralizing our road guy. There’s a rule of thumb in the states, anywhere for that matter, when you get to a quarter tank you fill up and don’t fuck with it. You don’t run out of gas. Well, our roadie runs out of gas on a hill in Oakland and it started to roll backwards with the trailer attached and it jackknifes in the middle of traffic in the total ghetto. This was a two-lane road. We pissed off so many people. They were livid! The whole time our roadie was gone getting gas, about 20 of us tried pushing our ride off the road. When he finally returned, I opened up the trailer and said, ‘Hey, dude you gotta fix this pack,’ and I took the gas can from him and then locked him in the trailer. From Oakland to Seattle, that dude was locked up.”
It’s safe to say he never ran out of gas on the road, again.
This is a hardcore planet on the map in the universe we are living on. And Peters has his finger on the pulse.
“We’re being ran by a corrupt government and a lot of people don’t have the time to learn about what is really going on. All you have to do is look a little bit deeper. Kennedy, 9/11, FEMA camps that are being built and employed, and the Illuminati. I’ve written so many songs about it for years, but there comes a time when you just get tired of waving the flag. My upbringing taught me that once anything gets too fanatical, that it’s time to ease up and get back to life. Punk rock etiquette for me is pulling up when things get too crazy.”
Despite the collapse of the world, what Peters teach us is to wake up and simply dig on life.
“I don’t believe that this is our only life. We have all been here before. Consciousness never dies. If you believe that this entire orchestration is just a fluke then you are fucked.”
Perhaps everything in this life does happen for a reason because there aren’t any mistakes—just lessons to be learned. The longer we live, the less we know.
“I’m in my 50’s now and I’m telling you, I’d never want to be 40, again. I knew everything back then. As you keep on living, man, you lose more people. The ones that do time on this planet must be shape shifters. Life is all about visualizing and manifesting. In retrospect, looking back on my own mind as a kid, I know that it doesn’t matter what God you believe in. Just believe in yourself and keep striving and you’re going to get wherever you’re supposed to be.”
At the end of the day, The Master of Disaster is just attempting to do something really good, really fucking rad. Peters is someone who doesn’t want to feel like he is just surviving. How amazing is it to come here as a cowboy, to live like an Indian, and die like a pirate? Think about it. There is still a prospect of a thrilling adventure ahead of him and there’s no telling where the future will take him because it’s not all glamour and booty—it’s a lot of hard work. Many people clock out early in life, but for Peters, there is no such thing as being done.
To him, that would mean death.