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Interview with Duane Peters: "I'm Going to Die Like A Pirate"

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Legendary skateboarder, fashion muse, and musician Duane Peters “The Master of Disaster” was born and raised in Orange County, California. This is where he learned how to do the two most important things in life (aside from cheating death and living the life of a poor kid).

He learned how to surf and skate. 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.

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 Latinos shoot cows."

These days, kids are too distracted by social media 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 singing to Diana Ross records and "creating dance routines for old Latina ladies while jumping out of trees."

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. His band, Duane Peters and the Great Unwashed, also 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 sits with people for a month or two, they are looking to book some small bar shows. 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.

Check out our interview below!

Why did you decide to team up with Iron Fist?

Duane Peters: 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 products the right way. These places didn’t care about the fact that my name was on it.

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. I want my shoes to be way cooler than the competition. It’s all about quality and style. 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. I won't be a cheapskate.

I read that you had to withdraw the deal for your brand's factory in Mexico. What happened with that?

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 whatever, they don’t even know their jobs anymore. It’s annoying.

After all these years, are you still stoked about skateboarding?

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?! I’m 51 and the economy is eating shit. It’s not looking good. Everyone is so serious about that last dollar that people are forgetting to truly enjoy their lives, but I’m working on getting back to that.

Duane Peters and the Great Unwashed were on the road touring 10 months out of the year. What's one of the craziest moments you can remember?

Being a punk rock musician comes with lots of crazy moments. 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. 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.

Dope was a big problem for you in your twenties. I can see how the rigorous demands of being an action sports athlete can set some people up for addiction.

Yeah, I'm no longer doing drugs. We lost a bunch of guys to opiates. It’s a big bummer with these types of action sports. I've broken about 12 to 15 bones in my career. Being sober 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.

In retrospect, what did your upbringing teach you?

It 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. People need 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.

You're in your 50's now ... do you ever wish you could go back in time?

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. I'm going to die like a pirate.

What else are you currently working on?

In the near future, I plan 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 feel like it’s pioneering upon something extraordinary.

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