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Duane also pens most of his band's lyrics, most of which touch on war, death, insanity and whatever happens to be pissing him off at the moment. On Unite, the standout track was "Nuke H.B.," a rant against the 15-year redevelopment of Huntington Beach's Main Street into something unrecognizable to Duane. "The pier is just a mall/Downtown is really gone/Mix a prison with a gym . . . Surf City is a sewage tank/This beach is gonna sink!/1-2-3 NUKE HB!" On Back at the Laundromat, Duane spits at rave culture on "The Rubber Room," the music industry on "The Contract" and the whole damn government on "Yer Country" ("I ain't no 'tis of thee/I'm proud to be ashamed").
In the truest Clash tradition, Duane gets political by renouncing the political. While his lyrics may not be as blunt as those of, say, Pittsburgh punkers Anti-Flag, he's still trying to clue you in that there's other, bigger stuff going on in the world than what you'd get on a steady diet of Blink-182, which is pretty admirable these days. Last year, Duane even came close to voting. "I was gonna vote, but it got too fucking weird at the end. I was all pro-Nader, but then I started seeing I wouldn't really feel comfortable with him in charge, so then I went back to feeling that my vote doesn't matter. I was telling all my friends, 'Fuckin' vote! You gotta vote!' But then it turned into, 'You know what? I don't give a shit. We're all gonna lose, so fuck it.' With Republicans and Democrats, I can't tell the difference anymore. We've been under democracy for so long, but it hasn't been working for me."
Duane spends so much time on the road—nine months in 2001—that he bristles when told that some people don't really consider him a product of OC punk. "People think we're just fucking outsiders or wannabe rock stars, but the bottom line is that we're out there working. We're seeing the world for free and we get to play punk rock. That's been my dream all my life. During the drug days, I couldn't do that. I could barely leave town, and I was going to be one of these guys who keeps talking about what he's gonna do and then never doing it. So it's like, hey, time's running out. There's a whole fucking world out there."
And, how about this? Duane Peters—big, bad, one-of-Orange-County's-Scariest-People Duane Peters—is down with God. "Yeah. I'm not religious at all, but I believe it's cool to have some sort of fuckin' spiritual tap-in, or you're fucked," he says. "If you think you're the only guy running your own show, good luck. You're just a scared human. But I like where I'm going right now; I've kind of found a direction. I was directionless for years. I just wanted to die like my heroes. It was pretty sad, but that's the truth. I feel good about being 40. I'm still skating better than most 25-year-olds. I still look alive onstage. I don't see me slowing down. I'm just trying to get wiser. I didn't know how to pay a bill or nothing till a couple of years ago. I had to start learning from the ground up, learning how to be responsible. I'm hoping in my 40s, I'll be a little more solid. I didn't plan on being 25 or 30, so it's all gravy whatever I get now."
Right before we both pack up and leave the coffeehouse, Duane Peters tells me one last thing—right after he takes a long drag off a cigarette: "And this year, I'm gonna get me some new teeth."
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