By Susanne Tabata
VANCOUVER — With the closing of punk music venue Funky’s on Hastings, Chris Walter moves east to launch his latest book I Survived DOA by Randy Rampage at Pat’s Pub. Not driven by money, nor prestige, this is a self-published writer and owner of Go Fuck Yourself (GFY) Press, whose works include music biographies for SNFU, Dayglos, and Personality Crisis. Plus such notable titles as Liquor and Whores, Punch the Boss, Chasing the Dragon and Beer. Walter is in collaboration with Randy Rampage, the punk rock original and co-founding member of DOA who has been left for dead many times and can be seen sporting a fluorescent safety vest in transit to and from work on the docks. There is a code of honour among men of that era. That is why it is doubtful Rampage will tell tales out-of-school to the extent that anyone will go to prison.
Before talking about the book, attention is focused on the unfunny business of US politics. Is it the PC overdose causing the rise of Trump as most comics will tell you? “I really don’t know, but something has gone horribly awry. People are sick and tired of political administrations that whip them like rented mules. But instead of going with far left or moderate options, voters swing farther to the right. I get that they’re rebelling against the system, but how can they possibly believe Trump will ever help anyone but himself?” And while Rampage surrounds himself with progressives, the son of a Socred has always been a bit lighter about serious things. “Life is about survival in a fucked up world. There was Fucked Up Ronnie, Fucked Up Bush I, Fucked Up Bush II, and now Fucked Up Donald. Did my generation create Donald Trump? No, he created himself. And we are due for a shake up. That’s the appeal of Trump.”
Rampage continues, “We were wanting to do something about the world but not knowing how to put it together. Our hearts were there but we didn’t know how to go about getting social change. We were all dreamers like all outsiders are. Now I know if you don’t do something about it, it can’t change. So vote.” Walters interjects, “Most of us lucky enough to still be alive are starting to realize we’re not bulletproof and that maybe we should take it easy just a bit. Nowadays, we’re losing the old crew to things like heart attacks and other health-related issues. Ultimately, I see us as idealists that slowly acknowledged we couldn’t save the world from people like Trump. Like the hippies before us, we gradually assimilated into society, gathering occasionally at shows featuring musicians older than our parents were when we first steered away from the mainstream. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. I know a lot of very talented and creative people, and the punks in my circle are fairly intelligent. I can tolerate all manners of bullshit, but I have a limited threshold for stupidity.” Let’s change the subject.
Being a DOA fan, Chris Walter would have done a book on DOA but Joey Shithead wrote it himself. “I figured Randy would be more forthcoming anyway, because he doesn’t have to worry about a political career and doesn’t have family to offend. I’m glad we did the book. Randy’s memory is surprisingly good and his stories range from extremely funny to absolutely hair-raising. His recall is almost frightening at times. He remembered the name on a birth certificate that Brad Kent had brought along as backup ID to cross the US border! Randy remembered the names of promoters he hasn’t seen in more than thirty years. How freaky is that?”
There is a CODE amongst insiders that certain things don’t get said. Rampage has taken a bullet on more than one occasion to save the reputation of the old guard. “People will get some of the truth about what went on with watered-down Jeff Waters and Politico Joe. There is some crazy shit that is no one’s business and I will not tell anyone about it. I just gave a POV Rampage-style. And I did protect Joe and some others a bit. I don’t want to fuck someone over to sell books when it’s nobody’s business.”
If your name is Chuck or Joe you are safe. If your name is Cheryl or Jeff, buy the book. Walter figures it’s “guitarist Jeff Waters of Annihilator who might not be too happy with some of his stories and comments. I have a feeling Randy doesn’t give a shit what Jeff thinks because he certainly didn’t pull any punches, literally or figuratively. He could have gone into more detail about his drug use, but he went deep enough, and I know he isn’t proud of that part of his life. Overall, I was satisfied that he told the full story.”
“I wasn’t protecting Joe, but I wasn’t out to hurt him either. Randy told the stories he wanted to tell, and Joe might not like all of them, but there isn’t anything in the book that will send him to jail. I never allow subjects to settle scores in print because I don’t think readers find that interesting. It’s one thing to acknowledge problems and difficulties, but another entirely for subjects to behave like US presidential candidates. Who wants to read that shit?”
“I know about punks, drunks, junkies, and whores, so it only makes sense to write about that. However, I try to keep it fresh by combining the novels with music biographies and memoirs, as well as my recent foray into ghostwriting. My next book, Tales From the Tattoo Shop, will also be non-fiction. I wish I could stick entirely to fiction because it’s so much fun to write, but non-fiction keeps me off the welfare line.”
If the world ended tomorrow for Chris Walter, “In the smoking rubble of Vancouver, under the bloated, rotting corpse of a corporate banker, search-and-rescue robots will find a copy of Mosquitoes & Whisky, the pages glued together with putrefied body fluids. Steel fingers will pull the paper apart and the robot will send a photo to human controllers safe in a bunker somewhere. The words will read: ‘The house was a thousand miles distant. I set off in a staggering gait, drooling bile and lurching badly. Somehow, I made it up the steps without my head falling off. I’d never been so brutally hungover.’” Not to mince words, Rampage, whose partial remains are to be dumped over the 30 foot pool in Lynn Canyon finishes with, “I came, I saw, I died. If you want a straight forward honest rock ‘n’ roll story from the bottom…that’s what this is. And I’m proud of Chris.”
Chris Walter and Randy Rampage will be reading from the book in an intimate evening at Pat’s Pub on Hastings Street (at Dunlevy) November 11, Armistice Day, 8 p.m. onwards.
I Survived DOA is available at Bone Rattle Music, Zulu Records, Red Cat Records, Co-op Books, MacLeod’s Books, New World Clothing, and online from GFY Press. www.punkbooks.com
Susanne Tabata is the creator of the documentary Bloodied But Unbowed about the birth and death of the first punk scene in Vancouver. RIP Brad Kent.
Special Thanks to Bev Davies, Lynn Werner, David Jacklin.BC, books, British Columbia, Chris Walter, DOA, history of DOA, I Survived DOA, Pat's Pub, punk rock history, Randy Rampage, Susanne Tabata