Friday, June 15, 2018

Screaming Fastcore Interviews Freddie Torres (Donuts N' Glory)

Donuts N' Glory was a 3-piece short-lived skatepunk band from Costa Mesa, Southern California. They formed in 1994 and kept active until 1996. 

Two weeks ago, Screaming Fastcore interviewed Garry Cassidy (former drummer of the band) who gave us a lot of valious info about them. Well, the story does not end here... A few days ago, Garry contacted me with Freddie Torres (former singer / bassist) who was interested in answering the same interview in order to reveal us more unknown details and anecdotes.
I couldn't be more stoked for. So, here we go again!

How old were each one of you when Donuts N' Glory started?
I was about 19 years old. Garry’s a year younger and Dan and Brian were 2 years younger.

How did band's name come about?
Garry the drummer already had the name by the time I tried out for the band. He says it was his (mis)interpretation of something he heard in a song. I always thought it was a reference to police officers and their inspiration for being cops; instead of “No Guts, No Glory” it was “Donuts And Glory.” Cops become cops because they want donuts and glory. I’m not sure why that should be the name of band, but it was there when I got there, and I wasn’t about to change things up…

I feel a huge influence from "Propagandhi - How To Clean Everything" and "NOFX - Punk In Drublic" on your full-length album. Which other bands/albums were an inspiration for that record?
At the time of that record I was listening to a bunch of different bands, and certain aspects made it into the album in one way or another. The gravely and painfully raw singing in Crimpshrine and FIFTEEN inspired the vocals at times. Also, those bands were always talking about their hometown and their childhood in Berkeley, California. There was a certain terroir to their lyrics and the feel of their songs. Lyrically I tried to do the same, but as it applied to the scene in Orange County, California in the mid-1990s. Minor Threat influenced me in the same way, both lyrically and in their attitude and tone, but they talked about the scene in DC back in the 80s. OC in the 90s growing up was about the dudes, the surfers, the jocks, the meatheads, Peace Punks, Mexicans, materialism, overconsumption, hyper-consumerism, car culture, freeways, territorialism from city to city, jerks wanting to fight at parties, drinking beer, aging old school punks, bands trying to become mainstream, fake plastic people. But then there were the people that rejected all that, and I was one of them. Oh, I did like the beer…
We drank beer in cornfields, we broke into mansions under construction and drank beer and caroused and fucked around. We listened to James Brown and danced in garages and warehouses and we did it all night long. We drank whiskey and stayed up all night and talked about books, and made up a cappella songs about Kareem Abdul Jabbar. We smoked cigarettes and drank coffee and talked all night, ate mushrooms in the desert, smoked, read books from the Beats and the counter culture from the 60s. I read Henry Rollins poetry, Bukowski, Kerouac, Hesse, Heinlein, etc. I read Cometbus all the time and how that guy hitchhiked across Europe and busked in the 80s and hopped trains, etc., a mid-80s beatnik. I wanted to do the same, but doing it our way.
I was really into Primus, with its tripped out music, tradition-breaking sound. I was into AVAIL which I was trying to harness in the ending of A Lot of Not Much. Also, the beginning of A Lot of Not Much was supposed to rip the feel from the beginning of the TV show Quantum Leap. Lyrically that song was drawing from Eastern philosophy dealing with the duality in the universe. However, part of the album was to not take things too seriously. Also in that song we took the I-Spy approach to song writing where there’s not really verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus; instead it was a one-way ticket with no real repetition structurally. It was intro-verse-bridge-chorus-another bridge-outro. I liked that it didn’t have any discernable structure.
I used to have a year pass to Disneyland and I’d go there, drink a coffee, ride Space Mountain, ride the people mover, and do my homework for college. The beginning of WPRTE was supposed to sound like the People Mover, or Journey Thru Inner Space, a slow paced ride at Disneyland that had a 60s style department store narrator telling some corny storyline about shrinking down to the molecular level. I was into Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime, which was a conceptual album which had a storyline, or like Sgt. Pepper’s. Both had storylines to a degree, certain themes threaded through, so in that way the Fabulous Endeavor was leading the listener into a story, with discernable themes, but not linear. The WPRTE intro, The Fabulous Endeavor, was to trying to take the listener on a journey into absurdity, into the abstract, like the Dadaists and surrealist artists I was learning about in college. What the fuck is a pregnasaur? The lyric “I feel like I’m in labor, I can feel the head of a revolution pushing out of my urethra” was a tip of the hat to the revolutionaries, like Che, like Bolivar, like the Viet Cong, Ian MacKaye, or like Les Claypool who said “to defy the laws of tradition is a crusade only of the brave.” I was trying to be brave like those people, but doing so in my own way.
Musically we were ripping off from all over the place. Mickeymousealbundy used a Big Muff and was trying to sound heavy, but absurd, like Weezer. I think Primus was an influence, with the tinty sounding Porkpie snare drum, fusion-rock drum fills, ornate work on the high-hat: I think that was Primus influenced. I liked the disturbed-kid-on-the playground bratty feel of FYP which I think came out with lyrics like “sorry mom and dad” in Jon.
The break in Sirens with the galloping palm muted metal guitar riff, and the break beforehand was definitely Slayer and Anthrax influenced; like the break and punches in The Crooked Crossfrom Slayer’s South Of Heaven, and the guitar feel in Anthrax’s Among The Living. Also the break in Sirens leading up to said metal riff is a rip from the can-can song from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The lyric “flex your head” is a rip from Minor Threat.
Before Baywatch clearly is inspired by Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long but also the lyric “and just when you thought you’ve seen it all, out comes an alien a-nine-foot-tall” is lifted from the end song from Revenge of the Nerds. Orange County pop culture also makes it into the album with references to the Orange Mall, a dated shopping mall in Orange, California, which easily could have doubled for the mall in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Also, the old California Angel Bobby Grich made it in, doing a “guest appearance” at Sears. Jelly Sandals, Betamax, checkered Vans (which has made about 7 comebacks since that song was written back in 1995). I asked Brian, the guitarist, to think of an 80s guy’s name, and without skipping a beat he said “Toby.”
Musically at the time I was into Operation Ivy and Rancid, so I ripped the bass player’s approach a bit, although I couldn’t play as fast, or as well, but really, too many notes on the bass can become overbearing. My all time favorite is Minor Threat, so at least the spirit of that band can be heard in the attitude, music, and lyrics. And of course NOFX’s Longest Line influenced the music with the stops, starts, syncopation, etc.
So, overall, the album was pastiche, collage art, part tribute to pop culture, but definitely OC, and definitely 90s, and definitely Donuts n’ Glory. The following is pulled from the heart of the Big Lebowski (which I’m proud to say I saw in the movie theater right when it came out), but it applies to our band a bit: Sometimes there's a man band... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man band. And I'm talkin' about the Dude Donut n’ Glory here. Sometimes, there's a man band, well, he's they’re the man band for his their time and place. He They fit right in there. And that's the Dude Donuts n’ Glory, in Los Angeles Orange County.”

Do you have more unreleased songs apart from "The Bell Song", "The Gord" and "That Way"?
First, while The Bell Song is the correct name, I’m not sure what The Gord is. That Way must be the song that starts “The situation that we’ve made, for ourselves at these shows” but I really can’t remember the name. I have a cassette tape of us practicing where Dan plays fancy arpeggios doing a cover of Minor Threat. On tour we did a mash-up song of The Doors Touch Me and Crimpshrine’s Butterflies.
We played Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti live a couple of times, as well as Metallica’s Motorbreath. We played a song called Land Of The Lost Love which was about that 70s TV show with the clay dinosaurs, and how Holly, the blonde girl fell in love with Chaka, the missing link sasquatch-type primate: a story of forbidden love. There was also a recording session we did that had a song about the Lab Mall in Costa Mesa and how it was destroying subculture by monetizing it. My first band was with my brother and a neighborhood guy named Eric Sullivan; we played a song called I Hate No Fear Stickers whose title pretty much tells you what it was about. It was part Primus, part Bad Religion. Brian Billy from the 7” was about how we played a party in San Diego, the vibe was cool, and then some meatheads tried to steal the keg and the whole band and our friends from Tustin (Chris Austin and others) stopped them and then there was a riot/brawl but we retained the keg. I think that was the only band fight.

Is it true that you played with Blink-182 (when they were called Blink)? Please tell us more about that story.
We played with them at least 3 times. Once was at the Coach House in Capistrano Valley. It was weird because everyone was sitting down at tables because it was some sort of dinner theater venue. We also played with them at the Showcase Theater in Corona. I remember the bass player replaced his strings every show and he gave me his strings. That was nice of him. At that show the guitar guy had the flu or something so the manager, Brian Valdez, gave him a shot of vitamin C or B12 or something.
I thought that was kind of funny and reminded me of the rumor that the running back at my high school got a horse tranquilizer shot in his leg because he was in pain. It was a “cut me Mick” situation, which I found a little peculiar. The last time we played with them was in Lake Havasu at some rec center place. Garry drew a picture for our friends ‘zine that was rude, and the guy from Blink was not pleased. Blink is indirectly referenced in WPRTE. Let’s just say I was more into Black Flag, Blatz, Cannibal Corpse, stuff like that, and less KROQ Wiener Roast, MTV, etc.

Which one was your favorite show you ever played, and why?
I really liked playing in an old mining cave in the desert outskirts of Las Vegas with a band called Bobba Fett Youth. I don’t remember what that band sounded like, but what a cool name. We played at night and there was an old VW bus with a fire burning inside it, in the fucking cave! It was like Mad Max, or that scene in the Terminator in the future where some scrubby little kid seems to be watching a TV set, but then the camera angle turns and you see that it’s not a TV show the kid’s watching, but a little fire the kid’s huddling around. Man, that was some funny post- apocalyptic shit. We played and the crowd starting moshing in a circle and dust got kicked up everywhere, and covered all of our shit and my Big Muff pedal. The next morning, we were out of it and then our burn out surfer friends Scotty and Tanner started looking for half-drunk beers so they could keep the party going. They were climbing over the red rocks looking for cans and I remember Tanner saying something in his Spiccoli voice like “We’re on an Easter egg hunt, but we’re looking for beers instead of eggs.” Next, we brought a big BBQ on wheels, and we decided to roll it off a cliff and watch it get wrecked and disintegrate as it tumbled down the rocks. Spectacular!
I also liked playing with the Queers, and later The Criminals – I liked them, so that was cool. I was listening to that clear live Queers album all the time. Monster Zero!
Another great show was in Rock Springs, Wyoming. We were supposed to play at some Polish Social Club/Rec Center, but we couldn’t because they had double-booked a bachelor party (I remember some burly guy was wheeling in a keg). We went to a small independent record store and met some kids in the parking lot. They said we should play on a flatbed trailer “and shits.” Instead they brought us to a park where there were some medieval role-playing knights having a sword battle with foam covered sticks. We went inside the gazebo in the middle, but there was not electricity. Somehow the kids who took us there managed to get about 30 of the town kids to watch us play. We had no power so we played our electric instruments without amps, and we played our entire set but with all the raw energy we could. In fact, we played with even more energy to make up for the fact that we had no amplification. The kids went wild and we opened up the back of our U-Haul and sold pretty much every kid a CD. That was cool.
One time we played a suburban house it Pennsicola, Florida. The whole neighborhood came to watch us play in a living room, and there were really young kids there. They fed us hot dogs and it was something different. We played a bayou blues bar in a shack outside New Orleans; we had to piss in sink!
The last show we played was in Denver, Colorado, and upon leaving the parking lot some guy yelled at me and said, “You remind of Tom Araya from Slayer!” That was one of the best compliments I ever got in my book.
The truth is that I loved every show we ever played, no matter the venue and no matter the crowd size. We played for about 4 people in Santa Cruz in some house and I loved it. We played the college radio station KUCI a bunch of times and that was awesome. We turned on our smoke machine and set off the fire alarms and shut down the show. That was funny because why the fuck would you turn on a smoke machine on a radio show? It was all about having fun and blowing people’s minds. We would play house parties and no one knew who we were, and we’d just shock them with loud, energy rock music. We played Showcase Theater a bunch of times and that was always a good time with the kids who were into the music. Even when we’d play for one person at our practice space I’d love it. It would only take one person to make it a full-blown, full-blast show. It was always about making people feel like, “What the fuck just happened?”

Why did the band break up? Any plans for a Donuts N' Glory reunion show?
We broke up suddenly because it was time to stop. We were writing political songs, satire, songs about the OC scene, etc, but then I ended my job of 5 years, graduated from college, and broke up a relationship all within a month. I became really introspective due to the changes, so writing songs about society didn’t make much sense, it didn’t feel right. We took a break after the tour, but then time went on. I wanted to travel, so I saved up money and traveled around the world for years. All of that Kerouac and Cometbus, sociology classes, and Eastern philosophy made me want to see the world for myself, so that’s what I did. I traveled around the world, taught English in Cusco, Peru, and lived in Latin America for a year. I didn’t look back, and I went further, like the sign said on the front of the Merry Prankster’s school bus.
There was talk of a reunion show a couple of years back. I’d do it, but I live in New York City, I’m an administrator at a middle school, and I have a wife two great little sons, thus, playing a show with Donuts n’ Glory would be challenging.

Any chance for a "When Pregnasaurs Ruled The Earth..." reissue? Remixed and remastered on vinyl, maybe?
I don’t know. Garry would know. I think we may own the rights, but I’m not sure exactly.

What do you think of the punk rock scene nowadays?
The punk rock scene is in my head. I listen to Minor Threat in my car. I listen to Slayer, Donuts n’ Glory, Anthrax, Bad Religion’s Suffer. Is me listening to that stuff on the way home from work considered the “punk rock scene”? If it is, I love it!
Really though, punk music is about not being held down, it’s about doing whatever you want and not caring what others think, being free to do and create things on your own, so, if there’s a scene around that, where people are getting together around that ethos, then I think that’s great. Whether it’s small or huge I doesn’t really matter, what matters is what’s in your heart and if you like the feeling and the music.

Would you like to add something for the people who still follow Donuts N' Glory more than 20 years after its disbanding?
Do what you want, say what you can, go to hell with Superman and die like a champion…
Also, resist Trump, hit the streets, talk to people, discuss, vote, network, and get him out before he wrecks this whole experiment.

P.S. If you wanna read Garry's interview and download all DnG discography, go here.