City Of Angels: Don Bolles

City Of Angels: Don Bolles

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE PRESENTS THE VETERANS AND THE RISING STARS OF LOS ANGELES'S PUNK ROCK SCENE. HERE, THE INIMITABLE DON BOLLES SPEAKS ON HIS SIGNATURE BIKINI, ARIEL PINK, THE GERMS, AND THE STATE OF ROCK-AND-ROLL NOW

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE PRESENTS THE VETERANS AND THE RISING STARS OF LOS ANGELES'S PUNK ROCK SCENE. HERE, THE INIMITABLE DON BOLLES SPEAKS ON HIS SIGNATURE BIKINI, ARIEL PINK, THE GERMS, AND THE STATE OF ROCK-AND-ROLL NOW

Photography: Hedi Slimane

Text: Patrik Sandberg

All right. So, just to give you a little bit of a background on this thing. Of course you remember having your portrait taken by Hedi Slimane in L.A. for us.

DB Right.

You were wearing your iconic bikini.

DB I hope the picture looks cool. I haven’t seen it yet.

I have seen it. It looks awesome.

DB Oh good. [Laughs] It’s kind of tricky for a geezer like myself wearing a bikini, but you know, I’m trying to work.

[Laughs] How often do you wear it?

DB You know, the first time I wore it, was in Australia when I was touring there with Ariel Pink. My girlfriend and I, we were going to go swimming one day and I didn’t have a swimsuit so she said, “I will loan you one but you have to wear the top too.” And I’m like, “Okay!” [Laughs] And it looked really cool. So we went swimming in these matching bikinis and I got a couple of cool shots in them. Then when I left Australia, I packed it in with my stuff. When we got to Melbourne Airport, Ariel found that cowboy hat thing that I was wearing on the ground at the Melbourne Airport, and it had those little turquoise things on the front of it. It was a really tasteless little hat and I just thought, I love turquoise, maybe I’m gonna wear it. One year ago. And so I just put that on when we played a show and then it was like, “Gosh this is great! I can just change out of it and wash it in the sink and then everything is great for the next show!” You know, it’s not like I had a bunch of sweaty, stinky clothes to deal with. You know, being the drummer and stuff it’s kind of cool. So ever since then I have worn it pretty much every show.

That’s awesome. So what’s it been like playing with Ariel since you joined his band?

DB Well it’s funny; I’ve known Ariel for like a million years. I’ve known him since he was eighteen when I knew this sort of cougar lady who was going out with him. And she said, You know, you’ve gotta hear my boyfriend’s music. It’s crazy! He just sits in his room all day making these tapes and songs. It’s just insane. And I looked into it and I was like, Yep! It’s pretty insane. And then I met Ariel. He was a super nice guy and a really, really weird kid. And then later, I don’t know. He was in my circles and I would put on shows and have his band play. And then I don’t know what happened. He kicked the drummer out of the band and the drummer sued him and stuff. So that was kind of crazy. But yeah so Ariel and I started doing stuff. Like I did voice overs for them, for that cemetery show they did. I did all of these weird spoken parts that were like live, and that went over pretty well. And then I recorded a recorded a remix with Ariel. But we killed all the music and vocals and basically started writing another song. And put other vocals on it too. And then we got paid a bunch of money for that and it was really good. So we started working together more after that. Then he started having me come over to sit in on stuff and play some drums on a track or two that they might use sometimes. And then a little more of that and then suddenly I found myself in the band. On the Pom Pom album, I actually play and sing on pretty much every song. I only co-wrote a few of them, but you know, that’s kind of major. Ariel doesn’t go around co-writing with everyone on his records all of the time. Now some of us can chime in, but it didn’t use to happen. He’s a really great songwriter, I discovered. I actually moved out here because of him, partly because I wanted to be in the city where Kim Fowley was doing his thing. He was an underground hero to me when I was growing up in the ‘60s.

So when did you finally meet him?

DB I didn’t meet him until the ‘70s, and I think where I met him was in Rock N’ Roll Ralph’s. It was on Sunset Boulevard.

What was it?

DB It was Ralph’s Supermarket on Sunset that was open 24 hours. Everybody would go there. That same night that I met Kim Fowley there, I also saw Alice Cooper shopping in there. Kim was with some high school age supermodel chick, you know? He had this seersucker suit jacket with a bunch of smiley face patches on it. He was managing to look as uncool as possible for a person to look for the time that it was. This was in the late ‘70s. I thought it was genius. I wasn’t in The Germs when he put on that show at The Whiskey that he also bootlegged, but I know The Germs were not real happy about him making a ton of money off of that record. They didn’t get anything, but Pat and I always really liked him and thought he was a pretty genius guy, despite how creepy he was. I liked how creepy he was, personally. An inspiration to me.

Which band of yours would you say is your favorite?

DB There have been a lot of them that haven’t gotten their dues. I like the ones that people know. You know, The Germs was fucking unique. There’s never been anything like that, and chances are there never will be anything like that again. Darby was like no other human being I had ever met. Pat is super talented. Lorna, a mysterious weirder, interesting. I guess, I was the little cornerstone at the top of the arch that put that shit together and made it go at the end. For some reason it took off when I got in it. Good thing Darby killed himself or we’d all be rich and famous.

I feel like that’s the band everyone knows you from the most. I always wondered if you love that band because of that or hate that band because of that.

DB Yeah, because of The Germs? I like it. Sure it was basically Darby and Pats deal. It certainly suited me. When I heard it, it seemed like either the best or the worst thing I had ever heard, and I just had to be apart of that band. I called them up from Phoenix, Arizona, and told them I was going to come be their drummer, and they said eh, yeah, ok. They told me they were into David Bowie and Queen. This was in like 1977, and I’m just like what? Are you kidding me? Are you trying to be clever? Are you trying to be ironic? They said no, that’s what we like. I couldn’t even believe these people existed they were so weird.

A couple of different times you’ve mentioned doing things because you knew that it pissed people off or because it went so against the popular taste at the time. Do you see something that every one is into, and run in the opposite direction?

DB Yeah, of course. I never grew out of that. In fact, I think Bart Simpson was partially based on Darby Crash because I know Matt Groenig used to sit around in the Licorice Pizza where he worked, and where Darby and Pat would go and steal things, and cause trouble all day long. He’d draw pictures all day. He mentioned one time that it was partially based off Darby.

What’s like the penultimate memory you have of playing with The Germs. What was the wildest show or wildest experience?

DB I don’t know. It was all pretty in the zone. When we played the place would get different. Suddenly, the whole place would turn into a mindless tribal Zulu death ritual. It was fucking nuts. It wasn’t really like any other thing. Sure, there were punk shows where people would jump around and bash into each and there would be chaos, but The Germs was total chaos and no one could handle it, except the people that were there and into it. We got banned from playing shows for very good reasons. A lot of times when we would play, through no actual fault of our own—I mean, we didn’t trash the bathrooms or destroy the clubs. The people did, but it happened when we played. It was just nuts. I don’t know how Darby inspired total abandon and chaos, but people just left their brains out side of a Germs show. I think it was definitely for the common good. You don’t want to bring that in there. You could just fuck things up. It was crazy. It was like Darby was just up there being the sacrifice. It was kind of like a fucking primitive people sacrificing their icon so that they wouldn’t have to be living in a shit world anymore. It certainly seems to have been effective. I’ve rarely seen something turn a room into the kind of scene that The Germs did. It might have been the times, too. People were ready for that. Rock music was still one of the most powerful forms of expression that there was. It was also a very popular form of expression. It really defines you. What kind of rock you liked defined you.

Do you think it’s still that way now?

DB I don’t know. Rock music just doesn’t seem to work as well anymore. Ever since raves took the formula of on and off to a great extreme. You can do a lot with on and off. I was a rave DJ for a minute, except they wouldn’t let me do it in L.A. because it was basically noise.

But now you’re in a rock n roll band again.

DB Yeah, Ariel’s stuff is kind of like—it’s rock music sometimes, but it’s more like experimental pop. He’ll do anything from like a quiet little ballad to “Goth Bomb” or “Negativ Ed,” this crazy rock thing. Or “Getting High In The Morning.” Then there’s “Put Your Number In My Phone,” which isn’t very rock.

Credits: PRODUCTION KIM POLLOCK AND YANN RZEPKA DIGITAL TECHNICIAN ALEX THEMISTOCLEOUS (MILK STUDIOS)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS FRANK TERRY, MATT HARTZ, JAMES PERRY RETOUCHING DTOUCH  EQUIPMENT MILK STUDIOS  LOCATION QUIXOTE STUDIOS  CATERING FOOD LAB

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