INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY
PHOTOS BY XENO
Dougie Death, Sgt. Skate, no matter what you call him, you gotta know that Doug is one hardcore East Coast skater. He kept ZT Maximus Skatepark going when the going got tough, was always down for the C-pool sessions, and is constantly on the road either skating with the boys up and down I-95, road tripping to China to ride some architecture, or playing in multiple punk rock bands on road trips across the country, and the guy is covered in tattoos from skull to torso. You never know where he is or what he is gonna build in his backyard next. What I do know is that Doug is a good guy and is always willing to road trip anywhere to have fun and go ride something different. That’s a skateboarder. That’s Doug Moore.
“IN THE NAME OF SKATING, WHEREVER I GO I WILL ALWAYS BUILD SOMETHING INSANE. I’M CRAZY AND COMPLETELY POSSESSED TO SKATE AND THAT WILL NEVER STOP.”
Yo, Sgt Sk8, what’s up, brother?
Oh, not much. I’m just hanging out at the homestead right now. I just got back from band practice.
Okay, let’s go. Name, rank and serial number.
Sgt. Sk8 AKA Dougie Death AKA Doug War AKA Dug Moore. I didn’t make any of them up.
[Laughs] Okay. Let’s start at the beginning. Where and when were you born?
I was born in San Diego, CA, in the ancient year of 1972.
Why were you born in San Diego? What happened?
[Laughs] Well, basically, I’m a Navy brat. My father is a retired officer in the Navy. He was born and raised in LA. He used to surf a bunch. He was from Culver City. He surfed Zuma Beach and some of those spots. Then he joined the military. From there, he met my mom and had me. They were living in San Diego and then we moved to Oakland, which is where my sister Lawrie was born. Then we moved to Sicily, Italy, Maryland, Florida, Newport, RI, and then out to Washington State. We lived in a town on Whidbey Island, two hours north of Seattle. That’s where I got into skating. Then we moved to San Diego again. A week before my junior year in high school, my dad got stationed in Boston, so we moved to a town right outside of Boston called Franklin. I’ve been here in Yankeeland ever since.
So you started skating in the Northwest?
Exactly. I started skating when I lived on Whidbey Island in ’85. My grandfather who still lived in Culver City found an old Alva board in the bushes by his house and mailed it to me. It had soft wheels with Indy 215s. It was a thin board that said Alva on the grip tape. That was my first board. I just started shredding at my house. It was pretty sick. This was the town where the Accused drummer was from, plus, some other pretty sick rippers. I remember this dude Van Hicks that was real good. The older skaters were all gnarly, heshed-out punks that were down for metal and punk rock. They beat me into skateboarding for six months, and I just stuck with it. They indoctrinated me into the skate army and then sure enough, they all quit and I was still doing it. Then I moved to San Diego and shit was on down there too. It was great.
What were you skating in San Diego at that point? Was that in ’87 or ’88?
Exactly. I was riding with some local kids. They were like, ‘This dude is from Seattle. He’s nuts.’ We were riding a lot of street in downtown San Diego. There was a vert ramp in Imperial Beach and a mini ramp in Clairemont, but our favorite spot was the Tijuana Skatepark. We would make ill missions for Tijuana, go shred that park and hang out with all the locals down there. We just destroyed that place. We had our first tequila shots on the way there. Then we just skated back to the border. It was pretty insane.
Wow. Did you ever cross paths with Reese Simpson?
No. I never did. The problem was that the week after I moved there, they bulldozed Del Mar. We drove by it on our way to San Diego and we were hanging out the window yelling, ‘There’s Del Mar!’ We got home and called them up and the guy said, ‘Come on down. We’re open.’ Literally, two days later, we called again and the guy was so bummed. He said, ‘Sorry, man. The park is closed. They’re bulldozing it.’ We were super bummed. So we went and skated Upland.
What was that like? Had you skated any pools before that?
Fuck, no. I went charging down that nasty ditch that ended up in the bowl with eight feet of vert that Salba does everything on. I went straight up and nearly killed myself. I tried to skate the full pipe and could barely do it. I took a run in the combi bowl, but I didn’t know what to do. It was so fun. I’ll never forget it. I lost my ID. My folks drove me to that park. It was just totally rad.
Did you see any of the bros like Salba?
When I was there, it was during the day. There were some young guns ripping that were very cool. They were showing me how to skate the full pipe and how to get the timing down. It was during the day, so I imagine Salba and those guys shredded at night like we do now.
Did you have a crew you were skating with? Was it a steady crew or were you pretty much a lone dude?
Well, when I moved, which happened a lot, there would always be this transitional period where it was just me and my skateboard. I learned at a young age to skate by myself. But due to the skateboard and being into punk rock, I’d meet new friends. I’d meet other skaters. It was just a matter of time until you met all the skaters in your area and they were your boys. That’s how it was. I went to three different high schools and so there was always that transition period.
Were you getting into the California punk rock scene?
I definitely was. Kids back then were super punk. Skating was way big then. It ruled. I saw my first show there, which was Bad Religion and 7 Seconds. I saw that band Pitchfork, too. It was pretty genius. After that, it was nuts. I was raging in Cali and partying in Mexico. All of a sudden, bang, we moved to Massachusetts, and punks here were outcasts, dude. I went from cool kid partying everywhere to being an outcast over night. I had three friends that were skateboarders and that was it for a good while. It totally changed my view on reality. I was doing what I was doing in Cali and it was cool. Then I was doing what I was doing in Boston and it was the complete reverse. It was a psychological mind fuck. It really helped my life and gave me some good perspective on reality, man.
Was that in the early ’90s?
That was 1988 when I first moved here. I met my good friend Ram and then I met Kevin Day. Then I was riding with all the big boys in Boston and Providence. The town I was from was right in between the two. It was a 45-minute drive either way. We had our own little scene going on in Franklin, too. Eventually, it just all came together. The logical course of anyone living outside of Boston is to eventually move into town. So after living in the woods for a while, I moved to Boston. I lived in Newport for a summer where the Package was the raddest dude I’d ever met in my life. He was a savior of mine. I had gotten kicked out of the house and had to go work 60 hours a week in a restaurant. I had one day off a week and I went to Sid’s. That’s when he had the vert ramp. That’s where I first met you, Murf. We were riding that vert ramp. Sid was so nice. He would hook me up with pads for cost. I got some good Pro Designs. He would give me surfboards to go mess around on the beach. He was the nicest dude. It was the only light in a dark tunnel during those three months when I was figuring out some serious life jams. I’ll never forget it. Sid, to this day, has been 100% so beyond awesome in every aspect. He’s great.
Describe the Package to people.
I’d say Sid is a genius in a madman’s body. Look out. No one is worthy. Being around the Package in any way is something to be psyched about. If you get the rare honor to chill with the Package, and hang out with him, you will know this. If you don’t know it, you’re missing out on some serious shit and you need to reevaluate yourself.
[Laughs] So you’re on the Boston scene and you’re going down to Newport to hang out with the Package. Describe to people what it was like in the Northeast scene in those days?
That was when I was 19. From there, I met Carwash, Juice and ‘Jolt’. Tom ‘Jolt’ was my age. Things started getting weird with the Skate Hut. In ’91 and ’92, the Skate Hut was going out of business. We still had Maximus in Boston, but things changed. We had very little to skate. There was the Blues Ramp in southern Rhode Island. That was a leftover full pipe like the full pipe in Thrasherland. It got made into a big half pipe. It had fiberglass walls, wooden vert and wooden flat bottom added to it. It was ridiculous. It was such a fun ramp. It had real tight tranny and it was real fast. It was just weird and fun. We’d make missions down there and skate other shit while we were down there. That’s how Tom and I got to be good friends. We’d go on road trips to Philly and Pennsylvania. It was awesome. Then Boston started picking up a little bit, so I moved into the city with a crew of buddies. I started skating Maximus more. Eventually, Fat Ram, one of my buddies, and I ended up buying the place from Zito.
How did you end up buying Maximus?
It was crazy. At the time, skating was dead. Zito wasn’t making any money at all. He was all about moving to upstate New York or Florida to race go-karts that go over a 100mph with no shocks. Ram and I were down there all the time. He wanted out and we were like, ‘Could you sell this to us and finance this to us and we’ll pay you back?’ That was that. We bought Maximus for $5,000. That winter, the snow fell and it was insane. Rollerblading blew up and made me all this money. We’d tax those dudes and make them pay tons of dough. I made so much money off those bastards. It was great.
Describe to people what it’s like to run a skatepark with skaters that don’t want to pay money to skate. How tough is that to deal with skaters on a daily basis that try to bro you down and don’t want to pay?
Well, I was 21 at the time. I’m a nonviolent dude. I’ve never fought in my life, but dudes just knew. Shit was going to be a certain way. Somehow, I just psychologically ‘Dougled’ these people into wearing their helmets. It was a bunch of college kids. My good friends would be at the bar with money to buy beer, but they would claim they had no money to skate, so I would be at the bar calling them out. I’d say, ‘Whose name is on your bank card? It’s you and your mom. Go down there and get me $5, dude.’ I was a complete wing nut. People would rather give me a couple of bucks than listen to me yap at them. It was comical. It was a battle, but we really did well. When it started, we did awesome. Then we had lots of issues with Cambridge. They have an ill bureaucracy there. Zito got shut down before we bought it. Then we got shut down too towards the end. Eventually, you had to pay all this money to put stairways in all these weird places. We had to meet all the new town ordinances. In ’99, all of a sudden, a bunch of skateparks popped up all over New England that were awesome. Nashua came up. Skater Island popped up. Then all the little dudes were riding all the cheesy parks. People started buying skate stuff online. Chains of skate stores were infiltrating everywhere. You had Blades Board and Skate and whatever. We were a product of a bygone era and we were getting behind on our rent. We called up the landlord and said, ‘We owe you $20,000. How about we just get the hell out of here, clean the place up and we’re even?’ And the guy was a super old school Armenian dude that was right on. He was like, ‘No problem.’ He wanted us to stay, but it was a new era. We believed that the era for a private skatepark in Boston was over. We were paying $2,500 a month in rent and an additional $8,000 a year for insurance. We had to do it. I left that place penniless, but I didn’t owe anybody anything. Now I can skate and enjoy all these cool parks everywhere. That’s my reward. I get to roll up on weird parks and actually ride.
When did you start playing in punk rock bands?
I hacked around when I was 18 or 19, but I hadn’t really found the art yet. I couldn’t write lyrics or anything. Then it just kicked in when I was 22. I started blasting dumb little punk poems. I was jamming with my good friend Sebastian from Boston. Then that became the band World War in 1996. We kept it real. We were completely DIY. We were a punk band and only played all ages shows. We did it right. We did brutal political style jams. That went on from 1996 to 2000. A matter of events led to its demise. Now I’m trying to get that material together. We had some pretty cool recordings.
Did you do any traveling with that band?
Back then we were playing locally. We’d go to Baltimore, Washington, DC and all over New England. That band had a lot of respect, but we couldn’t figure out a clear course of action, so it fell apart.
What was the music scene like back then?
Boston is insane. There are so many great bands. There are a quarter of a million youth that come here to go to school, so you have this four-year rotation of whatever is hip and trendy. In the mid ’90s, punk got big again. Before that, there were maybe five diehard punks in Boston. The singer of Nothing But Enemies was one of them. We were skate punks. We were going to shows and, all of a sudden, there were a million kids dressing up and going to shows. I think Rancid and Green Day did it. These same people still run around but now they’re hipsters with tight pants, long pretty hair and maybe a moustache. It’s the same people, but back then they were all punk rock. Shit was insane. There was a club called The Rat in Boston, that every band from everywhere would go play. Shit was going off. Eventually, that whole area got massively re-gentrified and turned into hotels and high-end restaurants. Kenmore Square, which was the spot for punk rock in Boston, is completely destroyed. The soul has been ripped out of that area of town.
Did the punk scene thrive or was it taken out too?
Boston, LA, DC, NY and SF have always had punk. You can trace the history of the bigger bands that are from those towns. Boston is one of those towns. There’s always sick shit going on. The music will morph, and get politically correct and then there will be a sick street backlash to it. Then it goes back again. It ebbs and flows in different directions. There are so many different scenes. You’ve got the street punks and the old school punk guys. There are metal dudes. It’s pretty spread out. Every once in a while, some show will happen and everyone will roll out. Then you have big bands like the Dropkick Murphys that play the corporate venues. I’m not a big fan of that, but that puts the microscope on Boston and people start to look around to see what else is here. It’s good for bands like mine that are punked out and weird. It just adds to the rep. Boston started the American Revolution. We’re evil bastards here. Everyone goes insane. It’s just like that here. It’s a pretty cool vibe. Everyone works hard all the time and when they get out of work, they don’t want to take no shit. They just want to live their life. People fight here a lot. It’s a violent place.
You have ‘Southie’ and all that?
Yeah. With music in general, you have to watch who you’re stepping to. There are dudes that are in hardcore gangs. There are some sick fucks. Many of those dudes I’m down with. They’re my friends. If you don’t know who people are, you could step on the wrong toes and end up in a lot of trouble here. You can’t go around acting a fool. You can’t get away with shit in Boston like you can on the West Coast.
Do you still feel that East Coast versus West Coast vibe going on?
I don’t really think so. If I’m into a band, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. The band I sing for, Defcon 4 did a U.S. tour this summer and we had a blast everywhere. There was none of that vibe going down. The only rivalry that I feel is towards New York. It’s just permeated in us here to go after New York. Boston always charges at New York.
What’s the vibe when you come to New York? Is it like a Yankees vs. Red Sox vibe or what?
Well, at this point, we’ve rocked there enough to have a lot of buddies. It’s always us just bullshitting each other. We make fun of each other. They’ll say something and I’ll say, ‘One word. World Champs.’ They just go silent after that. It’s just dumb stuff. And I’m not a sports fan at all. Obviously, when you’re from Boston, it’s freezing cold out. There’s snow here. You’re going to talk shit about everyone else. It’s a given. It’s nothing personal. It’s just what you do here.