No offense to any other bands playing T. Party 2016 on Saturday, April 9 at the Ghost Town in Manor, but this is going to be a much longer entry for a few reasons.
- I’ve got a first-hand perspective on this band considering Travis was my brother.
- Duke isn’t very active anymore and are extremely busy guys doing grown-up stuff now. Jobs, school, wives, babies, etc.
- They don’t say much about themselves these days, so I’m going to speak up for them.
Duke was founded in late 2003. Travis wanted to start a new band that he would write songs for, even though I’m not sure how much input he had in Duke’s songwriting.
I told him that he should just restart Flipside Den. The logic was “if Jerry Only is playing shows as the Misfits now, then you could play shows as Flipside Den.” And then we laughed our asses off. But he went forward with the idea anyway.
We got childhood friend and former Flipside drummer Bryan Warner to play drums. Next he got his CD Warehouse co-worker Jon Apperson on guitar. They would both play the Misfits, Metallica, and Maiden over there while being rude to customers. The last piece of the puzzle was this “kid”a few years younger named Matt Read that used to hang out at the Flipside shows. He saw an intensity in Matt that he knew would translate to the stage.
Then their common punk, metal, and thrash roots took over and it became evident that Duke didn’t need to be a spinoff of any other band. These guys hit the ground running. Pay in Blood was one of the first songs they wrote and it still kills live.
In 2009, Travis moved to Houston and joined Broken Teeth, but he still remained a member of Duke. I’m sure a lot more could be said here, but that’s for another time.
They shot the video for The Cruiser weeks before his death. Then they did something I wouldn’t have been able to do at the time. They edited the video and released it weeks after his death. It does a really great job of showing off Travis’ sense of humor.
They also released their following album within a year of Travis’ death. I’m pretty sure that this is the last of his Duke recordings.
They kicked around the idea of getting a new bass player, but I get a sense that they still consider Travis part of the band. Matt now plays bass in addition to his vocal duties. I’m really proud of these guys for soldiering on. It’s kinda been inspirational to me in my own grief process.
We also formed a 4-piece Misfits tribute band that we called “Plan 69” with me on vocals. We played one Halloween show in 2004 at Trophy’s on South Congress. They called me onstage again at a CD release party in 2005 and we played “Ratfink.” We also played another 5 0r 6 song set at T. Party 2015.
Is that going to happen this year? It might if “grown-up stuff” doesn’t get in the way. Duke is definitely worth checking out either way.