June 17, 2024

Beauty Arts

The Arts Authority

Beloved Santa Cruz Musician Dan Lamothe Dies

Beloved Santa Cruz Musician Dan Lamothe Dies

It is been 48 hrs because I read the information, and I continue to just cannot consider it. Dan Lamothe—son, buddy, barber, volunteer fireman, ex-bassist and founding member of Stellar Corpses—has died. Even now, as I produce this, I can not wrap my head all-around it and have issues typing via blurry eyes. I’ve been misplaced in a fog of shock and denial calls to and from friends across the county and region, drenched in an countless downpour of tears. I by no means understood I could cry so much. 

He died suddenly though coaching in Ben Lomond to be a firefighter, wanting to give back to the local community that gave him so a lot. Dan—”Mothman,” “Mothy,” or “Big Moth,” as his buddies affectionately named him—was only 38, an age that defies all rational explanations of what took place. 

I 1st satisfied him 21 decades back, when I was a clean transplant to town heading to UC Santa Cruz with hardly any friends and a Los Angeles-sized chip on my shoulder. I bear in mind him currently being cool in each and every perception of the term. Neat haircut (a psychobilly pompadour, shaved on the sides, ending in an Eddy Munster widow’s peak), interesting garments, cool girlfriend, cool tattoo (“Who receives a big neck tattoo as one particular of their initially pieces” I’d request him years later on. He just replied with his well known large grin and laughed, “Yeah, Did not truly feel that one particular through”). 

I try to remember him currently being pretty quiet, so I thought he was too amazing for faculty and standoffish. I speedily learned that was not the situation he did not waste his breath when he had very little vital or funny to say. He walked humbly and observed the folks close to him, getting it all in.

As quite a few know, I learned he was hilarious when he opened up. Usually cracking jokes, seeking to make his pals chortle, specifically when things all around us turned sideways, and impending doom seemed imminent. 

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Right after studying of his loss of life, I drove all around in a daze all through the twilight times of the early early morning. I was listening to the title observe off Stellar Corpses’ Useless Stars Travel-In album–something I hadn’t heard in several years for a number of private causes. I pulled more than and parked along the cliffs overlooking the Capitola pier, and as the sunshine rose, I resolved my wrecked soul couldn’t hear the chorus “Dead stars nevertheless burn” any longer. The next song, “Be Nevertheless My Coronary heart,” opens with the line, “walk with me into the morning sunlight, into a planet which is cold and no a person at any time will make it out alive.” Good. As soon as again, the waterworks arrived, and I could swear Dan was getting a excellent giggle, portion of that common Mothy humor.  

Alice and Paul Grimm with Lamothe at the Blue Lagoon. Photo: Mat Weir

He was a massive existence in the Santa Cruz tunes and punk scene. As a musician, he was an inspiration to lots of. Paul “Wolfman” Grimm (they/them), who played stand-up bass in Fulminante and other different assignments and toured with Stellar as a roadie when I couldn’t, has informed me plenty of instances it was watching Dan enjoy that motivated them to decide on up the instrument. 

More than the several years, Dan and I would see each individual other at events or group hangs with the normal downtown punks and dregs. We grew to become buddies but under no circumstances genuinely spent any time alongside one another outside of that. Having said that, we’d start out getting to be accurate friends various many years right after he and singer Dusty fashioned Stellar, and—technically next but to admirers “first real”—the line-up of Emilio Menze on guitar and Matty Macabre on drums was perfectly established. 

Dan intended so quite a few various matters to so many other men and women. Because so considerably of our time was put in close to the audio scene, all those are some of my strongest memories of him. Alongside with a few of other bands I have toured with in excess of the years, the Stellar Corpses are one particular I have noticed reside the most to this working day. Right after a long time of observing are living songs for my have enjoyment, as a roadie and as a bartender, feel me when I say I have seen 1000’s of bands, but there was absolutely nothing like a Stellar Corpses display, and I hardly ever skipped any. 

Of those people early times, a single favourite stands out.  April 17, 2010, we experienced them at Streetlight Records—where I also work– for International File Shop Working day. It’s a day none of us will ever fail to remember for two explanations. 1st, they have been fired up to play in a position that intended so considerably to them increasing up. And 2nd, we had to pull the plug on them midway by way of simply because the band was pumping out so a lot electricity, they caught a single of our speakers on fire! It quickly grew to become a badge of honor, and we would all chuckle about it several periods just after. 

Dusty Sheehan, Kyle Moore, Emilio Menze, Dan Lamothe and Mat Weir on tour in 2011. 

Right after a couple of a long time of becoming friends with the band, I jumped at the chance when they asked me to roadie on a 12-town, 17-day U.S. tour in 2011. By then, Kyle Moore experienced taken in excess of drums, and he was the only one particular I did not know properly (which would adjust promptly after that and quite a few a lot more excursions). That stint would generate a number of on line site posts from the highway culminating in my–and their–first go over short article, released in the July 27-Aug. 3 difficulty of the Santa Cruz Weekly. Dan was so stoked to have designed the include of a community paper and ensured I knew it usually, even several years later. When it arrived out, I was happy but also a small doubtful. Why would this magnificent rock band I admired be stoked about something I did? My model of imposter syndrome. 

I normally cherished their new music, but it was that to start with tour where I actually acquired to regard them as performers. Irrespective of whether it was to a virtually marketed-out present with punk legends like T.S.O.L. or to 10 individuals simply because shady, drug addict promoters did not do their job or didn’t convey to them the nearby acts bailed, Dan and the band gave their all, each and every time. Even when the electrical power went out two times at Overlook Lips Lounge–El Paso, Texas’ leading lesbian bar, the boys retained enjoying with Dan and Kyle, filling the lifeless space with solos and rhythm duets until finally the electricity was restored. 

I would tour with Stellar once again a year afterwards and function for them an additional 12 months or two immediately after that for an unofficial Viva Las Vegas present and innumerable occasions all over Santa Cruz. Via unlimited, brotherly teasing, Dan and Emilio would often make every other chortle in the van (which hilariously experienced an “I’m proud of my Eagle Scout” bumper sticker). Typically it was directed at Kyle (who Dan lived with for many years), who was “Band Dad” producing guaranteed we bought to each halt on time, all the things in the trailer in good shape neatly in a true-everyday living game of Tetris, and fixing no matter what was essential. Like the time on that to start with tour when a single of the trailer’s tires blew outdoors Fresno on the 2nd working day. Or the night after that in Redondo Beach front, when the singer assumed the trailer could clear a parking composition top restriction. It couldn’t, and he ripped open up the top rated like a sardine can. 

In a bit of comical foreshadowing, Dan experienced instructed me before the tour about all the problems they experienced with the trailer on the past stint. 

“The damn matter saved coming unhinged from the frame. We experienced to get it welded in five various states,” he informed me. “But never worry–we have a new trailer and tires. Every little thing should really be great.” 

Whether or not it was for Stellar Corpses or his shorter-lived honky tonk duo, Oh Bears! Dan could actually slap that bass. Self-taught, also. He would hear to his most loved rockabilly and psychobilly songs and check out replicating what he read. He gained the nickname Danimal just for that reason (and Caveman Dan for yet another, completely distinct 1). Hear to his recordings –songs like “Steel Butterfly” or “Valley of Insanity,” and you will hear someone who cherished what he did but took the time to master and exercise his craft. It’s a high quality that shined live as Dan would usually have a enormous smile when surrounded by his good friends on stage. 

And oh guy, did Dan have a ton of friends. Just go on social media and see the remarkable outpour of like, loss and heartbreak bordering his dying from Santa Cruz and all through the state. 

Of program, nobody’s ideal, but if there was one particular person on this world not to have a solitary enemy, it was him. He generally confirmed regard and in no way had an ego, even when enthusiasts would gush around him. I’ve spoken to so many mates in the last two days, some who experienced dropped touch with him or had grown aside for the usual explanations. But they all agreed that each time he noticed you, no make a difference how long, he greeted you with a smile, gave you his total attention, and acted like it had only been a working day due to the fact your last interaction. To this day, I’m still good friends with many men and women I under no circumstances would’ve met devoid of Dan introducing us, and I’m a superior person for it. 

He built you really feel found and beloved. That you mattered, and he was just satisfied to be close to you. Oh, and he loved Nintendo. Each time anyone on tour had a single, he was confirmed to be posted up enjoying games for at least some time just before a display. 

It is a tragic irony that I hardly have any photos with Dan in two decades of friendship. I was always as well fast paced getting in the instant with him or earning certain I documented the tours and shows to consist of myself on the other aspect of the digicam. I am thankful I at least had more than enough foresight to do that, to retain his legacy for posterity. Even so, the lesson in this article is when you are getting enjoyable with your pals, get 2 minutes to snap a picture. And, of class, do not ignore to inform them you like them. I desire I experienced informed him more, and now I won’t be able to all over again. 

Still, I consistently informed him how proud I was to be his buddy. No matter whether it was in excess of beers on his back again porch deck or when he’d occur into Streetlight Records to dig by means of the vinyl area only to buy an obscure, Swedish honky tonk album. It didn’t make a difference if he was participating in bass, working as a barber or training to be in the fire department Dan approached the endeavor just like he approached his everyday living, by diving head-1st. 

He loved life and made his close friends adore it when he was about. I will not say some worn platitudes like the globe grew darker when he died. Simply because for so numerous of us that liked him, it didn’t develop darker. It absolutely stopped. None of us will at any time be the very same after this. Ever. Nothing at all about this is okay, and it will be a extended, slow journey to figure out how to get by, 1 day at a time. Big Moth was taken from us way much too shortly, and we can do absolutely nothing about it besides honor the person and are living the way he did. With a enthusiasm for our life, enjoy for what we do and kindness for 1 a different.

Damn it, Dan! We all miss you so considerably. Useless stars nevertheless burn up. So lengthy, goodbye.