Ein Nachruf von Barry Ward für Bomer und Jason (und Derrick) von Barry Ward (englisch)|
About Bomber and Jason
Article for AMP mag and thoughts
I had a real hard time dealing with all this death of old friends/band members. It kind of hit me hard. Came at a sensitive time in my life as well. Not that it was a big surprise but I wasn't prepared for it. But, when can you ever be prepared for that? Anyhow, AMP magazine asked me to write an article about Jason and Bomer. I procrastinated, tried to pawn it off on other writers. It was hard to write about them, all of us, our past and stuff. But they insisted. finally I came up with this. I originally tried to work around the drug abuse topic. But then I thought perhaps it can help out other people with addictions cope with the problem. I know one friend up here that knew those guys and has a habit and that was a good slap in the face for him. I also was going to not take credit and be a ghost writer. But then I thought since I'm an ex RKL member, it's OK. I hope you like it.
In Dec '05 & Feb '06 we lost 2 punk rock icons who both died tragically from complications due to years of hard drug abuse. Jason Sears and Richard "Bomer" Manzullo from RKL Rich Kids on LSD. The legendary CA "Nardcore" band. Although both did not in fact actually overdose, they both passed away due to complications from longtime battles with addictive drugs. Bomer (Pronounced "Bomber") was found of an apparent heart failure at his home in Summerland Ca Dec. 12th 2005. Jason died in his sleep, January 31st 2006, while seeking an alternative detox treatment at a controversial clinic in Tijuana that used ibogaine, a drug derived from a West Africa plant that is not legal in the United States. Jason and Bomer both lived rich and colorful lives that touched many fans, friends and family and they will be missed dearly. When the news hit that these deaths occurred, an overwhelming amount of people from all over the world sent in many kind words of condolences, including dozens of bands that cited RKL as a major influence. RKL is known to have helped pioneer the California punk sound that eventually took punk music to a new level musically and socially and paved the way for many bands to follow.
"RKL influenced my songwriting more then any other band. If it wasn't for them, NOFX would sound exactly like Bad Religion (with shittier vocals)"
Although the band never quite achieved the success of some of their contemporaries, they do leave a legacy behind in recordings and videos. As well as a hell of a reputation as true party monsters. Epitaph records described the band with love as "neuron gnashing no-goodniks". But beyond the music were the personalities behind the image. Both Jason and Bomer were some of the funniest guys you would ever know. Even when the demons they both were battling sometimes got the best of them. Jason, RKL's frontman, was a legend in his own right. Known as a "Cito Rat", artist, storyteller, snowboarder, skater, son, father, brother, and of course singer, Jason could have the audience eating out of his hand at all times. His onstage as well as offstage antics are stuff movies are made from. Imagine a punk rock Charles Bukowski meets Hunter S. Thompson meets Sid Vicious and you might have a little clue of his character. Derelict, yet lovable. But he was a lot more than that. Jason was also a member of the first Barfoot snowboarding team when it was still an underground sport and featured in various snowboard mags. Jason also built the legendary Cito ramp in his backyard on Featherhill in Montecito/Santa Barbara, and he and the other skaters took the sport of skateboarding to another level. True "Skate Punks".
But when Jason wasn't skating, snowboarding, singing, partying, being a father, you would have thought he was a comedian. He could keep you in stitches for hours and when he left the room you felt like a typhoon had just wiped out your reality and you're left with the devastation after the storm. Bomer, on the other hand, was also a true talent in every sense of the word. Besides, like Jason, also possessing a command of the art of humor and sarcasm, Bomer's musical talent was rarely matched by just about anyone.
Most fans of RKL were stunned to find out that Bomer was one of the main driving musical forces behind the band. And he was the drummer. He had the talent and the drive. Not only being one of the most kick ass drummers you'd ever seen, but his songwriting, bass, guitar, and vocal talent shined as well. On top of that he was a hell of an artist, a cook, a comic, a philosopher. Someone who might drive you absolutely bonkers with his unparalleled energy but when he left, you wished he were still there.
Bomer had a slew of ups and down over the years and left the band some years ago to pursue other interests.
(Ironically, when he was on the verge of being homeless, Bomer's lover won the CA State lottery for 85 Million dollars. Bomer lived his last few years in luxury, learning classical piano and starting to write and record amazing music that now might never see the light of day).
RKL first emerged from the So Cal scene in the early 80's with the release of Mystic (Also known as "Mistake") records "Nardcore" comp. (1984) Soon to be followed up with the "It's a Beautiful Feeling" EP (1985) and "Keep Laughing" (1986). Those early records showcased all the unique talent the band possessed when every member was still in their teens. Unfortunately Mystic records never gave the band one thin dime and the record sold a phenomenal amount at the time. As the story goes, only one large pizza was given to the band while in the studio and the band was too young, green and nave to not know better before signing contracts. Recently that early catalogue has been re-released by Mystic on CD as "The Best of RKL". But surviving band members would urge the public not to buy that version until somehow some kind of legal proceedings would help to gain the rights to the music and let the sales benefit Jason's children.
In the pre-internet 80's the underground punk scene, nationally and internationally was strong as hell through word of mouth, fanzines, tape trading and vinyl collecting. No one ever thought that music would be on the radio, let alone MTV. RKL's follow up to "Keep Laughing" was "Lifestyles of the Rich Kids on LSD A Rock and Roll Nitemare". Released on Alchemy records in 1987. Another fluke of a label. But that record showed a more progressive and matured side to the bands songwriting, as well as Bomer playing bass and drums on the recording and also included was a full-length comic book. The original pressing is quite rare and goes for good money on Ebay, if you can find it. Soon a string of successful European tours brought the band the attention it deserved. Soon releasing their "Greatest Hits" gatefold double live in Berlin LP. The greatest hits being photos of LSD blotter paper on the cover. But soon the band's internal politics, financial woes, and general disillusionment in the pre-grunge days of uncertainty for alternative/underground music tore them apart.
But amazingly with the new found success of punk in the 90's who comes calling, but Epitaph records. Starting with re-releasing "Rock and Roll Nitemare" on CD and LP, (Out of print yet again but recently seen on amazon.com for up to $70), then their notorious next release of "Riches to Rags" . ( A sarcastic self-depreciating spoof on their previous "Lifestyles" persona) as well as a home video "Still Flailing After All These Beers". (Which was re-released as a director's cut on DVD by Malt Soda records). Somewhere in there was the "Reactivate" CD that was technically not an RKL release. It was Bomer's other band SLANG but released last minute as RKL in a ridiculous attempt by Bomer and Brett Gurewitz to revive the RKL name. That worked but temporarily disillusioned some fans. (Much like Bad Religion's "Into the Unknown" LP)
In the middle of a 3 month Euro tour, more tragedy ensued when their roadie Will Knutilla OD'd in Zurich. With that painful and heartbreaking reality of losing a best friend, Bomer quit in Italy. The band, still grieving, pressed on to Spain where they had legendary status from fanatic fans. They flew in Jason who hadn't been on stage in a while and came back with a bang. "Riches to Rags" was the last official release with Jason back on vocals. Some unreleased recordings and videos still remain to be released someday. RKL went through different lineup changes in the last few years. Always ruling any stomping ground they set foot on.
Tragically only last year, the first RKL band member to die was drummer Derrick Plourde (RKL, Lagwagon, Mad Caddies, The Ataris) who took his own life early 2005. It's another book in itself of the stories that go on and on of a strange brew of punk rock characters from California called Rich Kids on LSD. The band that could have been but influenced tons of new comers that did. The last shimmering hope for the diehard fans who might get one last dose of the band is talk of an "RKLAOKE' show sometime summer 2006 in So Cal. Featuring remaining band members playing all the favorites with different singers from the audience as a benefit for Jason's kids. R.I.P. Jason and Bomer.
The world was better off when you were around. Hats off and drink a coldie for our fallen friends. We miss you deeply. And always "Keep Laughing".
I first met Bomer (Bomber) and the guys in RKL in late 83 I believe. (When we were all wee lads) Sometime around Xmas. I was living at the Vats and we heard about this zany group of kids from Santa Barbara in the basement that were huffing liquid paper to get high but are in town to play the Mabuhay Gardens. I loved the Nardcore bands and RKL was top notch. When I heard in 84 that they needed a bass player, Bomber taught me the tunes, I tried out and it looked like I got the spot. I jumped in the van and split down to S.B. and Hollywood with them, stayed at Ded Teds house and first got a major dose of Bomber and RKL, exactly like the words from Ded Teds from Keep Laughing. Then Vince was back in the band, I was out as bass player, then in as 2nd guitar player, then out, then sometime in 85 I ran into Bomber and he said the band was back in SF for good and did want me to play guitar. I didnt feel too confident since I was just a skinny weird punker from Texas but Bomber and I had great chemistry when it came to humor and jamming and laughing at life. He taught me all the songs, 2nd guitar parts, talked me up to the band it all clicked into place and we were off. Through the years Bomber and Chris nursed my musicianship into being a few notches below them, but they were unstoppable. We were all best friends and went through a lot of growing up together. I had never met a band with such a charismatic drummer who ran the show like he did. Bomber was the most amazing musician and character Id ever met. He had a way of making someone whos insecure confident, since his own confidence would rub off on you. And he could talk you down in a heartbeat if he thought you needed it. But he had the talent and the drive. Not only songwriting, drumming, bass, guitar, vocals but he was a hell of an artist, a cook, a comic, a philosopher. He went from being a skinhead (with a black bass player, really blew some racist skinheads minds, I think he loved that) to a health food freak with dreadlocks. He was a tough tattooed intimidating guy if he wanted to be but when the opportunity rose he would never fight. And he had his dark side, dont we all. Most true artists do. I think with all his unbelievable energy and endless pursuits through life, one thing he really liked was freaking people out. And sometimes it was so fucking funny we were in stitches. The stories are endless. A book could be written about him and his antics. I had heard he had been recently playing a lot of piano, weve been waiting for that Bomber symphony/rock opera hes been working on. Sadly, only our friends in the other world will get to enjoy it until were all there with them.
- Barry "D'live" Ward former band member and friends with the deceased.