San Pedro-Based Damon Duster Lives for Indie Music
By DONNA BALANCIA
SAN PEDRO, California – Damon Duster of indie label Nomad Eel Records is taking a novel business approach: He only releases music that appeals to him.
“Nomad Eel Records is a one-man shop,” said Duster, founder of Nomad Eel Records, located in San Pedro, California.
It’s the personality of the former serviceman that attracts great independent musicians to his privately run label. It started with the 2017 release of a Zig-Zags live recording on vinyl but all signs were pointing to life beyond the big black disc.
“Initially it was just vinyl,” he said. “Then my second release, for Young Creatures, I started doing CDs. Now they have echo covers that look like a record cover, for the CDs. You can make a bunch of CDs pretty inexpensively and the bands can take them to the shows, it’s a way to help the bands survive.”
Duster grew up a music fan in Redlands, then joined the military at 28.
“That brought me to San Pedro,” he said. “I love music, I grew up going to concerts. My mom took me to a ton of concerts. My first concert was the US Festival in San Bernardino. I love to see the interaction and the love of people for music. And I love art. I have two kids, and I see how music and art affects them, so I get them involved with the label too.”
One of Duster’s favorite bands he felt he needed to release is the California ska band The Skeletones.
“I grew up watching them in Redlands,” Duster said. “I got them, and put out the last album they released.”
The Skeletones – Make Up Your Mind:
Another one of the featured artists on Nomad Eel Records is Mike Watt, whose L.A. to Pedro EP is on the label.
How did the two men meet?
“I live in the same town he lives in,” Duster said.
As for future projects, Duster laments that his wide ranging musical tastes and his personnel power at the label are at odds.
“I can’t take on everybody,” he said. “But I wish I could.”
How does Duster afford to press vinyl, release CDs and actually keep the production going? It’s all about sharing, he said.
“There’s a pretty cool underground of indie labels I followed before I had a label myself,” he said. “I became friends with them. Two labels get together and we split the costs 50-50 put both logos and catalog numbers and split the merch money.”
The music released on Nomad Eel runs the gamut, but Duster focuses on the one thing all the bands have in common: Good music.
The first release was Zig-Zags live, second was Young Creatures, third was King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, the fourth was Livingmore and the fifth was Black Moon Tape. Black Moon Tape is another interesting band that comes from Belgium.
“For that one I switched record plants because the band is in Europe,” Duster said. “The pressing is done in Czechoslovakia. When you listen, you can tell the guy’s foreign, but the music is good.”
He said his label is home to some of the most beloved California bands because people recognize that Duster values the art of old-school music-making.
Mike Watt and The Secondmen:
The bands on the label are terrific and there are always new releases. Some of the upcoming projects are L.A. to Pedro, Mike Watt and The Secondmen with Zig-Zags, and Livingmore, which also has a beer named after them, courtesy of Nomad Eel Records.
“I met the band Livingmore through the Young Creatures and when I saw them, I said ‘Man this band is tight,'” Duster recalled. “We did a 7-inch and a full LP called ok to land. I also like to do some different projects, so I told them, ‘Let’s brew a beer for you’ and call the beer ‘ok to land,’ so we did the beer thing. With the bottling and filling of the bottle, we had the two main singers Spencer Livingston and Alex More helping me. Then they had a house party at the studio.”
Another colorful upcoming release is Jeffertitti’s Nile The Entire Universe, which is something to look forward to, Duster said.
“The record cover will be beautiful, musically it already is,” he said. Duster expects to do a run of 300 units.
Additional new releases include The Blank Tapes Look Into the Light.
Black Moon Tape – Reset: