Peter DiStefano: Living Drug Free

Published On December 17, 2013 | November/December 2013

I have been playing guitar since I was 13, and I’m 48 now. I was born and raised in Santa Monica, California and was in a surf band called K-38. We did surf music like the Ventures and had a good following. My father Vito DiStefano played music and sang and was in the Rose Tattoo; I wanted to do music because of this. I was on a surf trip in Mexico and met Perry Farrell. We shared a cabana together, I was playing some classical guitar and he was like, “Wow, that was some really cool finger picking. We should start a band called Porno for Pyros and do this project together.” We hooked back up in L.A. and tried something different with a DJ and it was great. Then, I spun out on drugs in 1997. I got clean, and now I’ve been clean for 16 ½ years. After that, I started another band called Lance Armstrong in 2010, and we’ve been doing great. I’ve been doing a lot of film and television work, lots of film score work and Guitar Session for a guy named Harry Williams; a big film composer, and that’s it!

What are your specific ailments?
Sometimes fatigue, so I try and sleep on the planes and rest when I can; I also try not to stress. I try to have good musicians with me so it makes it easier. I try not to control everything and just let go; let the music naturally happen and realize it’s only art, it’s not that serious. People take it so seriously and I just want to have fun with it. It is an expression of the truth…but it is just an expression. The art of expression of sound; it’s not brain surgery; nobody is going to die if you do bad. People will just boo you and it will be embarrassing and that’s the worst. No one is going to die…hopefully!

What kind of bodily injuries or health problems have you had tied to music and not music?
Well, tied to music was the drugs and alcohol and that really tore me up; staying up late with women, doing stage dives with my guitar, hurting my back, fingers bleeding, motion sickness in airplanes and cars…There are a lot of germs because you’re always moving.

You were diagnosed with cancer?
When I was shooting heroin I had overdosed in a homeless guy’s van. When I was out he pinched my left testicle to keep me alive and breathing and it was like he deformed it. When I woke
up I felt it, and it started to get back into shape and then I chain smoked more cigarettes and things like that. I think that’s like a filter for your body and I just kept doing drugs and it just kept growing and I was diagnosed with [testicular] cancer and immediately they had to remove it. I had a vascular invasion and I had to do chemotherapy. That was another reason Porno for Pyros needed to stop; because I was dying of cancer, I was a crack addict, a heroin
addict…everything. It’s been 17 years now, and I’m alive and grateful. “Music and art is incredible and the best thing about it is that we can be ourselves and be honest without going to jail or losing our wives,” DiStefano joked. “You can just be really real and expressive and be creative in hiding. It’s the truth but you don’t have to injure yourself or other people in order to tell it. If you were to be real about life and just say what you wanted to, you would hurt yourself and other people, where in art, you can express yourself without hurting anybody because everyone has different opinions. You can be really creative in lyrics and if you’re getting back at someone for hurting you and you want to say something you can say it in a way without actually hurting someone, and just release it.”

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