By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The next day Clark went over to the DeLongpre house with “a big chunk of hash” and pretty much just stayed.
Everything clicked at first: the cute punk rock girls, the barbecues in the back yard, and a residency at a new club off Hollywood Boulevard called Bar Deluxe. It was far from a fancy gig — the club had no stage — but when the Campfire Girls played, they drew people like Dave Navarro and Eric Avery of Jane’s Addiction, members of Weezer, Hole, Lifter, That Dog and up-and-coming industry figures like Maverick’s Guy Oseary.
By August, the band had released a self-produced EP and had become the subject of an intense bidding war that can only be understood in the context of everybody wanting to find the next Nirvana. They signed with Interscope — considered new and innovative back then — to a deal that included a $150,000 home recording studio, their own imprint label and three full-length releases. At that point they had played less than a dozen shows.
Pikus and Clark started smoking heroin right around the time they were to record their first album for Interscope. Stone was dead set against hard drugs, having seen the damage they’d done to his relationship with Niccoli, a subject that would provide fodder for much of that initial record.
The first night they started recording the album, Pikus and Clark were high and sounded horrible. Stone, feeling the heat as the main songwriter, was furious and blamed the drugs. He demanded that Pikus and Clark give him a third of everything they had.
“At that time, everyone around me was using, and the pressure of making the record, trying to write all those songs . . . I just snapped and decided to do drugs,” he recalls now. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to be the worst fucking junkie you ever saw.’”
And he was, with Clark and others around DeLongpre right behind him. Some places have a specific energy to them: the Himalayas, the Wailing Wall . . . the Bermuda Triangle. The DeLongpre house had a magnetic pull for local drug friends. It became an abyss where lives crashed and disappeared. Everyone from former Cobain acolytes to music-biz execs to rock stars was getting fucked up at DeLongpre.
“People were always overdosing,” remembers Jason Pepper, an actor who lived in the back house for almost three years and eventually got strung out himself. “9-1-1 stopped taking calls.” Pepper remembers Stone walking around the house with needles sticking out of his arms and a very loaded Clark burning down part of the house.
It would get worse before it got better for those two.
In the fall of 1995, the band went to New York to play the College Music Journal (CMJ) New Music Festival. Stone and Clark were in such bad shape their skull bones were showing and they fought onstage. Afterward, the band had a meeting with Q Prime, the big-league management company that had signed the band one month prior. During the meeting, Pikus, who despite his dabbling had never gotten strung out, told Stone and Clark they needed to go back to rehab.
“It’s the only way to save the band,” Pikus, who had assumed the role of manager–father figure, remembers saying.
Stone and Clark kicked him out of the band on the spot. The three then got in a fistfight in the elevator, tumbling out into the lobby of Q Prime’s midtown high-rise.
Meanwhile, back at DeLongpre things were so bad, “The animals were committing suicide,” Pepper recalls. One day, Pepper’s dog Sam jumped out of a window and ran across Highland, where he was hit by a car. “He couldn’t wait to get out of there,” says Pepper, who recalls being high on heroin and using a wok spoon to bury Sam. It wasn’t long before Stone and another housemate were burying their cats out back as well. “There was a whole pet cemetery back there,” Pepper explains.
Upon returning from New York, the band members went their separate ways. Pikus managed to parlay the band’s one success — releasing several EPs of local talent — into a job scouting for Interscope. Stone and Clark, hopelessly strung out, had no such luck.
After some unsuccessful tours without Pikus and more stabs at rehab, Stone and Clark pawned everything they had and ultimately were evicted from DeLongpre. Stone started hustling and Clark kicked more times than he can remember. He got arrested for stealing CDs and slept in parks. He almost died from a bad blood disease but returned to drugs straightaway. Stone also had the kind of poor luck that follows junkies and got stabbed one night in the parking lot of Rock ’n’ Roll Ralphs. There were also pilgrimages to Mexico, San Francisco and Sedona, Arizona, in botched attempts of getting straight.
In 1999, something happened that brought them to a screeching halt. D’arcy West, Clark’s former best friend and sometimes girlfriend, overdosed and died. Others had died, friends from DeLongpre, but this was different. West, a smart and sardonic writer, left an indelible impression on most everyone she met. She had been a source of strength for the band, believing in them when doubts or pressure plagued them. She had helped Clark endlessly in his attempts to clean up. She was the last one they thought would die. After that, getting high seemed like a cop-out to Clark.