Joe Escalante

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Joe Escalante
JoeEscalante Indianopolis04.jpg
Escalante performing with The Vandals on the 2004 Warped Tour in Noblesville, Indiana.
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Patrick Escalante
Born (1963-01-30) January 30, 1963 (age 56)
OriginLong Beach, California
GenresPunk rock
Occupation(s)TV writer, Bassist, record label owner, film director, music video director, radio show host; formerly a drummer, entertainment lawyer, and television executive
InstrumentsBass guitar, drum kit
Years active1980–present
LabelsEpitaph, National Trust, Restless, Triple X, Nitro, Kung Fu
Associated actsThe Vandals, Sweet and Tender Hooligans

Joseph Patrick "Joe" Escalante (born January 30, 1963) is an American [1] television writer, musician, radio host, film and music video director, amateur torero, and former television executive. He is most widely known as the bassist for the punk rock band The Vandals, and [2] former owner of their record label Kung Fu Records, and the host of Joe Escalante, Live from Hollywood, on the Los Angeles/Orange County radio station KEIB 1150AM Sundays 5-7PM PST.


Escalante was born in Long Beach, California to a Mexican father and Irish mother and grew up in Rossmoor, California, an unincorporated area of Orange County. As a teenager he learned to play drums and began performing in local garage bands.[citation needed]


Escalante received his Bachelor degree from UCLA, and his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School.[3]

Career with The Vandals[edit]

In 1980, at age 18, Escalante joined the punk rock band The Vandals, becoming their first permanent drummer. He would remain the sole constant member of the band throughout the rest of their career. They released their debut EP Peace thru Vandalism in 1982 through Epitaph Records.[4] In 1984 Escalante and the other band members appeared in the Roger Corman film Suburbia, directed by Penelope Spheeris [5] and released their first album When in Rome Do as the Vandals. In 1987 they appeared in another Spheeris film, Dudes.[6] By 1989 Escalante had moved from the drums into the bass guitar position. Fluctuations in the band's membership left him as the only member remaining from the original recording lineup. In order to continue the band, vocalist Dave Quackenbush set about finding new members, recruiting guitarist Warren Fitzgerald and drummer Josh Freese in 1989. This lineup released the album Fear of a Punk Planet, establishing themselves amongst an emerging new crop of southern California punk rock bands. This lineup would remain consistent throughout the rest of the band's career and would release numerous albums, tour extensively, and form their own record label.[7]

Television career[edit]

After graduating law school in 1992, Escalante worked as an executive in the department of business affairs for CBS. During his time with the network, he negotiated actor, writer, and director deals on programs  like Everybody Loves Raymond, Rescue 911, and Walker Texas Ranger, for which he co-produced the theme song “Eyes of a Ranger” after convincing Chuck Norris to sing the theme song to his own series.[8][9]

After four years, he left CBS to consult with the United Paramount Network,  tour with The Vandals,  and  operate his record label Kung Fu Records where he also produced concert films, low-budget features, and in1999, one of the very first streaming TV series, “Fear of A Punk Planet” ordered by the Digital Entertainment Network (DEN),[10] in 1999, and later released as a comic book in 2017.[11]

In 2015, Escalante was hired by the Discovery I.D./Discovery Channel channel to produce scripted true crime TV series "True Nightmares" where he wrote scripts and served as the production re-writer for the 1st and 2nd seasons. In 2017 he began working as a writer for History Channel's sci-fi documentary series Ancient Aliens. As a free-lance writer, Escalante has penned scripts for such shows as Oxygen Channel's “Buried in the Back Yard, Travel Channel's “In Search of Monsters,” and History (U.S. TV network) “Curse of Oak Island.” [12]

In 2018, Escalante wrote the pilot script for the reboot of the 1960s hit TV series Hogan's Heroes for original creator and 2 time best picture winner Albert S. Ruddy, which as of 2019 is still in development with Albert S. Ruddy Productions. This time, the series is set in Guantanamo Bay.[13]


Escalante married in 1996. His wife, Sandra Escalante, appeared briefly in the 2005 film Cake Boy which he directed (as a member of the counseling group). The two now live together in Seal Beach, California.[citation needed]

Nitro and Kung Fu Records[edit]

In 1995 the Vandals signed a record deal with Nitro Records owned by The Offspring's Dexter Holland and released the album Live Fast, Diarrhea. The album brought increased attention to the band and Escalante toured with them internationally. He directed their music video for "I Have a Date," and would continue to direct the band's videos throughout the rest of their career. The band released 3 more albums on Nitro over the next 5 years, with Escalante participating on all of them.

In 1996 Escalante and Warren Fitzgerald started the record label Kung Fu Records, initially to release a debut album by the Assorted Jelly Beans. Escalante named the label after his study of Kung Fu San Soo. Eventually, Escalante left CBS Television and took over operations of the label, signing acts such as The Ataris, Ozma,  Tsunami Bomb, Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, Longmont Potion Castle, and The Vandals.[14] Kung Fu’s most successful release was Buddha, the debut album by the band Blink-182. Escalante ran the U.S. and European operations for 20 years, then sold the label to Cleopatra Records, who continue to maintain it as a separate imprint.[15]

Directing and producing[edit]

Using his experience in the television industry, Escalante formed Kung Fu Films in 2000 as an offshoot of the record label, and produced and starred in the independent film That Dam Punk and the early streaming series Fear of a Punk Planet. He also continued to produce and direct music videos for The Vandals and for other acts on the Kung Fu label. In 2002 he launched the DVD live concert series The Show Must Go Off!  for which produced and/or directed over 20 long form concert films. In 2005, he directed the independent film, shot on film, Cake Boy featuring Scott Aukerman, Warren Fitzgerald, Bob Odenkirk, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn,  and Cherry 2000’s Pamela Gidley.[16]

Settlement with ex-Vandals members[edit]

In 2003 a settlement was reached between the Vandals and ex-members with respect to past royalties and merchandise rights. The dispute centered around a deal supposedly made between the parties in 1989. 14 years later, some parties claimed the deal was never made, and if made, should have been in writing. After a flurry of letters written back and forth disputing song writing credits on the first two releases, it was agreed that all three original songwriters would split income from all the early songs.[17]

Sweet and Tender Hooligans[edit]

In 2004 Escalante joined the Sweet and Tender Hooligans, a Smiths/Morrissey tribute band composed primarily of Latino members. In 2006 he traveled with them to the United Kingdom to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Smiths album The Queen Is Dead.

Radio hosting[edit]

In 2005, Escalante was hired to host a weekly radio program originally "Barely Legal Radio" on the Los Angeles/Orange County radio station Indie 103.1 FM, where he dispensed entertainment and legal advice to aspiring musicians.[18] In May 2006, he became the host of the station's morning drive-time program The Last of the Famous International Morning Shows, replacing Mighty Mighty Bosstones singer Dicky Barrett.[19]

Escalante's morning show included daily appearances by film director David Lynch, who served as weatherman, and actor Timothy Olyphant, who served as a sports commentator. The show also featured a weekly wine tasting and education hour called "Wino Wednesday", and hosted a number of celebrity guests including Crispin Glover, Christina Ricci, Pat Buchanan, Will Ferrell, Maynard James Keenan, Werner Herzog, Phil Donahue, Kristen Stewart, Harry Shearer, Dennis Hopper, and Andy Dick. The show was endorsed by companies and products such as iPod, iTunes, and AT&T. Indie pulled the plug on the show in November 2008. Two months later, the entire show went off the air and switched to Spanish ranchero music.[20]

Joe's call-in entertainment law show stayed on the web version on Indie 1031 until it finally landed on Clear Channel/Iheart Media's KEIB AM 1150 in 2009, where it can still be heard today live on Sundays at 5pm to 7pm, PST. In April of 2019, the name was changed to "Joe Escalante, Live from Hollywood."[21]

Religious and political views[edit]

Escalante teaches catechism at St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Hawaiian Gadens where he is a daily communicant.[22] He has no stated political party affiliation.[23]

From 2008 to 2012, Escalante worked as a volunteer temporary judge for the Los Angeles superior court, and later placed himself on the ballot for a paid position in a non-partisan race.[24] Street artist Shepherd Fairey created a campaign poster for Escalante.[25] His first candidate poster since his iconic representation of President Barack Obama. Escalante raised $15,000 for his campaign [26] with the posters and received 18.41% of the vote.[27] His opponent spent a record $450,000 to defeat him.[28][29]


Studio albums



Year Title Role
1984 Suburbia himself (with The Vandals)
1987 Dudes
2000 That Darn Punk Dirk Castigo
2004 Punk Rock Holocaust Warped Documentary Boss[I]
2005 Cake Boy Pierre Kaniche
2007 Punk's Not Dead himself
2008 Lil' Bush (episode 204: "Katrina") Michael "Brownie" Brown (voice)
2009 One Nine Nine Four himself
2014 Comedy Bang! Bang!
2016 Bar Rescue himself; Recon spy

^ I Escalante's scenes in Punk Rock Holocaust were deleted from the final version of the film.

Direction and production[edit]

Year Title Role
1996 Glory Daze Music supervisor
2000 That Darn Punk Producer, music editor, music supervisor
2003 Neil Hamburger: Live at the Phoenix Greyhound Park
(The Show Must Go Off! episode 5)
Director, producer
2004 Goldfinger: Live at the House of Blues
(The Show Must Go Off! episode 11)
Zebrahead: Live at the House of Blues
(The Show Must Go Off! episode 12)
The Matches: Live at the House of Blues
(The Show Must Go Off! episode 14)
Director, producer
Throw Rag: Live at the House of Blues
(The Show Must Go Off! episode 15)
Warped Tour '03 Director, producer
2005 Tsunami Bomb: Live at the Glasshouse
(The Show Must Go Off! episode 17)
Cake Boy Director, producer


  1. ^ "Joe Escalante". IMDb. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  2. ^ Dirt, Salt Lake. "Joe Escalante: on Reading, Writing, & the Loch Ness Monster". Salt Lake Dirt. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  3. ^ California State Bar Membership Records
  4. ^ Kelsen, David (April 5, 2016). "The Vandals, OC Punk's Merry Pranksters, Claim a Place In the Coachella Sun". OC Weekly. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Suburbia (1983) - IMDb, retrieved April 20, 2019
  6. ^ Dudes, retrieved April 20, 2019
  7. ^ Kelsen, David (April 5, 2016). "The Vandals, OC Punk's Merry Pranksters, Claim a Place In the Coachella Sun". OC Weekly. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  8. ^ Chang, Vickie (June 1, 2012). "The Punk Rocker Who Would Be Judge". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  9. ^ "Joe Escalante, Owner, Kung Fu Records". Bitter Empire. November 20, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  10. ^ "Digital Entertainment Network", Wikipedia, March 28, 2019, retrieved April 17, 2019
  11. ^ "Fear Of A Punk Planet #1 - Comics by comiXology". Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  12. ^ "Joe Escalante". IMDb. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  13. ^ "Joe Escalante". IMDb. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  14. ^ "The Vandals' Joe Escalante: "Who doesn't like nonsense?" | Metal as Fuck". Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  15. ^ Src=', <img Class='guest_author_avatar Avatar' Style='width:20px;height:20px'; d=mm; Callwood, r=g'/>Brett (March 5, 2019). "The Vandals Get MusInked Up". LA Weekly. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  16. ^ Cake Boy (Video 2005) - IMDb, retrieved June 22, 2019
  17. ^ "Pipeman Interviews Joe Escalante of The Vandals – W4CY Radio". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  18. ^ "Joe Escalante joins Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles". May 14, 2005. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  19. ^ White, Adam (May 19, 2009). "Joe Escalante takes over Indie 103 morning show". Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  20. ^ Bacon, Caleb. "Joe Escalante, Life After Indie 103.1 FM". LAist. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  21. ^ "KEIB-AM Live On-Air Schedule - Clark Howard, The Weekend with Joe Pags & more". KEIB-AM. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  22. ^ "Full Biography for Joe Escalante". Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  23. ^ "Los Angeles County Primary Election Judicial Voter Guide". Cannabis Cheri. May 21, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  24. ^ "Joe Escalante of The Vandals for Los Angeles Judge of the Superior Court Office #3". GiantRobotStore. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  25. ^ Frame, Inside the Rock Poster. "Shepard Fairey Joe Escalante For Judge Poster". Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  26. ^ "Punk Rock Lawyer Joe Escalante Wants to Be a Judge". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  27. ^ "California judicial elections, 2012 - Superior Courts (A-P)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  28. ^ "Primary in 1 Week: Judicial Spending Record, 'Gang' Lawyers". Findlaw. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  29. ^ "Two Prosecutors, Pro Bono Attorney, Broadcaster Seek Open Seat". Retrieved April 24, 2019.

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