It had been another sleepless night for Chris Squire, pedaling around San Diego delivering drugs. When the sun rolled into the sky on August 14, 2006, he knew he was looking at his last few hours of freedom.
"I had been cruising around that day, doing my hustle, and I had this impending sense of doom," he said. "This black cloud was over my head."
Squire had been back in town about three months after a yearlong absence from San Diego's music scene. He was one of those guys who attended every show at Carpenters and Wabash halls, going all the way back to 1983, his freshman year at Mission Bay High. When he wasn't in the crowd, he was on the stage. Mostly a guitarist, Squire could also take over on bass or drums. He grew up with John Reis, Gar Wood, Mitch Wilson, the Nefke brothers, and a bunch of other guys who eventually formed or played in local bands such as Rocket From the Crypt, Tanner, No Knife, the Morlocks, and Crash Worship. Squire's band résumé clocks in at 20-plus San Diego-based bands, among them Heroin, Tit Wrench, Tiltwheel, the Tori Cobras, and the re-formed Battalion of Saints.He seemed to know everyone, and it began to pay off in 2002, when he got some recognition -- and good shows -- with his band the Tori Cobras. He had also started a record label, Pure Noise Forever, and announced plans for a lineup of releases by the Teeth, Cheerleader666, and his own band. Write-ups in the local alternative press portrayed him as San Diego's latest underground music mogul.
In reality, things were falling apart.
When They Found the Grow Room, I Ran
In 2002, Squire, 33, was living in a house on the corner of 32nd and Upas in North Park. He ran Pure Noise Forever out of the living room, and the Tori Cobras practiced in a back bedroom. He paid the bills selling weed.
It was the place to go after the show was over. Even on a weeknight, a knock on the door at 2:15 a.m. opened up to an afterparty that might go on into daylight, depending on how much beer was around.
The party came to an end when Squire and his wife, a svelte French-Canadian, separated. The missus eventually became the ex, and Squire and his bulky, happy-go-lucky dog Sophie moved to a large duplex on Collier Avenue north of Adams. The place had a giant couch in the living room, which was constantly packed with touring bands crashing for the night and friends of the roommates who never wanted to leave the party.
By January 2004, the partying had become more important than paying the rent, and the sheriffs came with the eviction notice. In Squire's bedroom, sheriffs found a closet lined with reflective wallpaper and a halogen bulb hanging over pots filled with soil.
"When they showed up and found the grow room, I ran," Squire said. "I took off and left everything I owned behind."
Although he wouldn't be charged with growing pot, Squire now considered himself a fugitive. In his mind, it was official: the sheriffs had found pot-growing equipment, and they knew it belonged to him.
Squire moved into his Grantville practice/
recording studio. He'd spent $4000 transforming the commercial space into a sealed-off, soundproofed room, but he shortly lost that too. From there he lived temporarily in a detached garage in South Park near Ray's Liquor. Then he took off for Seattle.
After seven months, Squire returned to San Diego. He'd been miserable in the Pacific Northwest. "I had no friends, I couldn't connect with anyone, it was too expensive. It was depressing."
He moved in with a friend in Bankers Hill, and in April 2005, he returned to Pokéz, a popular downtown Mexican restaurant and musician hangout, to run the side bar, the Rosary Room.
"I had just started managing the Rosary Room," he said. "The guy that had managed it before me had double booked a show one night."
Both sets of performers showed up with their fans and quickly filled the tiny bar.
"I tried to appease everybody and mix the show up," he said. "The hip-hop guys ended up stealing some beers, and [Pokéz owner] Rafa caught them and ended up in a fight with this guy. Rafa ended up knocking him out. The guy got hit so hard he thought that I hit him with a baseball bat."
According to Squire, when the beer thief came to, he spread the word through the bar that he'd been attacked with a bat.
"He told his friends, and they ended up tearing the bar apart," Squire said. "They were throwing all kinds of shit at me. They were throwing pint glasses, pool balls, and pool sticks. They ripped the cash register off the counter and threw that at me.
"Everything missed me somehow. It was like The Matrix. I was dodging everything in slow motion. They did about $2000 worth of damage to the bar. They smashed out all the glass behind the bar. They also had said that they were going to come back and kill me, because they were convinced that I had hit their friend with a baseball bat."
Squire took the threat seriously. That night he acquired a 9mm Ruger.
"I had to close the bar every night by myself at two in the morning in a shady part of town," he said. "So I procured a gun for my personal protection, since threats had been made on my life."
He took to carrying the gun at all times. Deep down, though, he knew it was a bad move because eventually something would occur that would involve the police.
Working odd jobs a couple of weeks later, Squire and a friend got into it, and the two came to blows. "It happened on the way to a job as a photographer's assistant," Squire explained. "He was the photographer makeup artist. I was the guy that holds the silver umbrella.