On a cold Saturday evening, football is blaring from the widescreen TVs inside the Elbow Room. In the events room, where a comedy night is about to start, Duane Raider sits at a table with a few other performers, drinking water and nervously looking over his stand-up notes, a list with items like "homeless abortions," "neighbor sex" and "velvet Jesus." When he gets onstage, he becomes confident and hilarious. Raider's humor jabs at anti-choice protesters, online dating and bad sex, but most of all, he pokes fun at himself in a relatable way.
Raider might be most familiar as a fixture in the music scene. For someone who spends most of his waking hours in a windowless KBGA office, he appears everywhere, from introducing metal documentaries at the Big Sky Film Festival and deejaying hip-hop and metal radio shows, to playing in several bands and producing innovative programs like the KBandGA battle-of-the-bands contest. Just in the last six months, he's started doing stand-up comedy for the hell of it.
While many people know Raider by face, and many more by voice, not everyone gets to really know the somewhat awkward, shy 29-year-old. Some fun facts about Raider: His last name is actually Roeder, but he started spelling it phonetically as a teen to get people to say it correctly. He's incredibly good natured about his large size. He plays in metal bands wearing a black suit and tie. Last year, he joined punk/metal band Shramana on bass. He's majoring in broadcast journalism at the University of Montana and hopes to work in radio when he graduates, though that will be a long time coming: 2015, he thinks. The chronic insomniac has a tendency to fail classes by sleeping in.
What follows is part of our conversation at the Elbow Room.
Indy: You're from the magical land of Oregon, originally.
Raider: Yeah, yeah I grew up there. ... My mom moved up to Montana when I was 16 to work in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and I stayed and tried to be independent in Portland and I was homeless for two years.
Indy: So were you crashing with people, or sleeping under the Burnside Bridge?
Raider: I was a couch surfer, stayed in flophouses. I got scabies once, that was gross. I was in a really, really dirty flophouse in Portland for a while... Yeah, like, people there were really gross.
Indy: How long have you lived here?
Raider: I've lived here about eight years now, it's the longest I've lived anywhere. When I first moved up to Montana, I was living in the Flathead. ... That was where my mother lived and where she got me an apartment. That was really lame at first. The first year I just did a ton of drugs, didn't know anybody, tried to make friends by walking around late at night. That didn't really work. Then I met the punk kids, and I was like, 'Oh, we're good now.'
Indy: I think people think of you now as the metal guy, and haven't you said before you were really more of a rockabilly kinda guy?
Raider: Yeah, kinda. Before I started working at the station, I was a hardcore kinda guy, listened to a lot of Shellac and the Melvins. I'm still not really a metal dude. I listen to more hip-hop than anything else. Been listening to a lot of Danny Brown, Kenny Lamar. Been getting into a lot of Odd Future. ... Chris [Justice, KBGA general manager] and I actually have a hip-hop show that we've been switching off on, on Mondays.
Indy: And what bands are you playing in right now?
Raider: I'm playing in Shramana, it's a punk/metal band. As much as I listen to everything else, the only music I seem to end up playing is metal. It's the only thing I wanna play.
Indy: So when did the stand-up thing start?
Raider: This group, Missoula Homegrown, does stuff the first Thursday of every week at the Union Club, and so KBGA was starting a new stand-up comedy show in the evenings on Saturdays, so I thought it would be cool to go down and get recordings of local comedians. I went down the first time in either June or July. Then after watching, I was like, 'I want to do this. I can do this.' So the next month, I went up and did it.
Indy: What's been your reception? Has anyone thrown anything at you?
Raider: Really good. The first night I went up, I got a lot of compliments and stuff afterwards. The whole time I was up there I thought I was going to pass out and puke all over myself. It was like that for the first three times or so.
Indy: What's the difference between getting up on stage with a band, and getting up by yourself?
Raider: It's like, when you're on stage with a band, you have so many things between you and the audience. There's a million fallbacks and fail-safes you can blame shit on. Like, 'Oh, the drummer's drum kit broke down, so that's why shit happened.' With stand-up, you're just naked. It's just you and a microphone and anything bad that happens is entirely you. It's the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done. I've done theater. I've done music. This is the most frightening of any of the performances.
Duane Raider performs stand-up comedy as part of Birthdayfest at Zoo City Apparel, Sat., Jan. 19, at 7 PM. $5.