His father was a fire department captain. Douglas remembers being a kid and fearing each day that his dad wouldn’t make it home.
“My father got a commendation and a suspension at the same time,” Douglas recalls. “A firefighter went down in a warehouse, and my dad flipped the battalion chief the bird, went back inside, lifted a steel beam off his leg and saved his life. Firefighters do extraordinary things. When everyone else is running out, they’re running in.”
Douglas and his family spent a lot of time in the firehouse, the setting of many of his childhood memories.
“My whole life was around the fire department. Every photo of me and my siblings growing up was at a fire station, and all my Thanksgivings were at the fire department, because my dad had to work. I didn’t have my first real Thanksgiving at home until I got married with my wife here in Colorado,” Douglas says.
Even his brother decided to join the fire department.
Now, Douglas — a former law enforcement officer and currently a bass player and singer in the band Bound by Years — is using his position in the Denver metal scene to raise awareness about firefighters.
With the help of seven bands that Bound by Years has played with in the past, Douglas is throwing the Class D Charity Metal Concert on October 13 at The Venue in north Denver. All proceeds from the event will go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which assists families of deceased firefighters with financial and emotional aid.
The bands on the bill include Mob for Bid, Awaiting Eternity, Killing Creation, Nine Tenths of the Law, Subzenith, Shahiye of Ra, Seven Sea Voyage and Bound by Years, which Douglas co-founded in 2014 with childhood friend Bucky Ward.
“We’ve gotten really close with our brother bands out here in the metal scene, and I knew if I put on something like this, I would be able to rely on them,” Douglas says. “I told them up front that all the proceeds would go to the charity and not to the bands, and the only bands that said no were ones that already had shows booked that night. Awaiting Eternity is coming all the way from Grand Junction to play.”
“I constantly fear that I’ll hear the same news about my own brother,” Douglas says. “He’s been at work for the last three or four months, fighting some of the biggest fires California has ever seen.”
In addition to raising awareness and money for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Douglas and the artists involved hope this event will help to change some people’s minds about metal music; he says too many people stereotype metal musicians and fans as angry and violent, and that the community too often falls prey to misguided stereotypes.
“Some of these kids get on stage and play the hardest, angriest music I’ve ever heard in my life, and then they get off stage, and they’re the nicest, most caring people you’ll ever meet,” says Caden Montoya, drummer for the band Killing Creation.
Montoya points to an underground show in August called A Taste of Denver at the Seventh Circle Music Collective that celebrated the strength of survivors of sexual assault as another example of the metal community rallying to support an important cause.
“The bands we play with are our brothers,” Douglas says. “They’re more apt to do something charitable than [musicians in] any other genre I can think of.”
While he notes that people in the metal scene have their differences, he says the community unites in times of distress, views music as a refuge and puts concerts to good use raising awareness and money for important causes.
“I would love for the community to see the metal community for what it is: not as scary, but instead as a group of people that, when they put their minds to something, they get it done,” he says.
Class D Charity Metal Concert, 4 p.m. Saturday, October 13, The Venue, 1451 Cortez Street, Denver, $12.