From Blink-182 to Bacon-182: Inside Producer Mark Trombino’s Punk Rock Donut Shop

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Mark Trombino (Photo: Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Mark Trombino behind the counter of Donut Friend. (Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Producer Mark Trombino has helped Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World, as they say, make the donuts, from Dude Ranch to Bleed American and other pop-punk gems along the way. Now Trombino is literally making donuts… with a nod to his punk past.

A couple weeks back, Trombino made a serious career change and opened Donut Friend in Los Angeles’ historic Highland Park neighborhood. Blueberry compote, bacon, cayenne pepper, manchego chese and orange marmalade are just a few of the ingredients available in his design-your-own donut line-up, but music fans may be more interested in the band-themed pastries.

The current concoctions include (A)pple Pi(E), a donut stuffed with caramelized apples and cheddar cheese, topped with a caramel glaze and toasted peanuts; it was inspired by peace-punk band (A).PPL(E). There’s Bacon-182, a self-explanatory ode to one of the biggest bands Trombino’s produced; Chocolate from the Crypt, named for Rocket from the Crypt (with whom Trombino’s early band Drive Like Jehu shared a guitarist); and the chocolate mousse-stuffed Fudgegazi, a delectable tribute to Fugazi.

Fudgegazi donut. (Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Fudgegazi donut. (Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

“I actually just came up with a list of names [a few years ago],” Trombino explained from his office at the back of the store. ”I had donut combinations already that I wanted to use and then I came up with all these lists of names, and I just started matching them [to band names].”

There’s a personal story for almost every concoction. “Rites of Sprinkles is Rites of Spring,” he explained. “Hands down one of the bands that changed my life so I was very happy that they were on this list.”

“Around the time that I was doing the Jimmy Eat World records, Christie Front Drive was a band that Jimmy Eat World looked up to,” Trombino explained. “So, you get Custard Front Drive.”

But worry not, Jimmy Eat World fans. As the act Trombino is perhaps most associated with as a producer, Jimmy Eat World has its own donut in the works, the perfectly titled Jimmy Eat Swirl. The band has even submitted recipe ideas for it.

Mark Trombino (Photo: Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Mark Trombino making the donuts. (Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Perhaps the most controversial donut on the menu, GG Almond is named after one of music’s most polarizing performers, GG Allin, who was known for mutilating himself on stage.

“The people that know GG Allin are kind of turned off by this donut… because he was disgusting,” Trombino joked. “People have said, ‘I can’t eat a donut named after GG Allin.’”

When asked if any of the bands are aware of the their tributes in dough form, Tromboni recalls a visit from Wall of Voodoo’s Bruce Moreland, who came in and introduced himself. “That was kind of cool,” Trombino said with a smile. Moreland took his Walnut of Voodoo to go.

Do all Donut Friend patrons get the references? No. But that’s half the fun.

“Hearing people order these donuts, who clearly have no idea who these bands are, makes me chuckle,” Tromboni said. “Requesting a Rites of Sprinkles, it’s just so funny to me.”

Choclate From The Crypt donut (Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Choclate From The Crypt donut (Jay Tilles/Radio.com)

Trombino says he initially “threw away” money on consultants who didn’t have any better ideas then he did. Having sold his home to pay for the new business, the self-proclaimed perfectionist is committed to making Donut Friend a success. As for why he made the switch from distortion effects to glazes and fillings, it has much to do with the state of the music biz for the kinds of acts he was known to produce.

“I never built myself a recording studio, which eventually became an issue. Recording budgets shrunk. If you didn’t have your own place to work, unless you were making big records, it became difficult to make money,” he explained. “I’ve always been in the mid-range sort of tier so I never got really big records. The mid-range budgets got to the point where I couldn’t afford to go to a studio… to pay someone else and pay myself was tough. I squeaked by for a while but eventually it was like I gotta build a recording studio or something. And, I opted for something. I had this idea like five years ago. I’d been chewing on it forever. And I just felt like it was time to do something. Stop talking about it and do it.”

- Jay Tilles, Radio.com

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