What sort of things is left to be said about a founding member of a band called Slime and the Boobytramps after his untimely death at age 31?
Raucous stories of house party destruction? Outrageously worded inappropriate jokes meant to offend? Self-described shitty tunes meant to clear the room? Well, yeah, all those things. But there was far more to Miles "Slime" Berrett than just sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
Berrett's most popular band, Slime and the Boobytramps, may not have reached peaks in even the local music scene, but the group's music resonated with the members of the Phoenix music community it was supposed to. Slime reached out to old-school hardcore punkers, those who embraced the music for what it was — brash and fun with a hard edge that made it easy to go nuts.
When hearing stories about Berrett, it's easy to picture Phoenix punks like Button Struggler's Matt Spastic or the Declaimed's Sammy Boner in Berrett's place, getting thrown out of venues and engaging in late-night bar fights. It is a testament to both the impact that Phoenix punks had on Berrett as well as the singer's impact on the Phoenix punk scene.
"We met in ninth grade. We had a drama class together," says Kristen Nelson of Mooseknuckle Sandwich. "He was kind of like a weird, goofy kid. We weren't like super into punk or anything like that just yet. We were both just kind of weird and didn't have like a tight circle to run in or anything like that. And he would follow me — well, what I thought was kind of following me — home from school. But it turned out we actually just lived in the same neighborhood and walked the same way.
"He would ask about music, and we would introduce new bands to each other and pick up [compilations] for each other and stuff like that. All throughout high school, we were just sort of inseparable, I think. He got a girlfriend, and she ended up being one of my close friends, too. The three of us started a band, and we played, like, two total shows. One was a battle of the bands at our high school, which was hilarious, and then the other we played at a Taco Bell in Casa Grande because our bass player worked there."
After high school, Berrett took time to travel, hitting the tracks to train-hop. It would be Slime's first trek outside his home state of Arizona but certainly not his last. But even far from home, Berrett kept his friends with him. Nelson recalled a story in which she received a filthy Trashwomen T-shirt in the mail that Slime had bought off another hobo's back to send to his friend just because he wanted her to have it.
"Miles was never short on friends," says Nelson about her friend, who took his own life July 31 at home in Austin, Texas.
"He would just take over a conversation," says Berrett's widow, Megz Gross. "I know a lot of people learned a lot from him because he was so passionate about stuff, especially comic books, horror movies, and punk rock, for sure. He had so much knowledge, but he would never push it on anyone, just kind of sharing and having a conversation. He was constantly inappropriate. He made inappropriate jokes to make people feel uncomfortable, but they loved it in the end because it made them laugh. God, I wish I could have said something like that at his memorial."
A benefit show to celebrate the life of Miles “Slime” Berrett is scheduled for Friday, August 21, at Palo Verde Lounge. Donations will be collected to cover “final expenses” for his family.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.