"I've been called many things before," Escalante says. "But never lazy. If [JEEC] thinks what they did was drudgery, I have a lot of respect for it, but there's a lot of drudgery with what I've been doing, too, waking up at 4:30 in the morning to do a radio show or riding in a van with stinky band members.
"I was too nice to [the committee]. I should've said, 'You're a jerk.' I should've said"—here he shifts to guttural caveman grunts—"OHHERHHHHERHH. OH I TOO LAZY."
Escalante's history of not quite fitting in with his legal-world peers dates back to his days as a young law-school grad in 1985. He chose not to go work in a firm—a decision he says has returned to haunt him in the Los Angeles bar's dismal evaluation of his qualifications to be a judge.
"You think you're getting into something, and then you see all the BS, and you go, 'Ugh. I like this, but I don't like the BS,'" he says. "I liked law school, and I liked becoming a lawyer, but I don't like the BS of going to a law firm and billing hours and overcharging people."
Instead, Escalante accepted a position as the Director of Business Affairs at CBS, which involved his expertise on transactional advice, intellectual property, and creating profit models for television sitcoms. Escalante says he made deals for shows such as Rescue 911, Everybody Loves Raymond, Walker Texas Ranger—and convinced Chuck Norris to sing his own theme song, which still airs today. It was also during Escalante's stint at CBS that he started his own record label, Kung Fu Records, with Vandals bandmate Warren Fitzgerald.
Escalante left CBS in 1996 when Dexter Holland, the bleached-hair front man of the Offspring and owner of the Vandals' label at the time, offered the Vandals a salary to tour. Nearly a decade later, though, Escalante would see his legal and musical careers merging again—for unhappy reasons. In 2004, movie-industry trade publication Daily Variety sued the Vandals, alleging that the cover art for their album Hollywood Potato Chip (whose title served as a rather dazzling euphemism for a certain bodily fluid dried and crusted on a Hollywood casting couch) violated trademark. The record's title was indeed rendered in a font parodying Variety's characteristic kelly-green lettering—an artistic decision tying into the band's wry commentary on the social landscape of Hollywood.
Despite Escalante's status as a practicing entertainment lawyer, both he and the band thought it was a hopeless battle against the Variety's formidable legal team. The two parties ended up settling the case, and The Vandals replaced the logo on all subsequent pressings of Hollywood Potato Chip and removed the original artwork from websites they controlled.
Six years later, though, Variety filed another suit over the same issue—specifically concerning online images posted by third-party users, asserting the Vandals had ignored the agreement they had settled on. This time, the band wasn't backing down from a fight with the media giant. Escalante managed to have the case transferred from the state of Delaware to Los Angeles in April 2011 so he could represent the band himself in court.