|Íme egy 2007-es interjú Dave Dictorral az MDC énekesével ha valakit érdekel jó olvasást!|
What do you feel are the greatest accomplishments possible through political
music? Has your faith in the power of the musical medium increased,
decreased or stayed the same over the years?
I think music can be very inspiring and part of that inspiration can
certainly spark awareness and change... I think of Bob Marley singing Get
up stand up for your rights. That was and still inspires worldwide. In our
scene many people are inspired by the words of Jello Biafra discussing the
American political landscape or were inspired by reading Maximum Rock N Roll
or following the example of Ian MacKaye and Fugazi with its DIY actions and
values. So I think its possible. The increased/decreased part of the
question answer is relative to having been part of the 1980- 1984 American
Hardcore scene. Those were heady , fresh, very inspired days and no one was
dreaming of MTV videos and the compromises one would make to succeed in that
medium or move up the ladder for more success. We were all starring in our
Does *shallow* political content make a song even worse than if it had no
political content at all?
Im not sure what you exactly mean but say if ( like I recently saw) Good
Charlotte singing a song about sticking together against the man with a sort
of Limp Biscuit edge.. Well I dont know if its worse but it does feel
contrived. On the other hand maybe some kid in the sticks relates to it and
it awakens him about authority issues, well okay. Now let me say here
Prussian Blue should not sing political songs.
When you write politically-charged songs, do you work to phrase them in ways
that are easily understood to your fans? Or do you say what you want to say
- the way you want to say it - and trust that your message will get across?
Well there is no set way for me... sometimes I come up with a line like,
John Wayne Was A Nazi and then write a song around that. Other times I have
an idea like Iraqis fighting in Iraq against the Americans I put together a
song about that topic and name it, Terrorist Or Freedom Fighters and
compare it the US Revolutionaries. The British might think the colonists,
hiding in the woods, were terrorists.
I constantly see references to your infamous mistreatment by the Bad Brains,
but I don't think I've ever heard whether or not it was ever resolved. Did
you or the other band members ever speak to the band again?
First let me say I hated that whole incident. MDC adored the Bad Brains 1980
-1982. After a gig where we really hit it off together in Oakland, we
dropped everything in our lives to go across country on a mini tour with
them on 2 days notice. Ended up playing 2 shows with them. One in Houston
and the infamous one in Austin where we dropped off the tour. There in
Austin they freaked out in the middle of the show about Gary Floyd's and
Randy Biscuits out gayness and refused to sing using the same microphone as
them. The Bad Brains seemed to always have these much younger people in the
scene around them. And it seemed no would call them on their bullshit. We
were about the same age as them and a bit more politically sophisticated
then the typical people in the DC and NY scene.
I only felt mistreated in that they came into a show that MDC and others had
set up and hurled a lot of insults and anger towards our friends. Insults
like all gay people were blood clot faggots and they should be put to
death. It wasnt like they expressed that they didnt like gay people and
disapprove of their lifestyle. It was wishing death for the singers of two
of our favorite bands in our original punk rock home town. It was sad to see
it all go down and didnt feel good at all. It was confusing that we could
adore and agree with people about many political topics including human
rights, yet disagree about homosexuality. With HR- Joseph we have never
resolved anything, with Darryl and Dr Know ( the bassist and guitarist), we
all expressed regrets on the topic years later.
What drove you to change the band's name to "MDC II" for "Hey Cop, If I Had
A Face Like Yours" You had replaced band members before!
Well first we were the Stains, we put out the first pressing of John Wayne
as the Stains. On our first tour to the west coast in 1981 we got a gig with
Black Flag at the Cookoos Nest. It was unofficially billed the Battle of
the Stains with the LA Stains and us. Right then and there we decided to
ditch the name the Stains. We went with Millions Of Dead Cops initially. We
soon thereafter decided on using the acronym MDC whenever convenient. After
about a year we decided to build different album/record names with various
MDC monikers. So originally Millions Of Dead Cops, then the rest, Multi
Death Corporation, Millions Of Dead Children, Millions Of Damn Christians,
and eventually we used the drummers sons line Metal Devil Cokes.
At that point, 1990, we felt it was played out and hence MDCII concept of
coming back to Dead Cops, full circle so to speak. Next after that was
Shades Of Brown, Then the Pig Champion 7 inch. Though when the three of the
four of the original lineup came back 2 years ago we did reemploy the idea
and called the last album Magnus Dominus Corpus. Our next release probably
wont be a new MDC.
"I heard some other reasons for going from Millions Of Dead Cops to just MDC
Ok, in the beginning it was just Millions Of Dead Cops and MDC just for
posters and parents. From the beginning it was a very contentious name. We
found ourselves always having to explain it. We formulated an idea to extend
the meaning to other political thoughts. At first to the people that run the
Multi National Corporations hence Multi Death Corporation. At the same time
we met the band Crass and they expressed that they thought it was too much/
too violent a name. This bummed us being young and looking up to our elder
hero/political band. We were stunned. We also had some touring incidents
with the police where different policemen threatened our lives on different
occasions. Being punk rock with mohawks, to cross borders in vans with
Millions Of Dead Cops written all over everything is still challenging. In
1981, 1982, 1983 it was down right dangerous. These days you can still get
your ass kicked for looking punk, back in the day you could get yourself
murdered. We got strange violent threats from the KKK to the promoter in
Baton Rouge on the way to a rally/gig. We had many many gigs shut down
directly due to our name and the UK Immigration would not let us in the
country to tour there in 1983. We had nothing about Dead Cops on us but we
were still in their computers. They were mumbling how we were the Thousands
Of Dead Policeman Band. All that combined, help push us away from the
Millions Of Dead Cops handle to simple MDC. Just last year, on our way into
the UK, an official asked what the MDC stood for on the working papers and I
said the Multi Death Corporation and he replied, well very good then and
good luck. I have explained this to people before and folks have seemed
down right disappointed. People in the safety of there home might find it
comforting for us to always be so out there. It was truly fucking intense
for these four young people in their early twenties, to be living so on the
edge 24/7 while we were on tour. It was harrowing for to be driving the van
away from all these shows where the police knew what we were called and
actually had walked on stage, night stick in hand, gun in holster and stare
us down and pull the plug. Then quite often, an hour later, after we had
loaded up, get pulled over, searched, threatened and sometimes busted. Once
it was for a weapons dangerous to public safety charges for having a crow
bar in our wheel well after a 30 minute search. We had tours ruined and lost
thousands of dollars like the time we were busted in Canada in 1983. The
cops and the judge (crown), up there expressed their intense disapproval not
for what we had done but for the name of our band. Our guitarist and
bassist, Ron Posner and Frank Mares spent a week in the Toronto Dawn Jail
while I called everyone I knew for bail and lawyer money. We were alone out
there and punk was truly considered a threat.
MDC has played such a wide range of musical styles over the years, all while
retaining its hardcore roots. Looking back, are there any albums or songs
that you feel haven't quite accomplished what you were going for
artistically? Alternately, which ones do you feel have been the most
successful at capturing your vision?
The various styles of music were intentional and I realize now with more
retrospect how we didnt work at fulfilling what our demographic was really
demanding of us ... and we suffered in album sales but I can and have to
live with that. What I do regret is having only so much money to record and
having run out of money, still putting out stuff that needed more work. We
were always in debt and sadly selling a release was a way to get money. We
were living in a studio together, at some points, with tours planned and an
album owed to people who were buying our airplane tickets to Europe. In
retrospect I wish I had just said cancel the tour, this album is not ready
to come out! As well trying to complete an album when you didnt love every
song. Now I am clear about the fact that bands cant always be a democracy
and everyone doesnt get to have 2 or 3 songs on an album. I realize now, I
have to love every note on the album or I will refuse to let it come out. I
didnt get that back then, equal rights and artistic vision can and do
Was there a time in your career when you would say you were at the height of
your popularity? Or have your record sales and audience sizes stayed pretty
consistent over the years? If the former, what was going on during that time
to drive your success? If the latter, have you ever made any conscious
efforts to increase your audience?
The years between 1982 and 1988 we sold A LOT more albums then we are
selling now three and four fold and concert sizes in general are a lot
smaller as well. In 1982 our album was on everybodys top 5 list. Its
unfortunate to see your numbers go down. Very Spinal Tap-ish ... but I am
glad to say we still move enough albums world wide and enough people come
out to see us to still feel good about doing it.
I remember when "Metal Devil Cokes" came out, I was surprised by the
playfulness of some of the songs on side two ("I'm A Knucklehead," "Love
Potion Number Nine," "Hole In My Soul"). What compelled you to take such an
unexpected turn into the 'nonpolitical' realm of song writing at the end of
the record there?
I have written various types of songs through the years. Those are my songs
by the way ( except for Love Potion #9 ) and not what I was referring to a
two answers ago about songs that werent mine that I didnt really love. I
was in a playful mood to some extent, It also had a lot to do with being in
the bay area where there was a brand new breed of politically correct punk
police out there. People that had not been in the punk scene for very long,
felt very comfortable condemning bands that they felt were not politically
perfect. Tim Yohanon a good friend and old scenster and editor of Maximum
RocknRoll, had a hand in this. I loved Tim and miss him dearly. He was a
great friend to me and the scene. But he stirred all these kids up with this
self righteous zealousness towards these old school hard working bands like
DOA and Seven Seconds along with us and others were accused of selling out
the scene because we were moving up the ladder. In an interview someone
asked and I admitted we earned ten thousand dollars in 12 gigs and people
thought we were millionaires and selling out the scene. People that werent
in bands who had no idea what was it like to pay for vans and various travel
costs, or to buy a drum kit with cymbals or a mesa boogie bass amp got very
loudmouthed and rude in the Maximum Rock N Roll/ Gilman Street scene.
Eventually it gave birth to bands like Green Day and NOFX that didnt want
to be considered political bands that had to live up to these unreasonable
confinements. Op Ivy eventually became Rancid and walked away from the
nitpicking holier than thou political punk rock scene. I didnt walk away
but I took a vacation from it and wrote lyrics like Im a knuckle, your a
knuckle, we are all knuckleheads. This was 1988/1989, a big turning point
in the scene.
Do you think you will ever release any MDC Unplugged material? Or will it
remain an online-only phenomenon?
I am working on the cd, got the songs. Its been about a year just trying to
decide how to present them, the tempo, harmonies ...its coming... folk punk
with an edge is how I have been describing it. For awhile it was going
Grateful Dead Cops American Beauty era.... then ala Indigo Boys. Then a
music partner left and now I am going for more of a Billy Bragg sans the
accent, edge ... with harmonies but much more up tempo. We, MDC electric,
are headed out on a long Euro tour come March so itll get kicked back
again. I finally got to this place in life that it is ok not to be in a
I read your statement in a recent interview that you were 'whacked out on
meth' in the 90's. How were you able to overcome your addictions? Was it
painful? Did you have to change other things in your life as well?
Somewhere along the way in the 1990s I just decided Fuck It. After
dabbling on the edges I decided to get into drugs in a big way. And what
goes up definitely comes down. I am clean 8 years and thankful to be clean.
It was painful acknowledging that I was selfish in my private life with
girlfriends, to my son, worried my parents. It wasnt painful per se but it
was work and took focus to clean up. The big change was to get focused and
not just bungle through life. I feel really glad to have done that and glad
I hit a low enough bottom to get where I am today which is clean and sober.
I dont tell people to abstain but I will coach people to slow down.
I began going to punk rock shows in 1988 (when I was 15), and as I continued
attending them over the years, I found it interesting that (a) the audiences
seemed to remain young even as I aged, and (b) each new group of youngsters
adopted the same punk rock fashion and hairstyles as those that came before
(as had I!). As you've played your music to young audiences for over two
decades, have you ever grown cynical about the punk rock fashion (the way
that, for example, Ian McKaye has?) Or does it excite you that what began as
such a small movement has continued to thrive and capture the imagination of
young people for going on three decades now?
Punk does have a new crop of kids every 2 or 3 years, and all and all, I am
grateful for the young fresh energy. Everything is relative to what your
checking out. To see all kids acting cliché, well that can be a turnoff.
But we play this Anarchist Bookstore out here in Portland and its downright
inspiring to see all these together, aware, mostly sober, young people. Its
fun to make music for most anybody but I enjoy it the most when young people
with their bright eyes are getting the words and the music. I get a little
depressed when I feel I am back ground noise for cool drunk people. But
truly I feel lucky to be relevant to people after 28 years.
For far too long now, no goodnicks have whined that "Punk is dead." Do you
agree with this statement in any way? Where do you feel that this attitude
is coming from?
People have been saying punk is dead since 1979. The New Wavers in Austin
used to say that to us. Whenever someone goes through a transition of sorts
or their favorite band breaks up then punk is dead. I believe punk will be
with us for hundreds of years, if the planet survives. Alienation,
nonconformity and the need to express angst is gonna be with us for a while.
Do you feel that the U.S. has had any decent presidents during your
lifetime? If so, who? And is there anybody in the current political scene
that might be able to get us out of this mess we're in!?
Well decent is a relative term, was John F Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill
Clinton decent? It depends how forgiving one cares to be. So much better
than Reagan and Bush Jr. But Noam Chomsky would argue against them all. I
voted for Bill Clinton twice, Ralph Nader once and John Kerry just a while
ago. Whats going on politically in America doesnt seem to create many
statesmen. Nobody wants to say that the way America has and still does over
consume, over greenhouse and over pollute is unjust. And there can not be
peace without justice. The Green Party gets only 3 to 5 percent of the vote
in this country, sad isnt it. But I guess I could get myself to vote for Al
Gore, him or Sturgeon of Leftover Crack
Any idea whatever happened to Franco, Eric Calhoun, Bill Collins, Matt
Freeman, Chris Wilder, Erica Liss, Mike Pride and/or Gordon Fraser? And has
Al Schvitz now left the band!?
They are all around and been chatted with recently having ASCAPd all our
work and needing birth dates and to get everyone registered. Everyone except
Gordon Frazer ... where are you Gordo?
Have you sung lead on every MDC song? There are a few that don't sound like
you (e.g. "Snuffed Out," "South Africa Is Free"). Are these in fact you? Do
tell! Any others you don't sing lead on?
No you got that right... these are some of the songs I just didnt like so
much and passively just said you sing them.
I know you guys were close to the Dead Kennedy's during their heyday. Do you
have any opinion on what has happened to their relationship over the past
Well I dont mind gossiping about things I am involved with but not about
other people and their deals with each other. If you listen to both camps
and draw a line through the middle, that is where it lays. It sure is a pity
and I dont think they will ever forgive each other to do shows again.
What has kept you going? Surely there have been some hard times over the
years, when punk wasn't as big or it was hard to find a record label or
something -- how have you stayed so committed to MDC for so many years? Was
there ever a point when you grew frustrated and thought about retiring the
Yeah a couple of times. But it wasnt being tired of the band per se ... it
was more that people I worked with would join the band, do an album and do a
tour or two and then would bow out. From 1986 through 1992 we had five
lineups. I think a certain band members drug use fed into this reality and
that was tiring and disruptive.
What are your key interests aside from music?
Well I am a licensed Developmentally Disabled Teacher and training mildly
retarded kids to handle the challenges involved in going out and dealing
with being in the work place was very rewarding. I have not done that in two
years now but I might go back into education or drug counciling next year, I
am currently in a Masters Certificate Program at Portland State University.
I like snorkeling in Hawaii and watching turtles and I might move there some
day. I have friends building walls on the beaches to prevent four wheelers
from riding over turtles and the eggs on the sand, Hawk Billed Turtles are a
highly endangered species.
Say! Are you gay? (HA! Nice 'n blunt)
I have stood with gay people, lived with gay people, answered yes or
ambiguously when asked for years ... but I truly find that I am attracted to
the body smell and touch of females. I have worn womens clothes at various
points of my life. Maybe a transvestite of sorts but actually not gay.
How on Earth did you get wrapped up in a sleazy project like The
Submissives? Can you tell us about the times you spent with the late,
wonderful Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts?
It was a glorious and fabulous project out on Honest Dons Records, worked
on in 1996/1997 about sexual submission in the realm of female domination.
I write on my myspace blog (myspace.com/mdc) about my relationship with Tom
Roberts. He was a hell of a creative soul and also a hurting person. We did
drugs with each other and lived with each other on the second floor of a
punk club rehearsal space known as Suburbia. It was some of my most creative
moments with a totally committed person I have ever worked with. Ron Posner
and Al Shultz of MDC are other very creative people but Toms and my
creative time was very compressed. He was a large soul-filled being. I miss
I remember hearing something about you being courted by Epitaph. What
Yes true, it was very early on when Epitaph had only about 6 or 8 bands
signed and I guess we didnt make the cut. They signed Total Chaos as
opposed to us at the time. We offered them Shades Of Brown.
You were friends with Rancid back in the day too, right? Did you stay in
touch with them after they hit it big?
Well Matt F and Tim A of Rancid toured with MDC in 1990. Later in 1992 they
offered me to be there tour manager and looking back I wish I took it... I
was busy rebuilding MDC in 1992 (and actually that lineup with Chris Wilder
and Erica Liss was a real fun lineup). Al and I fucked that lineup with our
drugs and its probably the reason behind not getting signed to Epitaph.
Anyway, Rancid moved away from the underground scene, season by season,
through the nineties as they got bigger and I have lost all touch with them.
It seems that way with a lot of people that move up and away from their
roots. Everything becomes a business move. Who opens for them on their tour
is a multi- tens of thousand dollar decision. Friendship gets lost in the
sauce. I can understand some of this but all in all I think its a real pity
Henry Rollins - thoughts?
I met Henry back in the day (1981) before he worked himself into the damaged
marine front man for Black Flag. He was pleasant and actually smiled a lot
and a pleasure to be around. Somewhere in there he decided he hated pussy
assed, political/vegetarian punk rockers and even singled out MDC. He would
say stuff in print that when we were mugged, wed be the first ones to call
the police. Then as time went on he seasoned a bit, had his own negative
police interactions, but a French promoter told us he backed out of playing
with us and his reps called us a fag band. This was in the early nineties.
He went out of his way to slag us in print through the years and oh well.
Now I hear his rants are sometimes very political and one might say filled
with the same conclusions we came up with 20 plus years ago. I am postive he
would never like to concede that.
Did you know El Duce as well? Was he actually as wasted and incoherent as he
always seemed to be? What was he like as a person?
I knew El Duce somewhat. We met somewhere in the mid-eighties. the Maximum
RocknRoll crowd hated his stage show with the girls on dog leashes eating
out of dog bowls while he and the band wore the brown klan robes. But I was
going through some of my own bullshit with the politically correct police.
So I didnt just knee jerk hate the Mentors.
Anyway my roommate brought him home with some people after their Mab show in
SF. He was really drunk and well everyone was. She peed into a bowl and put
bourbon in it and he slurped it down. Everyone was howling and it was a
piece of that debauchery that often occurred in SF (bands like Bomb and
Pennsylvania Mahoney had incredible sex core energy). I looked at my
roommate Margaret and said , its all good just not in my bedroom and went
out. I returned an hour later the apartment was empty except El Duce was out
cold in my bed. I tried and tried to wake him to no avail. He was snoring so
loud, Ill never forget it. I took out some blankets and slept on the floor
next to him. We both woke up the next morning with one eye open, eyeing each
other. He asked who I was and what I was doing there. I explained and he was
down right humble. He was totally absurd in his patented way. He explained
that he loved Mussolini and he asked me to Seig Heil with me and I
obliged... it was absurd... he knew our songs and assured me you could hate
the klan and love Mussolini. I later helped him get to the airport and lent
him money to fly home. From that day on we were like fast friends, he paid
us back. And MDC and The Mentors did some very odd shows together
consistently through the years. There is more angles to this story but I
will save it for another time.
Have you read "American Hardcore" and/or "Going Underground"? I'd be curious
to hear your thoughts on either or both. How about the "American Hardcore"
I have never read the book cover to cover... people have shown me parts and
he gets a lot of it right which is pretty good for a guy who wasnt there
for much of it and to be fair it is a vast topic. I am honored to be in the
movie they gave us money for songs to be used in the new Rhino album release
and its really nice to get props like that. For me the movie starts out
great but left me with an incomplete feeling.... besides the overly DC/
Boston heavy influence in the movie, the movie concludes with the idea that
with the ending of Black Flag and Minor Threat in 1986, that American
hardcore pretty much died out. It was right to point out the tough guy/crew
insider deal involved with both bands made it uncomfortable as the band
members grew up and didnt want those restrictions and fan types. Like a
sexist Black Flag and Greg Ginn realizing it, didnt want it to go on. But
that was not the case for the Dead Kennedy's, DOA, MDC, DRI and a lot of
other bands... it was more that it grew so big that it just expanded past
its original intent. All these bands realized not only dont we not all get
along but our musical styles are going in different directions... some went
metal, like DRI, Die Kruetzen and the Necros, some went back to earlier punk
roots like MDC, Reagan Youth, Toxic Reasons, some were straight up anti-
political like a lot of the Boston scene like Slapshot and Gang Green, some
stayed ultra political in a more right wing way like Agnostic Front, CroMags
and Warzone. Mostly hardcore out grew itself... eventually many people
realized that slower punk ala Stiff Little Fingers and The Clash and
meloda-core was gonna be the next big thing (hence Green Day, NoFX, Rancid)
I've always read that Harley Flanagan is a violent monstrous goon. Is this
just a one-sided portrayal of him? What is he really like?
Well its hard to paint someone with one brush. Harley definitely has
kicked some ass in his day. A lot of the New York Scene saw some ugly stuff
in 1983 and 1984. Agnostic Front and a lot of those folks were homophobic to
the max and I have even heard some gay men were bashed to death. Stefan of
the False Prophets could tell you some hair raising stories... anyway, more
than an outsider like me could. And I was not part of the NY Hatecore scene.
I missed all that. I will say however, Harley and John John (Cro-Mags) saved
my ass from getting kicked when I was surrounded by these Jersey skins. We
knew each other from back in the day and I was their favorite commie/fag
punker to razz but never to beat up. A lot of the guys I knew back in the
day Mark Dagger, Beaux, Bags and the SF Skins were generally always good to
me yet I realize they hurt some people back in the day.
(and now, a closer)
What's next for Dave Dictor?
I really love my unplugged project and its going and growing and well
see... MDC lives all over the place and that doesnt bode well. I am trying
to talk the members out here to Portland. We will see. We have a 65 date
tour to Europe coming up, a west coast US tour in August and, probably
Brazil for winter/08. So we are pretty busy for now. I also have written for
Maximum RocknRoll and could see myself write my own version of American
hardcore, as well a short story book about my events in and out of the music
scene. Thanx for the oppurtunity to express myself.