Monday, April 30, 2012

WRETCH FALAFEL ARCHIVES - MILLIONS OF DEAD COPS - Interview with Dave Dictor 1/8/1992 - Originally appeared in NOSEBLEED 7

This interview took place on the pavement across from Barnstormers on Capel Street on 1/8/1992 before Millions Of Dead Cops first ever Dublin gig. It was published in NOSEBLEED issue 7 in Autumn 1992...

BOZ - Firstly, introduce yourself...
Dave Dictor - Hi, I'm Dave, I'm the singer in Millions of Dead Cops. Here we are... today is August first... it's my brother Rusty’s birthday it just occurred to me... and we're sitting here outside Barnstormers. I forget, what is a Barnstormer? let me interview you...

BOZ - I don’t know... probably a biker that goes pissing through barns on his bike... getting hay in his fuel tank???
Dave Dictor - Oh, that’s what a barnstormer is... yeah... I can imagine that... scaring all the animals.

BOZ - What have MDC been doing recently?
Dave Dictor - We’ve been on tour since April 26th... This is about our 70th gig.
BOZ - And first time in Ireland...
Dave Dictor - First time in Ireland, first day in Ireland. We took a ferry across to Belfast today and drove down with our crew.
BOZ - How is it that you never made it here before?
Dave Dictor - Well we haven't been to England since 1987... we just found there weren't many shows in England for a while. We knew it was time to come over. We'd been to England 3 other times - The problem with England is they have us in the computers there. They know us as Thousands of Dead Policemen band and the whole violent punk thing... you know, like the Thatcher years we were refused admittance to England twice and it kind of scared us off trying... you know... of course coming through England you can come through Ireland just about.

BOZ - Have you had any ridiculous incidents like... The Crucifucks got beaten up and had problems because of their band name... You also got a mention on the album ( in one of the crank calls )... how did that all happen?
Dave Dictor - Yeah we did because... well, they planned a show with us and they put us on a flyer... and Doc's a real rabble-rouser. The show got threatened to be closed down and he just kept saying "well we're gonna have journalists there and you won't be able to shut it down"... and he did some things where he was calling the police and recording what he was saying as you remember on that first album.
BOZ - They’re genuine? Are they really?
Dave Dictor - Yeah they're really the real McCoy, they’re pretty great... I like them a lot.

BOZ - Ok, so you’ve obviously come a long way since the band started, you know, all sort of getting old and stuff... how do you think things have changed... line-up changes and all that?
Dave Dictor - Well Al (Schvitz – drummer ) and I are the same... Al just came walking by there... we actually met about 20 years ago in New York where we’re both from... we grew up about 5 miles from each other, yeah we've had a few different guitar players along the line and this is really our 3rd full-time bass player. People just decide they want to do other things with their lives and they do them... I'm happy to say I like our crew and I think they're gonna be with us for quite a while. It's Chris Wilder from Stikky on guitar and Erika who was in a couple of different bands... the one I like the most, Industrial Rainforest... they were kind of a Bay Area noise girl industrial band and we got to know each other in the last year and a half...

BOZ - Where did yer man Billy The Cat go? ... wasn’t he playing with you for a while?
Dave Dictor - yeah, he was... He played with Fang and he played with a lot of people. He was with Fang for 2 or 3 years and played on a couple of their records. He played with Verbal Abuse on one of their records and he writes a column for Maximumrocknroll and he's quite a good guy, quite a character. He just... he and his girlfriend had a baby together and he's very mellowed out and he works for the special alternative school and he's really into it. He's a really good hearted person.

BOZ - Well, with all these people coming and going, have the line-up changes affected the way you’d like to sound?
Dave Dictor - Well yeah, it really has, you know... for me it's been a bit of a pity ‘cos just when you're getting into the gel of clicking and making music with someone they're off making new plans and that's been quite a pity of it all and also, you know, something just clicks when you play together for years and years and years as opposed to just a year or two and then the people go away.
BOZ - How long exactly have you been going for?
Dave Dictor -12 years, 12 years of dead cops.
BOZ - That’s an awful long time to be in a punk band.
Dave Dictor - yeah, it is but you know every now and then I think I'm going to hang it up and then I realise there’s nothing better to do... for me anyway.

BOZ – And what roll does MDC play now that Ice-T gets all the cop hating credit?
Dave Dictor - Oh, they mention us a bunch in different articles and they wonder who we are... I'd like to check it out and stuff... I've gotten a lot of homophobic... anti homosexual feelings from those people and it doesn’t quite work for us, you know, even though the commercial smart thing would be to shut up and go on tour with them or to try and collaborate and do something... I'm real shocked by some of their sexist banter so I don't quite see us working together at this time... I find one of the saddest things was there was a Nazi on TV talking about how much he hated the blacks and how Asian people were stealing all the jobs and how Spanish people were lazy and he was going on and on and the camera moved away and there was a guy wearing a Millions of Dead Cops t-shirt, it was horrible, you know, and I realized... he hates the cops, I hate the cops... but that’s not enough to feel like we want to share so much together... because even though he hates cops, he's a Nazi, you know...
BOZ - Does it get to you that Ice-T’s only been doing it since his last album and you lot have been doing it all along but the message just doesn’t get through because he’s more mainstream?
Dave Dictor - aw... no, people have got to walk the path they wanna walk on. We had chances to become more commercial at different points of the band but being commercial is not the point of this band I wouldn't want to be in those situations. It's Just not me... charging $20 to play for 5 or
10,000 people, I think it's dehumanising...

BOZ - Speaking of that, I’ve been reading a lot about people slagging off bands... not even hardcore bands, people on the outskirts of it, like say... Fishbone... people saying that their merchandise is ridiculously expensive or they’re charging a lot into gigs...
Dave Dictor - yeah... I don't know what to say, you know, I happen to like Fishbone... I like listening to them, I see videos of them, l think they're funky and funny and cool but I don't really like the commercial exploitation of it all. I mean we are selling t-shirts... we're selling them at £5 but it helps us to get around the world... and just for everything to turn into a big business to juice up as much money as you can... it hasn't been something we've wanted to do.

BOZ - Do you survive off the band or do you work back home??
Dave Dictor - Oh no, we aIl have jobs when we go home. I work as a junkman and a janitor in a local gay bar. Erika is a photographer & a lab assistant in a film development plant. Chris works for a citizen action group... mostly environmental but other kinds of consumer safety goods, kind of related to Ralph Nader’s group if you've heard anything about him but... very cool ultra consumer action protecting people. Al teaches drums and he helps me move sometimes and he's got a few other things going.

BOZ - So every time you go off on tour you have to ditch your job and then go look for something else when you get back??
Dave Dictor - It's kind of like that a little bit. I happen to work very independently, you know... l had to say goodbye to the janitor job though I'll probably get it back, when I want it. I work with my truck and I take out adds in the paper saying man with a truck for hire and I usually do pretty ok though I must say that going on tour for 4 or 5 months loses some of my customers that were pretty steady and that’s the price of it all... I’ll come back and it’ll take a little while for it to pick up but it’s a small sacrifice for getting to see the world.

BOZ - Do you think you’ve been a role model band?
Dave Dictor - Aw... I don't know about that... we're just human beings... I think if some people are trying to say something that’s intelligent and somewhat political and about the social situations we find in front of us 1980 through 1992 and just try and tell people don't go along with the pack so much and stick to the love of yourself... that's the most important thing. Don't become a 9 to 5 you know... don't sell your soul for a credit card and for, you know. presumed middle class safety, l think that’s really selling yourself...

BOZ - I was looking at MaximumRockNRoll and there’s all this stuff like Misfits singles for sale for $200... do you find with all that shit there’s a pretentiousness with regard to punk... and it being totally against what it’s about?
Dave Dictor - I don't know... what is it all about? I think you have a point but it  doesn't make me feel so bad. I can’t imagine who would pay $200 for a Misfits 7”... I mean, there are people and they do it but it's almost... people who buy expensive gems... or people who will buy a BMW and have to work and pay $500 a month to drive it... it's like... ok, you've got it but why did you want it?... You know, why not fix up an old Volkswagen and not pay and lose all your time... because that's the most important thing you have in your life is your time... and to give all your time away to work and pay for material things... or a Misfits single... it seems silly. I'm not mad, it's just not me. I've never been to one of those record auctions... and even some of the most political people from Jello Biafra to Tim Yohannan, all these people are into checking out everyone else’s records, you know... it means nothing to me, but I'm not a record collector mind you. I have a small nice collection, I have a decent tape collection and it seems ok for me.

BOZ - How about if you saw an MDC record for sale for $100 or something?
Dave Dictor - I have seen the John Wayne 7” on sale for $100 and it was the second printing. I hear the first printing goes for $250. I'd say don't buy it... buy something better. Buy a guitar and start your own band. Do something. Go see the world. Go learn something for yourself. Buy a flute, go take some flute lessons... anything... l think that being a collector is the ultimate in passive activity... it's almost like people who spend their whole life watching TV, watching soccer games, football, baseball... it's like you spend your whole life watching other people do shit and to me it's similar in that way. People who are record collectors, they never made a note themselves, you know... in some cases they did do other things but to me it's very unimportant.

BOZ - Have you ever been arrested?
Dave Dictor - Many times...
BOZ - Band related?
Dave Dictor - Many band related arrests, particularly bad ones in Canada and also in demonstrations in the US against different military / government actions... Troops in Honduras... Democratic convention back in 1984 when the punks were protesting in a Rock Against Regan rally and many times... I'd say live been arrested about 20 times in my life.
BOZ - So that sort of helps fuel the anger that keeps the band going??
Dave Dictor - Yeah, just as I think I’m mellowing out and I don't want to put my noggin on the line so to speak, something infuriates me and I do something and it always seems to fuel a whole other round of being active.

BOZ - Of all the topics you’ve dealt with song wise, what touches your heart the most?
Dave Dictor -Yeah... I like songs about personal feelings... It's like what I was saying before... all these people hate the cops, they talk about "smash the state and kill the rich blah blah blah " and those same people are closeted. They don't discover who's really inside themselves because they're afraid and people drown themselves in alcohol and drugs and they just hide from who they really are 'cos they're just afraid or ashamed because the norms of society say, " you shouldn't be gay, you shouldn’t want to have a special kind of sex ”... this kind of thing... and that's the most fulfilling thing when people say "Hey you know, I was the only person like this, I felt I was really different, a freak... I felt I was going to kill myself and then I heard your records and I felt really charged up and I didn't want to kill myself any more... I wanted to do something to change my life around"... those are the best compliments. I also get a kick out of people telling me they became a vegetarian through the CHICKEN SQUAWK.
BOZ - I was just about to ask you about that... you’ve got the least dogmatic anti-meat song ever... it’s a nice approach...
Dave Dictor - Yeah, at certain points we started to get very dogmatic and "If you're Iike this then you're part of the multinational corporation and you're just as bad as Ronald Regan... and if you eat at McDonald’s... "...  you know... I think it's really bad to support these corporations and I support the boycotts but I don't find it so fulfilling pointing my finger at other people, going " You're bad, I'm good... I'm ok, you’re not ok! "... that just doesn't work so much for me... I saw other people doing it and it turned me off. I think people should do it from the bottom of their heart... like, you point your finger at other people and go " you're terrible, be Iike me, I'm great'"... and that's why CHICKEN SQUAWK came across so soft spoken... because it's about my love for animals, how I like the nice cartoon characters on TV and then I made that leap of faith and I watched Bambi’s mother get killed and all of a sudden I didn't want to be part of that killing the animal thing and that's why "Be it thanksgiving or Christmas eve, I'm giving my turkeys a reprieve 'cos ain't no fowl has got to die for me"... not because I'm smarter than everybody else... not because meat is murder but because for me it just became distasteful and that's just me.

BOZ - So what bands do you think have landmarked the hardcore thing?
Dave Dictor - who am I thinking a lot of?... I've really gotten a kick out of Crass through the years. I know they broke up... I started like grinning and shaking my head 'cos most of the bands I really admired are not functioning right now. I really think Fugazi and Ian McKaye is great. He says what he means, his path has evolved from being a teenager singing about straight edge to putting his words behind him and putting his words where they count. Warner Bros. wanted to sign him for $1 million and he hung up on them. That’s where it counts, you know... all the other people saying “ don't do this... do that blah blah ”... and then their band lasts for 2 years, they can't even agree, they can't even live to their morals for 2 years before they decide, "Careful the house you build, you've got to live in it! ” ... and I think Fugazi’s building a really good house. I must say out of anyone I see doing anything I really like what they're doing.
BOZ – On the other hand you have a band like Fear. They’re seen as a classic band and all they sang about was beer...
Dave Dictor – Yeah, I actually played with Fear a couple of times in my life and they were cool because... I like them, I don' t know... ‘cos they came over to me when we were a young band and said, " You guys are cool” and I've had people who are more politically correct tell me they didn’t like us, you know. I mean they bothered to come over and tell me so... I know they just did a reunion tour in the US... you know, everyone can’t be like me... They have songs I don't agree with but on a personal level they talked to me about my band when they were a lot bigger than my band was and... l don't agree with everything but they let me know that they thought I was doing a good job of what I was doing and that’s all I can say...

BOZ - What are your most screamed for songs... any live favourites?
Dave Dictor - Yeah... of course people say JOHN WAYNE WAS A NAZI, people like SKINHEAD a lot... people like CHICKEN SQUAWK a lot, people like BORN TO DIE a lot... DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS people like a lot... usually the short easy ones that were basically easy to latch on to... JOHN WAYNE, SKINHEAD...
BOZ - Have you another LP coming out?
Dave Dictor - Well... actually, we're working on a single. Hopefully it's going to be out in about 2 months... we're supposed to record it in about 3 weeks and it's about 2 topics... one’s WINTER OF ’92... It's about Russia and everything that's going on there. We just got back from Russia, it's heavy duty there... people trying to live on $20 a week and the only thing that's cheap is potatoes, everything else is else is expensive... and we have another song called THANKS FOR GIVING ME WHAT I DIDN’T WANT which is about thanksgiving and Christopher Columbus and all these holidays where they try to celebrate what we see as atrocious acts of genocide... you know... celebrating Christopher Columbus sailing across the world... meanwhile he brought slaves back. They killed so many Indians. There was 40 million Native Americans on the continent... now there's less than 2 million... I think the white man’s legacy has been pretty evil... it's hard to celebrate and so that’s the 2 songs. l think we're gonna have a third one on there too... and I'm not sure which song it is. We have a few new ones we've been talking about... one's called SPARE CHANGE about being born on the streets and another one's called SOMEONE’S BEHIND YOU AGAIN which is kind of big brother looking over your shoulder with the police ready to bust you and even though they're saying the cold war's over there's still a lot of observation and lack of freedom and the way our society is going. Plastic money, computer chips on everybody. They are gonna know you picked your nose in second grade and everything.

BOZ - And then what happens next?
Dave Dictor - Well we have the 7”... we should be cutting it in 3 weeks and it should be out by late October and we are gonna do a few more gigs over in Germany in September and then we’re gonna go home...
BOZ - Lie down and go to sleep?
Dave Dictor - Yeah... work on some more songs for the album and tour maybe south west LA and Phoenix. I think we have a date out in an Indian reservation and we're gonna do like a mini south west USA tour.

BOZ -...ok... just one last question, do you ever have any regrets about the band name?
Dave Dictor - None whatsoever... if I regretted it I'd start a new band. Sometimes I wanna have a fuck off band and we're thinking of one called Mistress Mengele or Pungent youth... kind of a stenchcore band... I see everyone walking out. I think it's my time to get ready...

...and with that, the interview ended!!!

MDC - The SMOKE SIGNALS line-up (1986)


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