Last week, I sat down with the King of Men, the legendary . For those of you somehow unfamiliar with The Dictators’ frontman…a brief overview: singer, bar owner, radio host, author, dad, husband, baseball fan, and cook. Not to mention how they’re represented in the punk section in the lower level of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. The Dictators NYC have saved rock n roll.
You’ve just returned from a wildly successful tour of Spain: 15 shows in 18 days. With a new, younger fan base added to the mix, how are the young ‘uns today compared to back in the day? “Maybe the single most joyous characteristic of the tour was the fact that I’d look out into the audience and see guys and girls in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and the idea that our music has transcended three generations is amazing. People came out to hear rock n roll. We’re probably one of the few bands outside of Iggy who still ‘bring it’, 35 years later. Like Muhammad Ali, he might lose a step in his speed, but he makes up for in his ring generalship, in other words, craftsmanship.”
Daniel Rey on guitar, nice!! He’s got that Montreal connection with the Doughboys, in addition to producing some of the most influential records out there. The Dictators NYC is made up entirely of legends. “It’s basically 4 of the 5 members continuing, with 3 as a regular part of the group. Scott (Kempner) is currently busy with the Del-Lords, so it’s Daniel Rey who brings NYC punk rock credibility via the Ramones song writing and production, and the fact that he was the guitar player in Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom.”
Your show on SiriusXM is in my opinion, the best out there. I learn from you and your playlists. Which bands built your musical foundation? “Joey (Ramone) and I always said when we were 10, the British Invasion: that was the Big Bang, it just blew me away. Everything else emanated from that. That made me want to go back and find out what these English kids listened to, like the Black Blues, and that led me to Chess Records, soul, Larry Williams, R&B, blues. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds. Then on the American side, it was the Detroit scene: MC5, The Stooges, that kind of primal, hard, powerful electric rock n roll.”
Do you remember the first record you bought, hard-earned allowance and all? “I bought kid records: TV theme songs”
Speaking of kids, and being parents: You and I have talked before about parenting, choosing schools, and bullshit people like to throw at you and call it “advice”. Your talk is as honest as it comes, so what would you tell people being run down by the neighborhood Flora Simpson Reilly (Harper Valley PTA)? “To have the emotion of being angry at somebody you don’t know, and just go ‘F this guy, you’re outta here’ instead of going through a rigmarole of angst for an hour. Just go ‘what?? Get the f*ck outta here, boom, gone.”
The Dictators NYC in 2014: what are you hitting the world with? “There is a demand for supply of our songs. We have a fine starting point. Can I guarantee we’ll have a bunch of songs and be prolific? No. What I can guarantee is we will get out, play these great songs with high-energy rock n roll performances, we’ll play the cover tunes that are influential to our lives like the MC5, The Flaming Groovies, and the Fleshtones. We’ll work very hard to have new songs this year; our immediate goal is to start with one. I like to take small bites out of life; if you look at the top of a mountain, you’ll get overwhelmed; if you look at a whole pizza, you’ll get overwhelmed. If you look at 50 steps ahead of you, you’ll think “Oh, I can walk those 50 steps”; if you look at a slice of pizza, you think “I can eat a bite”, the next thing you know, you’ve eaten the whole pie. Before you know it, you’re on the top of the mountain.” Plenty of songs have been brought to me, and I said “No no no no”. I’m not saying they’re going to be as great as the Dictators’ songs, but they will be fun, likeable, powerful hard-rock n roll songs. There’s a high bar that’s been set, and I want to go out with the first song and think “This fits our criteria”. Right now, I’m working with Palmyra Delran, we play her a lot on my radio show, she’s a fabulous song writer, I’ve loved her music for about 5 years now. We’re working together, and we get our ideas written, bring them to Ross who rock n rolls it out to the next level of sonic boom, and that’s what we want to do. One single, then another single, then maybe a cover tune and a 3-song EP, then add it to the Dictators songs that we play. We want to have hard-working people come lay their 15, 18, 20 dollars down, sit there for an hour and a half, sweat, drink, dance, jump, and sing along. I’m a blue-collar rock n roll guy who breaks down the barrier. I’m not holier than thou, ‘I’m up here/you’re down there’, I’m right in your face, jumping into the audience, put my arms around everybody, it’s OUR party. You’re 50% of the party, I’m 50% of the party”.
Thank you so much for your time, HDM, you’re an absolute delight. “Thank YOU, you’re a doll!”
Interview made by Lori /2013 © Copyright 50thirdand3rd. com /2013