Quite often I feel the need to justify something I get excited about by issuing the pre-emptive disclaimer "Not to be all "fanboy" about things..." before certain statements. But that's really just apologetic bullshit. I'm a fanboy. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be writng and editing a fanzine (albeit an on-line one), or compulsively collecting records or tracking down members of old bands for interviews...So, before getting too off-track here, doing TB does have its fanboy rewards at times. One of them being that sometimes cool people from cool bands notice what you are writing about them and drop you a line. Such was the case one day earlier this year when I was reading e-mails one lazy morning in the office in lieu of doing any actual work. From an unrecognized address I received a message titled "Gary Floyd Says HI" or something...and shit yes, it was THE Gary Floyd and I was pretty geeked up about it. He had read an old review of the then semi-recent Dicks live 10" on Delta Pop I had written, and was just writing to say thanks for the interest. Pretty fucking cool. For a fanboy like me. So I tried coercing him into an interview, and he agreed. Kind of. I had a fifty question, three page long list of things to ask, but he just wanted to answer a few questions, nothing too daunting. So I quickly edited it down to the first ten questions or so, lest I scare him away via my unadulterated fanboy (yet again) excitement. I wish I could've done an epic Chris-Knox-in-Forced-Exposure mega-interview with him, but at least I got a few in (and I think my questions are longer than the answers!). Here they be, accompanied by some of Gary's own artwork.
TB: How did the two (semi) recent Dicks releases on Delta Pop come about? Did the label seek you out or were you looking for someone to release this stuff? Are there any more unreleased recordings in The Dicks vault that might see release sometime?
Gary: Jon, the guy who owns Delta Pop got in touch with me through Myspace. He asked if we would want to do something like the records and I thought it was a good idea. There are tons of live shows we recorded back then. Not much film or video though, since most of our fans were poor and did not have the cameras...haha! I think enough Dicks music is out there for now.
TB: Can you shed any light as to why SST let the Kill From the Heart LP go out of print? Is there any truth to the rumor that the masters are lost/destroyed? Would you like to see this record made available somehow, perhaps on a different label? Do you still talk to Ginn at all?
Gary: I can not even think of why Greg would let 'Kill from the Heart' go out of print. The masters are lost, nobody seems to know where they might be...funny! When I put together the AT 'Dicks 1980-1986' CD we just used an unplayed copy of the record. I would put it out again for sure. Jello really wants to put it out, but Greg will not even talk about it. I do not speak with him, I wouldn't even know how to get with touch with him. I wish him the best, I have no hard feelings. He's just in a certain mind-space and that's it.
TB: "Saturday Night at the Bookstore" is one of my all time favorite songs. We even named our radio show after it. Was there any event(s) that inspired it or any particular story behind it? I imagine it was always a song that was fun to ad-lib lyrics to when you played live as well...
Gary: No real story behind it, other that it was a very free, pre-AIDS time in the early Eighties. Most straight guys were getting blow jobs in video Stores, sneaking out from the wife and letting guys do what their wives wouldn't. Nobody thought much of it. But if you ever saw one of these creeps on the street, they acted like "Faggot, stop looking at me!" So, I wrote a little song about it. We never did it live untill we started playing again a few years ago. It was a moment-in-time song. I still humm it sometimes.
TB: What was your reaction to the Buttholes tune "Gary Floyd"? Do you remember first hearing it? Was it something you knew they were doing? Did you spend a lot of time hanging out with Gibby and Co.?
Gary: We hung out very little really, but were always seeing each other at shows and parties around Austin and Houston. Nice, funny guys. They told me they had written a song about me and I wondered "Why?". People think I must be a real freak when they see that I am the Gary Floyd from that song, but they get let down since I am pretty much a bore. They love me...what else can I say?
TB: The Dicks have a great legacy of cover tunes, from Mudhoney to the Spits to the Jesus Lizard and more. Do you have a favorite cover version of a Dicks song? Any you didn't like? I recall Steve Turner saying somewhere that people requested they play "Hate the Police" more than any of their own songs...
Gary: I love it when I hear anybody doing one of our songs. Love it. Some guy did a sort of blues-country re-make of "Dicks Hate the Police" and I loved it. I sang "Hate the Police" on stage here in SF with Mudhoney once, it was fun. David Yow sang "Wheelchair Epidemic" with us once. It's wonderful to have people like the songs enough to do them. No favorites, they all are.
TB: My wife says you remind her of Divine in some of your more feminine costumes from the Dicks era (*the live 10" photo in particluar). Was John Waters and his work an inspiration at all?
Gary: Yes he was, and so was Divine. Plus, any fat guy in drag was sort of Divine-ish. I loved to dress up back then, and the idea of making a punk crowd feel uneasy was always a wonderful way to spend the evening. The early John Waters movies from the 70's and early 80's were ground breaking and so fresh and new. Now he makes tired stuff, but I still love him.
TB: The Dicks were always very socially and politically conscious/active, in a time when being "punk" was still revolutionary. How much of being in the band was just having fun and playing music for you, and how much of the motivation was your desire to voice your political and social beliefs? Do you think the Dicks opened up some people's minds and made a difference? Do you wish you could've done more?
Gary: They both ran together, having fun and trying to get an idea over to people that something was wrong and we could make it right if we just woke up. I tried to never be too preachy or pushy, but sometimes I must have been, as a Divine-looking punk with Mao badges and Stalin pins singing about the cops. But the time was good for the mix of it all. Things are so much worse now. I thought it couldn't get worse, but it has. The world needs young people, not old men like me, educating themselves and looking at what's happening. When the Dicks play now and then, I still feel what we were saying is true now. I want to hear it from the new bands, the young bands...scream it!
TB: George Jackson. What drew you into his story and how did you relate to him? What is your take on his death, i.e. do you feel Huey Newton conspired at all to faciliate it? Not directly on topic, but I always try and push James Carr's autoboigraphy "Bad" on people, probably one of the best books ever written by/about a prisoner and a story almost as interesting as Jackson's. I'm sure you're familair with it, I was hoping you could comment on it as well.
Gary: Everyone should read 'Bad' and 'Prison Letters of George Jackson'. I read Jackson's book when I was still in high school and right away I loved it. I learned from it, saw what an unjust system we live with everyday. I do not think Huey Newton had anything to do with it. I do think it was part of huge picture to do away with any powful revolutionary voice that might be heard and move people to THINK. Look, a young white gay fat little weirdo in small town Texas was changed by the book...me! Now, it's all just a way to sell t-shirts. Do you think 98% of the people who wear Che t-shirts know anything about him? He was a Revolutionary communist who killed lots of people who were in the way of the revolution. That's just a fact. Do the folks know that, in their pretty fucking t-shirts? If you turn revolution into a fad, the revolution becomes a fad. Another victory for the government.
TB: When you read a lot of people's recollections of The Dicks, they often talk about how intimidating you guys were in appearance and the ferocity of your shows. As opposed to the Big Boys, who everyone recalls as "the nicest guys ever" in most accounts. Was everyone really that scared of you guys? Was that the point, and something that was necessary for the band aesthetically/ideologically? You always hear stories about how the rednecks gave the Texas punks a hard time, but I'm imaging there were plenty of times when The Dicks were intimidating the rednecks?
Gary: Really, we were nice guys, too. We were just who we were. Never trying to fill people with fear, although it's funny to hear now. I have a friend who is working on a film history of The Dicks, for a few years now. She showed me some footage and it's true, almost everybody started off by saying how mean we were and how they were afraid of us. It's funny. Although Buxf was a pretty rough guy. He was sure as hell good to have as a friend! It made it a lot more easy for me to act tough when I had such a rough bunch of band mates. We were good friends with the Big Boys, who were much nicer that us. But in fact, we were nice guys too. I guess.
TB: I've heard mention of the division between Punk vs. New Wave in the Texas scene back in the day? Was this really a major issue? What was the dividing line, i.e. who were the Punks and who were New Wave? What was it all about?
Gary: Well, The Dicks had a lot to do with that. We just wanted it to be known we were not into the soft poppy sound and clean matching shirts look and the sweet and always nice bullshit. We did not like the silly crap that some of the bands were putting out. So we voiced it. "Fake Bands" was our song about it. It seems a bit silly now, but then it was a line between real punks and fake punks. Again, just into it for the fad. I like most of those folks now, we all blended together as time passed. I ended up not so "bad-ass" and they ended up being more real than I had thought. Just a little Texas drama.
TB: Would you like to tell the readers what you've been doing recently as far as music and art and what projects you have going now? What's inspiring you these days? Will The Dicks be playing any more shows?
Gary: I never know when The Dicks might be playing. It depends on if we get bored or not with what is happeneing around us. The boys in Texas have a really great band called Shootin' Pains. It's what country music is supposed to be: real. I have had many bands. I have many CDs and I usually do blues and country music. As honestly as I can, I might add. I just finished recording a new CD with my band The Buddha Brothers. It's good and I love it. It's sort of a country band, but all old punks without mohawks, that is. I do a lot of art to make me less crazy. I am a follower of a Hindu spiritual path and find much happiness in my world. The 'real world' however is a weird place. I hope we make it.
The Art of Gary Floyd
Gary Floyd on Myspace
LEft of the Dial interview with Gary Floyd
Suburban Voice interview with Gary Floyd
Interview by Rich Kroneiss
Artwork jpegs borrowed from the Art of Gary Floyd webpage