“If you were a misfit, The Dicks’ music was for you.” Those words open up the documentary The Dicks From Texas, now featured on Night Flight Plus.
While the Ramones were the kings of punk rock on the east coast,
Black Flag on the west, and the Clash coming out of England, in the late
70s, Austin seemed like an unlikely place for a punk band with a gay
lead singer to emerge from.
“Here in Texas, you really have to put this into context of Austin, which kind of seems like a liberal cool place now,” reveals author and photographer Bill Daniel in the documentary. “It just wasn’t like that in 1979 and ’80.”
According to Mark Kenyon: “There was a real cliché of Austin
music being hippie music and/or blues. It was an opportune time for
something new to happen.”
It’s hard to imagine, especially since in the past decade Austin has
become a sort of Mecca of cool — with a deep music scene and Alamo
Drafthouses for the cinephiles — that residents are attempting to “keep
The band was born of conjecture from lead singer, Gary Floyd.
“I started lying, yeah, I got a band called The Dicks.”
They were a poster band, just a made up name that would show up on
flyers and posters for shows around Austin. From Floyd’s ruse, an actual
band was formed with original members Floyd, Glen Taylor on the guitar,
Buxf Parrot on bass, and Pat Deason on drums.
The Dicks combined the hardcore sound with the sardonic silliness of
the Ramones and plenty of social and cultural ideology of Minor Threat
in three-minute blasts of unbridled, distorted energy.
Floyd was one of
the first openly gay punk singers of the era, a behemoth of a man clad
in make-up and a nurses dress, singing songs about anonymous sex in
“Saturday Night At The Bookstore.”
The band became known for their drunken live performances. “They were always great, but they were always kind of shambolic,” explains Henry Rollins in the documentary.
they were really drunk, someone might fall over backwards…oh, it sounds
like half the band is playing one song and half the band is… oh screw
it, this is great.”
“It had never occurred to me before seeing The Dicks that being afraid of the band could be a cool idea,” states David Yow of Jesus Lizard.
The Dicks became fixtures of the small but loyal Austin scene, often
gigging with other hardcore bands from the Lone Star state such as MDC,
The Offenders, and The Big Boys. The group released their first single,
“Dicks Hate The Police,” beating both N.W.A and Body Count to the punch
by eight and twelve years, respectively.
The documentary, The Dicks From Texas, was released as a 16-year labor of love from film student and fan of the band, Cindy Marabito. The Dicks From Texas has
an appropriately D.I.Y feel to the proceedings, with most of its
interviews conducted on grainy VHS, in noisy bars, busy streets, and
darkened bedrooms, places The Dicks and their fans appear to be the most
Sometimes the interviews are hard to hear and subtitles are provided,
but if you know The Dicks, this is exactly how a Dicks documentary
needs to look.
Archival footage of Dicks shows are combined with
photographs, old flyers, and interviews with former members of the
group, other “poster bands” from the area such as The Torn Panties and
fans (some of whom moved to Austin because of the Dicks and have
remained in Texas) not only provide insight into the Dicks’ career, but
provides those who weren’t there — which is most of us — with a snapshot
of a scene.
It’s a treat watching all these elder statesmen and women
reminisce about their old haunts and the bands that they loved.
Singer Gary Floyd left Austin for San Francisco with a new Dicks
lineup including Tim Carroll, Sebastian Fuchs, and current Imperial Teen
drummer. Lynn Perko. The band released albums on SST Records and
Alternative Tentacles before disbanding in 1986, save for an occasional
The original lineup (save for deceased guitarist Glen
Taylor) got back together in 2004 and have since filled Taylor’s spot
with Austin musicians such as Mark Kenyon, Brian McGee, and Davy Jones.
The Dicks’ influence can still be felt today in hardcore punk and the
“queercore” movement that some would credit them with starting.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Thursday, April 14, 2016
If you’re not familiar with them, The Dicks were an Austin band fronted by the openly gay, cross dressing communist Gary Floyd. Musically, although part of the nascent Austin punk scene, the band were quite experimental, particularly guitarist Glen Taylor whose mixture of punk, jazz and funk helped shape the future sound of bands like Scratch Acid, and vocalist Floyd who brought a soulful, blues-iness to the proceedings.
The ‘Dicks from Texas’ follows the now well-trodden path of talking head interviews interspaced with live footage and flyers, particularly from the Dicks early period when they were only a Poster Band (a band that existed on flyers posted as a practical joke and something of an Austin tradition).
Featuring mainly interviews with the band’s members and friends, with the odd peer perspective (Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Randy ‘Biscuit’ Turner) the interviews run more like friendly recollections of the late 70s/early 80s Austin scene, giving this documentary the same kinda vibe that Texas HC scene seems to have comprised of back in the day, a consensus of supportive outcasts who hung together making art, music and social statements.
Giving Floyd’s aggressive stage delivery it came as a surprise to find him speak in such gentle, lisping tones and at times, between my increasing deafness, the thick Texan accents and the low quality of the voice recording it was difficult to make out everything he was saying (an issue which occurred with other interviewees too).
The film celebrates the Dicks not so much from a musical perspective (although both Rollins and MacKaye attest to the bands musical chops), but from a social perspective; the band acting as the glue between the hippies, gays, punks, drunks and drug users that made up the Austin scene in the early 80s.
As a final note it’s worth pointing out that the live footage is a real treat and worth the price of picking up this DVD alone. Ian Pickens
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wednesday, April 6, 2016