Naming your band Millions of Dead Cops in the late 1970s was a risky move, but it was one that encompassed well the spirit of frontman Dave Dictor and his band. For thirty years, the outfit has been writing hilariously arch and frantic songs that slice at the hypocrisies and injustices of human society with a righteous, post-adolescent zeal. Cited as an influence by countless thrash-oriented punk bands and other socially conscious rock bands, MDC has never let up on its intensity as a live act or lightened up in its songwriting. We caught up with Dictor in the middle of a marathon tour of 57 shows in sixty days.
Westword: What do the initials MDC stand for this time out?
Dave Dictor: We're definitely Millions of Dead Cops on this tour. It's the Patriot Asshole tour for our new EP. It got us two shows closed down: a little college town called Boston and a punk-rock hub called Pittsburgh. Three cops were killed in Pittsburgh. The strange thing is, a dispatcher sent them unprepared to a place where some guy was going crazy, and he shot all three of them. So they decided to get mad at the punks.
You have a song called "Founding Fathers — Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?" Tell me a bit about the song.
We're actually doing that on the tour. The whole idea came from people like Andrew Jackson, who was a notorious Indian killer, set up the Trail of Tears and made the Cherokees march from the southeast to Oklahoma, during which 90 percent of them were said to have died. Where does that piece of terrorism fit in with a modern piece of terrorism, where someone might do something like flying a plane into something? You kill people, you wipe them out, and one person's hero can be another person's terrorist can be another person's freedom fighter. So I was just examining all of that. In the song, notice how the Washington Monument is shaped like a Klansman to remind you that Washington owned slaves.
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It doesn't sound to me as though your band has lost its edge over the years. Is there a difference between what inspired you to write songs earlier on and what inspires you now?
The need to get poetry and your feelings out is basically where it's all coming from. Maybe when I wrote a song like "John Wayne Was a Nazi," it was an obvious song to write back then. Having written about four songs about the police, three songs about business and Multi-Death Corporations, you've got to say things in a way that's a little more unique, or you start to say the same things over and over again. You don't want to be a generic band with a song about Bush, a generic band with a song about how you hate Iraq. Punk rock has been around for over thirty years, and a lot of it's been said already.
For more of our interview with Dave Dictor, go to blogs.westword.com/backbeat.