Interview: Leonard Graves Phillips

The Dickies have shown incredible staying power since they came into the punk rock music world in 1977. By now they are are one of the longest-running punk rock bands that ever was.

The Dickies’ first release was a 1978 single featuring a hyper-speed cover Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, and other early singles included covers of the children’s TV show theme song “Banana Splits (Tra La La Song)” and The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin”.

In addition to their masterful punk rock interpretations of others’ material, The Dickies also wrote loads of smokin’ originals, often with twistedly amusing lyrics and themes. Their classic albums are usually considered to be The Incredible Shrinking Dickies and the follow-up Dawn of The Dickies, both released in 1979, but that’s not the end of their story, with various additional releases by the band over the years.

This interview with Dickies singer Leonard Graves Phillips was done by email, with answers received on 2/14/16. It was for a preview article for the 2/27/16 concert by The Dickies at The Garage in Ventura. This ended being a short interview, but size doesn’t matter, right? (Greg Papazian photo)

Jeff Moehlis: What can people look forward to at your upcoming show? Any old props? Any new props?

Leonard Graves Phillips: Even the new props are old so it’s all covered.

JM: The Dickies have outlasted almost every other punk rock band. What is the secret to your longevity?

LGP: Heroin.

JM: Can you tell us how The Dickies formed?

LGP: I can but my fingers will cramp up.

JM: You guys started out strong with The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. What are your reflections on that particular album?

LGP: It was done as a series of sessions and I’ve always regretted we didn’t get a real producer for it.

JM: Dawn of the Dickies came very quickly afterwards, and then there was a four year gap before the next album. What happened?

LGP: See answer #2.

JM: Any stories from the early LA punk rock scene that you’re willing to share? Maybe about The Masque, playing with other bands, etc?

LGP: Darby Crash was a great kisser.

JM: I find it interesting that The Dickies seem to have had more early success in the UK than in the US. Any thoughts on why that was the case?

LGP: Our sound has always been somewhat Anglocentric and juvenile.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

LGP: Practice and have fun.

JM: What are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future?

LGP: Finish that opera.

JM: Do you want to set the record straight on anything related to The Dickies?

LGP: We don’t remotely sound like Green Day.

For an interview with Dickies guitarist Stan Lee before a previous concert, click here.


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