Interview: Stan Lee


In 1977, while Fleetwood Mac was spreading Rumours, Jackson Browne was Running on Empty, and Eric Clapton had a Slowhand, musicians with an edgier aesthetic were taking a different path, the path of punk rock.

That year, a group of such musicians in Los Angeles formed The Dickies, who by now 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 founding guitarist Stan Lee was for the Dickies concert at the Majestic Ventura Theater on 12/12/14, for which they shared the bill with Pennywise. It was done by email, with answers received in the early morning hours of 12/6/14. (Daniel Noble photo)

Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at the upcoming show?

Stan Lee: Dickies fans and newcomers alike can look forward to sweet sweet guitar lines courtesy of me, Stan Lee, and Little Dave Teague. Pleasantly twisted melodies will be served up piping hot and pitch-perfect by Singer Leonard Graves Phillips. Steering the car from high atop the drums will be newest member Adam Gomez laying down some “sick sick beats”. Edward Tater locks it all down tight sloppin’ da bass…

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

SL: The songs.

JM: Can you tell the story of how Leonard was chosen to be the lead singer for the band?

SL: No one else showed up.

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

SL: I think the success of The Incredible Shrinking Dickies surprised everyone. We had our setlist, a basic collection of the songs we were playing live at that time. Most of that list became the final tracks on The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. With the support A&M records, the close-knit punk scene in LA, then instant, overwhelming support from the UK, we found ourselves in the center of this perfect little storm.

JM: I love your cover of “Paranoid”. What inspired you to cover that song?

SL: I wanted to hear it played faster.

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?

SL: It was exciting to be part of creating a genre. Bands like The Damned, The Weirdos, and The Ramones were laying a foundation that artists still draw from today, more than 35 years later. This spark, this genre, that was generally dismissed as irrelevant noise, had a growing need to exist. Art finds a way.

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?

SL: How would I know? I’m from the Valley! Ask Henry Rollins…

JM: For the upcoming concert, you’re sharing the bill with Pennywise. What are your thoughts on the punk rock revival that took place in the 1990’s, bringing us bands like Pennywise and Green Day?

SL: Yeah, in the 90’s the radio stations started to get it. Goes to show we were on to something. It has stood the test of time.

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

SL: The industry has changed so much. It’s a DIY world. You guys are on your own. Art will find a way.

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

SL: Headed to the East coast December 16th through the 21st. Jan 10 Santa Ana at The Observatory, Jan 17 San Diego Soda Bar, Feb 6 Seattle el Corazon, Feb 7 Portland at the Tonic Lounge, Feb 21 playing The Roxy in Hollywood and headed to Australia and New zealand April 16 to 26th. ‘Nuff said, see ya in the pit!

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

SL: Why? What have you heard?


Stan Lee and Leonard Graves Phillips (Greg Papazian photo)


Little Dave, Adam Gomez, Stan Lee, Leonard Phillips, and Edward Tater (Greg Papazian photo)


Stan Lee (Daniel Noble photo)


One comment for “Interview: Stan Lee”

  1. Great interview Stan. You funny.

    Posted by Krista | December 11, 2014, 2:55 pm

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