In light of the recent passing of original Dictators drummer Stu Boy King, we at the DFFD Blog are proud to share with you the only interview he ever granted, to our own Sal Cincotta, published by rock magazine Ugly Things in November 2015. Our deepest thanks to Ugly Things for allowing us to republish that article here, supplemented with some new nuggets Sal dug up from the original notes for the interview. (For you collectors out there, this story originally ran in Ugly Things #40, which is still available here.) Part I can be found here. Read below for Part II. (And coming soon: parts III and IV!)
Stu at the first Dictators NY show, at the Capitol Theater, on 2/2/74.
Stu Boy King: Then the Dictators came calling again for a drummer. They were in the city now. I was told, “You need to go and audition.” Before the blueprints of the music were completely done, Murray [Krugman] and Sandy [Pearlman] had heard Andy’s songs and thought highly enough of them that they were going to get the band a record deal. I had an “in” by having been involved in the clique, but Murray and Sandy wanted to make sure everyone got a fair shake, and I had to audition like everyone else.
What was the audition like?
So this is how it went. The songs were completely original, and there was no singing at that time to audition to. I was trying to play to the sound of Ross’s hard chords, but the song structure wasn’t complete–there was no verse into chorus into a hook. I only had Ross to follow. I wasn’t getting it too well, because it wasn’t there to get!
You just beat me to this question. When you guys started woodshedding, were the songs finished products, and how much did Murray and Sandy have to do to insert Tab A into Slot B? It sounds like them and you guys had to do a lot of that.
Well, there were songs, but I finished the audition and wouldn’t remember which songs I auditioned on. Ross was playing at mega-volume, ear blasts to fill the void for Andy and Scott. At that time, if you were talking about weightlifters, Ross was an Olympic next to somebody who was just starting to go to the gym. The other guys couldn’t pick up five pounds at that point. So we had Ross steaming up the sound, but the songs couldn’t be structured for a drummer to follow the bass line. Andy’s bass was single notes here and there; he wasn’t yet able to play a run of 8ths or 16ths at that point. It was a little difficult to try to get the rhythm thing going, and you could only hold the line. You couldn’t do fills, because you didn’t know when you’re going to fill them! I remember that the audition was certainly different, because of the original songs, and with Ross playing power chords.
Before the audition, Ross said to me, “Stu, I’m going to come to your house and you and I are going to go through the songs.” We went through them bit by bit by bit, song by song. We went over “Two Tub Man” and “Backseat Boogie” and a couple of songs that weren’t originals. Ross and I formed a complete musical package. Whatever Andy and Scott played at the final audition didn’t matter–I was tight musically with Ross. When I had the actual audition, there wasn’t even a second thought about my being in the band. They didn’t want to deal with outsiders.
When we first got together, I was excited about the band. We were friends, there was good chemistry, and we had good positive energy as people together. This is very important for a successful act. No matter who you are, if you have no chemistry as friends and partners, then you have nothing. We’d hang out, play basketball, have a drink–we’d built up a bond together in the beginning. We were friends before we were Dictators.
At practices, there was no weighing out over who could play or who couldn’t. We would just play. No one was sitting there analyzing who could play better than who. Obviously I would lean on Ross and he would lean on me. It might have been a subconscious thing, since we were the anchor. Here’s the music–me and Ross were playing it–you guys learn it. It wasn’t something we thought about, it was just the way it was.
How did Handsome Dick enter the picture?
Richie [“Handsome Dick” Manitoba] wasn’t part of the band. He was part of the social club. That’s the amazing part of the Handsome Dick legacy. There was no intention that he’d be part of the band. When the album was being conceived, he wasn’t really singing any of the songs at that point. We were working as a four-piece band.
I give him this much–he has perseverance. I give him and Ross credit for keeping the band alive for so long. Somehow, this person who was my drum roadie, and a very funny, boisterous guy, was appointed to be our front man. We would use him at 3:00am when we were playing clubs and the audience was out of it. We conjured up a way to incite people to pay attention, and put him on the stage to sing “Wild Thing.” He’d roar the song, and everyone would jump out of their seats! It was a great idea.
HDM sings ‘Wild Thing’ for the first time.
So you got Manitoba on stage, and at the time he was basically a novelty act.
He was a novelty, the Secret Weapon, and it would have worked fine if the band would have grown. I wouldn’t have made him the lead singer! I would have wanted a singer with a little more chops, and less of the in-joke of having him on stage with no stage experience whatsoever. He couldn’t even walk across a stage back then. But this is what Murray and Sandy did. They decided, after seeing Richie’s act, that he would be great for the band, and that it would move us forward. We were told, point blank, “Richie’s your singer.” The other four of us were shocked. I said to myself, “Nothing doing.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Andy was just as surprised, but held his tongue.