|Andy Shernoff, songwriter in the band, produced the album. If anybody should know how the band should sound ...
"Like know his own songs?! It's more than that, too," Dick says, "We hadn't played that much where we know exactly how we wanted to sound like live. It's great to have someone who drives himself, who's very talented, hard working and who has vision. He had this clear kind of thing. He knew what type of record he wanted to make. He even went so far as to suggest the album cover art."
How long did it take to finish up the LP?
"Well, it went pretty quick. I think the whole thing took six weeks, but I have such a bad memory," he continues, " ... but ya ask me how many world series home runs did Mickey Mantle hit, I'll tell ya. Time in the studio isn't an interesting statistic for me to remember. Mickey Mantle hit 18 world series home runs. I find that much more interesting. He was my first god. When I hear him go, "When I was a boy, Ted Williams was my hero," I sit there like shhhh..., get out of my way, un huh. Just to hear him talk about his heroes. Mickey Mantle, who was this six-foot, two hundred pound white guy who was the fastest guy in baseball. It was just amazing. Power hitter and the fastest guy in baseball. You feed that into a computer and the computer blows up!"
"The Party Starts Now!," what could be more fitting for the first single?
"Yeah, it couldn't be the second single. The party has to start immediately." 'New York, New York' got quite a bit of advance airplay. It's an old Dictators' song that we re-recorded and added a verse. We wanted to do something obvious of what the band sounds like. We could have gone with something sweeter but we felt that the obvious, 'The Party Starts Now!' seemed the obvious choice. Like who is this new band the Wild Kingdom? It's a good opening. Like HI! HERE WE ARE!" he exclaims.
A couple years ago, I caught Dick's show at CBGBs. He was wearing this blue ruffled shirt and a vest that had 'I'M RIGHT!' scrawled on the back. Only Dick could have pulled that off. Anyone else would have looked kind of silly in that shirt.
"Yeah, that was about the last time we played!" he recalls. "A weird mixture. Punk psycho-lounge thing. I'm a writer. I have a column in Traffic. I had a piece in Spin."
What does he like to write about?
"Whatever I feel like writing about. I'm not exactly what you'd consider a literary person," he confesses, "I'm an avid reader of magazines and newspapers. I pattern myself after my favorite sportswriter, the right wing, fascist sportswriter Dick Young. Politically, I had nothing in common with him. I thought he was a moron, God rest his soul. But style-wise, absolutely. That staccato, rapid-fire da-da-da-da. It's sort of a heavy metal Erma Bombeck or something - human interest. I was talking about going to this new theater. Not about the movie, but about the assholes that went and the arguments that I got into with them. I'll go on for about four hundred words and then go dot dot dot ... music, sports, food, restaurants and at the end I'll have the recipe of the month. The thing that spurred my interest was I had written a recipe for this fanzine called Kix (run by some friends of mine, Billy and Miriam) and this guy walks up to me and starts quoting my line from the recipe. I felt so good from that that I said, hey, I could probably write, so I wrote."
|" ... it's like, if everyone who was a Dictator fan, verbally, bought the record (then) we'd still be the Dictators. But I tell ya, I'd be dead by now."|
|Dick Manitoba has been kicking around the New York scene since day one. He's more than paid his dues livin' and breathin' in New York's underground. And as lead singer for the infamous Dictators he's rocked and rolled both sides of the Atlantic. In the 70's the Dictators released three albums, Go Girl Crazy, Manifest Destiny and Bloodbrother (Asylum Records). Now back with former Dictators' Andy Shernoff (bass) and Ross the Boss (guitar), these rock 'n' roll animals are back in their realm, the Wild Kingdom.
|i n t e r v i e w
Wild in the Kingdom!
|interview & commentary by Lorry Doll|
|Photo- Lorry Doll|
|MCA saw fit to sign New York's best kept secret. Dick Manitoba's Wild Kingdom is raw, raunchy rock with that special touch of New York class. They define rock like it ought to be, loud and nasty, and it ain't pretty. Ask him, he'll tell ya, "I'M RIGHT!"
... And You will make a lot of fans from the Dictators days happy.
"I hope a lot more people than that!" Dick says. "It's a good start (though), right off the bat."
Seeing as how people already know of the band they have the advantage over bands that are coming up.
"An interesting thing happened with the Dictators," he says, "Commercially, we weren't that popular of a band when we existed. All these Dictator fans ... it's like, if everyone who was a Dictator fan, verbally, bought the record (then) we'd still be the Dictators. But I tell ya, I'd be dead by now."
Some musicians feel that after paying dues for a couple years they deserve to make it. For a musician who's been there and back again ... "I've paid my dues as a human being. Not just the subset as a musician, but as a human being. On every level I've paid dues. If I get something good happening for me I'm just going to enjoy it," Dick says.
And having already done a bunch of records and tours, he can go into this with his eyes open and realize there's more to it then being signed and being a big rock star and everything is going to be wonderful.
"It's a fantasy that doesn't ring true. It's this drive people have to reach nirvana ... oh when I get signed, then things will ... or, oh, when I find the perfect woman, then things ... It just doesn't work like that. Getting signed is a great thing. You can't get to Step B without getting to Step A. But taken in the context, there's like forty thousand bands that get signed every year and there's another million that don't. I could paint a really pessimistic picture, however I just take all that stuff and say who gives a fuck, it's fun. I like doing it. It's what I'd rather do than anything else. I love when people tell me I can't do something. It's great 'cause this is more successful then anything I've ever done before. What's happening in front of us now, the reaction to the record, I'm very pleased."
|Photo- Lorry Doll|
| ... And You is an interesting collection of tunes. It's got a bit of everything. On side two, the songs are a bit harder and speedier than the first side.
"It's in there," Dick says. "I listen to the radio every day and every band has that same guitar sound, that heavy beat thing and it's like ... I don't get it. Our band, I'm more of like ... like here talking to you. I'll just come up and talk to them. The audience is my friend. It's almost like, I don't want to scream at them like HOW YA DOIN' TODAY! I'm sure I'll wind up sayin' stuff like that, but ya can't ask them what they did last night. That's why I like doing the clubs 'cause it's right in your face. You can't lie in the clubs. But I agree, we're somewhere in there in that we're kind of like Metal, kind of like Hard Rock, kind of this and kind of like that, you can't really put a stamp on it."
How did he get signed to MCA?
"People that we used to work with when it was the Dictators came to see us, and they had this small label in San Francisco. They offered us the kind of money that took care of our major concerns, the recording and a nice budget for the video. But I wonder what people think. Like you're in a band - they just give you money. Record companies do not care how you live. They care about the album and the video that you give them."
So for all the Wild Kingdom fans it'll be cool to get to see them out on the road again.
"Yeah, this year I just want to wake up in the morning and know that my job is playing in a rock 'n' roll band for a living. It's a good feeling."
|Interview conducted by Lorry Doll at the Neon Lounge, originally appeared in NEON in 1990
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