The Dictators Back Together! Andy Shernoff Tells All.
With their irreverent mix of ‘teengenerate’ sarcasm, three-chord garage rock, surf music and party-hearty stage antics, The Dictators presaged New York City’s punk attitude. An eternal favorite of PKM, the band, with a break here and there, ‘coulda been a contenduh.’ Alas, in 2021, they are stepping back into the ring! Three of the four original members–Andy Shernoff, Ross “The Boss” Friedman and Scott Kempner–have been joined by former Blue Oyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard to release new music and eventually tour. PKM’s David Laing caught up with Andy Shernoff for a long and wonderful conversation about all things Dictators.
For all the death, disease and duplicitous dunces it brought us, 2020 wasn’t without its highlights. Amongst good things in rock ‘n’ roll was the announcement – a very low-key but extremely exciting announcement – made by Dictators main man Andy Shernoff. Andy, it seemed, had taken the advice of a song he wrote and recorded solo some years back, “Let’s Get the Band Back Together”. That is, the Dictators had reconvened and were making new music! Not a phony version of the Dictators, but the real thing. The original three guys, Andy Shernoff, Scott Kempner and Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman, who formed the band and who were at the heart of all its line-ups, were BACK!
No, Handsome Dick Manitoba wasn’t invited to the party, but then, he kinda blew it with the phony version anyway, and he wasn’t even their original singer; Andy was. And don’t worry about the drummer; neither of the two guys on their original three albums – Stu Boy King and Richie Teeter – are with us anymore, and neither were there in the beginning anyway. Andy, Scott and Ross were THE THREE, and they are THE THREE again, with the exciting addition of old pal Albert Bouchard from the Blue Oyster Cult on drums.
The first fresh produce from the new Dictators appeared last month. “God Damn New York” is a thumping tune. Dense, melodic, souped-up hard rock, it follows on from where Bloodbrothers and “16 Forever” left off 40+ years ago and where the great D.F.F.D. picked up 20 years back. It’s everything that you could expect from a Dictators tune, and Andy’s voice is familiar enough – he sung on a bunch of the original recordings anyway – that there is no doubting who it is. A second new single is due April 12 and scheduled to be premiered on Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show.
One of many influential New York groups featured in Legs & Gillian’s Please Kill Me book, the Dictators have long warranted a detailed feature on this hallowed site, so as soon as I saw the announcement last year, I reached out to Andy. I wanted to get the lowdown on the new stuff, ask him questions that I didn’t think had been asked, and put a few of my own thoughts about the group to him for a response. I wanted to dig fairly deep into the Dictators’ original time around the block. What you’ll read below is the result of our communications. Enjoy.
Read the entire interview at Please Kill Me