The Dicks - Biography
By Oliver Hall
The Dicks, from Austin, Texas, are one of the great American punk bands and the forefathers of the hardcore movement. The band’s impatient, noisy thrash tunes set the stage for singer Gary Floyd, who summoned a voice as big as all outdoors on his radical-left rants and tales of abjection, depression, and rage.
Floyd met bassist Buxf Parrot and guitarist Glen Taylor, who were visiting Austin from San Antonio, at the punk club Raul’s. In the liner notes to the retrospective compilation Dicks 1980-1986 (1997 Alternative Tentacles), Floyd remembers: “Before the night was over we had not only become friends, but had made beer-drenched plans to start a band together.” The Dicks recorded their self-released first single, “The Dicks Hate the Police” (1980 Radical), shortly after forming in 1980. As if the title of the single wasn’t heretical enough for Texas at the time, the cover art spells the band’s name with an enormous Soviet hammer and sickle in place of the letter “D” and shows the Dicks’ heads in profile alongside the profiles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.
Austin’s Big Boys and the Dicks released the split LP Recorded Live at Raul’s Club (1980 Rat Race). It is worth noting that most of the very few openly gay figures in American hardcore punk came from Austin; Big Boys’ singer Randy “Biscuit” Turner, MDC singer Dave Dictor, and Gary Floyd were all courageously out of the closet. In 2007, Floyd told Amoeba Music’s Amoeblog (https://www.amoeba.com/blog/2007/06/jamoeblog/out-loud-proud-long-before-it-was-it-was-hip-to-be-queer.html), “The punk scene in Austin was really good in the fact that a lot of the best bands were fronted by queer men and they also happened to be sort of big queer men. So that was an advantage right there. And people wouldn't automatically mess with us cuz we were sort of redneck queers in a way – redneck in the fact that we were big and we didn't really want to take any mess with anybody about it. And we were very lucky because the punk scene was very open-minded there.”
The Dicks opened some of Black Flag’s dates in Texas and impressed Black Flag enough that SST Records flew in-house producer Spot from Los Angeles to Austin to record the Dicks’ first full-length album, Kill from the Heart (1983 SST). In October of 1982, the Dicks moved from Austin to San Francisco. They returned to Texas the following year after participating in the three-month Rock Against Reagan tour. Once back home in Texas, Parrot, Taylor, and drummer Pat Deason wanted to stay there. The Austin Dicks’ last recording was the poetic “Gilbeau,” included on the Cottage Cheese from the Lips of Death compilation (1983 Ward 9) assembled by the Butthole Surfers, whose first album had a song called “Gary Floyd.” Floyd returned to San Francisco alone and held auditions for a new line-up of the Dicks with the band’s new manager, Debbie Gordon. These auditions, held in a former brewery called the Vats, brought guitarist Tim Carroll, bassist Sebastian Fuchs, and drummer Lynn Perko into the band.
MDC’s label issued the first recording by the San Francisco Dicks, the Peace? single (1984 R Radical), which includes the timeless punk protest “I Hope You Get Drafted.” Floyd comes into full possession of his voice on the Dicks’ second album, These People (1985 Alternative Tentacles), singing in a personal style inflected by country, folk, and blues. Floyd broke up the Dicks in 1986, and he and Perko formed Sister Double Happiness. In the years since, Floyd has sung in the bands Black Kali Ma, the Gary Floyd Band, Hard Ride, and Gary Floyd and the Buddha Brothers.
Mudhoney covered “The Dicks Hate the Police” on the Australian single Mudhoney Plays “Hate the Police” (1990 Au Go Go), and the song remains a highlight of Mudhoney shows. The Jesus Lizard, fronted by fellow Texas punk David Yow, released their cover of the Dicks’ “Wheelchair Epidemic” (1992 Touch and Go) as a single. Glen Taylor died on May 2, 1997, close to the time Alternative Tentacles released the Dicks 1980-1986 compilation. The surviving Austin Dicks reunited for a U.S. tour in 2004 and 2005 with Brian Magee on guitar. Davy Jones replaced Magee, and second guitarist Mark Kenyon also appears on Hungry Butt (2006 Hot Box), an album that presents Dicks’ live sets from 1980 and 2005. The Dicks reunited again in Austin in 2006 to celebrate the release of Hungry Butt.