by Artemus "Killer" Kowalski
The first place the Dils sought out when they arrived in San Francisco was the Communist bookstore, Modern Times, where they decorated themselves with buttons and pins: "Silence Kills," "Solidarity with The MPLA in Angola," "Class Warfare Not Imperialist Warfare." With song-titles like "Unreformed" and "Me Against The Twentieth Century" inscribed on their shirts, they are their own personal pop agit-prop. Their music is sparse, vibrant, and abrupt, and they consider themselves "a challenging band."
Tony Dil, the tall hyper-thyroid, dark-haired bass player, and his blonde younger brother, Chip, sing songs like "Great Utopia," "Folks Say Go," "Negromania," and "Mass Grave" in front of drummer (and former roadie) Andre Dil, who claims to have been drumming only the two months he's been with the Dils. They claim their original lead singer--the first American to do the pogo onstage--died in the same flaming car crash on Route 5 near their home in Carlsbad, that turned their original drummer into a vegetable (sauteed).
The Dils are activism in search of activity. They foster what they call "irresponsible, unthinking physical action--busting tables, glasses--and total lack of inhibition." Although they make it clear that they encourage the seeking out and destroying of some promoters, whom they regard as absolute leeches, they are otherwise "anti-violent" (huh?), regarding violence as merely another media manipulation. It's kind of a dilemma for the Dils: on the one hand Chip says that they play better with a little audience encouragement, "when they get nuts-violent." But, on the other hand, he doesn't want to see any of the fans getting their faces smashed. In fact, he jokes about putting contact mikes on tables and mixing it through the P.A. as the audience takes part in a smash-along, sing-along.
This stance hasn't exactly earned them a lot of enthusiasm among entrenched members of the Industry in Hollywood--let alone in their hometown, San Diego. Recently Chip referred to Kim Fowley as "an exploitive, trendy ass" while onstage at a Fowely-produced show at the Whiskey. (Mr. Fowley demanded a personal apology, threatening, say The Dils, to put them in a pickle 'they'd never forget: bad press, no recordings, no bookings. And although Chip humored the old fool, Fowley stayed out of the club while they were there.)
The Dils are an anti-drug band--encouraging gut-level participation. They snicker at the "coolness/hip" of the sixties and they are totally anti-media. (They refuse to answer questions about their favorite television shows, magazines, guitar heroes, or fave taco colors.) They challenge their audiences to move and react. Not moving targets, they are opponents. Sez Tony, "We don't need the audience to get pissed. We can get as angry as they can. The audience is not even a major part of it; but we will 'not hesitate to respond to people saying stupid, retarded things, like 'tune your guitar.' Fucking asshole!" (which is what the Dil brothers have yelled back at a number of Mabuhay hostiles). "It's fine to love the Sex Pistols, but that's England. We are talking about America," adds Chip, kind of out of nowhere.
Look, these guys don't want to snort more coke than you. They see making it only as a necessary step. Communication (believe it or not) must remain immediate for them. The only antidote for the quick-to-kill marketing of "Punk" is the brand of cultural terrorism The Dils are espousing.
Reprinted from New Wave 1.