AN INTERVIEW WITH GARY FLOYD FROM THE DICKS
WW: The original Dicks lineup consisted of you, Buxf Parrott, Pat Deason and Glen Taylor. How did you guys originally meet / hook up with each other and decide to form a band? Were you already friends that had common interests? Was there a certain sound / style you guys were leaning towards from the get-go?
GARY FLOYD: I was a regular hanging out almost every night they had music at Raul’s. I was drinking a Ron and getting to be a well known face in the little family of punks. I already had a “poster band”, which was me saying the Dicks would be playing at some made up club at a made up address…with other made up bands….I put up lots of those posters…the help of my dear friend and housemate Toby was what put it over the edge. He started doing it even when I wasn’t, so most people either know I was a liar or they thought I was really in a band. One night I walked into Raul’s and Buxf and Glen were in there. They looked more like escaped cons than punks, which I liked. They were from San Antonio and wanted to move to Austin. We hung out that weekend and I ended up with them in the band…Pat came along soon and we had a show before we knew it.
WW: Why did you move to Austin? And where are you from originally?
GARY FLOYD: I was from Arkansas. I had lived in a small east Texas place most of my life. I got drafted in 1972 but was accepted as a conscience objector so I did two years of janitor work in Houston at Jefferson Davis Hospital. After that I ended up in Austin living with a dude from high school. Austin was very cool during this time. I met a hippy and settled in for a few years….living in a commune of gay communist hippy men in McAllen, Texas for a few months…that being as weird as it sounds. I would sit around all day reading the works of Mao Tse Tung.
WW: You guys were in Austin during its formative punk years…what do you think made Austin such a hotbed for creative and unique punk bands back then (late 70’s / early 80’s)?
GARY FLOYD: Luck and talent…The Next, the Skunks, Big Boys, MDC, Violators, tons and tons of bands. Everyone was pretty much a fan of other bands. There was a fairly supportive scene going on. So much talent.
WW: Having watched the Austin music scene change over years, what made it so cool back then? What do you miss the most? How has it changed…for the better…or for worse?
GARY FLOYD: I miss people like Biscuit. I miss Glen…others too. I don’t miss much else…it was a great time but it was youth happening and we were in such a ultra cool place.
Of course it’s changed. We are old…I have no idea what the people who are young are doing. I don’t even need to know. Or want to know. I’m doing my old man stuff and they do their shit. The city is different. Growth and money just like San Francisco ..rents are high and people forced away. Things change. The system forces this change usually for the worse. On the inside I’m fine, though.
WW: What was it like being openly gay in a punk band in the 80’s? Did you get a lot of flak, or verbal / physical abuse?
GARY FLOYD: I had Buxf, Glen, and Pat as a band…nobody much fucked with me….lol. The city was more open than most when it came to gay and lesbian influence in the scene. That was never an issue as far as I can remember.
WW: I read that you recently got married? Who is the lucky guy? Are you still residing in San Francisco?
GARY FLOYD: I married a sweet Man who is a minister! Moved here to SF from the south…me being a Hindu who worships Mother Kali is no problem for him…he likes Het too. I still live here in SF…yes, but being poor moving can come down on you. Twice it’s happened to me here…the weather keeps me here. It’s summer and the cool breeze is blowing. I was just in Houston and it was pouring rain but 97* burning hell hot degrees.
WW: As a band with “socialist lyrics during the Reagan era”, did you form with the intention of stirring up controversy? Or did it just end up heading that direction?
GARY FLOYD: We sort of wanted to raise conscience levels for the goings on of the government during that era, and in my own crude way pointing out the same thinking that goes in to crush small governments is the homophobic and sexist thinking all put into our heads by the government. We were rowdy but sweet …. We did loads of benefits for everything…we were nice but strong headed.
WW: How does it feel to be among the Founding Fathers of Punk Rock in America…especially in Texas? Badass, Cool, Wise, Proud, Old? Haha…
GARY FLOYD: Lol…all of the above. It feels good. Knowing we were there during a real time. A real movement is nice.
WW: What prompted the move to San Francisco in 1983 and the reformation of the band with different members (Tim Carroll, Lynn Perko, Sebastian Fuchs)?
GARY FLOYD: The Texas Dicks went on tour with MDC to San Francisco and I thought everybody loved it. I was a bit blinded by my own happiness being there. We moved there in Oct. 1982. We did the Rock Against Reagan tour in March 83’…a long three month tour. When it was over we went to Austin to rest and do a few shows. The plan was, after the time off, to head back to SF and carry on. The other guys did not want to go back . I was really pretty shocked. They didn’t and, long story short….I wanted to go back bad enough that I did. I thought we had greatly improved and were doing tons more shows. When I got back I had tryouts for a new Dicks. Now I think that might have been stupid. I should have just started a new band and did the same songs…but I didn’t do that. The new band were as dedicated as I was to carrying on and making it work. I have gotten a lot of shit for doing it the way I did but me and the Texas boys are brothers, and they are okay with me now so to hell with the rest.
WW: You guys have been hugely influential and inspirational to numerous bands, ranging from Butthole Surfers to Mudhoney to Skatenigs to Jesus Lizard, etc… Do you have any idea how many bands have covered Dicks songs?
GARY FLOYD: Really..no. A lot of people send me covers or snippets of covers…Hate Police mostly. I wish they would do more of my solo song covers. It’s a great compliment for me to hear covers done. I welcome it.
WW: Besides the openly pro-homosexual content and scathing political commentary, what else contributed to The Dicks’ uniqueness as a punk rock band?
GARY FLOYD: We weren’t trying to be anything we were not. We knew we were not going to be record selling stars so we were free from any of that nonsense thinking. We always felt we had nothing to lose in stepping out to do different music. The California Dicks did that in a big way but the Texas band was going in that direction as well…like our own version of hillbilly or country songs were about to happen. The song on the compilation Cottage Cheese From The Lips Of Death called Gilbeau was a change from punk and were were embracing the change.
WW: Who / what first inspired you to want to play music? Who were some of your earliest influences?
GARY FLOYD: My mother owned a burger joint in a very small town in Arkansas….all the teens hung out there. Although I was very young…from the first grade and up till the 4th grade I was always happiest when the juke box man came to change records. He gave me and my mom lots of the records he didn’t need any more. Everything from the Four Seasons to Peter, Paul, and Mary…old rock and a lot of blues…even Lighting Hopkins and Sam Cooke…James Brown…I loved that stuff….all of it. So I was influenced by all of it. Mostly rock and blues though. When the Beatles and Stones came out I was lost to that completely.
WW: Who are you listening to these days?
GARY FLOYD: Old country songs…Loretta Lynn, George and Tammy ..George Happiston, Krishna Das, I like hillbilly music a lot too. Buxf and Pat’s band Shootin’ Pains is one of my favorites.
WW: What initially prompted the Dicks reunion in 2004 (and subsequent reunions)? Any plans for reunion shows in the near future?
GARY FLOYD: No more plans to reunion again. We loved each other and missed the company and the music. We had talked a little about it when they were coming to SF to play (Shootin’ Pains). We knew it would be the perfect time. We went through the songs once and just knew it was going to be fun. And boy, was it!
WW: What about future recording plans? Do you think you guys will ever release another Dicks album?
Gary Floyd: No, really I don’t. We are old and have done it enough. We each have our own thing going on, but if we lived nearer I’m sure we would have projects together.
WW: How did it feel being inducted in to the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2009? Great? Bittersweet? Couldn’t Care less? Well-deserved? About time?
GARY FLOYD: It was all sweet. No bitterness at all. The time was right. I know Margaret Moser was greatly helpful in getting us motivated to play and to make it all happen for us…I always have loved her…..she is a strong worker for music in Austin.
WW: You have been in numerous bands (Sister Double Happiness, The Gary Floyd Band, Black Kali Ma, Buddha Brothers, etc.) since the Dicks dissolution. Are you working on anything musically these days?
GARY FLOYD: Yes…a few projects. Mostly I paint, but music is also always near me.
A CD or album of spiritual songs…Buddha, Hindu type music with a blues over tone….done with my good friend Doug Hilsinger. I’m actually looking for a label to release it.
WW: You have always had a political agenda (at least lyrically). Are you actively involved in politics these days? Or are there any causes you are pursuing, trying to spread the word about?
GARY FLOYD: I’m always trying to act like I want to other people to act…It isn’t always working, but I do try. I was so loud in my younger days I am more just doing what I see needs to be done. Joining or being part of a group is not happening. I’m not a communist or a capitalist, but I don’t push either. I know the films of communist marching I to Tibet makes me want to cry….tearing down monastery’s and killing the monks and nuns is heart ripping for me. The fundamentalist Christians or crazy Muslims doing all the evil they do to prove they are right makes me physically sick…cutting off heads and preaching to the non converted is so against any teacher. In the bible and in the Koran are the most horrible anti gay or anti Jew statements…they are right there for all to read. I choose to pick what I want to learn from and ignore the rest. I am not a part of any political organization….but damn is the world in a really fucked up condition….
WW: Besides the upcoming documentary, can we look forward to any Dick activity in the future?
GARY FLOYD: I have done my Dick work…never say never… It, life, will go on with us or with out us….maybe one one…lol.
WW: Final words of wisdom to both old and new Dicks fans out there?
GARY FLOYD: Be happy. Be nice. Start your own band!