Who MDC is, where they are today and how they got there. - by Jake Beamer / revised by MDC
(please refer to Gig List since 1979 for additional info)
Dave Dictor, the only consistent member and the force that has held MDC in all it's incarnations together, presently lives in Portland Oregon, as does AlSchvitz. So MDC currently bases itself in Portland though the other two members, Ron and Mikey live abroad in Venezuela and Holland respectively. The four present members are the original four from a quarter of a century ago and therefore represent over 100 years of punk rock experience. Dave's partner and Al's son also work with the band. They still remain true to their politics and vegetarianism. and they still hate cops!
Originally known to many as the Stains (not the other band of the same name - and before that, the Reejex), the band's name was later changed to MDC (Millions of Dead Cops). This bit of brilliance courtesy of Buxf Parrot, the hardcore bass player of our "sister band," The Dicks. MDC put out (when still the Stains) their first two-song single as a 45 in 1981 which included their first classic hit and the still ever-popular "John Wayne was a Nazi" plus b-side "Born To Die." The original lineup of the band included Dave, AlSchvitz, and Mikey Offender Donaldson and (x-con ron) Ron Posner.
After their early 80's start, MDC has released approximately one album every other year, (give or take), continuing recently with full lengths 1993's "Shades of Brown" and most recently with "Now More Than Ever", a compilation/20 year retrospective of the band's work and the brand new "Magnus Dominus Corpus". What follows is a brief history of the musical, political organization that is MDC.
MDC, whether referring to the acronyms Millions of Dead Cops, Millions of Damn Christians, Millions of Dead Capitalists, Millions of Dead Congressmen, Millions of Dead Children, Missile Destroyed Civilization, or Multi-Death Corporation, Male Dominated Culture, Marine Death Corps, and Magnus Dominus Corpus (the Latin being a personal request of the pope for whom we played in San Francisco… until the secret service chose to practically throw us off the roof across street from the Mission Deloris Church back in '87 when Pope John Paul came to S.F.), have always attempted to make powerful, political statements that screamed loudly against political insanity in a punk scene often littered with meaningless personal topical babble. Their originality challenges and (and often rivals, in the opinions of the die-hard fans) the Dead Kennedys (who originally helped co-produce MDC's first LP and released it abroad in Europe), due to MDC's blunt and radical views.
In their now past-25-year existence, MDC did undoubtedly influence many bands of today. Their influence is evident in many modern anti-government-and-oppression oriented groups. Alternative duo "They Might Be Giants" mentions MDC in their song "Rhythm Section Want Ad". In addition, MDC is thanked in the liner credits of H20's first album, plus mentioned in NOFX songs entitled "Reagan Sucks" and “13 Stitches” and a Tribe 8 song as well. The cover of their fourth Album "Millions of Damn Christians" depiction of DaVinci's "Last Supper" with St. Alschvitz, St. Dave, St. Franco and our lord, savior and raging guitarist, Gordon Frazier subbing for those other apostles (John, Jesus, Thomas and James the Greater) is one of the Christians rights 10 most evil and Satanical albums. So sayeth the 700 club and PTL(so much for the pope's approval...oh well, you can't please everyone!)
In 1981, MDC (then still known as the Stains) released what should be considered a legendary punk landmark single on 45, "John Wayne Was a Nazi" paired with "Born to Die." At this point, the band was slower and less polished than they would become later as MDC. However, the two-song single still has integrity and merit, and captures the essence of what early punk rock was all about. The angry lyrics, the simple chordings (mostly all power chords, still our favorite kind) and riffage ("John Wayne Was a Nazi" has only three chords, repeated for chorus and verse!! but they ARE such good chords!), make this debut single very outstanding for its time. Its extreme rawness, combined also with surprising competence and sincerity is what makes these early pieces so spectacular. What's more, Dave's harsh, sometimes screamed vocals serve to add power and persuasion to the intense, controlled roar that MDC was all about. The debut single's originality and spontaneous feel would later be overshadowed by other releases, but this preliminary single retains its purity and classic status in light of repetitive, mass-produced smut that litters most hardcore punk of today.
Millions of Dead Cops was MDC's first LP, and its twelve songs were released on vinyl on R Radical Records in 1982. R. Radical Records was MDC's own record label and also released DRI, C2D (Condemned To Death), Dicks, BGK, Reagan Youth, the Offenders and more. It should be noted that R. Radical Records was only expanded to release other band's music in a collective spirit and not the furtherence of our aspirations in the music "business" which we found distasteful and not in line with our political motives and roots. That was why we put out our own records on our own label in the first place. Later on, the guy in LA in charge of the production took the money and ran and hasn’t been seen since.
Millions of Dead Cops developed as a brilliant album, successfully combining personal rage and angst with genuine social/political concerns. The song "John Wayne was a Nazi" and "Born to Die," which both originally appear on MDC's (The Stains') first single, were released in cleaner, more precise, faster and slightly lengthier versions on Millions of Dead Cops. Also included were classic hardcore songs like "Business on Parade," "Corporate Deathburger," "I Hate Work," and the epics "Dead Cops/America's So Straight, "I Remember" and "American Achievements," --and each song contributed unique elements toward the eventual heightening of MDC's debut outing as an essential early piece of punk history. The album was recorded in Houston, with cover art by Carlos Lowry.
Yes, MDC's early material is rough, and it is raw, but a listener must appreciate the band's unique appeal from a viewpoint of recognizing their simplicity, innocence and honesty; essential values for effective critical approaches that are often lacking in much "punk" of today. MDC never tried to be anything they were not, and they never changed their approach due to pressure. This first album is the one truly considered a classic landmark punk album by most, and it is well-deserving of such a title. Millions of
Dead Cops is fast, heavy, grating, and scathingly political, encompassing everything that is truly classic about MDC.
MDC's first EP, (second release) "Multi-Death Corporation," EP contains four songs. The band's musical maturity and lyrical development is obvious as is the clever way they assume the first person bad guy persona..."We're the Multi-death Corporation...opportune on any situation..." equating the suffering of the poor with the indulgence of the rich unabashedly in the first person. The second part of the title cut "Selfish Shit" effectively brings that persona to the singular form making note of the callousness of the "me generation" mindless individual without whom the "Multi-Death Corporations" could not survive. "No Place to Piss," and the beautifully nasty "Radioactive Chocolate" make this E.P. another essential, complete classic. The cover is disturbing and helps tie the whole concept together as a whole. The efforts were well worth it.
The third release of MDC was another EP entitled "Millions of Dead Children." This EP has also been occasionally referred to as the "Chicken Squawk" EP. The 7 inch only has three songs, however, the tracks manage to be diverse, from the speed power of "Kleptomaniac" to the rapid country parody and classic punk dance song classic status of "Chicken Squawk," and finally with more hardcore hinting in the all-out assault "Death of a Nun" (which MDC also developed as a slightly different song entitled "Pecking
Order" for the later compilation "More Dead Cops"). The song "Chicken Squawk" was written by Jimmy Brighton and Butch Zito with Dave years earlier but Dave's spiffed up lyrics make it what it later became. This EP is an essential for the die-hard MDC fan, but if one only desires the music and not necessarily the memorabilia of having the EP itself, these three songs can be found as released on a later full-length album with the previous EP included as well, the 1988 compilation (career retrospective at the time) More Dead Cops. In addition, this single was released by the band Crass on their own UK label, the only U.S. band they ever put out! Dave Dick from the Witnesses plays acoustic guitar in "Chicken Squawk".
In 1983: At this point in time MDC would have completed 2 nationwide (and Canadian) tours and two of Europe. The first European tour offered us 18 gigs opening for the legendary "Dead Kennedys". They were on their fourth tour abroad and generously shared their huge popularity with us, a virtual unknown band at the time. Upon returning from our first European experience, we were surprised to have been chosen as the YIPees "Album of the Year" band and offered a 50 city tour with their organization culminating with a 4th of July gig in front of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. MDC then returned to their beer vat (actually by that time they had the whole top floor of the beer vats) and took a well needed sabatical.
It would be two years later, and the first changing of the guard,(Ron had submerged himself in a thriving skateboard business that made huge demands on his time and energies.) until MDC's fourth release, but first they released a very ambitious compilation called "Peace". It featured 55 bands from around the world.
This second full length album was "Smoke Signals". This was not as hard or driving as the past releases and didn't glean great reviews. However, Smoke Signals has many different and interesting musical textures, and should be commended as one of MDC's broader efforts. A political flyer is included with the LP version, concerning the Big Mountain Elders (Native American group) Relocation Resistance March. The march was held at Big Mountain, Arizona, on July 7 1986. Smoke Signals reserves a place in MDC's history if only to show the enormous Smoke Signals includes many more of MDC's trademark short, simple songs, some too simple for critics and listeners. There were thirteen songs in all, the last being the instrumental title track, "Smoke Signals." Ones like "Missile Destroyed Civilization" and "The Big Picture" (a cover of Canada's the Subhumans) are often performed live to this day. This was one of the last releases MDC would have with Ron - their original guitarist and along with Dave, founder and main songwriter. This was also the debut of guitarist Gordon Frasier ("Jesus" on the cover of the "Damn Christians" album) who would remain for the next several years.
After several preliminary expressions in the forms of their first four releases (Millions of Dead Cops, the EP Multi-Death Corporation, the EP [single] three-song Millions of Dead Children and the full-length Smoke
Signals), MDC decided to expand their musical range on their next release. The fifth release "Millions of Damn Christians: This Blood's For You" was released in 1987. The album begins as an attack on religion, (hence its title). Its fourteen songs frighteningly depict life in the midst of the Reagan years, as MDC covers a variety of topics ranging from Reagan ("Bye Bye Ronnie"), the agricultural imperialism of coffee-growers ("Chock Full of Shit"), intolerant and violent punks, ("S.K.I.N.H.E.A.D."), bureaucrats (the rapid, short "Henry Kissmyassinger"), and junkies ("Your Death Wish is Sick") plus a cover of Cream's "Politician" (We went back to our old, old school roots and took a Cream song and played it like Led Zeppelin, changing only one line from "I'm a political man" to "We're a political band"). This Blood's For You has been dubbed by many as one of MDC's best albums, presumably due to its musical diversity and overall integrity. The album began to successfully utilize and incorporate acoustic guitar, melodies and guitar solos giving it a more rock than hardcore approach. Note that Latin percussion on "Chocked Full!"
Another worldwide tour and a guest appearance on Michelle Shocked’s "Short, Sharp, Shocked" album, along with a bunch of unreleased material, and two seven inches brought us to the point of deciding to put out a semi anthology entitled "More Dead Cops". I say "semi" anthology because there is as much previously unreleased stuff on it as not. It was not intended to be a typical "Greatest Hits" It combined the x-con ron years three 7 inches on a 12 inch including both sides of their debut single ("John Wayne was a Nazi" b/w "Born to Die"), the four-song Multi-Death Corporation EP, the three-song Millions of Dead Children EP (with the alternate version of "Death of a Nun", called "Pecking Order" instead), two rare compilation tracks ("Pay to Come (Cum) Along" -- an attack on the Bad Brains, and the song "Evolution in Rock”, and w/Gordon Frasier on guitar - two previously unreleased and amusing covers from 1987, Jimi Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic" and Albert Kings' blues classic "Born Under a Bad Sign". It really is what it says...More (from the) Dead Cops!
"More Dead Cops" begins with that old cowboy "Texas Schvitz" asking John Wayne the musical question: "Just whaddya fixin' to do about us MDC boys?!" John replies that he plans to have us hanged at Judge Barker's convenience. Bruce Dern then tells John "That sounds like bold talk from a one eyed fat man" Thanks Bruce. We couldn't agree more, in fact, It sounds like even bolder talk from a one-eyed, fat, DEAD man! He was a Nazi, after all! HA!
Also in 1988, MDC put out a live album entitled Elvis in the Rhineland as a seventh release, which contained a performance recorded live in Berlin of twenty-five songs. MDC viciously blasts through all twenty-five in a kind of career-retrospective style. Two of these songs are Michelle Shocked covers -- both the rendition of the Shocked tune "Fogtown", and the last song, "Secret to a Long Life." The song "Dead Cops Rock" is simply a MDC rendition of Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" in their classic evil-parody style. Dave would wear an Elvis suit for every show of this period. The most significant historical thing about this album from the bands perspective was the reunification of our power chord god x-con ron to the band although this reunification would once again be temporary.
After the live Elvis, MDC released the album "Metal Devil Cokes : It's the Real Thing" in early November 1989. The sixteen-song Metal Devil Cokes, while it maintains the MDC traditions, was never considered an especially impressive album. However, the album was quite diverse. The acoustic number "Acid Reindeer" and crazy blues songs such as "Hole in My Soul" are very musically intricate. The song "Three Blind Mice," poking fun at every fairy tale and fantasy epic imaginable, along with the albums other aspects, makes it listenable, for those who enjoy their scathing political commentary mixed with humor and differing styles of music. There was yet another new guitarist on this album, Eric Calhoun, who did contribute to the amusing and satirical songs on the again-diverse Metal Devil Cokes. MDC even goes so far as to cover the old classic "Love Potion #9"! We could get by the line "When I kissed a cop down on 34th and vine...he broke my little bottle of love potion #9!"
MDC recorded a live album in Maribor, Slovenia (the country was called Yugoslavia at the time) in 1990.. with the band playing seventeen of their classic songs up until that point. The recording is from a September show, and Matt Freeman from Operation Ivy (and later, Rancid) was still the bassist for the legendary MDC. Matt became MDC's bassist in the spring of 1990 fresh out of Op Ivy, and debuted with them in April 1990. Also at this time, Tim Armstrong (later lead singer of Rancid) was an MDC roadie! Live in Maribor is truly a rare album, totally out of print. So if you happen to find it, consider yourself lucky.
In 1991, MDC released a fifteen-song LP entitled "Hey Cop, If I Had a Face Like Yours" - Millions of Dead Cops II. In many reviews or reference sources this album is sadly neglected, and it's a shame because the record contains classic tracks like "The Jew That Got Away", "Millions of Dead Cops" (the song!) and "U.S. War #54". Many mistake the "Millions of Dead Cops II" reference on the album's title to be an allusion to a new band, that would be half true. Dave and Al were still guilty as charged, but this subtitle only refers to the album. You'll only find the same MDC that we know and love, only with a new guitarist, Bill Collins, who is quite talented and also doubles as a main music/songwriter for the record. As an additional note, Matt Freeman did play bass on this album as well as being a member of MDC during 1990, as previously mentioned, but called it quits with MDC after touring with them for the duration of the year. Hey Cop is a great album, though, and very listenable, with many different styles incorporated once again.
MDC released what was to be their last new full-length release for several years, the diverse recording Shades of Brown, in 1993. The title track itself has impressive lyrics, and the album as a whole touches upon many of today's (the 90's) musical styles, including metal, rockabilly, hip-hop, and yes, MDC's classic and expected hardcore. The band also moved to New Red Archives Records for this album. This LP is easier to find in some circumstances, but still elusive. The fifteen-song Shades had a single put out from it, as well, for the song "Thanks For Giving Me What I Didn't Want." The musicians for this album include newcomers Chris Wilder (from Stikky) as the latest madman on guitar and for the extensive vegetarian rap in "Real People, Real Food, Real Bullets", and also Erica Liss on bass (from the band "Gecko Valour" which she shared with Alschvitz who drafted her, then Monster Island). These members all left eventually after this album and the sparse made-for-single song here and there which would follow in MDC's next period.
In 1994, shortly after Shades was completed, MDC recorded a split 7-inch with the Capitalist Casualties called the Liberty Gone EP. MDC had two cuts, a song entitled "Bombs, Not Food" and "Nazis Shouldn't Drive (Cars)", the latter of which is a different kind of ode to the late singer of Skrewdriver, Ian Stuart and a really good song. A lot of Cali hardcore on this one. This EP is also quite difficult to find (but what MDC album isn't)?? The recording was, of course, released on Capitalist Casualties' label Slap-A-Ham.
In 1997, MDC put out a two-song single called "I Don't Want to Hurt You Dude, I Just Want My Shit Back" with that song itself as the title track, as well as a b-side in the form of the song "Dark Clouds." "Dark Clouds" focuses on the struggles of drug addiction. This album with Tom "Pig Champion" of Poison Idea was released on Honest Don's Records, an offshoot of Fat Mike of NOFX's label, Fat Wreck Chords. Ironically, the reason not much had been heard of MDC up to that point was due to the fact that Dave
and Al Schvitz (MDC's long-time and until then, the only drummer and a main secondary songwriter) were imprisioned for a year on charges of possession of controlled substances. It should be noted that being a long standing member of MDC does one little good when dealing with the legal authorities and does not cause said authorities to give one any undue consideration! This addition to the MDC history and legacy did not dampen MDC's spirits, as will be shown later, and seems to have fueled their music and make them more angry at the situation the world is in today. For this album, Dave left Erica and Chris Wilder and long-time home San Francisco, as he moved to Portland, Oregon due to the law trouble. He again teamed up with Metal Devil Cokes guitarist Eric Calhoun as a result, and called the new single Pig Champion as well. But Oregon would prove to be another trial for Dave Dictor and Tom.
For the next album (the move was circa. '96 or '97), MDC was on Honest Don's recordings (which was, at the time, merely a young offshoot of Fat Mike's [of NOFX] label Fat Wreck). As for an album in 1998, MDC put out a 7" split single (also on Honest Don's) with the Repeat Offenders, the title being "My Dog Has No Girlfriend", with Tom "Pig" Champion (of the Repeat Offenders) appropriately lending his talent to the title track. MDC also found a new bassist named Joe, who picked up their songs quickly. Tom and Dave also collaborate in the band the Submissives, who released an album entitled An Anvil Will Wear Out Many a Hammer in 1996. However, the collaboration with Tom led to more drug use, as was the trend during the
speed-fueled Submissives sessions (although it is a great album about sex, pain and perversion), and this led to more problems. Later, Al Schivitz (MDC's original and only drummer to this point) was again put in jail for not hanging around S.F. where they obviously had it in for him. In 1997, 95% of people paroling out of prison in California were violated. The prison corrections and deputy's unions had grown bigger than the teachers union and incarceration was California's biggest industry. It was only a matter of time until the "Dead Cops" drummer was violated without cause if he stayed. So he followed Dave to Portland where they both live to this day. (Al has since gone to great lengths to stay in the good graces of all the powers that be, not withstanding that, as The Dicks song says: sometimes "If you can't find justice...IT'LL FIND YOU!)
On the video front, in 1995 Target Video released a VHS of live footage with the Dicks (from L.A. 1984 - original lineup of the band) that is relatively difficult to find. I just recently had a chance to obtain and to watch this video, and let me tell you, it is amazing. The sheer power that the band emits on stage performing live is enough to knock you on your ass. In addition, MDC appears on several other videos, bootlegs and such, to be detailed soon on the site.
MDC is active in a number of good causes, recently speaking against the jailing of anarchist Chris Plummer and more. MDC was on the cover of the FIRST issue of Maximum Rock’n’Roll, and the band is interviewed inside! They also have had major articles in Playboy, Spin, Sounds, and interviews in local papers and fanzines far to numerous to count. They have done countless benefits for worthy causes from the Indians at Big Mountian to Food Not Bombs and retained the support and best efforts in furtherance of a better world.
Some other personnel who should be mentioned as being MDC alumni are guitarists Tom Albino (Missile Destroyed Civilization) Brendan Bekowies (from Stockyard Stoics - after a brief stint with Dave Hahn as guitarist on the Brazil tour and another Eric for a short while before that) and Al Batross (drums - former member of Ludichrist and Big Sniff and current member of side project the Plungers) and Mike Pride (from Dynamite Club) playing drums on "Magnus Dominus Corpus"
Things changed and are on the up and up for MDC. They have released a 20-year retrospective of their work entitled Now More Than Ever: MDC 1980-2000. This record has 30 songs, highlighting many of MDC's albums and includes some rare material and a really great new song called "More Squawk" -- an offshoot of that crazy early single "Chicken Squawk". Featured on this recording was Matt Van Cura, MDC's newest find for a great bass player, plus John Soldo (formerly of NY hardcore band Crackdown) on drums for the new track, and another John on guitar.
MDC recently toured Europe in 2004 as MDC Unplugged with “Boxcar” Dave and x-con ron and recently is working on an acoustic project with Dave Dahl.
Their latest album of new tunes is the long overdue "MAGNUS DOMINUS CORPUS" also called Millions of Dead Contractors referring to those foolish enough to see the nightmare in Iraq as another opportunity to get rich. Guess they weren't as smart as they thought. Three quarters of the original line-up recorded that one and the fourth member has since rejoined in the newest (and oldest) incarnation of MDC one can find the full circle complete. After 25 years... x-con ron, Alschvitz, Mikey Offender, and, of course Davy D. are back and sounding better than ever!
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