Punk rock is a big tent.
Is there any other genre that manages to link seemingly disparate entities like British rude-boy skinheads with screamo-haircut mall goths from Nebraska? And the best part: All these highly segregated factions bicker, sometimes to the point of physical violence, over whose interpretation of punk ethos is less poser.
The Dwarves are no strangers to heated arguments. In the perennial disagreement over political correctness and no-holds-barred freedom of expression, vocalist Blag Dahlia and his merry troupe of hard-partyin' freaks heartily choose the latter. So in anticipation of his punk crew's upcoming performance at Churchill's Pub, we gave Dahlia a call to chat about the inner workings of one of the most deliberately belligerent rock acts ever.
The Dwarves: With the Ruins, Pool Party, Flees, Enough!, and Severe Disappointments. Presented by Idle Hands. 8 p.m. Saturday, October 27, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Admission costs $15.
New Times: Is the ideal Dwarves show for a roomful of people who have no idea what's coming?
Blag Dahlia: The ideal Dwarves show would be at a home for attractive, unwed mothers.
Is there as much self-destruction involved in what you do these days?
We prefer destruction of others. That's the maturity of old age.
Is there any part of you that misses a more antagonistic relationship with the audience?
That's still there. With the Dwarves, you never know when things are going to break out and everything is going to go crazy. Now you assume the audience knows what's up. That's part of the fun of playing these festivals. You've still got a pocket of people who don't know what's coming.
When the band first started, who were some acts that inspired you to be lewd?
G.G. [Allin] was an influence, for sure. We visited him in maximum-security prison in Michigan. We were influenced by his music: funny, poppy jams. He hasn't gotten a lot of credit for how clever his music was. We draw the line at not showering. We never had that kind of punk-rock attitude, whereas G.G. stank to high heaven. That's where we parted ways with him.
Tell us more about visiting G.G. Did you have to call ahead? How do you visit G.G. Allin in jail?
We just pulled up. It was pretty neat.
Had he seen the Dwarves? Did you guys have a rapport before you showed up?
No. He was just happy someone was coming to see him. We were on tour and heard that he was in prison in Michigan. We showed up, and he'd shaved his hair [and had] tufts [of hair] on top of his head. And he goes, "Some black guys think I have AIDS."
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Throughout punk history, you've got a lot of visits like that. Burroughs hanging out with Patti Smith. Or Harley Flanagan and Ginsberg. And G.G. visited John Wayne Gacy, didn't he?
That was why he got arrested. He was arrested by the Secret Service. He was writing letters to serial killers in prison telling them he admired them and that he was going to kill people on the stage. The Secret Service got hold of those letters and trumped up a charge against him in Michigan. He was railroaded into prison based on some letters he had written. In case any of you are interested in due process, there was not much extended to ol' G.G.
The Dwarves appear to be an art statement or even some kind of nihilistic statement. But do you have a political ideology?
You hit it on the head. We're an artistic thing. We're a nihilistic thing. We're not a political thing. The band is never really accused of anything politically. We've never really shown any political inclination. But we know a fascist when we see one. Florida's full of 'em. Including the guy that put our last bona fide fascist in office.