Tonight, I will be DJing at the ever fabulous Yotel for the ever fabulous Mr. Patrick Duffy and his crew. That crew includes Darian Darling, Roxy Cottontail, Mint and Serf, and Henry De La Paz. Patrick always gathers wonderful crews. I will be joined in the booth by DJ Lady Starlight and am honored to be spinning with her. They are even promising a contortionist. The party is called Kung Fu Disco, as everyone is popping on the Chinese New Year. My set, which covers 55 years of rock and roll, leans heavily on the punk era. Handsome Dick Manitoba is punk rock royality. His bands, The Dictators and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, rocked my world for decades. Still, though he is a rock star, he is also a saloon keeper, a husband to the insanely beautiful and smart Zoe Hanson, and a father. His bar Manitoba’s is mentioned in way too many of my friends’ sloppy conversations. Tomorrow night, he is offering up his new band Manitoba and I asked him all about it.
When I DJ, I still put on "Stay With Me," a song from your Dictator days. It always delivers. Your new band Manitoba will debut this Thursday, January 26th at The Bowery Electric as part of the birthday celebration for Jesse Malin. Tell me about the new band and how it differs from the Dictators ?
People WANT the Dictators all the time. For 13 years, at my bar, I have listened to people parade in and ask me, "When are The Dictators playing?" Well, Scott is busy with the Del Lords, Andy with his solo project, and Ross The Boss, JP, and I – all Dictators – were chomping at the bit to get out there and play live. So we got together with Daniel Rey (Ramones, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, Ronnie Spector), and this great bass player, Dean "The Dream" Rispler, and decided to "give the people what they want." We are starting out celebrating the rock and roll we have helped to create in the Dictators and Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. And we are doing some of our favorite covers. Original stuff? Comin’ down the pike in a little while. Why rush now?We just wanna go out and have some fun. If there is ONE thing that clearly differs, there is LESS TENSION (A GOOD THING? A BAD THING? I dunno, you’ll have to let US KNOW!) on stage and at rehearsals.
Tell me about the name "Handsome Dick Manitoba." A new generation of punks might not know its origin.
Handsome (because I AM!) taken from Handsome Jimmy Valiant (’70s wrestling tag team, "The Valiant Brothers"), a bad guy or "HEEL" as it’s known in the parlance. My HERO. He always bragged about himself. Dick/Richard is my name. Manitoba?Just "sounded right," better than BLUM, my birth name, for a rock and roll band, anyway!
Rock and Roll is still thriving in the cracks. Is selling records harder than ever and is there more money in touring than before?
Brother, I live "IN THE CRACKS." As Scott "Top Ten" Kempner (Del-Lords, Dictators) once said, "We are not in the record business, we are in the Dictators (NOW MANITOBA) business." Call me romantic, idealistic, or whatever, but I think there is always a spot in people’s hearts, some room, for great live rock and roll.
Tell me about the bar you own. You just celebrated – what was it – 14 or 15 years?
Close enough, Steve. Starting our 14th year. My clubhouse, my hangout. A physical manifestation of keeping alive this great culture from whence I come!
What new bands are you into?
NEW???.Some. Here’s what I LOVE at the moment: Butch Walker,Deadbeat Poets, The Biters, Stupidity. I love The Len Price 3 (LP: Pictures), Palmyra Delran, Make Out, Nick Curran & The Lowlifes, Soundtrack Of Our Lives…jeez, so many great artists, so underappreciated. Lots of stuff we play on my radio program on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, on Sirius XM Radio. LOTS OF STUFF!