The influential New York City proto-punk band The Dictators are releasing their first new music in 20 years. The group’s three founding members, Andy Shernoff, Ross Friedman and Scott Kempner are joined on drums by founding Blue Oyster Cult member Albert Bouchard, the man who played the infamous cowbell on “Don’t Fear The Reaper”. The Dictators and the Blue Oyster Cult have known each other since the early days when they both shared the patronage of producer/manager Sandy Pearlman.

Known for their sarcastic lyrics and aggressive sound, The Dictators released what has been called the first punk rock album, The Dictators Go Girl Crazy in 1975, a full year before The Ramones. Having played shows early on with the Stooges and New York Dolls, they became regulars at CBGB’s and in the pages of Punk magazine. As the world caught on, Go Girl Crazy became a record of influence, even reaching Australia, where Radio Birdman were big fans, and where a succession of bands – The Hitmen, The Screaming Tribesmen, The Eastern Dark, The Hard-Ons, The Psychotic Turnbuckles, God, The Powder Monkeys, The Casanovas, Mr Teenage – have remained under their influence.

The Dictators released two more records (Manifest Destiny and Bloodbrothers) in the 70’s before breaking up. Ross went on to found heavy metal overlords Manowar, while Scott started roots rock pioneers The Del Lords. Andy worked as a producer and songwriter while also performing with Joey Ramone and The Fleshtones.

An early ’80s get together produced the classic live album Fuck ’em If They Can’t Take A Joke, and the band performed sporadically until 1995 when, realising the extent of its fan base and influence,  it once again reformed full time. Numerous international tours culminated in 2001’s D.F.F.D., the band’s last studio album, and a rapturously received Australian tour in 2002. After playing the final weekend of CBGB’s in 2006, they once again went their separate ways.

It took a worldwide pandemic to once again unite the band. After a socially distant recording session the band finished the record by trading files over the internet. The first release is “God Damn New York” a love/hate song to the band’s home town. Mixed by Ed Stasium (Ramones, Motorhead, Hoodoo Gurus) and featuring fellow NYC punk-era icons Tish & Snooky on backing vocals,  it is classic Dictators. The reunited Dictators’ second single release will debut on Little Steven’s Underground Garage Radio show on April 12. More music will come out later in 2021 – an album is in the works –  and band looks forward to touring in 2022!


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