ANDY SHERNOFF & THE DICTATORS : "We have new album recorded and it should be available by late summer of 2024"

We've already spoken at length about the Dictators in Les Monstres Sacrés. We even devoted an entire week of publication to them! So we didn't want to miss the opportunity to talk about them again, following the release of a new digital title. Andy Shernoff was kind enough to answer a few more of our questions.

Looking through your discography, we were surprised to find quite a few things we wouldn't expect to find in it. Were you always happy with your work ?

Generally, yeah… Hindsight is 20/20. You learn along the way. The satisfaction is in the process.

How and why did you become a producer after your career with the Dictators?

I was unhappy with the production on the early Dictators records so I was determined to understand the how you make a record and get the sound I heard in my head

Photo by Nikki Ishmael

You were also a studio musician. Did you enjoy playing with others as much as you did in your own band, or did you feel less committed when you were only playing for a recording?

I love playing on other peoples records. Nothing makes me happier than playing bass in somebody else’s band with a great drummer. For instance playing and recording with Joey Ramone gave me tremendous joy

Between 1983 and 1987, there was no further musical involvement on your part. What did you do then? Were you no longer interested in pursuing a life in music?

I’ve been making music for 50 years. There are always ups and downs, maybe that period was slow but I always played in bands and was always producing and writing.

What do you think of
the Nomads' version of "16 Forever"? You also recorded with "Working For The Man", can you tell us about your relationship with this great band?

I love it…The Nomads were one of the first bands to record one of my songs. We have a mutual friend in Lindsay Hutton, he put out the fanzine The Next Big Thing and he’s the guy who suggested they cover 16 Forever. I know the role they played in the history of Swedish Music so it’s totally flattering. We toured Scandinavia with them around 1996. They're super guys!

"All Screwed Up" is a song you wrote with the Ramones, which appears on their Brain Drain album. The Ramones drew a lot of their inspiration from The Dictators. Wasn't it frustrating not to have had as much success as them? How did you go about creating this song and working on it with them?

No frustrations, I’m happy with my career. I’ve been a working musician for 50 years. That’s the reward.

The Ramones are one of my favorite bands and I think they would have existed without the Dictators preceding them. Their first 4 records are brilliant but like most bands, at some point you need outside creative input and I was around.

Your songs "Stay With Me" and "The Next Big Thing" have been covered a lot by bands. Why do you think they're so popular? Which versions surprised you the most and why?

Not sure why they are more popular. I suppose more people think they are better songs! I am always flattered when a successful band or even an unknown band decides to record or perform my music. If I had to choose the one i’m most proud of its probably Dion DiMucci recording Stay with Me… he’s an icon

Your song "Teengenerate" is the name of a band, and "The Next Big Thing" is the name of a fanzine. It must be nice to be behind something like that. What do you think of this band and Lindsay Hutton's fanzine?

Yeah of course it’s great. Lindsay Hutton became a good buddy. I didn’t really know the guys in Teengenerate until they invited me to play their 20th Anniversary show in Tokyo but they were very cool. I also loved Tokyo

What was the difference between Manitoba's Wild Kingdom and the Dictators? Do you have any fond memories of the band?

We could have and probably should have called Wild Kingdom, the Dictators. At the time I felt it wasn’t right because Scott Kempner wasn’t playing with us and he was a such a key member of the Dictators. I like the record and it received way more radio spins and MTV attention than any Dictators album but it was a bit of a chore to record it.

You played bass on the
Fleshtones' Powerstance album and did vocals on another of their albums. Would you have liked to become their official bassist? Can you tell us how the Fleshtones work in the studio and how you discovered them?

I grew up in the same neighborhood as the Fleshtones. I’ve known them for years. They will always hold a special place in my heart. I was filling in with no intention to be a full time member. I think Ken Fox the guy who replaced me is the perfect bass player for them.

The Fleshtones work fast and loose in the studio, they’ve made dozens of records. They know what they’re doing.

You've produced some Barracudas records, so tell us about that band. What's so special for you about them?

Any English band that worships surf music like The Barracudas is OK in my book. They have a sound in between garage and pop which is where my tastes lies. Jeremy Gluck their singer is a sharp guy. I have a lot of respect for him

In 1996, the Dictators reformed. Do you think it was a good idea to do so? The fans were certainly very happy, but was it comparable to the Dictators of the 70s? Or was it rather the year of the big reformations (like the Sex Pistols), and you wanted to take advantage of that too?

It was a great idea. With the success of Green Day and the release of the book Please Kill Me there was an increased interest in punk and the Dictators. We had finally developed into pretty good musicians and I felt we had another record in us.

In 1995 we were asked to tour Spain. That led to more shows in Europe and America. We got the record out in 2001 but the energy was starting to peter out and it was becoming less and less fun.

What do you think of the "Dictators Forever Forever Dictators" album?

Two records of bands doing my songs…. I couldn’t be happier

You've often worked with Billy Miller, can you tell us about him?

Billy was one of my best buddies. He was a massive presence in the world of garage music and record collecting. He was super smart, with a fantastic sense of humor and a deep knowledge of rock history. We had so many great times. His death really effected me and has left a huge hole in my life. One of the worst parts of growing old is losing close friends

Could you tell us about your contribution to some of Joey Ramone's solo tracks?

I was playing bass with Joey on his different solo projects so it was a natural transition to play on the solo record. He was already diagnosed with lymphoma so we had to work around any treatments he was receiving. We did a few rehearsals and then recorded the tracks in 2 different sessions with 2 different drummers. My only song contribution was helping him finish off the lyrics for the song Stop Thinking About It

This was the only photo Joey had of himself in his apartment. It was from a Vin Scelsa show at the Bottom Line. That's John Wesling Harding between me and Joey and Peter Holsapple on the right.

What did you think of the
Ramones' break-up, and did you see any parallels between their break-up and that of the Dictators?

I think Joey wanted out for awhile but it was his illness that eventually made made the decision for him. The Dictators fell apart for different reasons so I don’t see a parallel.

Could you tell us the story of your band
The Master Plan?

The guys in Master Plan are all good buddies. We started playing together together to keep busy and have a good time. Paul had a studio in his basement and was about to move so he suggested we put some songs on tape before he tore it all down. It was all good fun, not too serious. Though we made 3 records and did a few tours of Europe and the US

Which songs did you write that you're most proud of?

We have some killer tunes on the new Dictators album I think people are gonna like it. I’m super proud that our first reunion record DFFD has one of our most popular songs Who Will Save Rock and Roll? Not too many bands can make that claim; a new song that is as popular as an old song

What was your collaboration with Daddy Long Legs like?

Again those guys are my buddies… do you see a pattern? I like working with friends. I recorded their first single and we did a combo single for Norton, Billy Miler’s label. Brian Hurd also played with me in my solo band

You've just released a digital track with the Dictators. You've also done it three times in 2021. When do you think you'll be able to offer a new Dictators album?

We have a new album recorded and it should be available by late summer of 2024.

Thank you Andy

the Dictators on LES MONSTRES SACRÉS :

The Dictators 2022. Photo by Mark Weiss