This interview was done in early March of this year (2001). We would
like to thank Travis for taking the time out to speak to us.
Ciaron's questions are in bold
caps and Travis' replies are in normal lower case.
How long have you been with the band now?
I have been with the band just shy of 6 years now, started in the
summer of 1995.
How did it all come about?
I was actually friends with Rick, Stan and Dave for
years prior to joining. Rick was the first musician I met when I
moved to Los Angeles around 1987. We were in a couple of bands together.
Stan was around in those days and I used to go see the Dickies all
the time. They practiced at Rick's rehearsal room right down the
street from my house. I even roadied for the Dickies once, at a
show they did with Circle Jerks and Bad Religion. Me and a friend
lugged all their gear to the gig in my truck. Dave and I go way
back too. We used to do periodic shows doing all hardcore cover
songs (Bad Brains, Minor Threat, etc.) with our friend Pat on bass
(from Nip Drivers, Brujeria). So when Rick and Dave joined the Dickies,
I thought that was great. The guy that replaced Jonathan Melvoin
on drums apparently wasn't working out. They asked me to try out.
I eventually joined. We did three local shows then left for Europe
a month later. That was 1995.
Do you know who Melvoin's replacement was?
I know that one of the roadies helped to finish off the tour after
Jonathan jumped ship.
His name was Mark Aber. He did roadie for Jonathan and finished
out the GWAR tour after John left.
Were you d Dickies fan before joining?
How did you react when you got the news that
you were in?
I was very happy, I had been listening to a tape (that I believe
has been released as Dickies Archives II by a bootlegger) of a great
live show with Jerry Angel, and visualizing playing the songs...
I'm not the jump-up-and-down type, but I felt good, I had alot of
respect for the various players in the Dickies alumni and feel lucky
to be involved
Given the changeable lineups the band have
had over the years, did you think you'd last this long!!?
I didn't really realize how many people had come and gone until
after I joined. I was pretty green back then, I had no idea what
Do you think that the band deserves more credit than it seems to
get? I think people tend to forget that you are one of, if not the,
longest surviving punk bands.
I don't think because it's the longest running punk band that it
warrants more respect, it really comes down to the music. I don't
think that alot of people heard Idjit Savant, or understood Second
Coming, so some people are only familiar with the A&M stuff. The
Dickies were pioneers in alot of ways, but I feel like more respect
would be deserved by having a good new record and stage show. Not
just ride on the past, it's like "What's the band doing NOW"?
didn't mean to suggest that you should get more credit just because
the Dickies are older than everyone else, it just seems that in
the eyes of the media you're forever stuck with the 'cartoon band'
stereo type, and there's a hell of a lot more going on with you
guys other than that superficial image.
For a band that made it's biggest splash over 20 years ago, I think
the Dickies still get alot of respect and interest. In Japan in
particular, it was incredible. The real test will be if this new
record makes a difference.
It's certainly much awaited amongst the Dickies
There are that many different ways of interpreting
punk these days, do you still consider the Dickies to be a punk
band? There's a lot more melody with you than a lot of other bands.
I think Leonard has alot more talent for arranging songs than your
average punk rock songwriter. He's coming from a strong sense of
music theory. I've seen his process during writing and rehearsing
new material. Alot of our songs originate on piano actually. I really
call it pop/punk...Punk Rock in many cases equals limited musical
ability. But I don't think kids today are listening for melody,
and bands get away with just a simple hook in the songs, elaborate
arrangements aren't needed, at least in this genre of music.
I think the strong melodies are what makes
the band stand out from everyone else. Many's the time I’ve
listened to tracks like Stukas over Disneyland and Howdy Doody and
marvelled at the arrangements, I think they are far smarter than
Yea, the average listener may not make a distinction.
Have you been involved with the writing of
the new stuff, or does it still come mainly from Leonard and Stan?
How does a song get knocked into shape?
I just thump the tubs, Stan and Leonard do all the ditch-digging
for new material... but everyone contributes to the individual parts...sometimes
we may work on a song alot and not end up using it.
Don't the ideas get saved for possible later use? 'My Pop The Cop'
dates back quite a way doesn't it?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
What other bands have you played with?
I have played with HR of Bad Brains (with Dave, actually), Final
Conflict, and Bulimia Banquet and some others not worth mentioning.
My first band was called The Ducky Boys (not the current band with
that name) when I was in high school in Alabama.
I've got a Ramones tribute album on Triple
XXX that features Bulimia Banquet, would that be you on there?
Actually, that track has Jason, the original guy. The only thing
I recorded with them was a cover of "Under My Wheels" for a Triple
X Alice Cooper Tribute Comp.
did you start playing drums?
I started playing drums seriously around 1982 or so
What inspired you to start, any drummer or
band in particular?
I had a thing for drums since I was about 4 or 5 years old. My uncle
owned a drumset. My uncle and dad played country music in bands
for years. My uncle played steel guitar like a motherfucker, my
dad played bass and sang. My mom and dad met when my dad played
a gig, at my grandmother's juke-joint in the 50's. Anyway, I had
also had a babysitter with a drumset so drums were always around.
The first music I got into was actually R&B/Funk stuff like Parliament...weird
What's your favourite Dickies track?
I think my favorite Dickies songs at this point are the ones we
don't play!!! (HAHA) I like "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", "Roadkill",
"Shake and Bake", "Mental Ward"... the first album is definitely
my favorite. I'm not overjoyed with how "Dogs" came out. My favorite
songs that I've played on are on the new record.
Roadkill is definitely one of my faves too,
I’ve only heard it played live once, back in 1990 I think.
Do you think it might get an airing on the forthcoming tours?
Dave and I constantly make that request, that's one that is requested
from the crowd all the time...Stan and Leo just don't get it.
What's not to get? They wrote it!!
It's a sticky subject, I don't know.
Was that you playing on 'Rocking In The Free
World (b-side to Make It So) by the way?
That was Melvoin actually, but I remember being at that show, at
the "World Famous" Palamino club in the Valley
Who else was in the line up? Would it have been Glen and Marc?
I believe it was Enoch, Laurie for sure, Jonathan for sure.
How are the live sets chosen, it must be
difficult to strike a balance between what people want to hear and
what you would like to play?
It's not that hard cuz it's always the same songs!!! (HAHA) We have
mixed it up a little since I got in the band. Dave and I throw ideas
at the rest of the guys on alternate song choices, sometimes they
agree. Stuff like "Got It At The Store" and "She" rotated into the
set after awhile. There's certain songs like Satin and Stuart that
are like mandatory as far as S & L are concerned. They've got their
formula and it's been working for 20+ years...
I remember seeing you in '95 and you played
quite a few songs that I hadn't heard played live before - Magoomba,
Where Did His Eye Go - it was quite a treat for the fans to hear
those tracks. Still, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!!
Us newcomers were pushing for those alternate songs, I am happy
to do any song we haven't tried before, it breaks the monotony.
I think that 'Dogs' surprised a lot of fans. It seemed like quite
a departure for the band and there was quite a range of material
covered, was that the intention or did it just come naturally?
We didn't set out to record those songs so close to the original
tempo, feel. etc. but that's what happened. And Leonard sounds like
Donovan on that "Dippy" track, don't you think? Most of the songs
came together pretty easily, but we chose the songs without considering
if any could be "Dickie-fied" like Satin or Paranoid. The only real
"Punk" sounding tune was "Solitary", which was a punk song originally.
But The Dickies do not consciously write or record to sound "Punk",
just to try and create a good tune, you know?
I think what you're saying harks back to
what I mentioned earlier about the 'cartoon image' and the stereotyping.
Back in the early days the band were quite well known for their
'100 mile per hour' covers and everybody expected that from them.
When it was announced that there was a covers album on the way I
think it was though that you'd fallen back on the 'tried and trusted
formula'. So when 'Dogs' came out I think it was a shock to the
system. Personally I thought it a great record. 'There's A Place',
'Solitary Confinement', and 'Nobody But Me' I felt were the standout
And yes, now you come to mention it, Leonard does sound like Donovan
on that track!! Mind you I think he did a good John Denney too!
I didn't like the production of Dogs, it was thrown together very
quickly, and Let Me Out was one of my faves, I dug The Knack when
I was a kid.
Were there any other tracks that were recorded but didn't make the
final cut? I'd heard mention of you guys doing a song for a Cheap
Trick tribute album, did that ever materialise?
We did track "Hello There/ Goodnight Now" at one point at a friend's
studio, but it never saw the light of day.
Which do you prefer, recording or playing live?
I really prefer live playing to recording, it takes so much to get
through a recording session, to play the songs as perfect as you
can. I've had alot more live playing experience.
Recording sessions can be quite intense because you're aware that
whatever you do is going to be there for posterity. How involved
are you with the recording process, are you one for sitting in on
the whole of the recording sessions or would you rather just do
your thing and then let the others get on with it? I would imagine
that hearing the vocals and the rhythm tracks all come together
for the first time must be quite magical, especially as you're a
fan of the band as well?
Actually, I used to like to hang out when we did "Dogs" but it actually
can get tedious. When you sit there as the overdubs or vocals are
being done, it can be hours before you get through it. Listening
to the same section of a song over and over and over... I prefer
to wait until it's all finished, then sit back and enjoy it. The
first time I heard the new record, Stan and I were coming home from
an Offspring show (seriously) and he was cranking it in his car.
That was cool!
do you and the band stand on the whole 'Napster' thing? Do you see
it and it's like as the death of the music industry?
I don't know anyone's opinion of it in the band, but
I think in the end it just means less money for the artist, especially
when a whole album is on there.It's hard enough to make a dollar
in this business. But it's good for up-and-comers...
I'm playing devil's advocate here; don't you think it's just an
extension of home taping?
I don't know, there's pros and cons to downloading music...personally
I miss album covers, walking out of a store with the jacket in your
hand, you remember that feeling? Rushing home to put it on the turntable!!!!
I miss that.
It's certainly not the same as it used to
be. I always loved looking at the album sleeve on the bus on the
way back home, reading every single word printed on it and generally
soaking up the vibe!! CD's have their advantages though, you can
now listen to a full Ramones album without getting up every 10 minutes
to turn it over!!!!
Did you enjoy the dates you did with the
Offspring? I would imagine it gave the band a lot of good exposure
to the younger kids.
Yes, that trip was difficult but amazing... the biggest audiences
we'd had since I was in the band (except for maybe the Lowlands
Fest in 1995) Most of the kids that did know us had only heard My
Pop The Cop on the Fat comp. That was their only exposure to the
Dickies. Kinda funny, huh?
How did you find Japan? The 'Rocked And Roaded' video would suggest
that you had a real cool time.
Actually, it was not easy, we were on a real tight schedule with
the traveling, all the shows were like at 7pm or 8pm, alot earlier
than usual...but we had fun! ! ! What did you think of the video?
I thought the video was great! The backstage
stuff and the interviews gave a nice little personal touch to it
as well, you get more of a sense of what the band are about.
It really captured the moment.
Are you pleased with the new album?
I am very happy with how the new album has shaped up, Ryan Greene
did a superb job producing. I think it is closer to the original
Dickies punk rock edge than any record since "Stukas".
I heard that you were waiting for Jerry Finn
to become available, that obviously didn't work out!
No it didn't, but actually Ryan was so bitchin', everyone was amazed
at what he did with the tracks. It really sounds incredible.
What has Ryan done before that we might recognise?
He has recorded just about every Fat Wreck release (Strung Out,
Lagwagon, Good Riddance) as well as NOFX and Pulley... he is the
originator of the "Fat Sound", has his own studio in SF, although
we tracked in LA.
Can you give us a clue as to what to expect?
There's a real variety of tunes on the new record, fast punky stuff
as well as Leonard's pop arrangements...a good balance.
I see that there's a version of Howdy Doody
planned for the new single, is this the same as the one on the 'Short
Music For Short People' album or have you lengthened it a little!!?
You gotta wait til APRIL ! ! ! ! !
This isn't fair; you're not giving anything
away are you!!!
Are you a punk rock fan? What other bands and musicians do you like?
I like alot of punk bands. Dave, Rick and I are into alot more of
the heavy and fast stuff than our founding members. Dave and I even
play clubs doing a whole set of hardcore covers sometimes. I love
Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, Buzzcocks, Damned, Clash, Bad Brains,
Fear, Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Slayer, old Cro Mags,
AGGRO SHIT, YOU KNOW? But I also like funk, jazz, reggae. I'm all
over the place...
How did the Fat Wreck deal come about?
I actually sent a demo to a friend that worked at Fat at the time.
Stan and Leonard didn't even know what Fat Wreck Chords was. And
here we are, about four years after that...we live in Dickie time!
Did the Triple XXX thing run it's course
then? Was the band on the lookout for a new deal? When I met Stan
in 95 he said that Epitaph had shown some interest.
Yes, Dogs was the last thing we did for Triple X...not sure about
the Epitaph stuff.
What happened to Glen?
Glen was brought in to fill in for Dave, because Dave quit. Then
through a series of events, Dave ended up coming back. Nuff SAID!!!
What do you do when you're not being a Dickie?
Any other hobbies or pastimes outside of music?
I work at a music college, I like to go to concerts, clubs, movies
and the BEACH!
Here's a couple of short ones:
Beatles or Stones?
Bowie or Bolan?
Pistols or Clash?
Spice Girls or Britney Spears?
DEFINITELY B R I T N E Y ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
What are the future plans for the band now?
Well the record comes out in May. There's talk of a European tour
for it. Prior to May, we are in New York/New Jersy in April, and
still playing around the So California area...
Do you have any messages for all the people
out there in Dickie-land?
I want to thank everyone who supports us; especially the folks in
England, Japan and New York who have helped us out when we visit.
I've had some great times on tour with the band, times I'll never
forget. And I hope everyone digs the new stuff. Being a Dickies
fan myself, I can say that it truly ROCKS ! ! ! !
Thanks for including me in this!