MDC, or Millions of Dead Cops, began in 1979 in Austin, Texas under the name the Stains. Singer and ringleader Dave Dictor was a BU drop-out from Long Island who dabbled in leftist activism as well as drugs and queer culture. Before punk rock, he played the bluegrass festival circuit with his group the Solar Pigs. He was living in Austin when punk hit and in 1979 he put together his own punk band. They released the classic "John Wayne was a Nazi" 7" in 1980, half of the pressing was under the Stains name, half "MDC-Stains". The title track set the tone for the band's witty, incindiary political lyrics. The music was slow, danceble punk-funk with jangly guitars similar to the sound of other Austin bands. The name and sound of the band changed for 1982's Millions of Dead Cops LP. Here, Dictor's ironic political rants were set to the new US brand of speeding hardcore. The band had been out to California after hooking up with Maximum Rock'n'roll, Jello Biafra, and Black Flag. Witnessing a violent police riot at their show with Flag in Orange County inspired the new name (the change was necessitated by fellow opening band the Stains from LA). That year MDC relocated to San Francisco, following the lead of fellow leftist Texans the Dicks. They squatted in an empty beer factory known as the Vats, also home to Texas expatriates like the Dicks, DRI, and Verbal Abuse.
Dictor wrote protest songs with less irony than Biafra, and the band ignited an inferno of controversy with their extremely leftist ideas, which many considered preaching. Aside from the DKs, few hardcore bands expressed serious political agendas in 1982, and in many cities (such as Boston and Detroit) the sentiment was more right wing/conservative. MDC soon fanned the flames of this fire of outrage by launching the 1984 Rock Against Reagan tour. Sponsored by the Yippies, they took the Dicks, Crucifix, and DRI around the country expousing the evils of capitalism, multinational corporations, and meat-eating. Another target of MDC on tour was the Bad Brains, who had disgusted them with their extreme homophobia, sexism, and general sleaziness while in Austin.
All MDC releases were released domestically by the band's own label: R Radical. In the beginning at least, MDC epitomized the political nature of DIY punk. They not only railed against "businesses on parade," they presented a defiant alternative. Dictor's lyrics, while often joking, were intelligent and went beyond the simple "Reagan sucks" sloganeering that many accused them of. He was especially keen in his focus on corporate capitalism rather than the arms race, the most popular hardcore political topic. "I Remember," a call to arms against cops and their unconstitutional tactics, is an especially potent anthem with its personal approach. Also, while there were many openly gay figures in the Austin punk scene, Dictor was the only one to address gay rights in his lyrics. MDC quickly caught the eye of Crass, the notorious English anarchopunk band/collective/label, who released their first 7" Multi-Death Corporations in England. In 1984 they continued to break new ground when they released the Millions of Dead Children 7", perhaps the first US hardcore record to advocate vegetarianism. All of these stances earned them a mix of reactions from the hardcore community. Some loved and admired their convictions, others felt they went to far with their "preaching," and many simply hated them.
In 1984, Dictor released the P.E.A.C.E. double LP on R Radical. This compilation is probably the most important international hardcore record of the '80s, with MRR's Welcome to 1984 being its only competition. Dictor managed to assemble a collection of amazing hardcore punk bands from all over the world, an admirable feat in an era of self-obsessed, often xenophobic local "scenes."
Rumors (which you are free to believe or disbelieve) flew through the scene about MDC's demands for high guarantees at shows (meaning they demanded money to play). Regardless of how compromised their stance was, the music couldn't be saved. Perhaps ravaged by speed abuse and addiction, MDC became a bad rock band - sporadically releasing several albums worth of inferior material. Drummer Al Schultz ended up in jail on drug charges. MDC evolved a constantly shifting line-up, one incarnation of which included Matt Freeman (later of Operation Ivy), and another which did a hectic tour of Russia chronicled in MRR. In the late '90's, a cleaned-up Dictor resurfaced with an MDC that contained no original members. Back in Long Island now, he keeps the band going and still performs with the energetic zeal for which he's known.
JOHN WAYNE WAS A NAZI 7" (R Radical, 1981)
MILLIONS OF DEAD COPS LP (R Radical, 1982)
MULTI-DEATH CORPORATIONS EP (R Radical, 1983)
MILLIONS OF DEAD CHILDREN EP (R Radical, 1984)
SMOKE SIGNALS LP (We Bite, 1986)
THIS BLOOD'S FOR YOU LP (R Radical, 1987)
ELVIS IN THE RHINELAND LP (German Destiny, 1988, live in Berlin)
METAL DEVIL COKES: IT'S THE REAL THING LP (R Radical, 1989)
LIVE IN MARIBOR LP (Sephamore, 1990)
HEY COP, IF I HAD A FACE LIKE YOURS LP (R Radical, 1991)
SHADES OF BROWN LP (New Red Archives, 1993)
MDC/CAPITALIST CASUALTIES split 7" (Slap a Ham, 1994)
V.M.L. LIVE 7" (VML, 1996)
MDC/REPEAT OFFENDERS split 7" (Honest Don's, 1998)
NOW MORE THAN EVER (ANTHOLOGY 1980-2000) LP (Blackened Distribution, 2000)
MORE DEAD COPS LP (R Radical, has the first three 7"s and comp tracks)
MILLIONS OF DEAD COPS/MORE DEAD COPS CD (MDC, first four releases on one CD)
NOT SO QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 2LP (Alternative Tentacles, 1982) "The Only Good Cop..."
RAT MUSIC FOR RAT PEOPLE vol. 2 LP (CD Presents, 1984) "Pay to Come Along", "(R)Evolution in Rock"
P.E.A.C.E. 2LP (R Radical, 1984) "Missle Destroyed Civilization"
PAINFUL HAIRCUT tape (1984)
WHAT DOESN'T HURT US MAKES US STRONGER LP (Destiny, 1985)
BABYLON: BLEIBT FAHREN LP (Babylon Bleibt Fahren, 1985) "Dick for Brains"
SUBURBAN VOICE 15TH ANNIVERSARY COMPILATION CD (Suburban Voice, 1998)
Miscreant Detainment Center Website
Definitely "the Comprehensive MDC Website." Great biography, huge collection of pictures, a bunch of good interviews (in the "Words" section, check out the 1986 MRR one - one of the most interesting interviews I've ever read), lyrics, and other stuff including show listings. I snagged the badass picture on this page from this site.
Interview from Forced Exposure #4
Interview with Ron, from late '81 or early '82. Thanks to Obik for scanning it!
Interview from Ripper #8
Here's an interview from 1982. It's a little ambiguous as to who wrote what, Tim Tonooka or Murray Bowles, but anyway it's a good introduction to what early MDC was like.
Interview from Flipside #36
Another interview from 1982, I think Dave's got some far-out theories in this one (see "high sugar diet"...), but also some good things to say.
Interview from Suburban Punk #6
An interview by Al Quint from way back in '83.
Rap Session from MRR #8
This is a long discussion, from 1983, with Ian MacKaye, Dave Dictor, and Vic Bondi. The main theme here is "political vs. non-political punks."
Interview from MRR #9
This is also more like a discussion with the folks from MRR about MDC's 1983 Rock Against Reagan tour.
Beer City Records Website
Beer City put out the "Now More Than Ever" collection.