Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Yesterday my friend the Crippler posted a thing online, asking peope who they thought the all time best ten bands from San Diego were. He got a lot of replies and it was obvious that many of the people were of the same age group, citing a lot of bands from the eighties and nineties. The Crippler, though, goes back a little further. He was but a kid when he started frequenting punk shows, his older brother being Baba Chenelle, the drummer for the Zeros. So his list of bands mentioned some that weren't included on anyone else's list, among them the Dils.

The Dils were an incredibly tight three piece, from the early era of California punk, playing their first San Diego show in 1977. They were living in Carlsbad (roughly twenty miles north of San Diego), while playing Los Angeles and San Francisco regularly, finally moving to San Francisco about a year later, and that's where they hit their stride. They had strong convictions and were considered to the far left politically (their first manager was a self described communist), with songs like "Class War", "I Hate the Rich" and others  with a political bent. Some people thought that their thing was a little over the top, that they were too didactic. But, at the very least, they made people think. Not just about wealth disparity, but about things like ticket prices and labor issues. Do they sound like preaching dullards? Think again. The Dils brought it.

They started out as a four piece, but after the initial line up change became a trio. It was essentially the Chip and Tony Show. because Chip and Tony Kinman, for all intents and purposes, were the Dils. They went through a succession of drummers, but the brothers were the constants. After the Dils ended, they had several other bands together, including Rank and File (also featuring Alejandor Escovedo, formerly of the Nuns), Blackbird, and Cowboy Nation. And they're still playing, Chip in Chip Kinman and PCH, and Tony in Los Trendy.

Entire live set can be found here

But live back then, they had few peers in the West Coast punk scene. As mentioned they were tight, able to hit their spots despite being very animated onstage, Chip Kinman in particular. They had their own sound, early on pretty standard punk rock, with maybe a little Who thrown in, but with their distinctive voices. Tony Kinman had a really low voice, and Chip's was a little higher. Then something happened around the time they moved to SF. They were using harmonies more. Not as in la-la-la, but something closer to one of the Everly Brothers singing with Johnny Cash, in a punk band (they covered "Cathy's Clown" around this time, so yeah). It may not translate in all of the songs below, but believe me, in those sweaty pre-mosh days, that's what they sounded like.


Louder, Faster, Shorter - (Clip) at YouTube The Dils followed by the Avengers, Live, Mabuhay (San Francisco) 1978

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