Over 40 years since their inception, Dayglo Abortions are moving forward, just as hardcore as they were the day they began. As authentic as they come, the band has been keeping that punk spirit alive for a long time now, illustrating to other punk groups how it’s done, and how to keep it real for four decades. Their brand new album Hate Speech was released earlier this year, a harsh, heavy, and rough new record that will kick your ass. It comes as one of the highlights of an odyssey that began in Victoria, British Columbia in 1979. In that time, band leader Murray “The Cretin” Acton has established himself as something of a punk legend, a man to aspire to be like in his unabashed approach to songwriting and performing.
Hate Speech is a statement of sorts, implying some serious political and social subject matter, and that’s a big part of what to expect over the record’s ten tracks. The album opener, “White People,” plunges right into the complications and sensitivities surrounding modern race relations. It’s all done with that trademark pissed-off restlessness of which only Murray and his bandmates are capable.
As the frontman of a legendary hardcore punk band, Murray has been known to throw back a drink or two. We recently spoke to him, as part of our 190 Proof series, in which we discussed his worst hangover, writing music while drinking, and drunken memories in… Slovenia?
Describe your worst hangover, ever.
Murray Acton: “I’ve had a few gnarly hangovers over the years but the one that always comes to mind is the first one I had. I was maybe 14 and me and some friends went camping out at a local lake. We all pitched in some money and got a bum to bootleg for us. On the advice of someone (obviously in training to be a wino themselves) we got him to buy us three bottles of a fortified wine called Double Jack. It apparently had the most alcohol for the money. It was disgustingly sweet and it got us really fucked up. We were all puking and sometime in the night, I shit myself.
“The next morning I was in agony. I abandoned my puke-covered sleeping bag and waddled out of the woods in my shitty crusty pants. I had to hitchhike several miles to get home and ended up having to walk the last mile or so. As I got into my neighbourhood, I found out to my horror that it was the weekend of a local fair and parade, and I walked right into the parade. It had just started its way down the main street and I had to wait for it to pass to get to the other side and go home. That is a main memory I have, is standing on the side of the road in a crowd of screaming kids with my head throbbing, and my shitty pants watching what seemed like an endless line of high school marching bands go by making as much noise as they were capable of.”
Kill, Fuck or Marry: Captain Morgan, Admiral Nelson, or Sailor Jerry?
“To be honest that spiced rum shit is for kids. I mean I won’t turn a shot at a bar when it’s offered, but I would never order it myself. I drink whiskey usually. Was Jack Daniels for a long time, but I’ve been liking Irish whiskey for the last few years.”
Favourite drinking game?
“Drinking games don’t really work with the type of drinking I normally do. I’m a musician so most of my drinking is done at work and I’m too busy to play games at work. There’s gear to get ready, merch to sell. I guess there is one game (of sorts) that I play. I go and hang out by the bar and let people buy me drinks. They are very generous and they know I like shots of whiskey. I am always grateful and courteous, I get probably ten or twelve drinks a night. A good buzz but still functional, that’s the plan anyway.”
Whiskey dick; fact of fiction? Maybe you’re a mattress monster and impervious to it, if not, tell us your most embarrassing whiskey dick story!
“Whiskey dick has come to my aid once or twice when I was younger, and very close to that too drunk to fuck state. Just when I was thinking I had maybe bitten off more than I could chew, the invincible rock-hard whiskey dick boner kicks in making it possible for me to fulfill my half of the deal.”
Do you like to write music with some booze in you? If yes, what?
“Music just comes to me at random times often when I’m doing something rhythmical and repetitive. Like riding a bike. Once I have the idea figured out I want to make a demo of it for it. That’s when I like to have a drink on the go. Usually I’ll have a couple of beer or ciders. I really don’t drink the way I used to. When I was married I drank all day long, one night I was sitting in my hotel room after a show and I poured the last of my vodka into a beer glass. I was out of mix so I just slugged it back. I realized that I barely tasted it. It was like water. I had killed two 26ers of vodka, six or eight beers, at least a dozen shots of whiskey, probably more, and I was sober as a nun.
“It occurred to me that I was kicking the shit out of my liver for absolutely nothing. A moment of clarity as they say. I really lost the desire to get drunk that night. That was about 15 years ago and I have only been drunk twice since then. Granted, both times I did it was a a mess. I got really wasted.”
Preferred drink, if you had to put it down on a rider for the whole band!
“Well Blind Marc doesn’t drink anymore so me and (guitarist) Matt (Fiorito) are the only drinkers in the band. Fortunately, we both like Irish whiskey so it’s a bottle of Jameson’s we ask for. That and a dozen beer, and a dozen dry ciders. We let them off pretty light these days compared to when we first started getting a booze rider.”
Best (or worst) drunk band story? Go!
“Shit, well one of those two times I’ve been drunk in the past 15 years was in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We had an afternoon all ages show with an hour or so off for dinner, then a booze show all in the same bar. After the all ages show this guy started talking to me. He was being friendly and he said he wanted to buy me some shots if I would tell him a few stories. I had my dinner ready at the bar so I said sure, you can join me for dinner. Well the fucking guy goes and orders 40 shots of Jack Daniels and has them delivered to my table. I had a few shots, and started telling him a few wacky road stories while I ate my dinner. I had a couple more shots, they were going down good, and told him to have one. He says, ‘oh no, I don’t drink much, and never hard liquor.’ I said, ‘what the fuck, which part of getting me to drink 40 shots was going to be conducive to getting a good performance out of me?’
“Then I had another shot. Then a couple of more. Then the bartender said something like you had better slug those back their because it’s time for you to play. There was maybe five or six shots left and it all hit me a once. I tried to drink another one and almost puked it back up again. I was shit faced. The other guys in the band were horrified and just kept away from me. I actually managed to play the whole set. Not well, but I survived it. When you get too drunk to play well, you have to pull something else out of the bag to make the show memorable for the audience. That something ends up becoming a performance so physically punishing and self destructive that the audience forgives you for you indiscretion.”
Best (or worst) booze-related on-stage fiasco?
“I guess I might as well spill the beans all over the remains of my sense of self worth. The other time I got really hammered in the last 15 years was in Seattle. There is this gang in Seattle called Hate City. I have partied with them on several occasions. I think they got it in their heads to prank me or something that night. There was a four or five of them buying me over poured shots of 100 proof Jack and smoking joints with me. Then they whipped out one of those volcano vape pipes right in the bar and gave me a couple of big tokes of shatter. It fucking tore my head off. Within minutes I couldn’t even stand up. I knocked my amp over and fell face down on the stage. I remember this friend of mine shaking me the way one would shake a baby and telling me I had to get it together, but I couldn’t even keep conscious. Oops.”
Which city has your best drunken memory… and what is it?
“We played a show in Slovenia during the Serb/Croat war in a small town by the Croatian border. People from Macedonia, Serbia, and Croatia crossed through battle zones and borders to come to the show. The venue was a concrete building with a door on one end and a stage on the other. To get off the stage you go through the crowd. Their monetary system had collapsed and their money was essentially worthless, so they mostly brewed their own booze from apricots and plums that grew everywhere. It was strong (about 150 proof) and we were warned that a lot of it would have methanol in it and we should be careful.
“They have this thing they say to you in Eastern Europe, ‘you drink with me’ then they offer you a plastic jug with some murky looking stuff in it. If you answer them with ‘no thank you’ or ‘I don’t drink’ or something like that, it translates to ‘I am not willing to spare the time it would take me to wet my lips with that peasant urine that you are offering me.’ Basically, it does not translate that well. So they offer you drink, everyone’s happy.
“We played our set, they knew our songs and were singing along, but they would not let us get off the stage. They just yelled, ‘play it all again, you drink with us,’ so we did. That night we played our entire set twice, then before they let us off the stage they made us play their favourite dayglo song (‘Argh Fuck Kill’) five times. I will remember that night on my death bed.”