Rebel Yell

For over 20 years Detroit icon Mick Collins has been rebelling against everything -- including rebellion

As Collins got older, he also found inspiration in Detroit's radio stations, which hadn't yet succumbed to the scourge of playlists and payola. "Radio was probably my biggest influence," says Collins. "Detroit had amazing radio up until the summer of '82. From about '79 till '82, almost every station in town had a radio show where everything went. We had three album-rock stations, and they all had shows that played just local bands or just indie bands. There was always some freak down there at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning playing whatever got sent. The first time I heard the Dead Kennedys was on the radio."

In 1982, Collins says, five men from England began the bloodletting of the airwaves. "Usually when we talk about it around here, we tie it to the release of "Rio' by Duran Duran," laughs Collins. "For some reason that was the death knell of Detroit radio. I also remember "Come On Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners really bummed me out. I couldn't bear it because I'd been hearing that band on the radio as this great blue-eyed soul band, and then they come up with this complete waste of time track. And it was a hit, so I went, "OK, I'm done here,' and retreated into the NPR station and CBC [Canadian] radio."

After playing drums in the U-Boats and Floor Tasters and a solo project called Man Ray Man Ray, Collins switched to guitar in 1986 when he hooked up with the Gories. ("I still only know two chords," he proudly admits.) The trio's bass-free, primitive approach to punk rock lasted six years, leaving in its wake a wealth of garage rock revivalists. After the Gories combusted in 1992, Collins worked on a vast number of musical projects, from recording his own groups to producing and remixing bands like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Demolition Doll Rods and singing with nasty bluesman Andre Williams.

Mick Collins (center) and the Dirtbombs: Pissing off the scene nabobs.
Mick Collins (center) and the Dirtbombs: Pissing off the scene nabobs.

Now, with the Dirtbombs, Collins seems to have found a way to combine all his disparate tastes. As good as his band's records are, though, Collins' fantastically far-out nature shines brightest in the live setting. "We're extremely loud live because we have two drum sets and two full bass rigs -- and we keep the beat going all night," says Collins. "In addition to "loud,' I guess "unpredictable' is a good word. We never know what's going to happen. There's a lot of give-and-take with the audience -- the more they're into it, the more we are. We encourage people to dress wild, wear costumes and stuff. Don't worry about looking cool; don't worry about that scenester crap. We don't fit in, why should you? Let your freak flag fly high, baby! Let it all hang out!"

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