Disclaimer: this article contains colourful language and adult situations. How could it not? It’s about the Dayglo Abortions, the legendary Victoria punk band that became most notorious in the late-’80s when its record label underwent a criminal investigation for distributing obscenity.
It’s more than 20 years since then and the Dayglo Abortions are still going strong and at the start of a Western Canadian tour that will see them come to Revelstoke for the first time ever on April 16 at Outabounds.
What’s the secret to lasting 30 years in a world that chews up and spits out bands by the dozen?
“We’re lucky we didn’t write songs about breaking up with our girlfriends or teenage stuff like that or we’d look like a bunch of twats up there right now,” said Murray ‘The Cretin’ Acton, the guitarist and singer for the band. “Fortunately we’ve managed to get some kind of a thing where we’ve still got a half-ass bit of credibility and it’s still fun.”
The Dayglo Abortions were formed in 1979 in Victoria, the surprising home to a vibrant punk rock scene that Acton attributes to living in a dull, government city.
“They don’t have much for kids to do around here,” he said. “Anything that a teenager would find entertaining or fun has been banned a long time ago and if they came up with anything new they’re right on it.”
The band released their first album, Out of the Womb, in 1981 but it wasn’t until 1988 that they gained any attention outside of punk circles. That’s when a Nepean, Ont., police officer launched a criminal investigation of the band after his daughter brought home a copy of their album Here Today, Guano Tomorrow. The officer regarded the graphic album cover and filthy lyrics as obscene and so launched the investigation, which ended with a not guilty verdict.
“I decided when we first came out that we were going to make an album that was just going to make sailors blush when they hear this thing,” said Acton. “When the court case happened, that is the most decent thing anybody’s ever done for us.”
Acton said the band was “babied” by the media and received all sorts of great press.
“They could have made us look like a bunch of idiots if they wanted to but they made sure everything came out real smooth for us there,” he said. “We joked that we should do something else now. It’s been a while since we had any real publicity like that.”
It’s been more than 20 years since the obscenity case but Acton says he still has the same attitude and beliefs as always. The biggest difference is the aches and pains are catching up, he said, and the heavy drinking on the road has slowed down.
“We’ve all come to terms with stuff like that. We can sit down and have a drink with the locals without getting all plastered,” he said. “It’s not like the old days when we would get thrown out of town. ‘You’ll never play here again!’ is about the last words we’d hear out of everybody.”
The Dayglos complete catalogue was recently re-issued on vinyl on Unrest Records and the band is working on two new albums. One is an EP slated to be titled The Armageddon Survival Guide. The album will be somewhat political, Acton said, but won’t contain any profanity.
“It just worked out that way, so I figured I’d better make up for it on the other one,” he said. Their upcoming album “is going to be plenty profane.”
“Our philosophy with the Dayglos is you have to be able to laugh this shit off because in a complicated world we live in, it will bury you if you don’t, if you can’t keep keep a sense of humour. We take difficult issues of the day and turn them into a joke.”
The Dayglo Abortions perform with openers Circle the Wagons at Outabounds on Saturday, Apr. 16. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.