Dee Slut Is Not Mad at Henry Rollins

Legendary New Orleans punk rocker Dave Turgeon (a.k.a. Dee Slut) should be Henry Rollins's nemesis, after they both tried out to be the lead singer of Black Flag in 1981. On the occasion of a vinyl re-release from his band the Sluts, Turgeon discussed...

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Aug 27 2014, 7:00am

Photo by Chris Turgeon

The internet is still mad at Henry Rollins. Dee Slut, however, is not—even though Rollins beat Dee Slut out of a job singing for Black Flag back in 1981. Luckily Slut (a.k.a. Dave Turgeon) got the booby prize of becoming a New Orleans legend by singing for punk band the Sluts on and off for the last 35 years. In between, Slut played and toured with every notable punk band of the era, and decided that Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye was a “dickhead.”

On the occasion of Rollins becoming a pariah—and the re-release by Jeth-Row Records of the Sluts only album on sexy pink vinyl—we spoke with Dee Slut about his Black Flag tryouts, his relationship with Rollins, and his own Rollins-esque thoughts on the many, many suicides he’s suffered through.

VICE: So give me a brief history of the Sluts.
Dee Slut: I’d just dropped out of high school, and the New Orleans music scene in the late 70s was really good. And we were like, Man, we need to start a band. We made a lot of angry music, but it was satire. The first night of practice we were throwing out one-liners and put 'em all together and wrote “Mom’s Cunt.” My mother would come out to see us, and she never took it personally. Black Flag stayed at my mom’s house and shit. She was a good band mom.

Will the Sluts be playing any shows to promote the new record?
Well, Die Rotzz is my band now: Die Sluts. But I broke my back and now I have to have surgery. So, I don’t know if I will be doin' another show, because I don’t want to do it half-assed, you know? I’m not a real singer, so I don’t think people are coming out to see me sing as much as they’re coming to see a show. I’d feel fraudulent if I came out with a walker. Time will tell. 

I recently read a recent interview where Ian MacKaye said that when Black Flag lost their original singer, they immediately called you up.
That dickhead. That worthless dickhead.

Who, Ian MacKaye?
Yeah. I wouldn’t speak for him now, but back then he didn’t help us at all. I remember, we rolled into DC, Ian MacKaye’s town, and Black Flag and the Sluts were looking for shows. We lived in D.C. for three weeks, starving for a show, and he just wouldn’t help us. The last night we were there, playing a show, I said from the stage, “Our last song goes out to Ian MacKaye ,and it’s called ‘Fuck You!’” And we played our song "Fuck You," which was just running around giving everyone the finger and saying, "Fuck you!" Satire, you know.

How did you first meet Black Flag?
The Sluts were just playing a lot of big shows in New Orleans with all the touring punk bands. That’s how we got to know the Minutemen. We did I think three tours in California—some of them just us, some shows with Black Flag. I was back in New Orleans working on a Sluts tour when Chuck [Dukowski, bass] and Greg [Ginn, guitar] called me and said they wanted to put their singer Dezo [Cadena] back on rhythm guitar—so Greg could kinda go crazy on his--and have just a frontman singer. So they flew me up to New York and we recorded the album that was “Damaged.”

So somewhere there’s a version of “Damaged” with you singing instead of Rollins?
Yes, it’s on tape somewhere, unless they threw it away. But it sounded like Black Sluts. I heard the album and was like, “It doesn’t sound anything like y’all.” I guess they were hoping I could sing or something [laughs]. Whereas when Henry came in, he sounded like the other singers they had had. He was the sound that they wanted.

How did they eventually tell you that you hadn’t made the cut?
We met at a café to talk about it the last morning I was in New York. Henry was sitting in another booth. But there were never any hard feelings with those guys. They gave me a shot, recorded it, and it didn’t work out. I ended up being great friends with them and toured a lot with them. They were a huge help to us. I had a great time meeting Dez and Robo. It was a great experience. It taught me the inside of what it takes to do the whole record, touring, dedication kinda thing.

The fact that I liked to burn didn’t go over too well either—I smoked pot and they didn’t like that.

Really? I always heard that Greg Ginn was a pothead.
Well, maybe he had been and they all had stopped? Or maybe he became one later but Robo and Dez would sneak off to a little park and go burn and say, "Don’t tell the guys!" I remember we were riding to a show in Pittsburg—we played the Electric Banana, and that was the one show I did with them, and they introduced me as the next singer and that was pretty cool, and we did “I’m Tied to a Clock” [“Clocked In”] and a couple other songs. I wish I had a tape of that too. But then on the way back I smoked some weed in the van and they freaked out, “Put that out! Put that out!” and I was like, “All right, sorry guys.”

After all that, what was your relationship with Henry Rollins like?
Absolutely no problem at all. Henry was real quiet. I kind of always understood him to be into that sort of DC straight-edge skinhead thing. He was just quiet, and very serious.

Most people today know Henry Rollins today as a motor-mouth. He pissed off the entire world the other day by calling Robin Williams a coward for committing suicide.
Suicide is extremely personal to me. My godfather, supercop hero, blew his fuckin' head off. My sister killed herself. My best man killed himself the week before my son was born. My bass player hung himself on Mardi Gras day! [Breaks down, almost crying] Hatch Boy from Shell Shock, a good friend of mine, went down a beautiful row of oak trees down in Chalmette and blew his head off in a van. And it’s like, What the fuck dude? Why did you do that to me? And it makes me sick to hear people say how "he’s at peace," like it’s some beautiful thing for him. Because in reality what it does is, it shatters multiple lives, the last stupid mistake that you make. People who kill themselves [begins to cry] destroy lives and people and affect them for the lifetime!

I think the judgmental tone of Henry Rollins’s piece is what pissed everyone.
[Regains his composure] If you are a family member, the last thing you want to hear is that the person who checked out is a coward, but saying it’s the coward’s way out? I got no problem with Henry Rollins saying that. I feel sorrow for the ones that chose that way out, but they leave us in a living hell. And to show it as a peaceful solution makes me fucking sick! If Henry Rollins saying "fucking coward" stops even one little kid from thinking he’s a bad motherfucker [begins to cry again]. I hope some kid looks at that and says, "I don’t wanna be no fuckin' punk."

I mean, Robin Williams, you just checked out on your kid, man. Right now I’m waiting for major back surgery, and I’m over cutting fucking trees every day so my son’s wedding will look nice when he’s getting married. You’d do anything for your kid. And checking out? I’m really sorry Robin Williams's kid has to deal with that. I certainly don’t want to judge him or his family.

But I still get mad at all these people who check out on me.

Follow Michael Patrick Welch on Twitter.

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