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Dayglo Abortions frontman Murray Acton explains the dangers of censorship, and losing your sense of humour

// Supplied photo by Cat Ashbee
// Supplied photo by Cat Ashbee

Within the first five minutes of talking with Murray Acton—also known as “The Cretin,”— it became very apparent that the 55-year-old front man of the Dayglo Abortions is still living the punk rock life style.

“People are always saying that ‘punk rock is dead.’ They’re wrong,” Acton says as he attempts to light a cigarette with a fussy blowtorch.

“Punk just changed. It may not be the old definition of punk, but its alternative music with a political content pushing the edge. It’s still the same damn thing really. Fuck, with mainstream music you have to be a virtuoso or they’ll ridicule you, but punk is more open. I think it will go on forever.”

The Dayglo Abortions sound originates from a mixture of hardcore punk with thrash metal elements and has a lyrical style that reflects a disdain towards societal standards.

Acton has actually been called the Canadian Frank Zappa of punk rock, and for good reason.

Since he started the Dayglo Abortions back in 1979, the lyrical content (much like Zappa’s) has always been rooted in offensive and satirical social commentary.

“When I was a kid I was really into guys like John Lennon and Zappa. I loved the satire. Especially with Lennon, letting everybody know that he had more influence over the youth of the world than the governments or religion,” Acton says.

The Dayglo Abortions were created after Acton and the band were provided funds by a dubious and wealthy English professor to create the band’s first EP, Out of the Womb—a record that would have hopefully been unsellable in record stores. The professor’s motivation was pure curiosity. The Cretin just wanted some laughs.

“I thought ‘this is going to be fun. I’m going to teach kids to swear.’ I had ulterior motives myself of course, but I was really quite proud.”

While some would view the lyrical content of Dayglo songs like “Christina Bin Laden,” “Two Dogs Fucking,” and “Here Today, Guano Tomorrow,” as down right offensive, once you pick apart the lyrics, you can understand that these songs are satirical and bring up heavy issues that are meant to be laughed at.

“You can preach to people and if they don’t agree with you they’ll just shut you out, but if you get them laughing, they get more relaxed and may understand how fucked up the world actually is. I truly believe that a sense of humour is your last line of defence,” Acton says.

Sometimes that sense of humor can land you in a difficult situation.

In 1988, the Dayglo Abortions’ record label Fringe Records had obscenity charges laid against them for the publishing of obscene musical content—the first of its kind in Canadian law.

The charges were eventually dropped after Crown Attorney Celynne Dorval decided that one small group of people (the band) could not decide the moral norms for the entire country.

“Our constitution doesn’t have unlimited freedom of expression, there’s always stipulations. As long as there’s no kids and no hatred. Kids and child pornography I can understand. That’s some abhorrent stuff. But when it comes to hate literature and shit like that I think it’s very dangerous to censor it. Put em’ on a soapbox and let them start preaching white supremacist views. Once everyone hears what they’re saying, they’ll realize its whack.”

The court case increased the Dayglo Abortions’ popularity and record sales exponentially. Since the court case, the bands success has grown with records like Feed Us a Fetus.

Armageddon Survival Guide, the band’s 11th full-length record, was released six months ago after a 12-year recording break and it’s just as heavy and controversial as the band’s other albums.

“I wanted to call the new album ‘Kill Stephen Harper,’ but the guys over at Unrest Records wouldn’t go for it. With armageddon around the corner I played with that theme. We’ve got all the players with these extremists fighting the hell out of each other and really trying to manifest armageddon. Everybody’s bible has it in there so I decided to make a survival guide,” Actons says.

The Dayglo Abortions are celebrating the new album with their Punk Rock Armageddon tour where they will be facing off against fellow legendary punk rock group DOA.

“Those guys better be ready to fuckin’ play. It’s gonna be like a rugby game and we’re going to force each other to play above our ability. We might even have some scraps on stage for the spontaneity.” 

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