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“One Of The Fastest, Loudest Rock Bands In America Ever Produced”

Posted on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 12:43:17

By Martin Popoff

That’s DUST guitarist and vocalist Richie Wise speaking, and the dude is smart, with-it and aware enough to qualify that statement, meaning live, and not on record. To back up a bit, Dust is a one of them early ‘70s band of hard rock legend, issuing a self-titled in 1971 and Hard Attack in 1972, the first with a ghoulish corpse cover, the second with a proto-metal Frazetta of Vikings in battle.

Now, esteemed reissuers Sony/Legacy are putting out there for the pups to consider, on Record Store Day, April 16th, a single CD comprising in total the two wild yet diverse albums of youthful hard rock creativity.

“We were influenced by the early British hard rock bands, like the YARDBIRDS,” begins Wise, a New Yorker transplanted to LA 40 years ago, perhaps most famous for co-producing the first two KISS albums. “That leading onto CREAM and JIMI HENDRIX, you know, blues-based rock. Jim Marshall coming up with the Marshall amps and Bonham with the big drums. And we just loved that stuff, and sort of glued at the hip with what we were doing. We didn’t say much about it, but just when the three of us played, it was loud and fast.”

And yes, Dust were your classic, very hairy power trio, looking like a cross between BUDGIE and STRIFE (remember Strife?). Accompanying Wise was Kenny Aaronson on bass (later of DERRINGER and HSAS fame), and Marc Bell, a.k.a. Marky Ramone, yes, a Ramone!

“The albums were really more diverse,” continues Wise. “Thinking back now, I’m really starting to think about what really happened. I didn’t think about it much when you were 20 years old doing this stuff, but I think looking back, Cream used to make albums that were very different from their live shows. They had a lot of those different little Jack Bruce melodic types of songs, and so when I look at the albums, I think we were doing things that were more reminiscent, sometimes, of a Stones country vibe, when the ROLLING STONES used to do some things that tended to lean more towards country blues. And then with Cream doing some melodic stuff. So the albums were a little different. Of course there was some real heavy fast and loud distorted stuff on the two albums, but that’s where we were at.”

Dust didn’t last long, nor did they get up to much touring... “No, we didn’t get far,” says Richie, “and I think, if we stayed together, I think we would’ve gone a lot further. But in the Midwest, there was, for some reason, the radio stations there, and some of the cities like St. Louis, started to play us—I guess they really like that kind of rock sound. And I guess they did for many years after that, because they broke a lot of the heavy bands in the Midwest. Kiss, who I later on produced, broke really out of the Midwest, Detroit, places like that. And so we did some nice shows with some big bands in the Midwest. And from what I understood, we sold as much or more tickets than some of the bands that we were opening for. I remember us playing with ALICE COOPER, URIAH HEEP, KING CRIMSON, CACTUS, and actually, I think we played with FLEETWOOD MAC. Not the one with LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM, but going back to the Fleetwood Mac I really love, the one with JEREMY SPENCER and PETER GREEN, although I don’t know if he was in or out at that time.”

Incredibly, Richie STOPPED playing guitar at around 22 years of age, but then came a long career producing, starting with a bang of a band called Kiss.

“Yes, well, after the second Dust album, the one called Hard Attack, the label perceived that as a well-produced record. I have in the back of my brain that when they heard the album—because we played it for some of the people at the label without telling them who it was—none of them knew it was the guys they had released a previous album for, Dust. And Neil Bogart was part of it, and thought it was especially well-produced. So when Neil signed Kiss—well to his new label, Casablanca—he’d given us the opportunity before Kiss, to go in with a couple of his acts on Kama Sutra/Buddha and produce them. And I was, at that point, breaking away from the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that Marc, who obviously became a Ramone, and Kenny Aaronson, who still to this day, plays with everybody... I was leaning away from that. I got married and that band sort of dissolved. Kenny Kerner, my partner, and the guy who was our original manager, and still to this day, friend, and somebody who knows more about the band than anybody, we decided to partner up and start producing. And Neil gave us the opportunity to do that. And then when he saw Kiss, that led to a couple of albums with them.”

“Looking back at it, Kenny and Marc were amazing,” muses Wise, defining his place in the band. “I wasn’t amazing (laughs); I was okay. But I wore a lot of different hats in the band. I wrote most of the songs, again, musically, arrangements, and all of that stuff. Came up with all that stuff, and I sang the songs, and sort of was the quote unquote actual leader of the band. But there was a Dust before there was Kenny and Marc in Dust. And so I wore those hats, and I hoped that a little bit of singing and a little bit of writing and a little bit of guitar equalled the amazingness of Marc as a drummer and Kenny as a bass player. So that’s where I was as a guitar player. But I was influenced by the usual suspects of amazing English guitar players. You know, Clapton change my life, and JEFF BECK, the usual guys., and I loved RITCHIE BLACKMORE.”

Most famous Dust song? That would be ‘Suicide’, and it also happens to be the darkest, heaviest and wildest, very much in the wheelhouse of early PENTAGRAM. More of these, and Dust might have been high-decibel world-beaters.

“That’s the thing, that’s the thing,” sighs Richie. “I look back now, and I think, if we were told to play more melodic and softer, we should’ve done the opposite. Put on three or four ‘Suicide’s. I think we would’ve become... you know what? We had zero thought put into the process. The music that we made was just the music we made. The songs that I wrote, they were just flowing out of me. One day it’s ‘Suicide’; there’s that opening riff which I still think is pretty amazing, you know? And yes, you are absolutely right. But we didn’t know, and there was no one around us to tell us, that you know, you guys are faster and louder than anyone. Even when we used to play acoustically we were louder than every band (laughs). There was an intensity in the three of us...”

“And you are right, and I’m sad when you say that (laughs). But it was more than that. Because I had a discussion with my wife, about, you know, I left playing band music, in a band, when I was 21 years old. Can you comprehend that? People don’t even start ‘til they’re 20, 21, so to speak, and they stay in it for years. I remember starting to write a few songs for the upcoming, quote unquote, perhaps third album. And I really lost the spark, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Should it be... everybody said, oh, it has to be more poppy, you have to be more folky. Who the hell knows? But that’s what they told BLACK SABBATH, and that’s what they told many years later METALLICA, and that’s what they told everybody. And they came back with, ‘Screw you, we’re going to do what we do, and believe in it.’ If Dust would’ve done more ‘Suicide’s, we might’ve been huge; it might’ve really grown into something. But it wasn’t meant to be, was it?”

For more on Dust (featuring extensive footage from Marc and Kenny), see my chapter on the band in Ye Olde Metal: 1968 – 1972, available in print at and as an eBook at