(Toronto, ON) – Formed in 1981, Killer Dwarfs are a Canadian hard rock / heavy metal act. They’re known for their unconventional approach to the mainstream Rock n’ Roll image. While all the other bands from that era were releasing videos indicative to the 80s, (such as live concert footage or beautiful babes and cars), The Killer Dwarfs poked fun at themselves with videos involving a “crazy crated Killer Dwarf”, riding tricycles, as well as an entertaining rendition of creating their vinyl record at the fictional “Monster Records Muzic Inc”.
The Killer Dwarfs gained international success, first in Canada with the Juno nominated self-titled “Killer Dwarfs” debut album in 1983 with Attic Records. Joe Anthony (Texas d.j) took noticed of Killer Dwarfs and started spinning them on regular rotation, prompting their success south of the border.
Like most bands from that era, they went their separate ways for most of the ’90s. Although in 2001, we saw a reunion that would last nearly 4 years. Fast forward to 2013, and Killer Dwarfs mark yet another comeback. Releasing a “Lost album” entitled “Start @ One“.
I had the opportunity to interview lead singer Russ “Dwarf” Graham. Here’s what we talked about.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! We really appreciate it!
Sue – Killer Dwarfs were in a nasty car accident last year. Most of the band incurred cuts and bruises except for you, who was airlifted to Hospital with head injuries. Have you fully recovered and have you returned to doing headstands during the live shows?
Russ Dwarf – I just wanted a ride in a chopper! I’m fine right now, not 100% but getting there. I’ve lost my Paul Newman good looks though. I’ve done a few headstands, but going slow. I’ve lost all feeling on the left side of my head, but very lucky to have be alive!
Sue – When Bob Connolly (Band Manager) came up with the band name Killer Dwarfs and the idea of having all the members surname changed to Dwarf, how was it initially received by the band? Was anyone opposed to the idea?
Russ Dwarf – We were not that happy and really thought it was a joke, it was Bob and a guy that became out first US agent at the time Dave Kirby (RIP) I don’t think they or mostly Bob thought much of us at the time. I’m glad we decided in the end to keep it, since it is a state of mind being a Killer Dwarf just like TEXAS!
Sue – Where there any other oddball ideas tossed around before settling for Killer Dwarfs?
Russ Dwarf – It’s been so long, it’s hard to say really. You can’t get any more oddball than Killer Dwarfs! Originally people thought we were a Punk band.
Sue – Darrell Dwarf and yourself are the original founding member of the band. Are all the songs a collaborative effort? Or Is there a main songwriter?
Russ Dwarf – Yes all of the songs are written in a collaborative effort, it varies from record to record, but in the end we are all involved. It’s a band!
Sue – After experiencing sold out concerts and opening for Iron Maiden, now days is it as exciting to play a gig?
Russ Dwarf – Absolutely! This is the best “job” in the world next to being a pirate or astronaut! We all love R&R obviously and we all get along really well. It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!
Sue – What’s the weirdest thing a fan or groupie has ever done to or for the band?
Russ Dwarf – Lord have mercy, that’s a loaded question! I’m amazed at how many Tattoos I see. That’s hard-core to put KDs on your skin!
Sue – Back in the hay day did you anticipate the death of Metal/Rock? What feelings did you have towards the Grunge Era?
Russ Dwarf – Times and music change, it’s a fact of life. Music is a universal language, songs speak to people. A good song is a good song in any genre. They said the same thing about swing and jazz when R&R showed up. As long as you have some tunes that move you it really doesn’t matter to me. If you come to my house you’ll hear a lot of ELVIS!
Sue – There’s the old saying “Things come full circle”. Is the circumference finally reaching starting point again? Will Metal/Rock make a sustained comeback?
Russ Dwarf – If I had a time machine I could tell ya! It’s impossible to predict anything really. I can tell you the sun will come up tomorrow and it might not! Rock n’ Roll is here to stay for as long as we can see right now. Its really not that old in the grand scheme of things, maybe 61 or so years old. That’s not that old!
Sue – You released a “Lost” album in 2003 that had been recorded in 1993 called “Start @ One”. How was it received by your fans.
Russ Dwarf – It was received very well thank you! So fun to revisit those songs. Very happy about how that all came together. It was like remember when?
Sue – Any plans to write and release a new Cd anytime soon?
Russ Dwarf – We have been working on new Killer Dwarfs tunes as of late. Not really sure if we will do a full album or not maybe just release a couple at a time, but this year you will hear some new stuff from us.
Sue – What are some of the highs and lows of your career?
Russ Dwarf – Highlights? Hum, meeting Dunk (Darrell Dwarf) in 1980 and starting the band. Lows? Losing friends a long the way that made a big difference in my life.
Sue – You are known for being an over the top front man, was it difficult to tone down for the “Wireless” unplugged act?
Russ Dwarf – Ha! It’s a different state of mind for sure! But not a big leap for me really. I stay off the furniture at home as well, actually its nice to just sit and sing these songs. You can really get inside yourself.
Sue – I’m super impressed with how you were able to transform some of the classics into ballads IE: “Keep the Spirit Alive”, on the “Wireless” release. How did your fans respond to the new feel of the songs?
Russ Dwarf – I was very shocked how much people liked it! It was the idea of an old friend (Glenn Belcher) that suggested we do it. Glenn and I had been playing these song for a couple of years and his playing is exceptional, and brought a whole new dynamic to the songs. We’ve known each other for over 40 years. We originally went in to do it live off the floor with my producer Fred Duvall and it turned into 9 months of fiddling. We had a ton of friends come by and just hang out and play. I’m truly shocked how well it turned out! I have great folks in my life that are just so giving! It’s a labour of love!
Sue – Russ, how does one go from being a mad man on stage to a goat farmer?
Russ Dwarf – You get off the plane and drive to your farm! Just like Luc Carl we love the farm life. Sadly the Goat Farm is gone now and I just have my pup Jackson!
Sue – Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with Music Life Magazine! Much Appreciated!
Russ Dwarf – You’re very welcome! Thanks for having me! Go Dunk!
Interviewed and Written by Sue Sadzak
Photo credits – Michael Sobocan , Joel Naphin (red rose lapel band line up) and Newf of the North (promo image)
For more info on the KiLLeR DWaRFs please visit:
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