METAL PULP AND PAPER: Dr. Know is a punk band that began as a Nardcore band from Oxnard, California.
KYLE TOUCHER: Well, yes I suppose you can say we started out there. But the band has always been a hybrid.
MPAP: They are regarded as founding fathers of the so-called 'Nardcore' punk movement. The band was started by Kyle Toucher, Ismael Hernandez, Joey Pina, and Robin Cartwright in early 1981, and after auditioning a few singers, local Silverstrand Beach surfer/skater and punker Brandon Cruz was chosen; whom eventually would end up leaving in 1983 with Kyle taking over on vocals. After having songs on quite a few compilations and releasing a few 12” LP’s Dr. Know came to an end in 1991 with everyone moving on to pursue other projects. Years later the band would get together and try to go on without Toucher.
KYLE: Well, they tried. It was a low rent skate park operation. A tribute band, if you will.
MPAP: Dr. Know would never really get anywhere without Toucher on vocals some might say. And then in 2010 Brandon Cruz announced that they were breaking up and that same day Kyle announced the reformation of the Wreckage In Flesh era line up called The Real Dr. Know featuring Kyle Toucher.
So, hello Kyle. Thank you for taking to the time to sit down with Metal Pulp And Paper and answer a few things.
KYLE: I'm in between hostile takeovers of various convenience store conglomerates, so you caught me at the right time. In this Witless Leftist Utopia, there'll be free Slurpees for everyone and you can have a safe space with plenty of Snapchat access for all urgent ego gratification needs. Circle K, we come for you!
MPAP: It’s been a while, but has God told you to lately?
KYLE: Do your part to restore the Republic of United States, annihilate Globalism, prevent World Government, and put a spike into the heart of Global Communism. Learn to shoot, as the Second Amendment Enforces The First.
MPAP: Good to have you back in music. I remember being about 15 years old around 1985 hearing "Life Returns" for the first time and have been a big fan ever since.
KYLE: You don't realize how badly you miss it until you get back into the sway of doing it. We seem to get a lot of that, people sharing their 'first time I heard the band' stories. What really blows me away is when a cat about my age, or younger, introduces me to their kids who are also fans. Apparently it's a family affair. Whatever keeps them together is all right with me, whether it's Dr. Know or needlepoint. If we can do the same thing for someone that Black Sabbath and Black Flag did for me, man, that's quite the reward, wouldn't you say?
MPAP: What was the first song you played after getting back together? How did it feel to be back up on that big stage with the bright lights?
KYLE: I think the first song we played was either "Life Returns" or "War Theatre." Hell, it may have even been "God Told Me To." It was pretty loose after so many years... but like anything, you adhere to that muscle memory the more you do it. I love playing shows. That hour is the real juice of the whole thing. The raging sound, the energy from the crowd, the autopilot that takes over when it is all going well. The death of performance is thinking about what comes next. That and the heat, because the heat makes you so physically miserable your set list suddenly looks as thick as a phone book. Playing in excessive heat these days is pretty rough when you go full throttle like we do....but you roar through it and recover later with massive mineral and electrolyte doses. Times have indeed changed, but I get a lot more out of playing a show now than I used to. And the audiences have just been fantastic, really supportive, energetic, singing along with songs that are 30 plus years old. It's a powerhouse.
MPAP: When Dr. Know disbanded in 1991 did you put your guitar down and the microphone away for good during your 19-year hiatus?
KYLE: I think it was 1990, but you may be right. I had another band called Stigmata in the mid nineties that was fun as hell. Thick, too. Just played guitar in that one. It was pretty Sabbathy stuff. Stimata eventually running aground led me to the Visual Effects industry, which has always interested me since my very, very early exposure to Godzilla and 50's sci fi, as well as all the old school Universal horror films. That seed was planted long ago. When I was young, I just never knew how to go about doing it. I had no skill in building miniatures, masks, pyro, whatever. The burgeoning digital revolution a few decades later would change all of that.
MPAP: You stayed busy doing visual effects and being a digital artist in Los Angeles, California. Was this your dream job you finally went after? How did that all come about?
KYLE: If Slayer hadn't covered "Mr. Freeze," it likely would not have happened. I was fairly broke at the time, and the advance money from that allowed me to purchase a strong enough workstation to learn the software, make the reel, and get the gig. I wanted to work at Foundation Imaging, the place that pioneered CGI on television with Babylon 5. I put that place in my sights and was hired 6 months later. By that time Babylon 5 had gone to Netter Digital, and Foundation Imaging was doing shows like Star Trek: Voyager, some DS9 stuff and various kid vid shows. Since I was green, I went into the kid vid section until Voyager became short handed on a gargantuan Borg-centric episode. Then it all started to flow. There's likely an IMDB page that has some stuff listed. I doubt it's a complete list after 18 years, but you'll get the idea if you see it.
It's weird, but I did manage to achieve both things I really wanted to do: be in a band I liked, and do VFX. I keep feeling like I'm getting away with something.
MPAP: You have been nominated for Emmys 5 times and took home two. One for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series Battlestar Galactica in 2004. The other for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series Firefly in 2002.
KYLE: As of now it's actually eight nominations and two wins. We picked up a lot of attention for Galactica. Firefly, Caprica and Defiance are in there in the list too. Visual Effects Society recognition as well. No one was more surprised than me as to how it has turned out. Firefly and BSG were great experiences. The last BSG thing I did was Blood and Chrome from 2012. That was a massive amount of work, ungodly large but we got it done in 10 months for a measly 2.5 million. That seems like a lot of dough when it's in a suitcase, but it's a drop in the bucket for a show with something like 1300 visual effects shots. I love slinging the camera around and thinking up crazy shit. My job usually centers around blocking out the shots, plotting the action. I'm on another space epic series now, but it doesn't debut for a few months. The NDA prevents naming it, but fans are smart. They'll figure it out.
MPAP: The Emmy's what was that like? Were you there to accept your awards?
KYLE: It was surreal. And yes, I was there. The first time at the Emmy event, we won for Firefly. We beat Star Trek, who up until then had been the tallest hog in the trough. I got to meet James Cameron, who had seen the show. After that, I got blind-ass smashed. Last time I was there was for the Defiance pilot in, I think, 2013. With Game of Thrones currently ruling the roost, we'll all have to wait until their run is over before the game gets hot again. Nature of the beast. For some reason, the Emmy even has the worst bourbon at the bar. Jim Beam. Good God. Unpalatable swill. But, the whole shebang it's a hell of an experience... plus you finally get to meet everyone that works on all the other projects. Lots of shop talking. Cigars. Booze. And they send a car for you, so you have zero chance of killing yourself or others on the freeway.
MPAP: Back then did anyone rubbing shoulders with you in that industry know you were once in a band called Dr. Know that sang a pretty graphic song about fist fucking someone?
KYLE: Visual Effects people – aside from high end supervisors, I gather - rarely shoulder rub with the famous. We're in the dark, cranking out cool shit. Just where we like it. "Fist Fuck" seemed funny at the time. Innately I knew it was an error to put it on the record, but we were young and swept up in the humor. We retired it upon the death of El Duce. It's like a bad haircut and never really goes away.
MPAP: When you got the band going again did you have to dust off your guitar and read the lyrics to your songs again?
KYLE: I actually just remembered most of the lyrics. There were, of course, gaps. I switched to Les Paul guitars and Mesa Engineering Amps, took the tuning down a step from 440 standard and off we went. My voice is lower low, and it just made everything sound so much more massive.
MPAP: Is there anything you miss from the early days of your music career with Dr. Know?
KYLE: We were utterly without responsibility. I recovered faster. I find the band experience much more fun these days. Unfortunately, we just don't get to do it enough, so when we do get to do it, it's pretty rewarding.
MPAP: If you could go back to any part of Dr. Know’s history what would you want to change about it, if anything?
KYLE: Management, real honest to God management wouldn't have been the worst idea back then. We were more or less entirely DYI. Eventually a couple of booking agents worked with us, which really really helped, but we never had management. We still do not have it to this day. I also would have double tracked the goddamn rhythm guitar on This Island Earth. That was stupid not to do that.
MPAP: Any stories you can tell about back in the day? Is there anything you did then that you might think twice about doing now?
KYLE: We were young. It all fell the way it was supposed to, I guess. We had some great experiences, met some great bands. The fans though, they're the most fun because they always know where the good food and cool bars are. In your 20s, that's vital. As for stories, we have a great one about a police shakedown in Missouri. But it'd take forever to tell it. Basically it cost $385.00 in cash to get me out of the back seat of a State Police Cruiser.
MPAP: How do you feel the punk scene has changed since you began?
KYLE: Lots of smart phones. Lots of Instagram. Not terribly rebellious, is it?
MPAP: Are the current political and social issues influencing any new material at all?
KYLE: Yes. Yes they are. The undermining of humanity has been going on far longer than any four year US Political cycle. It looks like Globalism is in its endgame move now. They WILL try to shipwreck it all. Order out of chaos. They've been spouting off about it for decades. When the people become the enemy of the state, the state becomes the enemy.
MPAP: Is there any bands out there that you know of that has covered one of your songs, and you went 'holy shit this is good?'
KYLE: I heard a cover of 'Burn' by this band from Vegas. It was super tight and lightning fast. Very well done. I wish I could recall their name.
MPAP: You performed a cover of "Into The Void" by Black Sabbath. Has Ozzy Osbourne ever heard it before? Have you ever gotten the chance to meet him?
KYLE: I have never met a Sabbath member. I'd likely lose my shit and nerd out like a doofus. Tim, our lead player, has met them all. As for "Into The Void," I doubt that they've heard it. Iommi was made aware of it back in 89, I understand, and just asked if the publishing was all square. I love that song. "Wheels Of Confusion" and "A National Acrobat" are pretty amazing as well. There was so much good stuff from that lineup.
MPAP: What’s one song from any band out there that you wish you could take and call your own?
KYLE: Siegfried's Funeral Music. Richard Wagner. Goddamn. Heavy riffs before the invention of amplification. It's the Book of Genesis for modern heavy music.
MPAP: What were your musical influences while growing up? What greased the gears that got Dr. Know started in the beginning?
KYLE: Sabbath, Zeppelin, Floyd, Robin Trower, Frank Marino, Ritchie Blackmore... all the standard cool 70s stuff if you were repulsed by Boston and Styx. When I was real young, about 1972 I'd say, I was into T. Rex. The first record I ever bought was Dark Side Of The Moon. Then the Ramones surfaced. Germs. Early The Damned. Pistols of course. Things got seriously real when I saw Black Flag at the Starwood in L.A. and it was the most shithouse insane thing on earth. That sealed the deal. I had to do it. I knew it was possible.
MPAP: The girl holding the RX symbol in the icon of Dr. Know is based on Dinah Cancer from the band 45 Grave correct?
KYLE: Yes, based on her. Mary Simms is her real name, right?
MPAP: Did you know when you first saw this that it would soon become a popular tattoo? Have you met her before?
KYLE: I have met her, but it was eons ago when 45 Grave was steamrolling along pretty well in popularity. Someone I knew introduced me at some show somewhere in the bowels of LA, hi, how are you, blah blah it was about 30 seconds. We've seen some great DK tats. Some people out there have really dedicated to the cause. It fantastic. Great work. I'd be interested to see someone try the updated logo with the Gustave Dore Arachne design. That'd be a real bastard for a tattoo artist.
MPAP: Well our time has about run out. Just one last thing though. I’m sure everyone is dying to know. What’s in the cross hairs for Dr. Know? What can the old diehard and even the new diehard fans expect to have happen soon?
KYLE: New record. Songs are finally done, we just need to record it. Schedules are hell, and finding the time has been a real pain in the ass. It sounds monstrous, however. The title is still under consideration, but the songs are huge. Very thick. It is not Plug In Jesus Part II. It is not Wreckage In Flesh: The Sequel. It's its own thing. Like all Dr. Know records, it is not like the others. Ever driven a car with a supercharger? Down Mulholland? It's like that. With guns. Lots of guns.
MPAP: Thank you Kyle. Horns up. Take Care.
KYLE: Remember friends, you are the resistance.
Kyle Toucher- June 12th, 2015 Portland, Oregon ©mpap photography
Kyle Toucher-Dr. Know/ August 4th, 2016/ Interview #6