New Beginnings and Old Questions- Andy Shernoff -Interview By: Art Fredette

Written by on October 3, 2021

Andy Shernoff is a founding member of the pioneering New York rock band The
Dictators, a band in which he wrote nearly all the songs. Over the years he has lent his
skills to numerous other iconic bands. We reached out to Andy for an interview and he
kindly responded.

RRX: I have had the pleasure of booking you in the past. One of my favorite nights was
a solo acoustic evening where you told the stories behind the songs. On that night you
mentioned that you essentially went to rock -n-roll high school. Who were the people
you were referring to?

AS: Yeah, I remember that night…. I went to Flushing High School with The Fleshtones
plus a few other semi famous musicians, so it was pretty rock and roll but the actual
rock and roll high school I was referring to that night was the neighboring Forest Hills
High School. We all know The Ramones went there and that should be enough but some
of the other illustrious attendees were Simon and Garfunkel, Leslie West, Randy
California (Spirit), Waddy Wachtel (Keith Richards), Fred Smith (Television) and Burt

RRX: The Dictators have often been referred to as a punk band. I have always thought
of the band as hard hitting rock-n-roll. Do you view the band as punk? Or do labels fail
to capture the spirit of what you set out to do?
AS: The Dictators have incorporated many genres, over the years. We’ve recorded punk,
hard rock, surf, pop and garage songs. I think it made it difficult to market us but we’ve
evolved into a solid two guitar, hard rock sound, more along the lines of the MC5 or
Alice Cooper than The Ramones or Sex Pistols. A good riff, a catchy chorus and a driving
beat, as far as I’m concerned that’s all you need and there really aren’t a lot of people
doing it these days

RRX: When we first met you were with The Masterplan, we were introduced by Bill
Milhizer of The Fleshtones. Besides The Masterplan what other acts have you played in
or written for?

AS: Besides The Dictators and The Master Plan I have played in The Fleshtones and the
Joey Ramone solo band plus a dozen other lesser known projects…my mantra is every
day you make music is a good day.
I haven’t written specifically for other bands very much but I have been lucky that other
artists have covered my music, the most famous being Dion DiMucci, the Ramones and
Joey and Dee Dee Ramone solo. I’ve also had some good song placements in movies, TV
shows and video games like Kindergarten Cop, Boys Don’t Cry, Billions and Call of

RRX: Can you tell us about your recent collaboration with Ric Orlando? Do you see
more coming from this project, perhaps a full album? Ric was also featured in last
month’s magazine.

AS: For those who don’t know, Ric is a Hudson Valley chef and the former owner of
restaurants in Woodstock and Albany who was a musician before he opened restaurants.
When the pandemic hit, I was looking for projects to keep me busy. I had an
uncompleted song called Born Hungry and I thought it would be cool if a real chef sang
it. Ric did a great job. We gave the “band” a goofy name, The Huckleberries and put the
song up on Spotify and YouTube. The whole experience was a lot of fun; however, I don’t
foresee an album unless I come up with more food songs.

RRX: Recently, you reformed the Dictators and released a song called “Let’s Get The
Band Back Together”. What does it feel like to bring the band back and will a tour

AS: It’s been really great. The new lineup has Albert Bouchard from the Blue Oyster
Cult on drums and we just added a guy to take the place of Scott Kempner who had to
bow out due to health issues. We have a new song coming out in September and another
one in December. We’re doing a live stream on September 12 but until everybody gets
the jab, the touring situation is up in the air.

RRX: My final question, rock-n-roll has been so bastardized over the years , do you see                                                                                                                                                                                                      the genre continuing as the force it once was or fading? Are there similarities to the mid
70’s that gave rise to the New York scene or has the “business” of music completely
taken over?

AS: Rock and roll will never drive the culture like it used to in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s
basically three chords and a backbeat and you can only do so many permutations of that
before you start repeating yourself. It’s hard to do something new. Back then rock was
part of a counterculture, it eventually became mainstream and is now fading in
importance. It’ll always be around but I see a smaller role for rock and roll maybe like
jazz is today, not particularly innovative and certainly not the force it used to be….The
world is constantly changing, you gotta ready roll with it

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