Luke Dick has had his biggest commercial success as a hit country songwriter for artists like Eric Church and Dierks Bentley, but his work outside of the Music Row bubble is what distinguishes him as a Nashville-based renaissance man. In January, his documentary Red Dog, about growing up as the son of a dancer in a notorious Oklahoma City strip club, arrived on streaming services and for sale. He also plays his own pop-art-inspired music in the band Steve — formerly known as Republican Hair.
In the latest installment of Chris Shiflett’s Walking the Floor podcast, Dick sits down with the host in L.A. to talk Red Dog‘s colorful characters, the writing process in Nashville, and exactly why he was compelled to ditch the Republican Hair moniker for the more simple Steve. Here are five highlights.
1. To get the club’s old bouncer Tiny to sit for his tell-all interview in Red Dog, Dick had to prove he was legit.
“He was super cool, but there was a litmus. He wanted to make sure I wouldn’t incriminate him. There were all sorts of wild stories that we didn’t include. And he’s like, ‘I’ll tell you this, but don’t fucking put [it in there].’ He made me smoke a jay with him and I felt like I had to do it or he wasn’t going to talk… he’s still intimidating at 70.”
2. Family life in a strip club can get awfully awkward.
“One of the dancers’ daughters worked in there too and the dad walked in there one day and the daughter was like, ‘You can’t come in here when I’m working.’ He just happened to be a patron of the place… Wow, what a twist.”
3. Dick’s band Republican Hair recently went through a name change — here’s why:
“It’s really hard to make it as a band, and my idea of making it with Steve is I want a few markets to play. …We were in a market, Tulsa or Norman, [Oklahoma] and the club owner said, ‘Man, we would have sold it out but I couldn’t run any social media ads.” He said the word ‘Republican’ hits their algorithm and it gets bounced back and they won’t run our ad. The algorithm kicks back and says it’s a political ad. It’s some crazy Russian bot shit. As soon as he said that, my head goes, ‘I’m not going to sit here and fucking fight for a band name.’ … This band has always bordered on some everyman-ness and some mixed-media pop art anyway…. I want it to sound like a collage of Twitters feeds, lyrically. I had a song coming out called “I Am Steve”…and I told my manager, ‘Fuck it, we’re calling the band Steve. Change the website.'”
4. He enjoys writing songs with Eric Church because the country star priorities creativity over what he thinks his fans or radio may want.
“His A&R isn’t talking to his head as he’s writing a song. I am more interested in that and I feel more inspired if I can feel the freedom of writing. I know it’s a format and you can’t say ‘fuck,’ for instance, on country radio. There are other rules. That’d be an interesting segment: the rules of country versus rock in terms of writing style.”
5. Red Dog includes a number of original songs by Dick.
The fan favorite “Polyester” is the film’s de facto theme song and plays over the final credits. Listen to Dick perform an acoustic version of the track — with its “hail, hail, trailer-park hero” chorus — at the end of Walking the Floor.