Band members changing their surname as a show of solidarity is one thing, when the name is “Dwarf” that means two things: you have a sense of humor and are part of the Killer Dwarfs.
The Killer Dwarfs were formed in 1981 in Toronto, Canada. The same year the band released their self-titled debut, featuring Russ “Dwarf” Graham on vocals, Darrell “Dwarf” Millar on drums, Bryce “Dwarf” Trewin on guitar, and Ange “Dwarf” Fodero on bass. Commercially the self-titled debut went nowhere; however, it did have the single “Heavy Mental Breakdown” which received some airplay in Canada.
The video for “Heavy Mental Breakdown” begins with stripes and straight jackets (by the way, just thought how Straight Jackets would be a great band name, Googled and guess what, I’m not alone) and then introduces us to a band that possesses a sense of humor, leather jackets, and lots of hair. I can’t stress how important the leather jackets and hair was for bands in the eighties.
It was three years before the follow-up due to Trewin and Fodero leaving the band, replaced in 1984 by Mike “Dwarf” Hall and Bad Ronbo “Dwarf” Mayer. The album ‘Stand Tall’ featured the videos “Stand Tall” and “Keep The Spirit Alive.” The video for “Keep The Spirit Alive” was another comedy filled flick with the singer (Russ Dwarf) traveling in a crate (like freight – get it – because he’s small). The trip turns into an adventure of flying, skateboarding, and gratuitous bikini shots. If this video was released today there would probably be a group of people that say this is wrong. (Author Note: People Suck.) The video for “Stand Tall” showcased the band’s tight jeans and a DIY class on how to make records. For those not familiar with records (or LPs as we called them) it is exactly as documented in the video. Especially the microwaving and girls in black leather, exactly.
After MTV airplay and tours in the United States the band signed with the major label Epic Records. In 1988 the band released ‘Big Deal’, featuring the single “We Stand Alone.” Killer Dwarfs opened for Iron Maiden and then less than two years later (1990) the band released ‘Dirty Weapons.’ For the Killer Dwarfs, “Dirty Weapons” was a serious song with a serious video. There are doors opening to “other places” and not a lot of humor except for the running-in-place scenes (1:18 is an example of this). Probably not meant to be funny; instead, meaningful and tough issues faced. I guess this would be the Killer Dwarfs version of a deep cut.
Hall left the band prior to the 1992 album ‘Method to the Madness’, replaced by Gerry “Dwarf” Finn. The album bombed and they were dropped by Epic.
In 2001 the original lineup got back together and released a live album titled ‘Reunion of Scribes: Live 2001.’ In 2003 Mayer left the band, replaced by Stan Miczek who ended up going by Smokin’ Stan Dwarf. Eventually, they took a break and Michael Hall went on to form the band Balls Deep with Stan Miczek on bass. Graham joined Moxy and released an acoustic album of Killer Dwarf tunes titled ‘Wireless.’
In 2013 the Killer Dwarfs announced a reunion to support the release of their lost album ‘Start @ One.’ The band spent the latter part of the year touring and are planning to perform on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise 2014.
The Killer Dwarfs were as good as many of the bands of their genre, but for whatever reason never had made it big time. It could be the lack of power ballad which is really a reason to be glad the eighties are over. When the band first broke there was a rumor that you had to be a certain height to join, but that wasn’t true (only Russ was actually short, the rest rather tall), but you had to take “Dwarf” as a surname. Some rules are meant to be broken, but not the “Dwarf” name rule, that shit is sacred.