Published on June 5th, 2017 | by Craig Silliphant0
Interview – The Dirty Nil
Hamilton JUNO winners The Dirty Nil are coming through Western Canada with The Flatliners and Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs. We chat with ‘em.
Hamilton’s The Dirty Nil recently won the JUNO for Breakthrough Group of the Year. I got turned on to their latest album, ‘Minimum R&B,’ which is actually a re-releasing of the material they put out before their first full-length album, 2016’s ‘Higher Power.’ As music press goes, they often get classified as punk, but they just call themselves a rock band. Whatever the fuck you want to call it, it’s fun, shouty, and loud as all get out. It sounds like a noisier, messier version of pop punk bands that should have tried out messier and noisier. It’s catchy hooks, but with some substance, not just something that’ll rot your teeth.
The Dirty Nil are coming through Canada with The Flatliners (who just got off tour with Weezer) and Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs on the Dine Alone Spring Tour. I got a chance to chat with Kyle Fisher, drummer for The Dirty Nil, on their music, playing the career game, and what the music scene is like in their hometown of Hamilton.
THE FEEDBACK SOCIETY: I’ve seen several write ups about Hamilton that try to paint it as some kind of dirty place that creates a certain kind of scummy sound/bands. We get painted with a similar brush on the prairies as well, and it smacks of lazy music journalism to me. Like, there’s no beautiful folk singers in Hamilton? No hip hop? Just steel town rock music? What do you think about narratives like that? How is the Hamilton music scene in general?
KYLE FISHER: I certainly agree with the idea that prescribing one sound to an entire city is very lazy. Hamilton may be a little beat down but it is a beautiful city and harbours many musical talents. One of Hamilton’s best musicians is a local folk rock artist named Dan Edmunds. His stuff is amazing and everyone should listen to him. That guy has a wealth of talent and creates beautiful music. There is also a great hip hop artist called Emay. There’s jazz and funk and all sorts of sounds that come out of this city. We are more than a rock city but will forever be the Hammer.
TFS: What would you say are the biggest differences between ‘Higher Power’ and the early stuff being collected on ‘Minimum R&B?’
KF: You could look at ‘Minimum R&B’ as like the road to ‘Higher Power.’ As a band we were still figuring out what we were and especially how to record things properly. Some of that stuff we did as cheaply as possible at a friend’s cottage or in the basement of a studio in one day. Every song shows the growth and development of our band over the years and ‘Higher Power’ is all of that distilled onto one album.
TFS: Why re-release the music as a collected album?
KF: It was an idea we’ve had for quite a long time. All of the 7″s were out of print and we didn’t think it made sense to repress them. A lot of people message us every now and again too trying to hunt down copies. So once we ran out of all of them we would compile it all on the record that became Minimum R&B. Now fans old and new can have them in a physical format if they so please.
TFS: Did the Juno change anything career-wise? Or has something like extensive touring probably brought more to the table for you?
KF: I look at the Juno as an acknowledgement towards all of the work we have put into this band over the last 10 plus years. We tour constantly, almost unforgivingly. That’s the way this band works though. If we aren’t out on the road then we aren’t working, and touring has provided us with more opportunities than any other scenario in our life. It can open many doors for you as long as you can keep it up. That’s always our number one recommendation to any bands who ask us what they should do. Get the fuck out of your hometown. Show the world what you’ve got.
TFS: How much of a ‘play the music game’ vs ‘we just play music, man’ do you feel you have to be or do these days? How much has that changed over time?
KF: It depends on what you want to do as a band. We’ve seen bands completely manicured by labels and we’ve seen bands who do everything on their own. There’s certainly a balance there. If you just want to play then just play. If you want to grow and accomplish new goals there’s some handshaking to do be done and some people to meet. When it comes to us, we just play music and do exactly what we want to do. We have never been forced to compromise anything in order to achieve our goals.
TFS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned touring all over North America the last year or three?
KF: Don’t be lazy. Don’t leave expensive stuff in the van if you can bring it inside. Drink lots of water. Be open-minded and remember to have fun. Touring can get lonely but you have to remember you are out with your friends and doing what you love. Don’t take it for granted.
Dine Alone Spring Tour Dates
May 25 – Hamilton, ON – Club Absinthe
May 26 – London, ON – Rum Runners
May 27 – Howell, MI – Bled Fest (*No Sam Coffey)
May 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club
May 31 – Regina, SK – The Exchange
June 1 – Calgary, AB – Nite Owl
June 2 – Kelowna, BC – Habitat
June 3 – Vancouver, BC – Venue Nightclub
June 4 – Whistler, BC – Garfinkel’s
June 7 – Edmonton, AB – Needle Vinyl Tavern
June 8 – Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina
June 9 – Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
Live Photo Credit: Sean William O’Nell