While their songs sound as if they should be blaring in a seedy, beer-soaked basement doubling as an unlicensed venue, Luke Bentham (vox/guitar), Ross Miller (bass) and Kyle Fisher (drums) aka the Dirty Nil are not that dirty at all. In fact, the 2017 Breakthrough Group of the Year Juno Award winners are fairly well groomed, pleasant smelling and perfectly lovely to chat with. They are also a bit fond of attention in their own adorable way.
In general, interviews can be tedious – albeit necessary – devices in the life of a rock band, but the Dirty Nil are young guns who – whether through song or through speech – seem to genuinely enjoy the sheer act of communicating.
And communicate through song they do and, considering that I had recently seen Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls with the Menzingers, it was a fair no-brainer that the Dirty Nil would fit neatly into my appreciation wheelhouse. With two albums (Higher Power and Minimum R&B) in their pocket and their third, Master Volume, due out September 14thon Dine Alone Records, you get the feeling that the Canadian trio is hitting a creative stride or, perhaps, a point of zero interest in return. Tapping John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Death Cab for Cutie) for producer duty, the second release from Master Volume, “Pain of Infinity,” is 3 minutes of amplified skull crushing riffs, rhythmic power and Bentham’s mighty (and mighty impressive) vocal howl. Consider the record a conscious act of extreme forward musical motion.
About the interview thing: there truly is so much that one could dive into, so many subjects to touch upon because do we really know who our favorite musicians are off stage? What their deepest secrets are? Their hopes or their fears? What really lies in the darkened corners of their hearts just waiting for the light to shine in…?
Too dramatic? Sorry about that.
So, it was late in June at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, post-sound check and pre-show, that we had time to talk plus enjoy mind and body fuel in the form of pizza, meatballs, and garlic knots. Via a few non-traditional questions I wanted Luke, Ross, and Kyle to communicate – beneath the rock and roll – who the Dirty Nil really are. Here’s what I found out:
In general, what’s an average day in the life of the Dirty Nail like?
Kyle: Well, Luke probably wakes up first at the house…
Kyle: …and takes off…
Luke: …and work out and listen to Pantera.
Kyle: Yeah and depending on what I did the night before, I bartend at home. Or sometimes I’m up first if I have to go to the donut place.
Luke: Shout-out to Donut Monster.
Kyle: Donut Monster. Me, personally, I get up, I chill in bed as much as I can, take a shower or don’t, delay my eating as long as possible out of laziness and indecision. I usually get coffee first and maybe it’s also the second meal I have of the day. I go around to various – there’s two coffee places I go a lot…
Luke: What’re they called?
Kyle: There’s Red Church and Small’s. Small’s is #1. Shout-out to Ian and Jess.
Ross: So many shout-outs.
Kyle: I don’t know. It just kind of goes into uncertainty from there. Usually it’s like I’ll get food…I’ll go to this place and get a sandwich, and then I will be really lazy later and walk across the street and get pizza.
HV: I sense a lot of meandering in your life.
Kyle: Yeah. There’s a lot of that. When we’re not on the road there’s a lot of like, “What am I doing?”
Luke: Ross what’re you doing?
Ross: I, for sure, always wake up last. I like to be cozy. I wake up and then I don’t sit around at all. As soon as I wake up I immediately leave the house either go to the gym or do yoga. And then I go to our jam space and I just make noise for hours and hours and hours. Then I walk around. Then I come home and think about sitting down, and then I usually just go back to the jam space. Then I go to bed and it starts all over. Sometimes I watch YouTube videos, mostly of us.
Other than music, what’s your claim to fame?
Luke: You’re a donut enthusiast! He’s passionate about small cakes.
Kyle: Yeah. I love donuts. And I have a … everyone’s like “You have a huge dimple” and I say “Yeah.”
Luke: God blessed him with one.
HV: This is so true!
Kyle: See what I mean? You just get drawn in and then it’s like “Careful, it’s a black hole.”
HV: But what’s the donut of choice?
Kyle: That’s fucking hard … coconut! Coconut!
HV: Is that a coconut cream or coconut on the top?
Kyle: Both! Either one! Coconut on top like on a glaze. That one’s the best. There’s one in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn called Dough that has probably my favorite one. It’s just like coconut all over the whole thing. It’s like massive. And then at the place I work we have coconut cream donut that I like a lot. That one’s my favorite.
Ross: I’d just be known for being like a cozy butterfly. Peaceful yet very passionate about being cozy and if you interrupt me while I’m being cozy I’ll…
Luke: Terrorize your life?
Luke: My claim to fame: I would say that I’m the most loyal customer of all to Pam’s Coffee Shop in Hamilton. I’m very enthusiastic about really, really cheap gas station coffee. That’s my favorite coffee. I don’t fuck with expensive coffee. I think it’s all a sham. It all tastes like battery acid to me. I enjoy a cup of mud, so I’d say I would be like the Anthony Bourdain – rest in peace – I would have a show where I’d tour you around and go to the various Pilots and all the truck stops and show you what the best coffees are for under $2.
HV: Would 7-Eleven fall in there?
Luke: 7-Eleven’s got premium brew. The problem with 7-Eleven is that they leave the coffee on for so goddamn long that it’s like, unless you’re there right in the morning, that is some burnt-ass coffee. But I mean I love the cheap Irish Cream flavored coffee, not like the syrup that you add in or whatever, I don’t know, just whatever magic is going on in there, I don’t wanna know what it is, but I just love it.
Kyle: Can I switch my answer?
Kyle: I would be Luke’s photographer. I’d be known as his photographer.
HV: Would you take photos of him drinking coffee?
Kyle: Oh, of course!
If you weren’t professional musicians or playing music for a living, what would you be doing?
Kyle: I picked up the hobby of photography from this a little bit so I’d probably try to venture that way. I always had a big interest in films, it’s kind of what I went to school for. And dropped out, but it was fun! That kind of thing, you know, if I was lucky and I had the drive I would probably head that direction.
Luke: I would probably be a lawyer. My parents are lawyers. My whole family is lawyers but I gloriously fucked up my life with the electric guitar and we are!
Ross: I would own like a place where people would bring their cats when they’re going on vacation. You know, I’d own…
Luke: A cat ranch!
Ross: Like a cat ranch, like a sanctuary for cats so they could play and relax and have fun…
Luke: Like Trailer Park Boys: Kitty Land.
Ross: Kitty Land. Yeah, that’s what I’d call it.
Since you all live together if I were to open your refrigerator what would I see in it?
Ross: Fucking nothing.
Luke: Literally nothing!
Kyle: Usually there’s nothing.
Luke: I would say you would see old bell peppers, like an ancient, prehistoric bell pepper, sitting in the back of the fridge…
Ross: There’s a bong in our freezer.
Luke: Once every three months, somehow, we’ll all just hit a bong together. We’re not big… bongers – my bonging days are behind me, but…
Ross: If there’s a problem we can’t solve, then we go to the bong.
Luke: That is literally plan B! We are just sitting there, we hit a wall, just fucking get out Old Faithful and…
Kyle: And then we definitely don’t know what the problem is anymore.
Luke: And then we watch some kind of monster Metallica documentary from 2003.
Kyle: We just forget the problem and all’s good. There’s definitely a two-slices-in-a-box from…
Luke: Kyle gets a lot of pizza from across the street. I have a lot of steaks. I love steak, so I have a lot of steak in the freezer, I would say. There’s really not much in our fucking freezer.
Luke: I was a little sad when I didn’t see all the food from our old roommate. It was the last thing we had to remember him by.
Kyle: That’s what happens when you’re not home enough to establish a routine or you’re too meandering to do so.
What was the last show you binge watched?
Luke: The last one I binge watched right before we left was Wild Wild Country on Netflix, about Bhagwan and his cult that moved into Oregon and basically had a bit of a ruckus with the locals.
Kyle: The last show I know that we all definitely watched together in bits and pieces and on our own was People Just Do Nothing.
Ross: I never watched it.
Kyle: You never watched it? You watched a little bit of it.
Ross: A little, but I’ll be a part of this.
Luke: You like Riverdale.
Ross: I love that shit.
HV: We cover that show. I don’t watch it, but one of my writers does so I have to read her review and edit it and I’m like “What the fuck is going on in this town?”
HV: It’s so crazy!
Luke: I thought this was Archie!
Ross: It’s definitely … I don’t know if it’s a good show, but I just like sat there and watched it and like I … it sucked me in and it was like I’m in high school again.
HV: But if high school is weird and creepy and people are getting murdered.
Ross: People are dying and stuff.
Kyle: That’s Welland [Ontario].
Ross: Yeah that’s true, Welland is like that.
Kyle: Welland’s hard. Hard as fuck, dude.
Now we do have to ask you the serious question: Master Volume.
Luke: Greatest album of all time.
HV: Greatest album of all time. What makes this one different than the other two?
Luke: The songs are better, the playing’s better, the stars have aligned for the Nil and the Nildren: that’s what we call our fan base and our future fan base. We’re very confident we’re going to be millionaires after this release. It just fucking rips harder.
HV: How many songs?
HV: Ten songs. How long is it?
Kyle: Like half an hour.
HV: That’s a good concise record for something that’s a little punk-rockish.
Luke: We don’t fucking waste your time. Not at all.
HV: We appreciate that.
Luke: Everybody, children of the world, Nildren, you’re welcome.
And that, folks, is the Dirty Nil, in a nutshell.
Should you desire to become one of the Nildren, you can find the Dirty Nil thrashing across the country as they embark upon their first headlining U.S. tour. Find tour dates HERE.
Photos: Vanessa Heins