The Dirty Nil
Ant-infested motels, gunshots in the night… It’s just a regular day for this punk-infused rock trio.
“They say that to rest is to rust,” frontman Luke Bentham says, while enduring, rather than enjoying, a slither of downtime. “When we’re at home we get to chill out, watch Netflix and hang out with our dogs, but we’re already ready to get back on the road.”
Time at home isn’t something this Canadian trio (completed by drummer Kyle Fisher and new bassist Ross Miller) have been all that accustomed to in recent years. Having formed in their sleepy home town of Hamilton, Ontario in 2006, it was 10 years before they released their debut album, 2016’s Higher Power. Since then, they’ve been making up for lost time, playing 350 shows in the past three years, including opening for The Who in 2017.
Their third album, Master Volume, is due this month. Written on the road throughout 2017 and recorded at the beginning of 2018, it beefs up the band’s face-smashing punk-rock sound with some stadium-rock sensibilities. They say Master Volume is more of a strut compared to the sprint of their earlier work. That much is reflected in tracks like Bathed In Light and Pain Of Infinity, which manage to cram MC5-level raw power, Rivers Cuomo-esque songcraft and the puppy-dog energy of fellow hotly tipped whippersnappers like Weatherstate into explosive sub-three-minute blasts.
It’s not just the music of The Dirty Nil that’s catching people’s attention, though. They earned mini cult status after posting a video online of a seemingly endless procession of ants marching up and down the corridor in one of the less-than-savoury motels they stayed at on their last tour.
Such experiences are captured in the song Super 8, a gigantic-chorused, pop-rock ode to the huge budget hotel chain that the band often frequent while they’re out on tour.
“That song captures one of the many moods of touring. Six weeks into an eight-week tour and you’re in a Super 8 motel and there’s bugs crawling up the walls and you’re woken up by gunshots in the night. Those experiences sharpen your wits, and also make you appreciate it when you get a nice Airbnb where you can stretch out your legs and not worry about gunfire.”
With an album full of stompers in the bag, their hotel budget should soon take them out of the ‘occasional gunfire’ bracket.
We can’t help but notice that Master Volume has a couple of familiar song titles. Is Bentham giving a wink to The Beatles and Cheap Trick with Please, Please Me and Auf Wiedersehen?
“It’s more of a mischievous tongue flash to the past,” he says, laughing. “I’m obsessed with rock’n’roll, but I think one of the biggest problems is people feeling that you can’t do this or that. We tried to piss on that with those titles. It’s a trashing of all things holy, which basically is our mission statement.” RC
“The Who were prettymuch the reason we wanted to start a band.”