Emerging Artist of the Year: The Dirty Nil


If there’s one thing Riffyou.com learned about The Dirty Nil in 2014, it’s that they are destined to become a lot of people’s the-dirty-nil-2014favourite band…soon.

This past year, the Dundas, Ontario trio – Luke Bentham, Dave Nardi, and Kyle Fisher – gave us Smite, a five-song rager that melds what we loved about the frantic side of Nirvana, underground punk rock, and the well-represented early 2000s incarnation of garage rock presented to us on early albums by The Vines. But, the more you listen, the more the comparisons easily wash away and you simply hear – and more importantly, feel – something new and promising.

Shortly after Smite came out in February, Fat Mike of NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords publically stamped The Dirty Nil with his seal of approval during a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session. Suddenly, the band’s profile extended beyond its control.

In one of Riffyou.com’s two interviews with Bentham this year, he explained how weird it was for him to see that label take an interest in his band: “In my very cursory knowledge of Fat Wreck, they don’t really have any bands that sound like us. It was strange for us from that point of view.

“We had not really accounted for anything like this,” he added. “We had to re-think what we were doing. We were planning on…I can’t even remember what our actual next plan was. But, we did that 7” and it really changed up our plan.”

That 7”, Cinnamon b/w Guided by Vices (which was released through Fat Wreck Chords) emerged in August following a month-long American tour that took The Dirty Nil to new markets and – thanks to Fat Mike – a new legion of curious onlookers.

“When we did tour across America, there was a number of young bands who would come up and ask if we could put them in touch with Mike,” recalled Bentham. “[We’d be like] ‘move along, kid.’ He is a significant person in many people’s lives and that was a funny side effect [we experienced].”

As with Smite, the Cinnamon b/w Guided by Vices 7”, brings with it another step forward. It’s steeped in the rock n’ roll and punk influences in which the band has obviously dipped into, but a song like “Cinnamon” is goddamn catchy enough to move out beyond those designations and prove that if The Dirty Nil one day wants the radio, they’ll get it.

The move many of us hope to see next from the band is a full-length. Months back, Bentham confirmed that the writing process is ongoing and that they’re closing in on having enough material to go forward with. But, there isn’t a timetable.

In terms of a direction, he says it’ll be a “pretty natural extension” of what we’ve come to expect from The Dirty Nil.

Will Fat Wreck put it out upon completion? Well, seeing as the band doesn’t have an official ‘deal’ with the label, that’s not known yet. Bentham keeps that card close to his chest.

What is clear, however, is that now is the time for this band to strike. Aside from their records, The Dirty Nil live experience is a sight to behold. Bentham wields his axe and frontman presentation duties with a confidence, smirk, and sense of fearlessness that isn’t possessed by amateurs. Meanwhile, Nardi and Fisher do more than just round out the trio, they give it a thumping pulse and the ability to stay off the proverbial indie band stretcher.

“The last few months have had a few moments where you have to look in the rearview mirror and go, ‘that was pretty sweet,’ concluded Bentham in September. “But, we’re definitely keeping our eyes on the road and have to keep going. We are trying to keep things in forward motion, and our big focus is putting out an album we’re happy with.”

We can’t wait.

-Adam Grant

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