By Christine Leonard
“I’m at the airport getting ready to get on a plane to Puerto Rico to do a show. I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. and I’m a little sleepy,” confesses D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) vocalist Kurt Brecht.
“I’m excited because we only have one show, but we’re there for four days. I’ve been there once before in 2012, but didn’t get to go to the beach, we just got abandoned in some suburb. This time I want to go snorkeling or something; I’m all over that.”
And, yes, to answer your question, D.R.I. are those guys dressed in black T-shirts on the beach.
“All pasty and sickly looking. That’s us.”
Soaking up a little R ‘n’ R has taken on new significance for the legendary hardcore thrash punk outfit, who emerged from Houston, TX in 1982. First introduced to the world via the Dirty Rotten LP a year later, D.R.I.’s fanbase swelled thanks to a string of blistering releases including Dealing with It! (1985), Crossover (1987), 4 of a Kind (1988) and Thrash Zone (1989), with Definition and Full Speed Ahead following in the ’90s. A D.I.Y. punk pioneer, Brecht and founding guitarist Spike Cassidy scraped together a following of likeminded hardcore and metal lovers and, in the process, went on to become a genre-defining band.
“As kids growing up we didn’t know if there was an underground music scene. There wasn’t that type of music then. Only hard rock. We just went to rock concerts and stadium shows and stuff. And, I was into the harder, heavier bands. Then, once we discovered punk rock, it was all over. We were like ‘Yeah, this is way better. Way more aggressive!’ and we just kind of mixed the two together. Hardcore. Hardcore punk rock. That’s what we wanted.”
Akin to speed metal crossover acts such as Corrosion of Conformity and Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I. is accustomed to being at the eye of a human hurricane that feeds off acerbic wails, high-velocity guitar work and breakneck percussion. The self-made quartet, including bassist Harald Oimoen and recent addition Walter “Monsta” Ryan on drums, harnesses the energy of the crowd to generate an frenetic energy that must been witness to be believed.
“I think it’s the music that’s full-throttle,” says Brecht. “Our performance is just us playing the songs, we don’t have a big stage show or anything. The audience is usually the show. I’ve seen some brutal stuff. I think if you’re at a thrash show you’d just better expect that you might get walked on or dove on to. You can always try and stand in the back, or whatever, but good luck there too. Sometimes I just see it go wall to wall. No safe places to stand. Ah, well. Nothing you can do about something like that; can’t start writing rules. Then it’s just going to be lame.”
Still packing those venues and generating new material like 2016’s surprise EP But Wait…There’s More!, D.R.I. is enthusiastic about their Western and Eastern Canadian tours. According to Brecht, dividing the nation into two runs of performance dates in 2017 is the ideal scenario, as it allows him the flexibility to pursue his non-musical passions.
“It does give you more time for sure. I’m heavily into gardening. And, I travel a lot, too,” he says. “We’re super excited about Canada, because we never get to play there, and a now we get to do two tours of Canada! We’re getting special shirts made up! I’m usually out there selling the merchandise all the time, so I’m talking to everybody.”
D.R.I. are performing April 21 at the Park Theatre (Winnipeg), April 22 at the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), April 23 at Union Hall (Edmonton), April 24 at the Marquee Beer Market & Stage (Calgary), and April 26 at the Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver).D.R.I., Marquee Beer Market & Stage, Park Theatre, Union Hall