If there’s any band that has put themselves on my musical radar in 2019, it is The Dirty Nil. They’re loud, unapologetic, and deliver a suburb rock n’ roll attitude while having a ton of fun doing what they love. When you look at my Spotify “Most Listened To”, The Dirty Nil are sitting comfortably as the #2 artist I indulge in on Spotify — just behind Metallica, whose song lengths have a built-in advantage racking up all my minutes. They’re one of those bands that I feel are doing everything right in the scene right now. Shredding riffs, high volume, and fiery vocals. The Dirty Nil are punk rock goodness.
Hailing from Dundas, Ontario, the high energy Canadian rock trio have been making significant waves in the scene after the release of their latest album Master Volume which came out just a little over a year ago. The last time The Dirty Nil were in town, they played a nearly sold out show at the 7th St. Entry. The show was incredible. Dirty, messy punk rock accompanied by sweaty moshing and unhinged chaos. No bullshit rock and roll.
On October 5th, The Dirty Nil will be back in the Twin Cities at The Amsterdam Bar and Hall opening up for White Reaper. If you are interested in attending, there are still tickets available for the show HERE.
I recently had the chance to catch up with The Dirty Nil frontman, Luke Bentham, ahead of their show at The Amsterdam next week. We talked about what the band has been up to since the release of Master Volume, rock n’ roll fantasies, and what it’s like to be in the Nil.
Full interview with Luke listed below:
Amanda Hefner: Hi Luke! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’m super excited for your show next week at The Amsterdam. It’s the show I’ve been looking forward to the most out of all the ones I have lined up right now.
Luke Bentham: Oh hell yeah.
Amanda Hefner: I personally feel like this show is going to be a small piece of rock n’ roll heaven between yourselves, White Reaper and The Paranoyds. Are you looking forward to touring with White Reaper?
Luke Bentham: Absolutely. We’ve done a couple of one-off shows with White Reaper before and honestly, we had a piece of paper that we wrote down all the bands that we really wanted to tour with on and they were near the top. So it’s really somewhat of a dream come true to be able to play with them. I love their band, I love their songs, they’re great guys and it was something that we had fantasized about so the fact that it’s coming together is really awesome. I think it’s a wicked pairing and I’m really looking forward to this tour.
Amanda Hefner: Hell yeah, I’m super excited as well because there are two shows that stick out to me at the Entry specifically that were just nuts and off the wall. One was White Reaper and the other was you guys. So I’m excited to see both of you in the same room.
Luke Bentham: Awesome! I love it. I’m excited as well.
Amanda Hefner: I feel like this show is a great opportunity to extend your fanbase a little bit. Nil fans and White Reaper fans probably already have a bit of overlap, but I feel like this tour will help you guys dip your toes into a new corner of the scene. Would you agree?
Luke Bentham: I would agree, I think that is certainly an astute observation and something that is very much so on my mind. I think that we have different sensibilities in some ways, but I’d be hard pressed to think of a tour pairing that is more conducive to cross pollination of our fan bases. If you came for one band, you’re going to dig the other one too. I think it’s a great match.
Amanda Hefner: So speaking of people who may not be familiar with your band, what would you put in the “dating profile” bio for The Dirty Nil to get people to swipe right and check you guys out?
Luke Bentham: I would just say, “Mama tried.”
Amanda Hefner: (laughs) That’s it, that’s the quote?
Luke Bentham: That’s it. That’s the quote.
Amanda Hefner: I love it. So this month commemorates a full year since Master Volume came out, congratulations on that by the way, and I saw you guys recently released a deluxe version of the album with two new tracks. What do you feel has changed the most for you in this past year? Were there any standout moments or opportunities this album has created for you?
Luke Bentham: Thank you! I think there’s a number of things that come to mind, but I’ll give the most pressing ones some shine. The actual show that we did to release the album where we played a lot of those songs for the first time live at the Supercrawl Street Festival in Hamilton was a standout moment. We headlined and got paid $10k for the show and put $12k into pyro, so that was a really great time. That was all for the children.
Since then, it’s just been a continuous and modest expansion of our fanbase really distinctly through this album. A lot of people have latched onto the band because of Master Volume, especially in America, a place that’s very near and dear to our hearts and central to our rock n’ roll dreams. America is a place we’ve spent a lot of our time so to be able to see some real gains on that front in a short amount of time is very satisfying.
Amanda Hefner: Yeah, that’s awesome. For awhile here in Minneapolis, and I’m sure some other stations across the country as well, they played “That’s What Heaven Feels Like” on the radio and I would be like hey — !
Luke Bentham: It’s these idiots!
Amanda Hefner: (laughs) I would say hey! I don’t know if The Dirty Nil have ever been played on the radio before? Maybe in Canada but at least not the States.
Luke Bentham: No, we’ve never been on the radio before with anything. And that’s kind of the reason why this has gone the way it’s gone. A lot of people have streamed it, but the actual attention to radio has really assisted us. I just didn’t think that we would ever be on the radio… we might never be on the radio again. But I think it was a really good opportunity that I’m very, very thankful we got to have. And it’s funny, because the places that really got bolstered up by that radio presence were the southern states. Like we got a lot of radio love in Texas and Kentucky. Some other places down there were really pumping it too. And of course the Midwest. The Midwest has always been very kind to our band. But yeah, it was kind of surprising where the radio thing caught on for us.
Amanda Hefner: Yeah, I saw you guys play a couple shows at SXSW this year in Austin so maybe you’re really starting to catch on in Texas, eh?
Luke Bentham: Yes, Texas is always very good to us.
Amanda Hefner: One of my favorite things you guys have done is release a series of cover tracks on Spotify — the You’re Welcome Eps. There’s a lot of really phenomenal covers, my personal favorite being Van Halen’s “Unchained.” What was the process like for choosing those songs and recording them? I know when we talked last year around this time before your Entry show you mentioned you liked paying homage to artists that inspire you and breaking up the seriousness of the studio environment.
Luke Bentham: Yeah, I appreciate the question. I think that in general we kind of have a band chemistry that relies upon almost daring each other into doing things. Like, “it would be funny if we did this” or “it would be even funnier if we did this!” So there’s certainly an element of that. We like doing things that are going to make each other laugh. We also think what would be a funny thing to kind of troll punks. But then there’s obviously a legitimate and sincere component to a lot of those covers as well.
In terms of actual timing, we had finished recording Master Volume and our attention and focus on that project from beginning to end had been ratcheted up so tight that by the time we got out of the studio, we all kind of went a little bit crazy because we went from such intense focus (by our standards) to basically nothing. So that was a good way of like, being able to satisfy the modern landscape of continued release but also put ourselves to work and do something productive and fun that was range expanding.
We kind of just chose things from all different corners, but the reason why we did “Unchained” was because the guys who do our demoing and record our covers, Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell, were like “yeah fuck Van Halen, Van Halen sucks.” So we were like, we’re gonna show you that Van Halen is sick. And Adam, who has recorded some version of just about all of our songs for five years in the demo form, said that it was his favorite recording he has ever made of us. Which is hilarious. A lot of the fun of those covers is me and Ross trying to make each other laugh with our vocal overdubs. And that’s a very important part of our chemistry I would say.
Amanda Hefner: So it was definitely one of those “see I told you it would be awesome” kind of moments.
Luke Bentham: Yeah, it was a nice told ya so moment. But I think the fact that he didn’t want to record it made us want to record it even more. Again, there’s something very central to our band about trolling in a playful way that makes purists uncomfortable.
Amanda Hefner: So when you were releasing these covers, they were obviously coming out on Spotify but you were also tweeting about them and posting on your other social media outlets. I think at one point I asked if you were going to put out a Replacements cover, which didn’t happen in the You’re Welcome batches. Would you ever consider doing that or was that ever in the mix?
Luke Bentham: We’ve played so many Replacements songs before, and I love playing them. But the only issue that I have with it is I remember hearing a line by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead where he said “We never cover The Pixies because you can’t improve it.” And that’s part of my issue with playing The Mats, I love it so much the way that it is, and if something were ever sacred to me it would be The Replacements. It’s so good that it’s intimidating to approach from my point of view, especially the guitar playing. I mean we always kind of dink around and if we get bored we’ll play a Replacements song. We probably know at least 10 or more Replacements songs. We got cuts off of each of the first four albums.
Amanda Hefner: That’s fair, I can understand that.
Luke Bentham: But I want to do it. We have to find the right one, but we will do it at some point. I pledge.
Amanda Hefner: Alright well experiment around and when you land on a song, come play it the next time you’re in Minneapolis and it will be a hit.
Luke Bentham: Yeah!! How do you think the Minneapolis folks would respond to a Replacements cover? Are they like, no you can’t cover a Replacements song, or are they more open minded? I guess it would depend on how bad it sucked.
Amanda Hefner: No way, they have a Replacements tribute evening every year around Thanksgiving at the Turf Club where different bands get together and play Replacements songs. Plus, I’ve been to so many shows where artists will slip in a Mats cover and people love it. So it would be well received and respected.
Luke Bentham: Alright, that could be the shove I need, I appreciate it.
Amanda Hefner: Of course. So speaking of bands that are iconic to a certain city like The Mats, I know you guys are from Dundas, Ontario, but if you could be big, like Van Halen size big, in any city in the world besides your hometown, where would you choose?
Luke Bentham: That’s a good question. If I get one city that I could just be like, Van Halen big in, I guess I have two choices. I would choose Tokyo and New York City. If I could play just a gigantic show in New York City, I think that would again be something central to my rock n’ roll dreams, which I think I’m still a slave to more or less. So yeah, Tokyo and New York City.
Amanda Hefner: So kind of a similar question, if The Dirty Nil could go on tour with any band in the world, big or small, who would you want to share the road with?
Luke Bentham: I guess I have a few different answers depending on the realities of it. Like I would love to play with the Rolling Stones but people are there and just want to see the Rolling Stones. But it would be sick to play with them. The Replacements would also be a good one. But again, when I went to see The Replacements, I just wanted to see The Replacements. I didn’t watch anybody before it. But I guess right now if I could choose a band to tour with it would be Turnstile.
Amanda Hefner: Yeah, I know you have probably been asked this a bunch but was playing with The Who one of your most surreal, bucket list fantasies?
Luke Bentham: Yeah that was one of the best days of my life for sure. It was pretty crazy. One of the reasons we started the band was watching a million Who videos on YouTube. It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played in front of, I got to meet Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, AND it was my birthday. So there was not really much more that could have been in a day.
Amanda Hefner: Something I also really like about you guys are your Tone Tips videos. They’re informative, and definitely educational for the kids, as you say. What got you started doing the Tone Tips videos?
Luke Bentham: Yes, it’s all for the kids. But it’s the same thing as those covers — boredom basically. We finished doing the record and had a lot of free time and were kind of going crazy. One of the reasons we started the band originally was because Kyle and I were… not like not pyros, but certainly lighting things on fire in the woods a lot. And it was escalating to a point where I was like, I think we should do something different because this is going to get bad soon. So I’ve always had that skillset but never utilized it, and destroying things is a very natural muscle for me to flex.
Amanda Hefner: Well keep doing them, because everytime I see a Tone Tips video I think it’s amazing. But I also want to talk about your newest release, “Idiot Victory.” That song totally rips, and has a really fun music video to go along with it. You guys have been releasing some fire music videos this past year, and I just wanted to ask, what was your favorite music video to shoot in the Master Volume era?
Luke Bentham: I would have to say “That’s What Heaven Feels Like”. That’s my favorite video we made so far. Kyle came up with the idea of electric scooters and we wanted to make it even more offensive and trolling and we decided to get Segways because I fucking hate Segways. I fucking hate the little ones and the big ones. It’s the most obnoxious shit I’ve ever seen, like just fucking walk bro. So we rented some of those and went Forever 21 to buy the most insane *NSYNC looking clothes we could find, like brutal 1990’s J Lo shit. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs we’ve ever had so it was just a great day.
Music video days are long as hell and this was a particularly involved one for us. And I remember at one point feeling particularly pouty, but when I zoned back in and looked at myself wearing this ridiculous costume riding around a trailer park on a Segway in the sunshine, I was like “you’re not allowed to be sad today.” Like today is a great day. And I laughed to myself and felt no more negative emotion throughout the day.
We had a funny moment with the Segway rental guy because we had to sign a waiver for the Segways saying we were going to wear our helmets the entire time but as soon as he left we took them off, obviously. And our manager figured out how to take the governor speed control off the Segways so we could really let ‘em rip. We were tearing up the gravel of the trailer park and a couple of the things got pretty banged up. And we weren’t wearing our helmets so when the guy came back he was pretty upset. My apologies if he’s listening.
Amanda Hefner: So, my last question. I know it’s only been a year since Master Volume came out and you’ve been working on the covers, so is it too premature to ask what’s coming next? Maybe a new album somewhere down the pipeline?
Luke Bentham: Well, I like to be vague with the details but we’ve certainly been hard at work this year. And I’m very excited with what’s coming together. We are certainly going to do another album. I’m not sure exactly when, but we are feeling on fire right now and really excited to keep the whole world domination thing going, you know?
Amanda Hefner: Alright well, Luke, that’s all the questions I have. Thank you so much again for taking the time to chat with me. I’ll be looking forward to getting sweaty and rowdy at the Amsterdam next week. Godspeed and we’ll see you on October 5th!
Luke Bentham: Hell yes, we’ll see you next week!