Rachael-O-Rama #12 takes us international all the way to Ontario, Canada. Canada is known for many things; bacon, ice hockey, extreme politeness, the plot to the 1983 movie “Strange Brew” (take off, you hoser), and a delicious French fry dish with cheese curds and gravy called poutine.
How to make the best Canadian Alternative Rock poutine:
Take one-part Blink-182, Something Corporate, Jimmy Eat World and Yellowcard, two-parts music excellence from Ontario, Canada and the rest creative genius, and you get a delectable dish called, The Dirty Nil.
We spoke with front-man Luke Bentham who explained the many ins and outs of the writing process for the trio, their experienced living together, their exclusive fan club (The Nillionaires Club), and their brand new album, “Fuck Art.”
“When I take the stage with the guys and I see everyone in the crowd smiling and singing along to every word of every song… there’s just no better feeling.”
Some bands come up with their unique names by looking for something catchy or something controversial. The Dirty Nil did both, they got their name from two different bands that they liked in high school; The Dirty Mac and The Nils. Once they told their drummer Kyles’ mom the band name and she hated it, they knew this one was going to stick.
The Nillionaires Club is a creative expansion of a record club or fan club where you can have the opportunity to help support the band, and get some great items in return; like discontinued shirt designs, old and new demos, recordings, videos, first access to new stuff, and a whole lot more. They wanted to have an organized way to reward their devoted fans by putting out items from their treasure chest of band stuff, and after being together for 15 years, they have lots of stuff to offer!
Coming from a different country, we asked Luke what the biggest difference he notices between Canada and US shows and he told us “Your beer prices are more reasonable (laughs).” He says that the places that are colder where people are inside most of their day tend to be the crazier shows where fans can let out their pent-up energy, regardless of country.
When the guys in The Dirty Nil write music, they like to listen to everything all over the map, and I mean EVERYTHING. Luke told us they were all really into Missy Elliot, particularly her song, “Work It.” He also said, “I personally have a deep love of American Country music like John Prine. He is probably my biggest influence as a lyricist. I love using plain language to try and be funny about dark things and trying to by myself at all times without trying to ‘write hits’, just trying to write something that’s just true to you. I grew up listening to John Prine and Stompin’ Tom Connors. Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison” were on high rotation for me. I loved listening to all the mistakes and prisoners yelling and the laughing and crowd interaction, it was really important to me.” But that doesn’t stop him from listening to thrash metal or DMX.
We mentioned to him how creative it was that they listen to such an array of music instead of wanting to sound like one sliver of one genre, and appreciating music from all over the spectrum must help in their creative process. He half-jokingly told us, “All art is theft. You just have to bea better criminal and steal from more places. You need to cover your tracks more than just siphoning from one tank, you gatta burn the paper trail, you know?”
Luke told us the band formed a strong brotherhood by living together for many years. Last year, they had a “summit meeting” – complete with pizza and beer – where they decided being 30-year olds living together was starting to get a little weird. Plus, their girlfriends agreed that the cohabitation clubhouse time was coming to an end.
Luke said, “We lived together forever. We worked super intensely together, we’re on tour more than half the time and it’s also a lovely byproduct of our success… We lived very close together, ate together, shared beds together on tour, this now seemed like a good opportunity to get some personal space and like I said, thirty seemed like a good time to cap it (laughing). I will say we are even more productive now than before because everyone has the dignity of having more than 10 square feet of personal space.”
Their new album, “Fuck Art” features a smiling golden retriever in front of a blue sky on the cover. “This digital art piece expresses the jubilation and optimism that we are trying to instill in people. We’re trying to make people happy and it’s hard to find a happier album cover than ours.”
Luke recently told OC-based TNN RADIO that the album is filled with bangers. “Blunt Force Concussion” is getting tons of airplay, but it’s like one of those early Van Halen albums, it has one great song after another, and they’re all electrifying.
Because of lockdown in their area, they guys were having trouble making a new music video for their newest release, “Elvis ’77.” They decided to go futuristic and technological and asked their fans to send in submissions for their video that they could merge together with the song, and make one creative fan-based music video. This was was the call to their fans.
They say this is a song about dreams but part of reaching for your dreams is failure so even videos of failure would work great for their song, Elvis ’77. A few other bands have done this since quarantine began and they are mega hits! The ingenious fans never fail so this video is slated to be a colossal hit.
Bentham says the guys in The Dirty Nil love to flex their creative muscles and try new and weird/nontypical stuff when it comes to covers. They do a WICKED cover of Metallica’s “Hit the Lights.” They are now working on new covers from early AC/DC and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart“ and some cheesy rock ballads. Luke says, “We kind of cut our teeth in our late teens as a house band at parties so we would have to learn new songs to play at keggers. I would recommend to young bands to learn other people’s songs because it gives you a wealth of stuff of pillage from.”
For 2021, Luke says they have a ton of new ideas to continue promoting “Fuck Art” and are also working on new material. They used their downtime wisely; where they would have normally been touring, they chose to work on creating new material. The creativity never stops for them, even if they aren’t living together. They spend 90% of their effort perfecting material before they even walk into the studio. So everything they record has been thoroughly thought through which you can clearly hear in their music writing and lyrics.
Luke says he’s never been happier and more optimistic about their future than he is right now. It shows onstage. They are energetic, animated, they connect with the audience, but most importantly, their music will pierce your soul. The Dirty Nil features Luke Bentham (guitar/vocals), Ross Miller (bass) and Kyle Fisher (drums). Collectively, they bring a sonic boom you’ll never forget.