The Dirty Nil achieves maximum rock and roll in 2017

A sit down with one of Canada’s rising star bands

(Photo courtesy of Sean William O'Neil)

By: Andrea Renney

Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, the Dirty Nil is three guys and a guitar, a bass, and a drumset. Call them a rock ‘n’ roll band, call them a punk band, call them a jazz band — they don’t care. Despite their obvious punk influence, the band’s gotten an unwanted reputation for not wanting to be labeled as a punk band.

“I have no problem calling us the best fucking rock band in the world, because we are.”

–Luke Bentham, lead vocalist.

     “There was an interview that I did, like, four years ago, and it’s funny because every subsequent interview we’ve done says that we don’t want to be called a punk band,” explains Luke Bentham, guitarist and lead vocalist. “I have no problem clearing the air that it’s not that we don’t want to be called one, it’s just not the way that we classify ourselves.”

     Regardless of what genre they’re labeled, Bentham is confident they’re doing something right, “I have no problem calling us the best fucking rock band in the world, because we are.” 

     2017 has consisted of multiple back-to-back tours in North America and Europe, supporting acts like the Flatliners, the Menzingers, and Billy Talent. Currently on tour supporting punk rockers, Against Me!, the band is happy to be touring with some of their well-known peers.

     “It’s kind of the last leg of our touring behind Higher Power, and we also have Minimum R&B out now, so it was kind of on the back of that to promote it,” Bentham explains, referring to their 2016 and 2017 releases, respectively. “But we’re really excited that after lots of smaller tours around the United States with us and our friends, we have the opportunity to do higher profile tours.”

     Their behavior onstage and the quality of the show they give is as important for them as it is for the fans. “We’ve never been afraid of how we’re going to be received, because on pretty much every tour we’ve done, we’ve managed to sway people over to what we do, so we just learned early on not to cater our set to anyone but ourselves,” says Bentham, when asked whether they feel any pressure to pander to the largely punk audiences they play for. 

     “We certainly don’t want to just go up and barrel through our songs and then leave the stage, because that’s not what we’re here to do,” Bentham explains. Kyle Fisher, the band’s drummer, adds to this: “Things happen live. I love when mistakes happen live because you can kinda laugh at it and people can see that it’s a real thing, and they have a good time.” 

     It’s been a busy year for the band: they’ve toured multiple continents, put out a record, and won a Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. When asked about a particular moment that stands out among the rest, all three members agree that opening for the Who was one of the best. “I don’t think any of our peers have really gotten to play with a band that they’ve revered so highly. It was just really lucky for us to get to do that,” recalls Bentham.

     What’s next for the band? New music, for one. They’ve been writing while on tour and hope to record a new album once they’re off the road. On goals for 2018, Bentham had this to say: “I’d pretty much like to play as many places as we possibly can. I guess my goal for next year is to play 200 shows and just keep this whole fuckin’ circus rolling.”