2017 was a great year for The Dirty Nil. Carrying their momentum forward from the success of 2016’s debut album ‘Higher-Power,’ the three-piece band from Dundas, ON Canada have since toured internationally with the likes of Alexisonfire, Against Me!, Billy Talent, and The Flatliners.
Led by front-man Luke Bentham, with bassist Ross Miller and Kyle Fisher on drums, The Nil live to have a good time. Their fun-loving, cheeky behavior exudes through their high-energy performances. And with songs fueled by catchy hooks, it’s no wonder why the band recently received a Juno Award for ‘Breakthrough Group of the Year’ in Canada.
Before their show in Waterloo, ON, Gigsoup had the pleasure to sit down with the trio to learn more about the band, their music, and the recent success that they’ve experienced.
For those who don’t know you yet, can we get an introduction on the band?
Luke: For sure! We’re The Dirty Nil from Dundas, Ontario. We’re the greatest band currently living. We’ve been playing together for…I don’t remember. But, we’re from Dundas, Ontario Canada which if you’ve never been there, it’s kinda like the Shire from ‘Lord of the Rings.’ We graduated to Hamilton, ON where we all live together and write the hits of tomorrow.
And correct me if I’m wrong but [Luke] you did graduate from Laurier University [in Waterloo, ON]?
Luke: I did indeed. I did indeed. I got my Diploma.
What did you study there?
Luke: Well my certification was Honors Psychology with a Minor in Film. I’m proud of that Minor. They have a good program there. Great profs!
I’m curious about how you were able to balance your education with your music?
Luke: Terribly! Terribly! Absolutely suffered. But eventually I said fuck this school bullshit. One of my Psych profs came up to me and was like “hey man, just so you know, I don’t know what kind of advice you’re getting but I would say fuck this school shit and go play rock and roll because this shit will always be here and it’s fucking weak anyways.” Go play music and I was like “ya you’re probably right,” so that’s what we did. And we went hard for a while but then it was still looming in my head that I had like two and a half courses that I needed so I just slowly chipped away at them on my laptop. And then on the day I graduated, we were playing across the street [at Maxwell’s], so it was kinda like a beautiful, serendipitous moment in time.
Ross: I was very proud because at that point I had never met anyone who graduated from university and it crushed my brain like, “whoa it can happen.”
Kyle: Except for me.
Ross: Wait did you graduate from university?
Ross: What did you major in?
Kyle: I had General Arts.
Ross: Well you’re the first.
And your sound, you can say it’s aggressive but in a good way. What do you think makes your sound unique in comparison to the many bands out there?
Luke: I mean other than our higher standard of quality than most bands…
Ross: Lightning doesn’t strike a human being very often. But our rock n’ roll music was struck by lightning and that’s what makes us different than everybody else.
Luke: Ya, I’ll have to second that.
Ross: Ya, it’s happened to ACDC and then us.
Luke: ACDC, nothing, then us.
Ross: Rage Against the Machine, maybe.
Luke: and maybe late 90s Limp Bizkit is in that list as well.
Kyle: You can say we’ve been struck by lightning for every song we have.
Luke: We are basically a lightning factor.
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Well it must be working because you guys are gaining a lot of popularity right now. But your band has been around for quite some time. So how do you find yourself reinventing your sound? Is there anything that you currently listen to, to help shape your music?
Luke: The way that we keep going is that we keep enthusiastically playing. Like when I was a teenager and I was like “I think the band should sound this,” and we tried to do that and it sucked. So, we do what we do and do what we’re excited about. We listen to so much music. We have legitimate and mean-spirited love for so much terrible music and awesome music. So, we incorporate like Sugar Ray mostly with like some Motorhead and little bit of Len.
Kyle: A lot of Metallica.
Luke: And then another dash of Len. ‘You Can Never Steal My Sunshine.’
Kyle: When we’re feeling lost we just get fucked up and watch ‘Some Kind of Monster’ and then that pretty much resets the button.
Luke: It’s the most important film of all time. It’s the ‘Citizen Kane’ of rock n’ roll movies.
Kyle: If you haven’t seen it you have to watch it. Even if you don’t like Metallica you have to watch that movie.
Ross: Don’t even come to the show tonight, just go watch it on Netflix.
Kyle: And if you know anything about what it’s like being in a band, it’s the funniest most honest movie of all time.
On the topic of bands, all will face criticism in one way or another. How have you felt about making music that makes you happy vs. making music for the fans? Do you factor in how they’ll react?
Kyle: Not really but you can’t not.
Luke: We also are very serious about how our songs are arranged. Like some songs we put together really quickly. We don’t have long meandering shit songs. We have bangers! That’s all we deal in and we work really hard on them. In general, people really don’t like criticize us because we’re sick.
Ross: It’s just melody and rock and if you don’t like those things than they must be some kind of lizard.
Kyle: If we don’t think it’s sick, it doesn’t make it past whatever small room we made it in.
Well it does seem like what you’re doing is working because you won a Juno Award. What was it like to be honored with such an award?
Kyle: Well, it you remember us talking about lightning…it was another lightning strike. And I thought I was going to die.
Luke: It was one for the parents. Personally, when I won it my mom was like “give me that shit right now.” She was like “you’re an ungrateful piece of shit and I’m going to hold on to this because you can’t take care of anything.” And I didn’t mind. I was like “you can take that as a down-payment on all the guitar lessons you bought me.” But I didn’t really care about that. It was more less like the desert was sick there. And the free wine was dope. And drinking with Keifer Sutherland was tight. We just had a great fucking weekend. We also knew that our guarantee for shows was going up so that was an exciting moment for sure!
And your success has taken you internationally to the US, Australia and Europe. How surreal is it play shows around the world and then return back home?
Kyle: It’s like coming to a full stop and then you’re catching up with the rest of your life. You stood still for a while and everything spun. But you were gone, you weren’t there, and then you came back and you are like “shit what happened, there’s a new coffee place.”
Luke: It’s like Charlton Heston at the end of ‘Planet of the Apes’ when he leaves Earth for a little while and comes back and is just like “they took away Grand Dad’s Donuts and put up like a nik nak store that sells bookmarks.”
Do you find it a bit more comforting to be playing in your backyard?
Luke: Literally comfortable because I’m excited about us going back to our beds. But I mean like we have really nice fans all over the world.
And travelling you got to play with Alexisonfire, Flatliners, Billy Talent and more. Did they ever give any advice that stuck with you?
Luke: Don’t break up!
Kyle: Ya, and also just have fun. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Ross: Don’t cross the border unless you have to.
Luke: Our tell all novel will make Motley Crue’s ‘The Dirt’ look like the fucking thesaurus. We’re going to bring it alive.
Ross: The Motely Crue book is like the ‘Chamber of Secrets,’ and ours it like ‘The Philosopher’s Stone.’
And moving forward, is there anyone in particular that you hope to share the stage with?
Kyle: Culture Abuse! It’d be fun to play with those guys. But honestly, if The Foo Fighters were like “YO” we would definitely go on tour with The Foo Fighters.
Luke: Can you imagine what their catering must look like?
Ross: Also, I’d like to add the Shaggy and Sting tour.
Luke: We’ve been looking at that one with coveted signs for a long time. And if we can play with Queens of Stone Age!
And a lot of your music influences growing up was classic rock?
Luke: Oh Ya!
Ross: We played with ‘The Who’ which was awesome!
Luke: Did we mention we played with ‘The Who’?
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And outside of travelling and touring, what do you tend to do on your off-time to recharge?
Kyle: I just work at a bar when I go home. But reading is fun. Watching television and movies is fun. And playing ‘Wolfenstein 2’ is fun.
Luke: Ross and I do a lot of Yoga. Oh and if anybody has a used copy of ‘Far Cry 5’ can they get in contact with us through one of our socials? I’ll take it off your hands.
Kyle: But you have to come to us. We can’t come to you.
And to wrap things up, would you like to let the readers know what you have planned for in the future?
Luke: Well we have a new album that will reshape modern music, but other than that…
Kyle: We do have a few tour dates. A small run of Ontario stuff and then there will be more things coming out. Oh and I got new shoes thanks to Ian at ‘Smalls’…it’s a coffee shop in Hamilton.
Luke: I’d like to give a counter shout out to ‘Pam’s’ in Jackson Square for serving up the finest 2-dollar flavored coffee that money can buy.
Any tour dates in UK?
Luke: Ya we’ll be doing ‘Two Thousand Trees’ this year and we’ll be playing with Turnstile, At the Drive-In, Enter-Shikari, Basement…
Kyle: Other bands are playing but we are playing so you should come!