Interview with bassist Dave Nardi | By Bryne Yancey

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and for many, their first impression of The Dirty Nil will be something along the lines of “Holy shit, that’s loud.” The Dundas, Ontario, trio released their debut full-length Higher Power via Dine Alone on Feb. 26. It has an appealing density driven by buzzsaw guitars, frenetic compositions, and an overall sense of somewhat calculated chaos. It’s rock ‘n’ roll the way it’s meant to be: loud, fun, a little unpredictable. And according to bassist Dave Nardi, it’s a natural direction for the band. “I think we just took a lot of things to their logical conclusion, and really looked at what we’d done in the past and what we do live, and said, ‘Let’s make the biggest possible version of that,’” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of auxiliary flourishes, no tambourines, organs, or acoustic guitars padding things out. We made a point of it really just sounding like the band, but if the band was playing through, like, 200 amplifiers at the same time.”

The Dirty Nil’s fiery aesthetic is the byproduct of hard work and professionalism. “At the inception of the band, none of us could really play all that well,” Nardi admits. “I was usually hammered at every show. We were all usually six or seven beers deep for every recording session, so things were a little slower, a little groovier and shakier. It’s hard to play fast and tight when you’re shitcanned,” he laughs. “I think, as we’ve grown and have been playing together for so long, we’ve all progressed on our instruments. We still like to have fun, but take things a little more seriously live and in the studio now. The environment has changed and it’s allowed us to play at the level we always wanted to play at. We’re a little more dexterous, can play things a little faster, and it’s not always gonna be a complete train wreck like it would’ve been.”

“It’s been an organic progression,” he continues. “We didn’t put on a Minor Threat record one day and say, ‘What if we play everything really fast?’ It was a gradual trimming down and saying, ‘Well, maybe we don’t need to do a third chorus here, maybe we don’t even a second chorus.’ Trimming the fat everywhere we can. Another big part of it was always playing short sets and being able to squeeze more in. We never wanted to be a band to play a 25 minute set and play five songs; we’d rather do a 25 minute set and do 12 songs, and that’s just easier to do when there’s very little fat.”

Live is where The Dirty Nil shine and accrue the most fans. It’s sweaty and rowdy and fun. Bentham runs around the stage like a man possessed. It’s even more fun when the crowd isn’t expecting it, such as on their tour with fellow Ontarians, Single Mothers, last year. “That tour, we’d play some shows and the rest of the bill would be straight-up hardcore bands,” Nardi recalls, “but we wouldn’t go on saying, ‘Let’s only play our short songs,’ we’ll just play our best songs the best we can and they’ll take it or leave it. If they don’t like that, they’re not gonna like us, so there’s no point in trying to trick them into liking us.”

The Nil’s next tour is with Creepoid and Restorations, and Nardi is looking forward to being part of such an eclectic bill. “All the bands are still rooted in punk, coming from the same place just doing different things with it,” he says. “I think that’ll be cool. I think the audience will be able to find the common thread with all the bands—I don’t think it’ll be a confusing watch.”

Pick up Higher Power here.

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