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August 2021

The Dirty Nil: "We definitely have a dark sense of humour"

Recorded as the world went a little nuts, The Dirty Nil’s third album is a triumph against the odds. But then did we expect anything else? No. Not really. Vocalist Luke Bentham explains all.
Published: 2:33 pm, January 01, 2021Words: Steven Loftin. Photos: Sam Tomlinson.
The Dirty Nil: "We definitely have a dark sense of humour"

"There's a big attitude right now of people in rock'n'roll that feels like, 'we're just gonna pause, and we'll revisit our album when things are better' and all this shit. I'm not trying to be a dick, but that's such a loser attitude."

The Dirty Nil guitarist and vocalist Luke Bentham can come across as a Tasmanian devil kind of character, especially with his smirk gunning down the phone. He loves rock music, and loves his band even more, refusing to stop until the blessed rock in his veins runs dry.

"You have no idea when this is going to end," he continues. "Just put out your album, do a cool thing around it - like really do a lot of work around it - and then start working on the next one instead of sitting around languishing like fucking lazy boys and waiting until the fucking rain goes away. That just doesn't make sense to me. There, welcome to my TED Talk."

Without a single snarl of animosity from his guffawing words, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the Canadian trio comes to life when chatting with Luke. Right now, he's stood in the empty shell of the house he and Dirty Nil bandmates, bassist Ross Miller and drummer Kyle Fisher, have shared for the past few years. They're all moving on to their next chapters, just as their third outing 'Fuck Art' edges closer to its release on New Years Day 2021 - an all-round statement in itself given the album is a celebration of life, its hits as well as its misses, with an unbridled rock soundtrack.

This decision makes immediate sense because The Dirty Nil are a band born out of "a couple of mission statements" including to "troll the world" - before that had such poisonous connotations, mind you - and most of all "to confuse and bemuse is our modus operandi!"

"We definitely have a dark sense of humour about things and a sense of the absurd. But I think, overall, we have a profound love and nerd-like obsession with rock and roll; all of the more tasteful elements of it and shitty like Limp Bizkit/Sugar Ray parts of it too - we have an appreciation for all of it."

A self-confessed "type A personality" who revs himself into "a kind of sarcastic state of invincibility," Luke, and his Dirty Nil motley crew, are the kind of band doing this because they want to.

"We hate the cool kids - the elitist types of guitar-based music in general," he says. "We enjoy pissing them off and confusing them with bizarre covers and other choices like that. And so I feel that I think that's why we feel so powerful and fun, because we have a serious sense of mischief and a real feeling of invincibility towards critics or the tastemakers - we don't care."

Spending his time "trying to get everything out of every single day that [he] possibly can - coming up with zany ideas with the team, and doing everything in my power to help implement them." That also includes naming their third album, 'Fuck Art', after an incident at an art class involving an old man and an outburst at being unable to paint. It truly is an album that wants to celebrate everything but 2020's eggshell topics.

Within its raucous rock 'n' roll soul, amidst the searing guitar lines loaded with smirks and knowing joy come songs of jealousy, love, hope and even vengeance. Complete with moments yearning for an audience to clap in a sweaty club, or just headbanging euphoria, 'Fuck Art' is unashamed, unabashed - just like its creators.

"We hate the cool kids"
Luke Bentham

Struggle isn't something that The Dirty Nil are averse to, either. Looking back fondly at all those mountains they've had to climb "no matter how hard it was or how nasty things got", they've had to "navigate some super uncertain and bizarre once in a lifetime circumstances," says Luke. "And we delivered the finest album of the decade, so you know, life's pretty good!"

Avoiding the "languishing lazy boy" approach to 2020 wasn't so much a choice for Luke and co., nor was it an intrinsic nature. He went through his own period of reflection previously, after noticing that "waiting around on inspiration and all that shit it doesn't get you anywhere - your life happens.

"Not to get all fucking Oprah with it but I just like trying to see how much I can squeeze out of a day work-wise and fun-wise; that makes me feel really good. The thing in life that makes me the happiest is achieving things with my friends in rock'n'roll. So, having acquired a good amount of those achievements at this point in our career, it motivates me to work harder every day to keep that going even amongst these less than favourable circumstances."

Cracking on with writing and exploring where he wants to go with The Dirty Nil, an opportunity now afforded to him by the lack of road to travel, instead of having to output "2000 calories of energy every night", being at home he's getting back to that 'teenager discovering the power of some righteously loud chords and screaming vocals' feeling. "I'm just running every day, fucking getting high, blasting guitar and feeling like I'm 19 years old again and just finding what I like about rock and roll and playing loud and fast with my boys like life's pretty tight right now!"

The arduous journey of being a rock'n'roll band - especially for fifteen-plus years - The Dirty Nil have, along with those struggles and mountains to climb, means that those euphoric feelings can "definitely waver" according to Luke.

"There are times where playing rock and roll feels like going to go work at McDonald's, you know, at certain times when you get your head up your ass - when things aren't going your way - self-pity can kill you.

"My enthusiasm and feeling of invincibility bounces back very quickly, because all I need to do is learn another song that I've loved for a long time or a cool riff, and all of a sudden I feel like I'm 12 again. I find that the harder you work, the more glimpses of that like pure euphoria you get. It's not a default setting, and you can't wait around for it to come. It's just the product of working hard and feeling confident and good, you know?"

Before leaving Luke to lock up the doors to The Dirty Nil's grotto for the final time, given he's put his life in the hands of a rock n roll band, it begs one final question - just what makes the greatest rock album of all time?

"I think that's a good question. I don't know what it's just kind of an overall kind of feel - like it's kind of like a gift from God, type feel..." He bursts out laughing. "Yeah, I think that we're merely just receivers of a transmission from the heavens!"

Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue od Upset. The Dirty Nil's album 'Fuck Art' is out 1st January.

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