Dirty Sweet - Scrappy Rock Poised On the Brink of Greatness Keith Boyd 10.31.07
Dirty Sweet is one scrappy looking band. Before you get all hot under the collar about that let me say, it's a good thing. Maybe even a great thing. The other night I was cruising YouTube looking for a few of its hidden delights and I came across a number of great things. First was a "Dance Lesson with James Brown". Who knows where the footage came from but man it was funky. The Godfather of Soul was showing the Boogaloo, the Mashed Potatoes, the Funky Chicken and a wild Robot. As is the way of the net I kept clicking through links when I was totally surprised to find a video of The Faces doing "Bad N'Ruin" on the Top of the Pops. That's when it hit me. The Faces were scrappy supreme. They wore their faded glory and rascal charm with panache. The power of the sound was rooted in soul as much as rock and the overall performance was so winning that you couldn't help but smile. I catch a dose of that same Artful Dodger charm when I listen to Dirty Sweet. Their album, ".Of Monarchs and Beggars" (Seedling Records) has a well loved and lived in quality that speaks to the players passion and commitment to their vision and tradition. What tradition is this? Well it's too easy to say, "70's Rock" or "Classic Rock". That covers a part of it but it's not as if the guys in Dirty Sweet are simply a soulless karaoke machine cranking out cover versions. To their credit they channel the underlying heart and energy of such scrappy legends as T-Rex, Bad Company, Foghat and The Guess Who while maintaining their own distinct footprint. There are doses of Funky Soul, hits of Hard Rock and a distinct Punk Rock ethos of "Do It Yourself". The whole package is rounded out by a pack of the hairiest dudes this side of ZZ Top. Okay their beards aren't that long but there is facial hair a-plenty. When Rock and Roll is done with this kind of care, commitment and intensity who really cares about the lineage? From a certain perspective I guess it helps frame what a band is up to. If that's the case Dirty Sweet are the new standard bearers for the exalted line of Scrappy Rock Bands. I think they are poised on the brink of further greatness right now and it would be wise to check them out. I recently did this email interview with guitarist Nate Beale. Here's what he had to say.
1. When I hear the name "Dirty Sweet" I think of good old T-Rex. I also think of a host of other 70's bands such as Pink Faeries, Bad Company and Free. What relation does your music have with that 70's vibe and how is it distinct from it?
I think the connection we have with the bands you named is that we're playing rock 'n roll music derived from the Blues with soulful vocals. I suppose we differ in the fact that 30 years of music has past since then and a lot of other great bands have influenced us that sound nothing like "70's rock".
2. Last year you all played a long stint at LA club the Viper Room. What was that experience like? Given the nature and reputation of LA were there any particularly strange moments?
We did a month long residency at the Viper Room last October. The shows were great and it was a terrific way to "break" into LA. I can't really remember anything that stands out though.it was a year ago!
3. Your new album, "Of Monarchs and Beggars" is a wonderfully realized listen. I understand that it was recorded in a home studio. What was that experience like and how do you feel it affected the music?
We recorded Monarchs up at Shaun's place, Blue Roof Studios. His studio is located in a 4000 square foot building adjacent to his house sitting on about 10 acres of land in the hills of North County , so it's not your typical home studio! The photo on our album cover was shot there. It was a really comfortable way to record. just us, isolated from the world, making a record. Not having to worry about hourly rates and producer/engineer fees was also a plus!
4. Having been around the San Diego music scene for a while I know how incestuous it can be. What is the band/musical background of Dirty Sweet's members?
Chris and Mark played in Jejune and Lovelight Shine together. Shaun was a member of Convoy. Ryan is from Spokane , WA .this is his first band. I moved here from Detroit , MI , where I played in a band called Moods for Moderns. I met Mark and Chris when Lovelight Shine and Moods for Moderns did a U.S. tour together.
5. What's next for Dirty Sweet?
We're gearing up a for a little 6 week U.S. tour starting Nov 2nd. After that, we'll probably concentrate on writing new material and recording for our next record.
6. Do you all have any messages you'd like to throw out there to the Internet public or San Diegans in particular?
Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the recent Wildfires. In fact, Shaun's house and studio narrowly escaped the inferno.
7. Where does everyone stand politically?
We love music. Politics are for people who love money and power. It doesn't matter if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican; it's all corrupt in some way. The machine always crushes the few good people who try to make a difference. Wow, it sounds like the music business as well! Call me a cynic!
8. Favorite mixed drinks?
Whiskey and water.
9. For each member; what's your favorite piece of equipment?
Well, I can't speak for everyone, but I really love my Gibson ES-335. It's the most comfortable guitar I've ever played. And it looks, um.tits?
10. Who else is making some vital music these days?
There are a lot of great bands out there.way too many to name. When we play San Diego we like to share the stage with bands we enjoy/admire. On November 2 nd at Canes we'll be playing with Get Back Loretta, The Silent Comedy and Crash Encore.