"If you ask the band Dirty Sweet, they still have yet to be discovered."

The phrase “hardest working band in rock” gets used a lot. Usually the term gets labeled on established bands that tour a lot. I do not doubt that these bands work hard, but they probably only work hard compared to other rock stars. I recently got a chance to check out a band called Dirty Sweet. These guys have definitely earned that phrase. I got to listen to their new album “American Spiritual.” Instantly I loved it. They are a band that is hard to describe musically. The closest comparison would be Kings of Leon meet The Black Crowes. The quality of sound and the tone that this band has is so professional it sounds like they’ve been doing this for years.

The band also has two music videos which you can check out at their website http://www.dirtysweetmusic.com/. These videos are so professionally done and artistic that you’d think they brought in a big name music video director to direct them. Truth of the matter is that the videos cost next to nothing to make (in fact one of them actually cost nothing). The bands album they actually financed themselves. Everything they’ve done thus far has been because of “sheer will power and determination.” All of this I learned after interviewing Dirty Sweet guitarist Nathan Beale. I already loved the band, but now I have a much better appreciation for them.

Q – How was SXSW this year?

A - It was pretty awesome. We did like six shows in probably like four days or something like that. It was a lot of fun as always. It was also hard work especially doing two shows a day. It’s cool to be able to see that many bands and it is fun to play lots of cool shows.

Q – I got a chance to listen to your album “American Spiritual” and I love the sound you guys have. How would you describe your album?

A – The album? Geez I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it.

Q – Is it a concept album, there seems to be a constant theme?

A – Yeah I guess it does. It was sort of built up from living in this country for the last decade or so. Just kind of seeing the way things are going. It focuses on a lot of issues such as politics and war. So I guess there was sort of a concept. In the beginning I think we had an idea of making a concept album that had this apocalyptic vision of the future, completely in the science fiction realm, not necessarily like we were trying to prophesize anything. It just never worked out that way as most big ideas never do. So what we had was all the left over songs. It feels like an anthem for this country in a sense.

Q – Do you have a favorite song on the album?

A – I would say my favorite song to play is “You’ve Been Warned” because it’s fun and pretty bouncy. If I was going to listen to a song on the album it’d probably be “Marionette” or the title track “American Spiritual.”

Q – I saw both of your music videos and I really liked them a lot. What was the music video process like?

A – Those particular ones were pretty different. For a band like us who doesn’t have a lot of money backing anything we do, we got a little help from our friends and their charity (laughs). Luckily we have some friends that are really good directors. So it worked out that we were able to make music videos on the cheap and have them come out looking like big budget professional things. For instance for “Marionette” we went out to the dessert to an old western town and shot that for two days. Everyone dressed up in full western gear and we got to play with guns and do fake stunts to make it look like a fake western made in the 1960s.

The other video off the new album (“You’ve Been Warned”), we went into a film school in Pasadena and shot that over the course of about eight hours. We used their storage area. We emptied it out and tried to make it look like an insane asylum.

Q – That’s impressive. Those videos look very professional.

A – Yeah they turned out great we’re all very happy with them. The “You’ve Been Warned” video cost us zero dollars and the “Marionette” cost us a little bit more than that but most of it went towards renting the ranch. It was basically just really dedicated people donating their time for free and it was just amazing for us.

Q – When you write a song do you guys just get in a room and jam until a song comes out or do you have a designated songwriter in the band, or how do you come up with your songs?

A – It is all different. Some of the songs on the album that’s exactly how it’d happen, we’d all be sitting in a room and jamming something. Then you know the bassist would start playing a riff and we’d be like cool keep playing that and it would work itself out. There are other songs where I’ll write them with Ryan. We’ll demo them at my house, record them on the acoustic and bring them to the band that way. It just all depends; I’d say the album is about half and half. Half the songs were written by the band and the other half were written by me or me and Ryan.

Q – Are there any touring plans coming up?

A – Oh yeah, we’re leaving this Saturday and flying to London. We’re going to be in Europe for seven weeks. We’re pretty excited about that.

Q – How did the band get together?

A – We started back in 2004ish. Everyone is from different areas and somehow we all ended up in San Diego. I had been friends with Chris, our drummer, for years. I moved from Detroit, Michigan to San Diego because I was looking for a little bit of a change, to get away from the winters there. Our singer Ryan is from Spokane, Washington. He’d been living in San Diego. It was a bunch of little chance meetings. He ended up in a restaurant with our old guitar player who was looking for a singer. It wasn’t really planned out. In the beginning the goal was to put together a band and play rock n roll music. I don’t think there were any more aspirations than that.

Q – How did you guys get discovered?

A – (laughs) I still don’t think we’re discovered. I guess I don’t know what that means. We’re not on a major label or anything. We’ve just been doing it ourselves and trying to forge ahead. Everything we’ve done we’ve pretty much done on our own through shear will power and determination. We’ve been doing this for awhile now. We finance our own records, record them ourselves. It’s a self motivated business and that’s where we’re at with it.

Q – Who are some of your early musical influence?

A – Me personally, we’re all pretty different, I can only speak for myself. My first musical influences when I was like four years old would be The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. Those were my two favorite bands. The Police, The Who. I was always into Motown, I grew up in Detroit and you’d hear that shit on the radio all the time. The Beatles, I just like a lot of classic stuff. Anything that’s good. When I first started to play guitar Metallica and Nirvana were huge influences for me. There were a lot of different influences.

Q – What are you listening to right now?

A – I’m listening to your voice (laughs). Right now I’m listening to pretty mellow stuff, like Bob Dylan, I was going for a pretty mellow wake up. I might kick it into high gear later tonight.

Q – What would you say has been the highlight of your bands career so far?

A – I got a feeling this tour of Europe is going to be it, aside from that this last year we had a really cool summer. We played Lollapalooza. We didn’t know what to expect, we had a pretty early slot and we ended up playing for probably three to five thousand people, it was pretty rad. The Bonnaroo festival we played the same summer that was really cool. All these types of big festivals are really fun because not only do you get to a chance to play for a lot of people. , but you get to hang out for the weekend and see some really great bands, that’s kind of inspiring to see other big acts and other different types of music.

Q – If you could go on tour with anybody who would you want to go out with?

A – I don’t know. It doesn’t matter at this point, anybody that would take us. Kings of Leon would be awesome. The Rolling Stones, of course that might be kind of hard opening for The Rolling Stones, we’d probably get booed off stage. Anybody that has a crowd that would be into our music. At this point we’re looking for more fans, so if we could play to more rock minded people the better.

Q – What’s your most embarrassing on stage moment?

A – It wasn’t embarrassing, just more anxiety ridden. Whenever you go to Europe you have to rent amplifiers, so we rented the amplifiers, and before we rented the amplifiers we didn’t get a chance to try them out to make sure they were working properly. Our first show over there was a festival in front of about seven thousand people. In those festival situations you don’t ever get a sound check, you just go on and you have about ten minutes to get your shit ready and play. So I get up there and I’m not getting any sound out of my amplifier and I’m starting to stress out about it because we have about three minutes before we’re suppose to start the set. So I switch to the backup amplifier and that didn’t work. So then I find out that the speaker cable going from the amp to the cabinet was bad. So I fix that and then plug back into my pedal board and I still wasn’t getting any sound. After I lifted about twenty cables out of my pedal board I found out I had a bad cable going to my pedal board. Not only did I have a bad cable going to my amp, but I had a bad cable going to my pedal board. It literally took me about twenty-five minutes to figure this out in front of seven thousand people who were waiting for us to play, so it was kind of stressful. Needless to say I took a big healthy pull off a bottle of Jack Daniels when we got off the stage.

I very happy I got a chance to sit down and talk with Nathan. I really like Dirty Sweet a lot. Definitely check out their new album on Acetate Records called “American Spiritual.” The album hits stores on April 6th. Make a trip over to their website and check out their music videos too, I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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Zepheid said...

Saw Dirty Sweet play at King Tuts in Glasgow March 29th.Fantastic to hear the guys live after listening to "of Monarchs and Beggars".Bought the new album at the gig and talked to the band after the show.They deserve to be HUGE.The best thing I've heard in years.And this is from an old rocker of forty eight, so I've seen a few in my time.Mon the Dirty Sweet !!


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