From punk to thrash
If you grew up in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, you know that every self-respecting punk rocker plastered their Pee-Chee folder with the following essentials: Black Flag bars, the Circle Jerks’ slam-dancing guy, the 7Seconds logo, the anarchy symbol and, of course, their best possible rendition of the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles’ logo.
Granted, there was a mess of other band logos to add to the list, but there is no question that D.R.I. and their imagery were representative of, if not synonymous with, the punk frame of mind.
Between treading the basically uncharted waters of a 22-song, 18-minute-long, 7-inch album, The Dirty Rotten EP, in 1983 and the 1985 release of the now-infamous Dealing With It (the band’s first official full-length release), D.R.I. set standards in speed and ferocity.
Crossover, their second full-length album, released in 1987, signified a drastic change in the sound of underground punk. By taking typical punk songs and making them longer and more complicated, D.R.I. synthesized the punk sound with metal. With the introduction of bands such as Slayer, S.O.D., Venom and D.R.I., bands like Bon Jovi and their big-haired, stonewashed-jean- and fringe-wearing groupies would no longer be accepted as the true metal crowd. Enter the mosh pit.
Heavy metal evolved into a whole new beast. Band members were no longer pretty; they were scary, and, in the case of D.R.I, they were going utterly, chaotically psycho.
Up until the inception of hardcore or thrash or the combination of both, metal heads didn’t mosh, they headbanged, and punks didn’t mosh, they slam-danced (a very loosely uniformed, circular flow of people kicking and flailing to power chords). There was a lot of animosity between the two groups.
“Before bands started crossing over, punk kids and metal kids had this ridiculous rivalry,” says Spike Cassidy, lead guitar and founding member of D.R.I. “You had punk kids fighting with metal kids and peace punks just sitting on the floor, making it impossible to slam.”
Following the lead of bands like D.R.I. and Anthrax, the mid- to late-'80s saw many punk bands seeking a wider fan base. Not only did this intensify the energy at shows, it forever linked metal to punk rock, spawning many creative and not-so-creative bands.
“We had gotten so tired of the lack of energy at shows,” Cassidy says, “and people had already been labeling us as a ‘crossover’ band. So, instead of fighting it, we went with it.”
Regarding how D.R.I. has influenced the sound of modern hardcore, including the likes of Korn and Limp Bizkit, Cassidy says, “If people have used us as an influence, or if people want to give us credit for any successful band’s sound, then we think that’s really cool and a real compliment.”
D.R.I. just returned from a 16-country tour of Europe followed by a show in Mexicali, Mexico. Now, they are headed out on their U.S. tour, a tour that kicks off in our very own ‘hood.
D.R.I.'s first show is at Whiskey Dicks in South Lake Tahoe. This show gives those who are unfamiliar with D.R.I. the opportunity to see a band that helped develop a now-rampant genre of music. It also gives those "in the know" the chance to flip out over some literal classics in the field of hardcore music.