D. R. I.--


by Dr. Abner Mality

The story goes like this...

It was 21 years ago, in the hallowed year of 1982, that Spike Cassidy and his pals Kurt Brecht, Kurt's brother Eric and Dennis Johnson got together in Houston, Texas and decided to bash out the fastest, most abrasive punk rock that had ever been conceived. The good buddies would often practice in the home of the Brechts while the brothers' unpredictable dad...nicknamed "Madman" for his tirades...went to work. But always Madman would get home early while the band was still cranking out their tunes and would blow on up on them. One day, he finally yelled "Pack up your gear and get out of this house, you DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILES!!!"

And so D. R. I. was born!

Well, since that day, the Imbeciles have become one of the most influential bands ever in the hardcore/thrash scene. Their 1985 record "Dealing With It" is regarded as an all-time classic and the follow-up "Crossover" created a whole new breed of bands that merged punk and metal. Endless touring, line-up changes and record label hassles followed but D.R.I. endures and their scathing thrash holds up as well today as it did back in the 80's.

The band just headlined one of the most furious and enjoyable shows held in Rockford in a long time, playing with New Society of Anarchists (interview elsewhere!), new Metal Blade signees The Heavils and Chaos A.D. at Elixur. As great as the other bands were, D.R.I. still proved that they are the fastest of the fast, with an exhausting set that probably stripped all the paint off the disco's walls. I was indeed lucky to speak to the whole band following the fun and dive headlong into the twisted world of these imbecilic legends...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: I want to compliment you guys on a red-hot show. It's been a long time since we've seen a show this extreme here...

SPIKE CASSIDY: Really? Glad we could be here and fulfill your need!

WC: How would you rate this particular show?

SC: Above average. It was good for what it is.

WC: Yeah, for taking place in a disco...

ROB RAMPY (drummer): A former strip club, by the looks of it...

HARALD OIMOEN (bassist): It was loud! Loud as fuck! Now we have another notch in our belts. Now we can say we've played Rockford!

WC: This is the 20th year for D.R.I. Does it seem like it's been that long or has it flown by?

SC: It's flown by for me. Hey, Rob, you've been in the band for 13 years now, is that right?

RR: I think it's almost 12. By January, it will be exactly 12 years.

WC: Did you have any idea when you started that you would be here 20 years later?

SC: Not even close. I never thought we'd last a year or even put out a record. It was just something we were doing to kill a little time and the way it's turned out has been amazing.

WC: It was 20 years since the Madman was banging on the door!

SC: Yeah, yeah! When he was banging on that door, I didn't think we stood a chance!

WC: What would you attribute your longevity to?

SC: Not wanting to work at a real 9-to-5 job! No, really, just being in the band is a lot of fun. We enjoy doing it so we just keep on doing it. If it felt like a job or a 9-to-5 job, we wouldn't be in the band.

WC: You've had some rough luck, through the years though. You started your own record label Rotten Records and your own manager basically stole the label from you. Is there any word on how that mess is going to turn out?

SC: (smiling) Only time will tell...

WC: That had to put a dent in your faith in things...

SC: Ehhh! Life goes on. The music industry sucks and we knew that all along.

WC: Is doing things yourself the way to go as opposed to being on a label?

HO: It depends on each band but right now, for us, that's the way to go.

WC: I see now where the entire D.R.I. back catalogue is going to be re-issued through Beer City Records, a Milwaukee punk label. How did that come about?

SC: We were talking to a bunch of labels who were offering enough money to make it seem like they cared. We didn't want to be on a big, huge label where we'd be nobody and we didn't want to jump on a label that was nothing or just starting up. Beer City has been around, they're into the skate/punk thing and that's what we're all about anyway. We just wanted to have product out and keep it coming out.

WC: You guys were one of the first bands to pioneer blazing speed in music. Do you ever look at all the speed bands that have come out since and wondered "My God, what have we created?" And do you think you get the proper respect from the newer bands?

SC: I dunno, I often think we get more credit than we're due. We were one of the first bands doing the speed thing but we weren't the onlyband doing it at the time. We got a lot of our inspiration from other bands that were doing the same thing. I don't consider that we started anything like that.

WC: But of all the bands at that time, you got the most notoriety. Was it just a case of being in the right place at the right time?

SC: (laughing) Yeah, it was an accident. We recorded a bunch of songs and couldn't afford to put it on a 12 inch so we put it on a 7 inch because that was all we could afford. It wound up being crazy...a bunch of songs on a little tiny record that winds up being a collector's item. It put us in the spotlight.

WC: How would you compare today's hardcore scene to the 80's? Is it more of a business now?

SC: Yeah, it's definitely more of a business now. When we first started, there was absolutely NO money involved in it whatsoever! We wouldn't even play clubs but houses, garages. No PA system most of the time. Nowadays, even bands that are starting out get to enjoy better facilities and equipment.

HO: There seems to be a resurgence of hardcore today. Punk's not dead!

WC: Looking back with the advantage of 20 years of hindsight, what would you say is the "definitive" D.R.I. album?

SC: Wow. It's hard because we changed over the years. I'd have to say "Dealing With It".

RR: My favorite record is "Dealing With It". It's like the "Van Halen 1" of D.R.I!

(Spike graciously takes his leave and Kurt sits in.)

KURT BRECHT: I like "Full Speed Ahead".

HO: Well, we're asking what the definitive D.R.I. record is, not what your personal favorite is!

KB: They all represent that period of time when we made them.

WC: If you had to pick just one to put in a time capsule to represent the band, what would it be?

KB: I guess "Dealing With It".

WC: How do you think D.R.I. will move ahead musically?

KB: No idea.

WC: Are you just totally spontaneous, then?

HO: Well, we're cutting some new shit right now. It's real up-tempo, it's real fast and frantic. It sounds like somebody frantically trying to find the keys on their guitar!

KB: Yeah, music to find your keys by!

WC: In all your years on the road, you must have your fair share of Spinal Tap stories. Is there any one in particular that stands out?

KB: Harald wrecked our van in Europe when we were just over there. He rammed it into somebody's parked car.

HO: Kurt told me to floor it!

RR: I think my most memorable one came one night when Kurt didn't want to sing a show because he was sick. Because he feared not performing on the rest of the tour, we had to find someone instantly to do the whole set. We found a guy who knew about 60% of the songs and pulled them off real good. This guy has come back on a number of occasions...

KB: What's his name, Jimmy?

R: Jimmy Johnson (surely not the Rockford record producer and member of Cold Dog!--Dr. Mality) .

HO: I got lots of Spinal Tap moments. I love Spinal Tap, they're one of my favorite bands ever! I've followed them throughout their long, illustrious career, since the 60's.

WC: What was your favorite album of theirs?

HO: Probably "Shark Sandwich".

WC: The one that got the 2-word review?

HO: (laughs): Yeah, "Shark Sandwich=Shit Sandwich"! "The Sun Never Sweats" was another classic.

WC: You got a fave Spinal Tap song?

HO: There's a new song on called "Back From The Dead" that's fuckin' great! Remember, it's Tapster, not Napster!

WC: What was the last CD each of you guys got for your own enjoyment?

RR: Hmmmm. For me, it was the latest from Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

HO: The new Foo Fighters CD! I'm mostly into old 70's stuff like Rush, Thin Lizzy....

KB: It's been so long for me, I can't even remember.

WC: And the last show you guys saw just for yourselves?

HO: I saw Kreator and Destruction not too long ago.

RR: I saw Gwar.

WC: How were they?

RR: I don't know, they kicked me out before I could see them.

WC: How come?

RR: I snuck backstage to hang out with the band and they caught me and kicked me out.

WC: Did you tell them you were with D.R.I.?!

RR: That's beside the point!

WC: You guys got any final words for the D.R.I. fans?

HO: Well, this is me, Harald, the bass player, the new guy and I just want to say the last 3 years have been the best of my life. It's been fuckin' great, with enthusiastic people everywhere we go. Thanks for coming out and supporting us all these years.

KB: I'd like to say that since Harald joined the band, it's been the worst 3 years of my life.(laughter) I'm looking forward to another 3 years at least before we get the next bass player.

RR: I'd like people to check out the new D.R.I. tribute CD that just came out on Malt Soda Records. And thanks again for the support!