The seminal crossover-thrash band D.R.I. released its seventh studio album, Full Speed Ahead, in 1995, and fans hungry for an eighth album ... well, they'll need to keep waiting.
Founding vocalist Kurt Brecht, in a recent phone interview promoting D.R.I.'s May 30 appearance at RIBCO, said the band isn't against the idea and has made fits and starts. It recorded four demos in 2004 and released a Web-only track from those sessions. And, he added, founding guitarist Spike Cassidy "was saying something about recording the next time we're in L.A. with the engineer that used to do our old albums when we were on Metal Blade Records."
But, he said, if something comes from that studio time, it will likely be an EP. "Not that we couldn't write a full album," he said. "It's just we've been so busy touring and stuff, we don't want to stop to put out an album. ... We're just so happy to have an unlimited amount of dates thrown at us all over the world to play, so we don't want to slow down." Plus, without a current record deal, the band is under no obligation to release new material - and getting a record deal or self-releasing an album would require energy that could be devoted to touring.
Lest you think the quartet also known as Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (a moniker bestowed by Brecht's father as a reaction to the group's rehearsals in the family home) is living high on nostalgia, the singer said that the band has been able to "make it" since it devoted itself full-time to music in the early '80s - but it's never been a way to get rich. "I don't mean 'make it' like Justin Bieber make it. I just mean make it to where you've got gas to put in your van and a way to keep it running and get you to the next show and not to have to work at a regular job. ...
"We still grind and struggle, but we are able to make a living - only because, for years and years, we've learned to live very cheap. ... The grind and the struggle are the best part of it."
(Asked whether the band had been forced to live in its van and eat at soup kitchens as it did in its early days, Brecht said with a chuckle that D.R.I. is "always just one tour away from it.")
Dirty Rotten Imbeciles started in 1982 as a straight-ahead punk outfit. Its 1983 debut packed 22 songs into 18 minutes, and 1985's Dealing with It! followed a similar template - although "Nursing Home Blues" and "Argument Then War" suggested the path toward a punk/thrash fusion in song length and pummeling complexity.
The title of 1987's Crossover bluntly announced a commitment to that joining of punk and metal, and by 1989's Thrash Zone, Brecht's snotty vocal bite and phrasing were about all that remained of its punk roots, sacrificed for lots of down-tuned riffage.
But the singer said that D.R.I.'s current sets draw roughly equally from all its albums, with at least five songs from each record.
Brecht added that the band has been able to attract new fans over the past two decades without new material. The group tries to keep its sets fresh for longtime supporters, and social-media sites help it find where demand is high. D.R.I. recently toured Australia for the first time in more than a quarter-century - and added its first-ever dates in New Zealand.
"I'm surprised anybody likes us," he said, but younger people keep finding the band. They have "either been talked to about it [D.R.I.], or trained by their parents. Sometimes I think they got into another type of not-as-extreme hardcore music, like Green Day ... and then they start - if they're smart and intelligent and inquisitive - researching that band and find out who their influences were, and then you go off on a different tangent. ... And a lot of times it'll come back to D.R.I."
D.R.I. will perform on Friday, May 30, at RIBCO (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island; RIBCO.com). The show starts at 9 p.m. and also features Obsidian Hammer and Johnny Scum. Advance tickets are $15.
For more information on D.R.I., visit DirtyRottenImbeciles.com.