D.R.I are a punk bank hailing from Houston, Texas, USA who formed in 1982. The band are known for their riotous mix of thrash metal and hardcore punk, and have been consistently active since they formed, led by the sole constant members guitarist Spike Cassidy and vocalist Kurt Brecht.
If you were a musically inclined kid, then chances are that you heard of punk rock and metal as genres before you heard the actual music. You might have even seen photos of the band members before hearing the music, now we’re in the internet age. If you were anything like me, you probably had an idea of what they would sound like based on what you read about them. Or maybe what you saw in those photos of Johnny Rotten sneering at the camera with a safety pin in his nose or the Ramones leaning against a brick wall looking like the really scary kids at school.
Now that we’re older, we’ve probably found that the music that we thought those old school punks would play, terrifying bursts of metallic noise, is pretty much precisely the kind of music the D.R.I play. We’re also more inclined to think that D.R.I are a pretty awesome band because of it. Especially now that we can appreciate the fact that they’re one of a very rare breed, a band who were part of early 80’s thrash metal boom and made a long lasting career out of it, without becoming pop stars or creaking shadows of their former selves.
The band began by rising from the ashes of another band that most of the members played in called The Suburbanites, in fact the original line up of D.R.I was basically The Suburbanites but with Cassidy playing guitar instead of Cassidy’s roommate. The band formed in May 1982, and started practising together almost immediately, in the basement of Kurt’s parents’ house. Unfortunately, they were none too thrilled at the prospect of a noisy thrash/punk band bawling away on their property, but in an almost saintly show of parental patience and understanding, they let them keep practising.
Their patience still wore thin from time to time however, and on one occasion where that happened, the band were branded “dirty rotten scoundrels” by a pair of angry Brecht parents. Nothing if not resourceful, the band abbreviated that insult into D.R.I and took it as their name. Two months after they started practising together they played their first show at Joe Star’s OMNI nightclub in Houston, and started gigging locally, gaining a loyal following in short order. By November they’d recorded and released their “Dirty Rotten E.P”, a heroic display of economy that crammed 22 songs in at a total length of 18 minutes.
By this point their name had spread, and the 1000 copy initial print of the E.P sold out before the end of the year, and in 1983 it was re-released as their debut album the “Dirty Rotten L.P”. In the same year they relocated to San Francisco, living in their splitter van by day and eating at soup kitchens in between shows. Their first national exposure came when they joined the Rock Against Reagan tour supporting The Dead Kennedy’s, and since then they’ve been one of the true bastions of American underground rock. Never compromising in the face of suits telling them what to do and releasing six subsequent albums until their hiatus in 2006.
Their hiatus came for the worst possible reason, as Spike Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer, but after chemotherapy and surgery he made a full recovery and they’ve been touring non-stop ever since. They’re still a vitally important band to have around, arguably now more than ever, and they come highly recommended.