“I was unhappy for a long time, but now at the age of 28 I’m settling into my own skin and accepting things for what they are. I have my friends and family, my band, and I get to travel the world doing rock shows which is what I love best. I made a world that I can call my own.”
Check out the video for the track below! You can pick up their album Enter Destroyer here.
Hey guys! First off, can you introduce yourselves and tell us your roles in the band?
Matt: Hey, I’m Matt and I play drums in The Dirt Radicals. I also do a bit of backing vox.
Mas: I’m Mas, I play the guitar and sing in The Dirt Radicals.
Sam: Hi, I’m Sam I slappa’zi’bass-mahn and sing in The Dirt Radicals. And write a lot.
With Enter Destroyer set to drop on the 25th, can you tell us a bit about the writing/recording process?
Matt: We started off recording in studios around the world. From Singapore to Tokyo to London… Using gear we love and people we want to work with. Then we took more and more control over the recording process until it was completely DIY. We always wanted it mastered at Blasting Room Studios. We love the albums they do over there, so we decided to get Enter Destroyer mastered with Jason Livermore. Go and check out what he has worked on… nuts!
Do you have any personal favorites off of the new record? Can you tell us a bit about those?
Matt: My personal favourite is 25, Alive. It takes me back to my ‘skater punk’ roots. It’s also the fastest song on the album.
Mas: Each song has a different story, background and message and I love them all and it’s the kind of thing that’ll change over time depending on your mood and such, but my personal fav’ at the moment is March April Maybe.
Sam: I’m with Mas on this one. But, I’m also really digging the set of balls The One That Got Away (With Murder) has on it. Just a bit more attitude’y and I think it’ll be a good ‘Live’ song.
Is there anything you did differently? What can your long-time fans expect from the new record?
Matt: We used one of those sub-kick mics on the kick drum. We’ve never used one before and it just opened up a whole load of control when it came to mixing drums. Other than that, a nice DW kit, and a selection of snares… Fun times!
Mas: I’ve almost always been the only guitarist in this band since our older days and so I’ve always had to keep in mind not to do anything that can’t be played live, like layers and harmonies that’d need more than 1 guitar to play, but with this record the songs are a lot more dynamic sounding and structured so I focused more on letting the songs have whatever they needed to have. The guys would come to me and say “Hey I think this part needs more depth?”, if we all agree then I’d go and record some clean arpeggios to add some depth. Turned out great and the songs sound epic as hell.
Vocal-wise, there’s a lot more going on as compared to our older stuff. With Matt in the ensemble, there is a lot more going on with vocal melodies/parts. Sam and I tried different techniques like the slides in The Greatest Depression Since The Great Depression and The One That Got Away (With Murder), and experimented a lot with our throats to hit a higher range like in iHate and My Everything.
Sam: I think fans expect to walk away from the album kinda confident in The Dirt Radicals? If that makes sense? We took a really long time making Enter Destroyer and I think people will be more willing to say they’re confidently a fan of the band after listening to it.
Sonically, what bands would you say are your biggest inspirations with this release and/or past releases?
Mas: I can’t really think of one right away as there are too many, but with the death of Tony Sly, I went over a lot of his music and realized how much I was influenced by him. It might not be anything noticeable but the ideas, his messages and everything. He was an amazing musician.
Matt: Yeah I have to agree with what Masashi said. I also found that I was just trying to be a more solid musician on this album. Just doing what is necessary and playing consistently – I think that comes from some of the latest releases of my all time fav bands like MXPX and NOFX.
Sam: One night Mas and I got pretty fucked up listening to The Wallflowers in my apartment in Chancery Lane, right above a Chicken Cottage. I think that was a really pivotal point in ‘making the album’ for us. The music was good, there was the smell of friend chicken in the air, and we kinda just spaced out listening to The Wallflowers’ One Headlight about 17 times. Sonically, I think we took a lot away from that night. We were also pretty messed up for about 3 days later…
You’ve mentioned that Enter Destroyer features a darker, rock-infused edge to your signature punk sound. Care to elaborate?
Matt: We never sat down and said ‘let’s write a dark album’… I’d say it’s just very honest. In terms of what we were going through when making it. It’s not all doom and gloom though.
Mas: As we grow up and get older we go through a lot of stuff and sometimes it can get pretty overwhelming that we forget what it was like when we were kids… Enter Destroyer to me is letting it in and accepting it in order to move forward with life.
Sam: Yeah, I’d say we still have that energetic punk rock vibe going on… It’s just gone in a new direction. I think we made a record that we would want to listen to as 28 year old punk rock fans.
Anything specific that inspired that change?
Matt: For me, I think we are just growing and with that our taste in music evolves. I think we are finally maturing? [Laughs]
Mas: Personal lives I guess. Moving out of Singapore and starting up new lives elsewhere has been quite a lesson.
Sam: I think the biggest inspiration for change in music style was our Live Show. I wanted to make sure we had some cool stuff to work with live.
You guys are now based in London. What’s the music scene like there? How does it compare to a place like Singapore and why did you decided to move there?
Matt: It’s pretty dog eat dog. A million bands, a million venues… It’s hard to get your head above the water.
Mas: There definitely is a wider scene there and bands are touring all the time so it motivates us a lot as a band.
Do you think growing up in a country as an expat that has shaped the way you’ve developed as a band and as musicians?
Matt: I wouldn’t know because I haven’t lived a different life to compare it to what I’ve been through. If you know what I mean? But if I had to guess – I’d say we had the same struggles (booking gigs, recording, making fans etc.). Just little things are different I guess. Like you can’t really hop in a van and tour Singapore. You know?
Mas: We got to go through lifestyles that I don’t think any international band has ever been through, and I believe it just adds to it.
On a more personal note, where would you do consider your “home country”, and why?
Matt: No clue! Haha. I’d say England is ‘home’ at the moment. I have my friends and family here. But I’ll also always consider Singapore and Australia home too. I grew up there!
Mas: I feel pretty safe being back in Nagano, my hometown in Japan although I’ve only lived there for 3 years throughout my life.
Sam: Cue the song Pop-Punk Left Me In A Pop-Funk off the new record to hear my answer in full…
[Laughs] Can’t wait to hear it. What’re some of your favorite things about being in a band?
Matt: Seeing someone in a crowd in another country sing along to one of your songs is pretty powerful. Nothing really beats it!
Mas: Being able to travel with my best friends, getting free drinks, driving in van for 15 hours and smelling like shit.
Sam: I think walking away from a real special show with Mas and Matt, and re-grouping, and being like ‘That was fucking awesome.’, and just partying together after the show. We have a few of those shows which we treasure pretty dearly.
Matt: A show we did with Sum 41 at the Hard Rock Cafe Singapore. It was my birthday, and the crowd was awesome. How can you top that?
Mas: Our first visit to Indonesia was pretty epic and memorable.
Sam: We did a small club show in Nagano, Japan last year which was our own headlining show. I just remember the crowd going nuts, and looking at the guys thinking how far we’d come with the most massive smile on my face.
Lastly, let’s talk about some firsts. How did your first band come together?
Matt: Going to gigs and making friends. [Laughs] Old fashioned. Didn’t have any of that ‘internet’ stuff back then!
Mas: We met at a gig when we were in different bands and found out that we lived close, hung out for drinks and jammed and bam!
What about your first musical experiences?
Matt: Playing the trumpet in a school band. I sucked and I hated it. Always wanted to be on the drums.
Mas: I think my first cry was in a key of Bb minor… Then I started learning the piano when I was 5.
Sam: I caught the drumstick at a Presidents of United States of America concert when I was 12. They were my favorite band in the world, and I remember just holding that drumstick for dear life thinking “That’s all I want to do. I want to be in a band.”.
Awesome. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us guys! Any last words you’d like to share?
Matt: Come down to one of our gigs and hang out with us. We love meeting people and trying local beers.
Mas: Thank you! Check out our stuff online!
Sam: Buy our new album on iTunes – it’s good shit!
The year is 1999. The air is thick and consistently burns on the small Southeast Asian metropolis of Singapore. A group of expat high school musicians hailing from Australia and Japan, form a band under the moniker Pug Jelly. The young band’s infectious, energetic brand of pop-rock/pop-punk quickly spread through the country, pushing them up the ranks of the local music scene and establishing Pug Jelly as one of the household names in underground Singaporean pop-punk. No easy feat, considering the fact that the band was spawned by foreign talent, and the nationalistic mindset that many Singaporean’s have. Despite the criticisms, the “local” band has seen international acclaim, proven by tours spanning across Southeast Asia, and a nomination for the MTV Asia awards.
Pack Your Bags…
Pug Jelly met their end in 2005. However, after a couple years worth of hiatus, lineup changes and a brief run under the name Saw Loser, The Dirt Radicals rose from the ashes in 2009, by previous Pug Jelly members: Australian brothers Sam and Matt Cooper (Vocals/Bass, Drums) and Japanese Masashi Kimura (Guitar/Vocals). Fueled by an insatiable hunger to create great music and put on energetic live shows, the band pushed the envelope of contemporary punk rock in dynamic and creative ways with the release of their first full-length, …I’ve Got A Rad Feeling About This! in August 2010. With catchy tracks like Jakarta, (my personal favorite,) Osaka Sundown, and lead single Pack Your Bags (which received heavy airplay on Singapore’s top radio stations).
The Dirt Radicals not only rocketed back to the top of the punk scene, but hungrily showed, with no discrimination, why they rightfully belonged there in the first place. With several tours, and a slew of headlining positions at Asia’s most major music festivals (Baybeats, Unionway Fest, Java Rockin’ Land, HoHaiYan Festival); one would think any band would have had their fill. But The Dirt Radicals are far from through.
Enterin’ and Destroyin’
After leaving Singapore with their eyes set on London, England, the band is currently due to release their sophomore album Enter Destroyer. The highly anticipated album features 13 tracks, sonically united by a darker, heavier sound combined with the distinctive rock-and-roll/punk rock vibe. Sam Cooper describes the album’s theme as the “disintegration of society. It’s about people lying and cheating to get ahead in the world. It’s about the people who carelessly enter and exit others’ lives, nonchalantly leaving a trail of destruction behind them.” The album, as the band has stated, will serve as a venting tool for their struggles in the members’ lives.
From Pug Jelly, to Saw Loser to The Dirt Radicals, the band has stayed true to their core message, great music and great times. With the Enter Destroyer set to drop on June 25th this year, it’s easy to see how far The Dirt Radicals have come, and far they’re going to go. The cigarette is far from done. Pre-orders for the new album begin May 28th on iTunes!