4TheLove brought The Dirty Names to the Ace of Clubs on Wednesday night, treating a crowd of well-dressed youngsters to a night of classic rock and roll, Dirty style. Hailing from Annapolis, Maryland, The Dirty Names play a throwback blend of rock and soul that tends to induce gyrating, partying, and general good times. Their show on Wednesday was no exception.
A five piece, The Dirty Names are Harrison Cofer on guitar and lead vox, Matt Rose on drums, Kit Whitacre on guitar, Sam Wetterau on bass, and John Countryman on keys. The whole band sings, which occasionally leads one to imagine the dudes as a sort of badass barbershop quintet that kicked all of the other barbershop boys out of town. Think The Rolling Stones meets Chuck Berry, add vocal harmony, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.
The band sounded great on Wednesday, tight and polished to a shine. They put out a lot of sound without any element being lost in the mix or sounding overly busy. Countryman pounds the ivories with a vigor that a Korg can barely withstand, Whitacre rocks across stage, kicking and grooving, and Cofer has the stage presence of a frontman from the classic era of frontmen. Pretty impressive stuff, considering that the combined age of the band barely cracks the century mark.
Check out their video for their single Cadillac (She Moves) at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev0LUFqVBPA. Watch out for these guys, you’ll hear more.
I had a chance to sit down with Matt and Sam after the show to talk Dirty road trips, their album First, and volcanoes…
So, you guys are here in New York. Tell me what a Dirty Names road trip is like. I imagine it starts and ends with cheap whiskey shots at some local watering hole…
Sam That’s very true. This is actually the first trip we all took one car together. Usually we’re in different cars, so you can imagine five dudes stuffed in a SUV with all the gear what would go on.
Matt It was dirty.
Sam It was dirty times, people trying to sleep, people farting, it got dirty really quick.
Matt There’s a lot of good rapport going on in the car. Jokes get thrown around—mainly making fun of Kit, he needs it. It’s like having a punching bag in the car sometimes. You gotta get your punches in. It’s good for him—it keeps him young.
We’re definitely happy to have you here in the city, at least for a night, because you bring a throwback rock and roll vibe unlike any other band out there that I can think of. Can you talk a little bit about your aesthetic? Maybe start with your influences musically and lyrically and talk about what you do differently to bring it into the 2000s?
Matt It basically started with us having a collective idea of the music that we liked and we thought that there was a niche that is lacking in music right now, a back to the roots kind of rock and roll. So we got together and started playing and naturally it kind of sounded like that. Clearly we’re all into all kinds of other music, from metal to jazz to bossa nova to indie rock, so a lot of that stuff seeps in. But our goal was basically to bring back true rock and roll, from the lifestyle to the sound to the feeling that gets the fans dancing.
Sam We started by listening to the stuff that The Rolling Stones and The Faces were listening to, to get their vibe—Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, what really got rock and roll started—we tried to grasp that and bring it back.
You’ve recently added keys to your mix with the addition of John Countryman, who couldn’t have a better name for a piano player. Has your songwriting process changed and have you had to do anything differently live? You do play loud…
Sam It’s good. A lot of our songs are very busy and everybody is doing something. It lets everybody play less, there are more empty spaces. Sometimes Harrison doesn’t have to play guitar, which really frees him up.
Matt It gives us more options when we play. It helps us really get into a musical conversation—when you have five people talking at once, really nobody gets heard, nothing gets said. It really helps us as musicians. The piano is such a diverse instrument, it’s really rhythmic and you can paint a really cool picture, especially for the sound that we’re going for. Now that we have it, I couldn’t imagine us without it.
Let’s stick with your live performance for now, because you’ve gathered a good following on the merits of your performances alone. You put on a really energy-packed show. What do you guys do to get ready for a show?e="text-align:center;">Sam Because we all sing, we get ready with our voices. It’s a nice thing. We get together outside or in a private spot, hopefully, because it looks pretty weird. We just warm up the vocals and we sing “Her Man’s Been Gone” by The Who.