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Sunday Old School: Dirty Rotten Imbeciles

Crossover thrash is an interesting genre, one whose stalwarts stories often begin with them forming as a hardcore outfit and bringing in metal influences as time went by and this week's featured band, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles are no exception. Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (or D.R.I. as they commonly known,) were formed in the Texas city of Houston on the 2nd of May 1982 by vocalist Kurt Brecht, his brother Eric on drums, bass player Dennis Johnson and guitarist, Spike Cassidy, who was the only one of the founding D.R.I. members not to have been a part of the hardcore band, Suburbanites. They performed their first gig exactly two months after forming and four months later, made their first record, the "Dirty Rotten EP," which featured twenty two songs but lasted only eighteen minutes. The EP was very well received and demand for the 7" led the band to re-releasing the effort as a 12" record, under the title, "Dirty Rotten LP." In order to advance in the emerging hardcore punk scene, the group relocated to San Francisco, California, where they reportedly faced many hardships, living in their van and resorting to eating at soup kitchens. The hard living was too much for Johnson, and he decided to return home to Texas, his place being taken by Sebastion Amok before the band secured a fairly high profile slot on the "Rock Against Reagan" tour, supporting the Dead Kennedys. Amok was sacked after the tour and replaced by Josh Pappe.

Pappe made his recording debut with the band on their next EP, "Violent Pacification," which featured four songs and once again earned a positive reception. After touring in support of the record, Eric Brecht decided to leave the band, owing in part to his recent marriage and his place behind the kit was taken by Felix Griffin. The next year, the band recorded and released their second full length record, "Dealing With It," which featured a sound moving noticeably closer to metal, though it was essentially still a hardcore album. It included the song, "Couch Slouch," which had previously featured on the “Violent Pacification” EP, as well as the opening tracks, "Snap" and "I'd Rather Be Sleeping," which would be covered by New York thrash legends, Anthrax the next decade. They were once again forced into finding a new bassist when Pappe decided to leave the band following extensive touring, with Offenders bass player, Mikey Offender chosen as his replacement. In recognition of the heavy touring the band had undertaken, they released their first home video, "Live at the Olympic" in 1986, which was filmed in Los Angeles.

In 1987, D.R.I. released one of their most important albums to date, "Crossover," which leaned significantly more towards thrash metal than their previous releases, while still retaining their hardcore sounds, making the group one of the standout acts of the crossover thrash scene along with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies and led them to touring all over the world. Following the release of another home video, "Live at The Ritz," the band released their next album, "Four of a Kind," which shed much of their hardcore sound but was met with a lot less fanfare than their other records, though it did produce their first music video for the song, "Suit and Tie Guy."

After recruiting another new bass player in the form of John Menor, the group recorded their fifth album, "Thrash Zone," which hit the shelves in 1989 and produced two more music videos for the songs, "Abduction" and "Beneath the Wheel," the latter of which would air quite regularly on MTV. After touring in support of the record, which was received a little better than, "Four of a Kind," Felix Griffin decided to quit the band and the drum stool was occupied by Rob Bampy, who is still a member of D.R.I. to this day. "Thrash Zone" proved to be their last output with Metal Blade Records and it would be three years until they released their next album, "Definition," in 1992 through Rotten Records. D.R.I. promoted "Definition" by heading out on the road with Testament, who had just released the most commercially successful album of their career at that point, "The Ritual," before embarking on a headlining tour of their own, which led to their first live album, "Live."

Shortly after recording, "Live," John Menor decided to leave and his place was taken by roadie, Chumly Porter. Porter made his first and only recording with D.R.I. on the album, “Full Speed Ahead,” which produced a music video for the song, "Syringes in the Sandbox." Following the release of, "Full Speed Ahead," the group decided that they would not record or release any new music and concentrated on touring, although they were forced to cancel all their shows in Canada given that both Brecht and Cassidy had previously been charged with driving under the influence. The band reneged on their idea not to record any more material, when they recorded a four song EP in 2004, posting one new song, "Against Me," on their official website, but this did not lead to a new album. In March 2006, Spike Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer, but fortunately, was able to complete all chemotherapy and radiation treatment by the end of the year and returned to the stage once more. Several of the group’s albums have since been re-released and while there has been talk of a new album in the past few years, nothing concrete has emerged from the D.R.I. camp with regards to new material. What the future hold for the band remains to be seen, but what it certain is that they have etched their name into the annals of heavy music by contributing massively to the crossover thrash genre and continuing to bring a sense of excitement and chaos to the stage.

D.R.I. live at CBGB's


D.R.I. - "Suit and Tie Guy"

D.R.I. - "Beneath the Wheel"

D.R.I. - "Acid Rain"

D.R.I. - "Syringes in the Sandbox"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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6 Comments on "Sunday Old School: D.R.I."

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Anonymous Reader
1. ss_dd13 writes:

Great write up Ollie! Love D.R.I, their music was in part very influential for me. I was in high school in '85 when first heard "Dealing With It"... Blew my mind, and when "Crossover" came along I was already waist deep in the hardcore scene. Th

# Apr 21, 2013 @ 11:54 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. ssdd_69 writes:

Great write up Ollie! Love D.R.I, their music was in part very influential for me. I was in high school in '85 when first heard "Dealing With It"... Blew my mind, and when "Crossover" came along I was already waist deep in the hardcore scene. Thanks for bringing out the good stuff!

# Apr 21, 2013 @ 11:55 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

3. Diamond Oz writes:

You're very welcome! I'm very happy you enjoyed the article and it brought back some memories. Thank you for your response!

# Apr 22, 2013 @ 3:08 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
musicologist's avatar

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4. musicologist writes:

I remember buying vocalist Kurt Brecht's books about living in a tree in goldengate park (goes way back). Harald Oimoen – bass guitar (1999–present) is kind of a bayarea metal historian. Iconic band logo!

# Apr 22, 2013 @ 6:08 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar

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5. R10 writes:

Good write -up Oz. I saw DRI and COC in a small club in Cambridge MA in '87! Sh*t was fresh, a combo of punk/metal it seemed at ths time.

# Apr 22, 2013 @ 7:07 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

6. Diamond Oz writes:

Cheers R10, I'll do an SOS on COC someday too.

I never knew Kurt Brecht had any books. Might try and find them.

# Apr 22, 2013 @ 8:01 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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