The Dirty Low Down
For Fans Of: Isles & Glaciers / Dance Gavin Dance / Sleeping With Sirens
Having recently released their new track, ‘On My Own’, we catch up with melodic five-piece The Dirty Low Down to chat about new music, heroes and the coolest show they’ve played thus far.
Photos: Jess Dailey
Words: Renette van der Merwe
Explain the band name – wrong answers only. Also tell us a little more about how long you’ve been going for, the music you play and more.
Ok. So. Gabe and I used to work at this restaurant and I was kind of an assistant manager at the time. One day I tell him to go clean under the ice machine and he looks at me and says, “Really? The dirtiest? The low down dirtiest spot in the entire place?” “Yes,” said I, “the dirty low down, please and thank you.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Truthfully, Gabe (drums) and I (lead guitar) did actually meet at that restaurant and formed a band around the name of a few dubstep playlists I made back in the day called “The Dirty Low Down”. The phrase comes from the Boz Scaggs track “Lowdown” which happened to be a song I heard often growing up. Gabe liked the name so we rolled with it. We started jamming with his friend Carlo (rhythm guitar) out of his garage in 2017 and the band slowly formed from there. Following several dozen shows, a few singles, and some line up changes, we eventually brought on Micheal for vocals and Jordan on bass. Since then we’ve been at our strongest and began forming a great local following here in Charlotte and beyond.
Our music really focuses on being energetic and emotional and atypically complex for our genre. We all pull from different influences and it mixes into this unique blend of punchy drums, funky distorted guitars, and huge pop vocals. Admittedly, we sometimes have a hard time describing our sound but we think the most flattering comparisons we’ve heard are Dance Gavin Dance, Coheed and Cambria, and Paramore…although the latter may have had something to do with having a female vocalist initially. Our lyrics mainly come from Micheal’s personal experience and creativity. Usually they encapsulate a “truth” or “realization” about something or someone. This is actually what “The Dirty Low Down” is – a painful truth often avoided because the lie is easier to swallow. As a band we try to remain honest with ourselves and play music that suits our interests. The temptation to play what’s trendy or easy is hard to ignore but it wouldn’t be the right move for us in the long run.
“Tasty, funky guitars lead the way through an emotional vocal delivery, building up to a soaring chorus.”
Love It To Death
Do you remember that lightbulb moment where you realised music was what you wanted to do?
Music has always been a part of my life through my family but it wasn’t until high school when I sought out music on my own. The desire was really cemented after playing in a local battle of the bands with a group called “Backseat Confidential.” This hastily formed blues rock band playing covers and a few originals didn’t really interest me that much (I do admit Hard To Handle by The Black Crowes still hits however) but getting to play on a big stage in front of a bunch of people for the first time really excited me and still does today. I can speak for the band when I say that we really just want to release and perform catchy and unique music. It’s something that has held true for the majority of my life so far and the reason why we’re all in a band together to begin with. Sadly, the pandemic put the live shows on hold but it’s still at the front of my mind.
What’s the coolest show you’ve ever played?
So far the coolest show we’ve played has been the one we put together at the world famous Milestone Club here in Charlotte, NC. This place is a staple of the scene and an industry legend for hosting some of the greatest punk and metal acts to ever tour the East Coast. I mean, think about it…we got to book a show and play on the same stage as Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Nirvana, Against Me!, Violent Femmes…just to name a few. How cool is that? Pretty dang cool if you ask me. All I know is that we’re doing what we can to be deserving of the association. Thankfully that show went incredibly well with nearly a full house and all the bands that played with us that night left with a good chunk of cash in their pocket! Once live shows are a thing again post-pandemic you better believe we’ll be playing there again.
You recently released ‘On My Own’. What inspired you to write it?
On My Own started off with just the intro lick inspired by a song I worked on with an old friend from highschool. One of those riffs that never really became anything more than that and just collected dust on my mental shelf until it was pulled out to jam with for a TDLD session. Once we started to dig into it a bit, the instrumental practically wrote itself. I have a habit of leaning on odd jazz chords instead of power chords which gave the song a somber tone despite how uptempo and syncopated it was. Micheal ended up penning lyrics to match. On My Own speaks on the retrospective appreciation that follows a difficult breakup of a toxic relationship. Micheal dug deep and reflected on what got him into such a relationship, what kept him from leaving when things got bad, and the liberty of how it felt to be alone but assured in your decision. No one enjoys being alone but when companionship hurts more than solitude it’s time for a change. Sometimes it’s only when you remove yourself from the situation and get your head above water you realize you were drowning. It’s a difficult subject to broach, but it’s one a lot of people can relate to so we felt it was the perfect song to put out as the spearhead of our next phase of releases.
Who’s on your Mount Rushmore if it was a music memorial and why?
Oh man, a huge monument to the greatest American musicians of all time? Well to start, we’re moving it to the Hollywood Hills…you won’t catch me in the woods! For me, it’s gotta be Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Kurt Cobain. While it may be a bit guitar-centric, each of them revolutionized rock music (in Tharpe’s case starting it) or changed the scene forever. I dare say I may not have gotten into the guitar at all if it wasn’t for Hendrix and Van Halen. Nirvana is almost universally cited as an influence for most millennial guitarists and I’m no exception. If anyone deserves to be enshrined in giant rock faces overlooking Los Angeles valley, it’s these four.
Settle an argument for us (and the rest of the world)… clowns, fun or creepy?
Uhh, I think it’s safe to say that anyone I associate with thinks clowns are creepy. And anyone that thinks clowns are fun isn’t someone I associate with…except for my partner, they get a pass, of course.
Rising to the challenge, The Dirty Low Down have put together an electrifying collection of songs that best encapsulates the artists and music that inspire them as a band.
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