Romanian Folkcore Metal band Dirty Shirt Releases Hypercharged Single, "DOPE-A-MIN"
Romanian crossover folkcore metal band Dirty Shirt releases uniquely hypercharged single, "DOPE-A-MIN" a part of their April release album Get Your Dose Now!
Many musicians come from the most unique and humble of beginnings. For progressive folkcore/metal band Dirty Shirt, the beginnings of what their band would become were anything but conventional.
“I think that “Dope-A-Min” is a good example of how the creative process works in Dirty Shirt: it's a kind of organized chaos, haha. Usually, I compose in my head, without having any instrument with me. Many of these ideas are lost, but I think that the good ones remain somewhere and resurface even years after. This is also the case for Dope-A-Min. It started with the intro/outro theme, composed in the middle of 2000, but was forgotten until two or three years ago. ”
Starting as young rockers playing in a wedding band in post-communist Romania, their wide range of musical influences would bring them together to create something bigger than they would ever imagine. Tapping into an attractive mixture of East-European traditional music, nu-metal, metalcore, alternative rock, and hardcore genres, their new single, "DOPE-A-MIN"," is more than just an individual conglomeration of musical soundscapes.
It shows a bridge between worlds in ways that music can only mold together. Part of their recent multi-genre April album release, Get Your Dose Now!, and recently coming back from tour, Dirty Shirt is only just getting started with their blossoming journey to success. While the band can officially tag four albums under their belts now, it's safe to say there is still plenty more creative fuel left in the tank to burn.
What started Dirty Shirt?
Mihai Tivadar: It began with some young rockers playing in a wedding band in the middle of the 90s, in post-communist Romania, in the extreme Nord-West of Transylvania more precisely.
What are your music influences? You guys play off of being a progressive alternative band, but this new single and album taps into an attractive mixture of nu-metal, metalcore, alternative rock, and hardcore genres that you intertwine into your music.
Mihai Tivadar: The band started as an alternative/progressive band, but we were always very open to any musical influence. We have a long-term motto in the band: the most important thing is that we are enjoying our music and if others like it, it is even better. So, especially after the reunion of the band in the middle of 2000, we let the influences from many artistic horizons enter our music. The main sound of the band (nu-metal with hardcore and industrial elements) was probably constructed at the beginning of 2010, but after that, album after album, the East European traditional elements became naturally more and more present. I think that we are very lucky to have such reach with traditional music as a source of inspiration, adding a lot of emotions and feelings to this cold and aggressive metal sound.
How was this creative process on this single different from other work in the past? I know "DOPE-A-MIN" has a very high-octane, pop nature within its soundscape, but then drops these nu-metal, hardcore, and metal styles into the mix.
Mihai Tivadar: I think that “Dope-A-Min” is a good example of how the creative process works in Dirty Shirt: it's a kind of organized chaos, haha.
Usually, I compose in my head, without having any instrument with me. Many of these ideas are lost, but I think that the good ones remain somewhere and resurface even years after. This is also the case for Dope-A-Min. It started with the intro/outro theme, composed in the middle of 2000, but was forgotten until two or three years ago.
I don’t know how and when it came back. However, when I started to play the riff on the guitar, I felt that after this steady nu-metal part the song needed to go wild with some very energetic riffs. So I jammed a little on my guitar, and practically in one take the basis of the main song was made: structure, riffs, and main melodic lines. Afterward, I recorded an instrumental demo version, used as the basis for all the musicians involved in the process.
One of the main advantages, when many talented musicians are working on a song (I think about 15 on this particular track), is that each one adds its personality and brings a lot of richness to our music. For example, the complex rhythmic transition between the last chorus and the intermezzo happened when I jammed with Dan, Cosmin (violin), and Andrei (flute) to develop the melodic lines I proposed. Mat (our lyrics writer) added the vocal part on the intro/outro and had the idea of switching the main lead to the girls on the chorus.
How has the creative process affected you guys on a personal level? You guys are taking all these great genres within the rock scene but still being authentically yourselves with these beautiful notes of gypsy/Romanian influences.
Mihai Tivadar: I started playing music with the classic piano and I played in children's bands from the age of 7 or 8. I also played in a wedding band when I was a teenager with Pali, Dirty Shirt’s bass player. At that time, playing at weddings meant playing a lot of traditional Romanian music, but it was really fun because in our set we had many rock covers.
I also touched on jazz music with my second piano teacher and took piano lessons from a gypsy musician from our town. From him, I learned, for example, how to construct gypsy harmonies and melodies (from café concerts to traditional Romanian music), but also how to tune my piano.
At the same time, I started to listen to rock music at an early age, from my father and from my neighbor who used to be a student: Romanian bands such as Phoenix, Iris, Holograf but also the Beatles, and Queen. I discovered metal music just after the Romanian Revolution, and I became instantly a lifetime fan.
I started with Maiden and Metallica, then Pantera & Sepultura, passing to Faith No More/Mr. Bungle and Dream Theater. But my big “love” is the nu-metal and all alternative movements with bands like Korn, Tool, NIN, SOAD, RATM, etc.
So, with all this baggage, I think that it's not that surprising that we are blending all these genres, especially since we are many musicians, and each one has his/her musical taste and personality. Probably the most important aspect is the authenticity, with real musicians playing real acoustic instruments, in the studio, but also live, when possible.
Lyrically where is "DOPE-A-MIN" coming from? What made you guys want to write this?
Mihai Tivadar: For many songs on our latest two albums, we worked with Mat di Pilla (French musician) on the lyrics. For Dope-A-Min, I had the idea to construct the lyrics around the superficiality of the actual society, and from here, Mat developed great lyrics.
Mat: “Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. This song is about all the illusions created on social media and in our relationships in general. We must be happy at all costs, and become dependent on these shots of dopamine, like popping vitamin tablets every morning. Also, this song is dope and the key is A minor.”
You guys are on tour right now! That's exciting! How has that been going?
Mihai Tivadar: First of all, we are a live band. Even if all of us had a regular job, we used to play on average 30-40 shows per year. For us, the most intense experience as a musician is to perform on stage. But with the pandemic, we only had one concert in 2020 (a “pandemic'' 25th anniversary at the Roman Arena in Bucharest), and a dozen small/medium festivals in 2021. The only exception was our performance at Poland Rock, the only major European festival that managed to make a pandemic edition.
So, yes, we are excited that we just started the new album release tour. The first four gigs in Romania were awesome, big, and warm crowds, including a sold-out in Form Space (Cluj Napoca). This spring we will continue the national in-door tour. For this summer, the agenda will be incredible for us, as there are several major festivals, confirmed before that pandemic, that will finally happen: Hellfest (Fr), Reload (D), Dong Open Air (D), Plane’r Fest (Fr).
"DOPE-A-MIN" is part of a larger project. Can we talk about your sixth album release? That just came out recently.
Mihai Tivadar: "Dope-A-Min" is the last single from our newest album, Get Your Dose Now! was released on April 1st, 2022. A great album, I assure you, haha.
What is next for you guys this year? As if the tour and promoting this sophomore release aren't enough to keep you guys busy right? Haha. But I have to ask.
Mihai Tivadar: This year we will focus and will enjoy our tour, as practically we are promoting two albums, not only the last one, but also Letchology (the biggest success until now), released in 2019, and with a tour cut short after less than one year. Maybe, this summer we will shoot a new video, we will see.