Self-Reflection and Insomnia: An Interview with Dirt
Made up of former members of bands based in Liverpool, Essex and London, Dirt are what you might call a modern rock supergroup. Back in 2014, five guys decided to pool their musical expertise to create a highly polished sound – one which sometimes takes a post-hardcore turn but also effortlessly dabbles in the acoustic. Dirt’s apparent versatility can be perhaps be attributed to their eclectic personal tastes as well as their individual experience: this is a band where a history of pop-rock (as played by the singer’s previous band, Taking Hayley) coexists with a love of hip hip (a favourite of Dirt’s drummer). Lyrically, it is clear that the members’ personal journeys are a great source of inspiration; their debut EP, Mirrors, seems to revolve around self-awareness and the bittersweet process of change. Ellipsis caught up with the band’s drummer, Perry Sinclair, to discuss how Dirt came together, the stories behind the tracks, and what to expect from a typical gig…
Ellipsis: Can you tell us a bit about your roots and how you became a band? Have you always wanted to be musicians?
Perry: We were all in bands before Dirt started. Nik (guitar) and Abdul (bass) were in local bands in Liverpool together, and myself (drums) and Dan (guitar) were both in a band in Essex. After deciding to make a serious go at forming a band Abdul and Nik moved their search for members for a new band to London where they found me and Dan. We started writing and searching for a vocalist which was a bit of a struggle, we must’ve auditioned at least 150 people and tried every method you could think of attracting singers. In the end, we found out that Taking Hayley (Alistair’s previous band) had broken up, and contacted Alistair online, he came down to an audition and the rest was history! I think ever since we were all teenagers the dream has been to be in a successful band.
Ellipsis: How did you come up with the band name?
Perry: We wanted something short and iconic, something you would remember. I think originally we liked the idea of having a name of something normally perceived as negative that we could craft into something more positive with our music. In our music, we often talk about the idea of accepting your faults, and turning them into a positive. We wanted to make Dirt something to be proud of, because nobody’s perfect but we can all aim for perfection.
Ellipsis: ‘Time To Grow,’ a release from your debut EP, ‘Mirrors’, seems to be all about freedom and self-transformation. Is there a particular story behind the song?
Perry: When myself and Alistair sat down to write the lyrics, self-transformation and growth was definitely the message of the song! We both have our individual experiences that influenced the song; for myself it was the experience of moving from being a teenager and becoming an adult that influenced the lyrics. I’ve had amazing parents who have gave me skills and knowledge, but when you start to grow up you’ve got to learn how to apply that to the ‘big wide world’. The opening line, ‘Ill live this life for you’ was directly addressed to my parents when I wrote it.
I don’t want to talk too much on Ali’s behalf, but I know that he’s had quite an adventurous last few years, and has moved away from home to the other side of the country to study and build a life. I’m sure those experiences influenced his writing of ‘Time To Grow’ in some way.
Ellipsis: What made you choose the title ‘Mirrors’?
Perry: Simply, the EP is about self-reflection and improving yourself by acknowledging your faults, and then moving forward to improve them. We felt ‘Mirrors’ connected to the theme of self-reflection closely.
Ellipsis: Who influences you musically and you inspires you lyrically?
Perry: We all have really varied music tastes, which is awesome when it comes to writing because everyone brings their own stuff to the table! I know we all share a love for bands like Paramore and You Me At Six, although personally I’m really into a lot of hip hop right now, with artists like Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. Lyrically, I think it’s just our own experiences. The lyrics on the EP were a joint effort between myself and Alistair, though our latest song ‘Insomnia’ was written by Alistair about his struggles with anxiety and sleep. It’s a really personal song for him.
Ellipsis: Your acoustic cover of ‘Drown’ by Bring Me The Horizon is so beautiful! What made you choose to cover this track? Do you have plans to cover anything else?
Perry: Thank you! We just loved the new direction Bring Me The Horizon had gone into and Alistair really wanted to put his spin on it. We don’t have any plans to cover anything else, though maybe if the right song comes along we’ll do another.
Ellipsis: I noticed that your video for ‘Insomnia’ was filmed at an (awesome looking) gig. What can fans expect from one of your live shows?
Perry: High energy and one very sweaty brown man.
Ellipsis: What’s the best live gig you’ve ever been to (including your own)?
Perry: For myself it was hands down seeing Bring Me The Horizon at Wembley; that show felt like it was bigger than just the band themselves, but the whole UK ‘heavy music’ scene coming together. I remember giving out flyers after the show and talking to people who had come from all over the country to support the band at the show – it was crazy.
I honestly can’t choose a favourite show we’ve played! I loved playing at the Underworld in Camden as it was a venue I’d seen my favourite bands play at.