The DirtyMags Are Not Jet
Not Becoming The Strokes And Living On The Edge
By Aaron Binder
Go ahead and ask yourself that bitterly daunting question.
Who is the next big thing?
We’ve all had those experiences, you know the one where you’ve been at a friend’s house listening to some new music? It’s your turn and you toss on some new Earl Greyhound or Ghostface Killah and you both bask in the glory of pure musical perfection. Then your friend has a brilliant idea ‘hey, let’s listen to this awesome new band I just heard about, they’re the next big thing.’ Knowing where this usually leads you reluctantly agree to this and he tosses on what can only be described as a third rate rip-off of a second rate rip-off like Jet.
In your mind you are thinking to yourself that, against the law of physics, this ‘hot new thing’ both sucks and blows at the same time. Stolen Simpsons references aside, the phrase ‘hot new thing’ has become cliché and overused to the point where Kanye West, a guy that’s been around for over 12 years now was being called as such last year.
The term has officially become watered down.
That being said, hopefully two paragraphs of justification are enough to convince you that this next band you’re going to read about may just be that next big thing. Fuck yeah. That’s right, I’m throwing out the rule book and damning convention to bring you The DirtyMags, straight from the mean streets of Queen West.
The band formed less than a year ago and the amazing thing is that they hadn’t really played together before this group. “This is our real first band that we’ve ever played shows and did recordings.” guitarist Justin Lemire explains with a twinge of punk rock ethos “I always pictured this as something I’d be good at, instead of doing some bullshit career, we love it”. Lemire is completely unemployed and proud of it and the other members are all quick to chime in that this is all they want to do. The hunger in their eyes combined with the almost waifish demeanour is visual confirmation that these guys live the lifestyle of a punk band, aloof but dedicated to the craft.
You can hear it in their music too. After being privy to a couple of unreleased tracks at White Girl Records studio, run by famed Toronto producer Alex Bonenfant, it is easy to tell why the band is protecting their sound until it’s released, these guys have an unbridled, raw depth for a band that mostly plays four-chord rock. “I think we all just have a chemistry that we can’t quite describe says bassist Gregory Peters “The first day Mike came, he came with an acoustic guitar and a skateboard and some stupid hat and he sat down and played a song on acoustic and then we showed him our stuff and he started making stuff on the spot and we just said wow this guy is rad.” That protection isn’t because they aren’t talented, quite the opposite actually, a band that has played together for less than a year shouldn’t be this tight; the claims of Milli Vanilli just might start flying around otherwise. Anyone that has had the chance to see them live will see just how tight they are, a well-oiled machine, not without hiccups, but still to be admired.
When speaking about their own music, they tend to shy away from what it is they have out there currently on recording. Somehow, for a band with two songs out there, they are currently compared to The Strokes and the New York Garage sound. “The Strokes comparison is something we’re trying to stray from. It’s a conscious thing and we’re trying to stray from that and just play whatever we like and not pigeonhole ourselves.” Says Lemire in reference to the question everyone seems to be erroneously asking them.
So what sound are they going for? The sky seems to be the limit according to Kaminksi but they are attempting to narrow it down “We want to write songs that are really heavy but have great melodies but we also want to write really light songs.” which is the best thing a young, explorative band could be doing. The most important realization they’ve come to is that it is necessary. According to Peters they are “always listening to different things” and seeing where that takes them.
Being a young band isn’t easy, there is a lot of competition out there, but defining your individual personalities and having the skill to mesh them into something that works together is integral. Peters is adamant about this “I think our strongest characteristic and our weakest point is that we all have these very different influences elsewhere. We all definitely pull this band in complete opposite directions. But when we yell at each other and get in horrible fights we still get together two seconds later.”
When you have the world calling you the next big thing it is easy to believe the hype and grow an ego, these guys don’t have it, they’re just out there trying to make a living doing something they love. In a world that loves conformity they have found a formula, whether or not it is the correct one is yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, they are going to give it their best fight.