An Interview with Kyle Fischer of The Dirty Nil

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Kyle Fisher of The Dirty Nil in Toronto. (Photo: Stephen McGill/Aesthetic  Magazine Toronto) | Aesthetic Magazine | Album Reviews, Concert  Photography, Interviews, Contests

The Dirty Nil is a Canadian Alternative Rock band that has been around for around for fifteen years. Today, I’ve got the band’s drummer, Kyle Fischer, with us for a chat. We talk about the band’s genesis, his thoughts on the music industry, some of his favorite records, and the band’s new record, Fuck Art, which you can learn more about via the band’s website here. Dig in.

Andrew:
Kyle, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This last year has been rough, right? How are you holding up during this seemingly ever raging dumpster fire?

Kyle:
Yeah I mean, last year sucked, but I managed to make the best of it for myself. We usually are on the road so much I never get time at home. I spent most of my quarantine exercising and learning how to cook. It has been pretty rewarding in that sense.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. What was your musical gateway, so to speak?

Kyle:
A friend of mine played drums at a talent show when we were 10 years old and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Eventually, I worked up the nerve to ask my parents to get me drums and take lessons. I played in the school bands as well which was a lot of fun. Back then I would just try and learn as many Led Zeppelin songs as I could.

Andrew:
As a band, who are some of your earliest and most important influences? How did the group develop its sound?

Kyle:
In the very early days, we were influenced by groups like The Who. Luke and I would learn Who songs in our parents basement and play for hours and hours as loud as we could. Eventually, we discovered bands like The Stooges and the MC5 which made us write faster, punkier songs. Mostly we just spent a lot of time editing and writing the music we were making until we were happy with the results. Countless hours in the basement clocked just jamming away.

Andrew:
The Dirty Nil came together in high school. When did you start to feel you were onto something with the band?

The Dirty Nil – 'Master Volume' review

Kyle:
Early on, we played this sort of battle of the band’s show in Toronto when Luke and I were just a two-piece band. The judge was some label guy in the city and after we played he came over to us and said we won. The competition wasn’t even over yet but we had been crowned champions. So that little victory put the nugget in our head that we may be onto something. It was a pretty big deal when we were 18.

Andrew:
In 2016, The Dirty Nil released its debut record, Higher Power. Tell us how the record came together. Looking back, what are your thoughts on the album? Anything you would change?

Kyle:
We had worked on Higher Power for a pretty long time. Up until making that record we released a series of 7″ singles. We finally decided it was time to create a larger body of work and we re-recorded some of the 7″ songs and had a batch of new songs together and went into the studio to record.

I recently relistened to it, and it sounded better than I remembered it. We definitely thought we had recorded the best thing ever made at that time. If we had the chance to do it again, I know we would be a little more mindful of our performances and the tempo of the songs. I’d have put some more hours into practicing with a metronome, too, because my meter was all over the place back then.

Andrew:
In 2018, the band put out Master Volume. What can you tell us about the recording of this album? Was the process very different from your debut?

Kyle
Making Master Volume was a big step for us as far as recording in a studio. We hired John Goodmanson, who mixed Higher Power, to produce this time and went into a bigger studio. It was a ton of fun, and we really had some goals in mind beyond making an album. We wanted it to be tighter and stronger than our debut, and I think we accomplished those goals. Writing the album wasn’t much different than the first other than we had a new member in the wonderful Ross Miller, but our writing process was the same. Hammer out the songs in our rehearsal space until they are fucking perfect and record that shit. Having John in the studio really opened us up to some new methods and ideas; however, that really helped these songs fulfill their full potential.

Album Review: The Dirty Nil – Fuck Art

Andrew:
The Dirty Nil has a new record locked and loaded for 2021, right? Tell us how Fuck Art came together? All these years in, how you feel you’ve progressed as a band from a recording and songwriting standpoint? Where can we get your new record, and what formats will it be on?

Kyle:
Once touring slowed down for Master Volume we got right to work on writing Fuck Art. We went into this writing cycle reminding ourselves that we can do whatever we want and make whatever music we want to. I think that mindset really helped us to bring in some newer influences and sounds throughout the record. The whole process felt more reassured and refined. This record felt like we grew up. You can get our record in your local record stores, from the Dine Alone Records website and on all streaming platforms.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about the production of your new record? Who produced this one? How did their style impact the overall sound and vision of Fuck Art?

Kyle:
We called in our previous producer John Goodmanson once again to produce Fuck Art. John is the best because he is so easy going and relaxed about everything that it makes the recording process very relaxed. He also likes to keep things moving when he can so we don’t get too hung up on ideas. If something isn’t working then we either move on or don’t even bother recording it until we figure out the issue and John is a massive help in those departments. He really supported what we were trying to accomplish. The unfortunate part was that he had to go home halfway through because the pandemic kicked off right when we began recording the album. The drums and bass were done so he and Luke worked the rest of the record out over phone calls and emails. It was a little more difficult and less intimate a setting than we had hoped but John managed to get things done.

Andrew:
I’m interested to learn about the lyrical themes and through-line for Fuck Art. Is there a deeper meaning and statement within the title? Is it meant to be a sort of satirical line regarding the idea that creatives and artists are continually tamped down? Or is it more just a way of saying- keep it simple? What do you want your listeners to take away from the record?

Kyle:
Fuck Art can mean anything you want it to be. A lot of art and artists can be uptight and judgemental, highly pretentious yet unremarkable, and I personally don’t have time for that way of living. So to me, it’s just trying to have fun and not being hung up about whether your art is cool enough or good enough. If you’re worried about being cool, then you’re probably pretty full of shit. Most importantly, though, as evidenced by the cover, this record is about joy and casting away the weight of our problems in search of happiness or peace of mind. Even if just for a brief moment.

Andrew:
Touring is usually a huge part of a working band’s proverbial machine, but as we know, COVID has disallowed it. What do you miss most about touring?

Kyle:
I miss the feeling of connection with a living, breathing audience every night. The high you get from a performance is unmatched and I can’t wait to chase the dragon every night on the road again.

Andrew:
On the subject of touring, indie venues were in trouble before COVID, and they definitely are now. I’ve seen and heard about places shutting down for good all over. With companies like Ticketmaster strangling the market and bands unable to tour and generate revenue for these places, what do you think the post-COVID landscape is going to like out there?

Kyle:
It’s been really tough seeing venues that we’ve played and love shut down or be under threat of dying out over the course of the pandemic. I really think that when we can go to shows again indie venues and clubs will be packed out. That may be a little optimistic but I think everyone will want to celebrate as much as possible once we are free from the threat of COVID-19. It’s just hard to know how many of these venues will be around and if the market will be oversaturated because every band in the world will want a gig. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too much longer.

Andrew:
Over time, I’ve learned that streaming services music don’t really pay indie artists at all for their music. If they do, it’s extremely minimal. What are your thoughts on that issue? What can we as fans do to help the artists?

Kyle:
It’s tough because we as musicians work hard to make the music we release, and in some cases, it’s not cheap to record an album, so it is a bummer to see very little money from streaming. The caveat to that is you can get a lot of new listeners from these platforms, and for most people, it is the most convenient way to listen to music. That’s the struggle with art. Most people want it in an accessible way, but they don’t want to pay for it. The best thing fans can do is buy merchandise from your favorite band and see them on tour when you can. That’s how we survive and make a living, making the last year difficult for almost every band out there.

Andrew:
In a world dominated by capitalism and social media, can artists truly get ahead? How do we keep the playing field level so that everyone has a chance to succeed?

Kyle:
Anyone really can succeed in this world but with art you don’t get to choose when or how that happens. All you can do is work as hard as you can on your body of work and make the best body of work possible. Meet people and share your art and people will like it or they won’t. There are no guarantees so if you entered any artistic field hoping for certainty you’ve come to the wrong place.

The Dirty Nil - Dine Alone Records

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Digital? Where do you like to shop for music?

Kyle:
I am into records but it has become a very expensive hobby. I’ve developed a taste for photography so I’ve been putting my money into buying film and cameras over the last few years. When I do buy records though I like to shop at Into the Abyss and Dr. Disc right here in my hometown of Hamilton, ON.

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you, and why?

Kyle:
I cut my teeth playing drums to Led Zeppelin IV and that will always be important to me because that inspired me to play.

Weezer’s Pinkerton is another album that I used to play along to obsessively. I know that record beat for beat on the drums, basically. I always come back to it when I’m in a rut with my playing.

Madvillainy by Madvillain is one of my all-time favorites. It introduced me to MF DOOM (RIP), who quickly became my favorite MC. The album means a lot to me.

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)-Wu-Tang Clan. Quite possibly the greatest Hip-Hop record ever made. I love playing drums along with it. It opened me up to the world of Hip-Hop, and it is a cornerstone record for me in my musical leanings. It is raw and unapologetic and uniquely Wu-Tang.

Andrew:
Who are some of your favorite artists? Ones that mean the most to you.

Kyle:
This kind of list is forever changing in my head depending on where I’m at in my life, so I’m just going to rattle off a few. Wu-Tang Clan, MF DOOM, The Strokes, Kendrick Lamar, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Power Trip, Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Band, Townes Van Zandt… the list goes on.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for young artists just starting? How do they stay afloat in a world that seems to be so abhorrent to creatives?

Kyle:
Just have fun with your art as much as you can. Do it for yourself first and no one else because the best art and the purest art is made that way. Just keep working if you really want to be an artist because that’s what creatives do, they create. I don’t think the world is abhorrent to creatives because art is very much endeared everywhere and a cornerstone to cultures worldwide. A lot of people just don’t know how to equate value in it nor do they understand the hours of work that goes into the act of creating. Place value on yourself first instead of letting someone else decide what you’re worth.

The Dirty Nil Want You to Smash Your Phone | SPIN

Interested in learning more about the work of The Dirty Nil? Check out the link below:

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Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing 5,000 albums, Andrew knew it was time to finally follow his dream, and thus, Vinyl Writer Music was born. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie, and Kevin. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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