The Dirty Nil: Staying Alive

With the perfect album title to bid 2020 a firm adieu and ring in a fresh year, Fuck Art, The Nil’s fourth full-length LP, will be released on January 1st, 2021. “It’s kind of our battle flag right now,” says Bentham, “It was conceived before the pandemic, but it seems quite appropriate now. There are no rules, you shouldn’t be limited.” The JUNO-award winning band from Dundas, Ontario, is one of Canada’s rowdy punk rock acts that hook you. Their loud, unrelenting anthems and attitude are contagious and full of clever, ear-splitting riffs.
The Nil was recording their album in March when the pandemic panic reached a crescendo. Their producer, who is from Seattle, was flown back home on the last plane out before the borders closed. The studio in Toronto remained open for two more days and would enter an indefinite shutdown. “‘Well, do we power through, or do we put this on indefinite pause?’ We decided on the former, and I did all the guitars in two days,” says Bentham. “When it was over, we kind of collapsed into each other's arms and cried tears of joy.” As the follow up to their critically-acclaimed 2018 release Master Volume, the band has been working hard to hone their sound and skills with their upcoming release. “It’s the most dynamic thing we’ve ever done in terms of quietest moments, and our prettiest, ugliest moments all combined. It’s been a hell of a ride and we’re ready for people to hear it.”
It’s the most dynamic thing we’ve ever done in terms of quietest moments, and our prettiest, ugliest moments all combined. It’s been a hell of a ride and we’re ready for people to hear it.
The vocal tracks were recorded and produced in April across borders and time zones. “It’s an amazing time to be alive in terms of technology, but the capacity for miscommunication was certainly highlighted […] especially when you’re describing sound, it’s really easy to do when you’re in the room, and say ‘a little more of this, a little less of that,’” says Bentham.“These little sessions that we were doing were really the only kind of moments of true productivity and achievement and accomplishment that we felt that month. The only real sense of forward momentum we felt with our lives.”
Not all of 2020 was endured with bated breath, it was also riddled with progressive milestones. While cannabis has been legal in Canada for over two years, several American states are forging forward on the same path. Bentham spoke about the progress over the last few years, “It’s exciting to be part of a time where legislation begins to resemble public sentiment, which is always a very slow and laborious process, but it’s exciting to have witnessed that tipping point.” In 2017, The Nil won Breakthrough Artist Of The Year at the JUNOS. Their acceptance speech was succinct, hilarious, and memorable: “Weed rules.” While the speech itself is rather direct, Bentham says he’s a more subdued consumer when it comes to cannabis products, particularly of the peanut butter and chocolate variety. “Just nibbles to teeter off into the abyss.”
“Honestly it’s not the worst year I’ve ever had,” says Bentham. The band has been finding time to explore other avenues of creativity and trying to embrace the slower pace and stay grounded. “I’ve been painting, cooking a lot. Reading about the history of the Spanish Flu because there’s some obvious parallels. Reading about how hard people have had it in history is certainly a humbling thing.” Fellow bandmates Ross Miller and Kyle Fisher continued to produce music this year together under the moniker, Instruments of Death. With more time at home, Bentham mentioned some of his favourite new records of the year from Metz, IDLES and Angel Olsen.
Due to COVID-19, live music screeched to a stand-still, and musicians have had to find new ways to create. “It’s been inspiring to see other bands try and circumvent the circumstances rather than sit in a bomb shelter and say, ‘Well, we’re just going to wait for this to blow over,’ because I think the uncomfortable reality of the situation is things aren’t going to blow over,” says Bentham. With the magic of the internet, The Dirty Nil created the “Dancing 2 Thrash” tour, transporting themselves to fourteen different venues across North America with the help of a green screen and stock footage. Each date was streamed live on the web with unique performances from the bandmate’s home. While the band is respectful and cautious of the pandemic protocols for large gatherings, they’re eager to get back to a packed house when it’s safe. “A lot of people are depending on it, and a lot of people are depending on it for quality of life reasons, people like going to shows,” says Bentham. “It makes them feel alive.”
After a particularly introspective and existential year, a record full of heavy riffs and humour is what we all need. “Even when we spit seemingly nihilistic sentiments like that, there’s a grin with it. It’s to be taken with a grain of salt,” says Bentham. “It’s to make people happy. It’s to make you smile.”

Check out The Dirty Nil's Fuck Art wherever you listen on January 1, 2021.