Everyone has someone they looked up to who first inspired them to pick up an instrument. For Luke Bentham, guitarist and vocalist of The Dirty Nil, it was the band Nirvana. He reminisces, “Once when I was a kid, a Nirvana video came on TV while my family and I ate breakfast. I turned it up loud and it completely upset my parents. From that day forward, I only wanted to play electric guitar.” This passion stayed with him, and, in high school, he started playing music with bassist and vocalist David Nardi and drummer Kyle Fisher. After stumbling through some riffs from bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, they worked on creating some originals.
In their early days, the guys’ first shows consisted of performances in church basements before they took their act to a proper stage. “We started playing church basements shortly after we formed, but our first proper show was about a year after our first practice. It was at The Underground in Hamilton, Ontario… Sadly, a now-defunct venue,” Luke explains.
Those small shows got the band heavily involved with the music community in Toronto and, as is the case with many successful acts today, the guys acknowledge that their local scene was very beneficial for their career. Luckily, at the time, The Dirty Nil had a lot of help from established bands that encouraged them.
“We played with GOB and The Saint Alvia Cartel in our first year or so, and they helped us land a show or two, which was crucial at that point in our development. Also, local venue owners played a large role in helping us get off the ground, offering us shows when we couldn’t draw many people and linking us with bands who were far beyond our caliber,” Luke reveals.
It’s no surprise that, at the start of a band’s career, things like booking shows, gathering crowds, and releasing music are all challenges that they need to overcome, and The Dirty Nil was no exception. “Growing up in Dundas, we had no examples to follow because there were so few bands. We figured out everything—from booking to releasing music—for ourselves, which was obviously a good learning experience, but it’s nice to be past that stage of struggle,” Luke discloses.
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PHOTOS: LORI GUTMAN // @lorigutmanphotos
WORDS: LINDSY CARRASQUILLO