Music

Dirty Three Band

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The Dirty Three formed from a need to pay the rent three years ago. The main concern was to try and take a band photo in a rehearsal, albeit brief. Now, three dirty years down the track, they are making the world a dirtier place, cuz “they love you more than you love you.” The band originally played background MUZAK in the corner of a bar, a bar probably not too dissimilar from your living room. The band’s volume outgrew the venue, so they took on stages with PA’s. There was also some problem about a stolen mop bucket. The cast was and is Jim White, Mick Turner, and Warren Ellis. Warren’s first band was called Paranoid. You’re probably not familiar with them. They broke up after one show because the bass player painted his bass and it wouldn’t dry . Meanwhile, Mick and Jim were busy making some of the smoothest and rudest music to come out of Melbourne’s scuzz-infested populace.

Ellis’ first release was the Nursing Mother’s Christmas Carols mail order only cassette on which he played flute. Since then, Nick Cave employed Warren’s talents on Let Love In and his new Murder Ballads album. He has also performed live with The Bad Seeds on various occasions. Nick Cave has even stepped up on stage with Dirty Three for a coupla songs. Robert Forster used him abundantly on I Had A New York Girlfriend and live as well. Dave Craney’s latest album, You Wanna Be There But You Don’t Wanna Travel, has the statutory appearance from Mr. Ellis, and Tex Perkins (The Cruel Sea and Beasts Of Bourbon) took his Tex, Don & Charlie project out on the road with Warren in tow to play not only violin but keyboards as well. Warren was also a member of David McComb’s band, performing on the album Love At Will, and touring with Mr. McComb in Europe. Warren was a member of The Blackeyed Susans, who recently had an album released on Frontier. And if that’s not enough, Warren plays a major role in STM, fronted by ex-Scientist madman Kim Salmon.
Warrens’ accomplices in Dirty Three come with equally amazing credentials. Jim White is probably the most acclaimed, in-demand drummer in Australia. Like Warren, Jim also plays with Kim Salmon, The Blackeyed Susans, and Tex, Don & Charlie. He’s also guested with Robert Forster and is a long time member of Melbourne’s rabble rousing, full-on guitar band, Venom P Stinger. Guitarist Mick Turner goes back to the very roots of Australian Punk, strange considering his self-restraint in Dirty Three. He was a founding member of The Sick Things, guitarist for the Moodists, and alongside Jim, fronted Venom P Stinger.

But this is all irrelevant in a way, or at best extraneous, because their joint major concern is the Dirty Three. This is where the band really lets fly, pouring out creativity others can only momentarily tap into. As you read this, Dirty Three is one of the biggest independent acts in Australia. The largest independent record distributor over there charted Dirty Three as its third biggest selling Australian release.

Dirty Three have toured non-stop for close to a year. They have toured with The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Beck, Beastie Boys, Rickie Lee Jones(!), and Henry Rollins, as well as on their own. Since March of this year, America has been turned on its ear. Dirty Three came here with four dates, including flipping out the fortunate few who found out about the show at South By Southwest. Then they flew to Greece and Israel to do some well-received shows with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, played solo in Germany and London and then flew back to America for shows with John Cale, Pavement, and Morphine in spring ’95. A tour of Europe including France, Spain, Holland, and Italy is due in the summer. They have swept the musical community from under the rug to the front of the stage. And all this is without a US label OR a publicist. Just Imagine…
As Dirty Three, Warren, Jim, and Mick disengage themselves from musical trends and their own history, so as to trash the three minute sound byte. This is a living, breathing thing, that sounds like nothing else they’ve worked on and nothing you’ve ever heard before. They allow themselves to roam inside the confines of the song and there is an air of confidence, not cockiness, in their improvisation. If one has to draw comparisons to get a foothold on Dirty Three, you’d have to go pretty far. Dirty Three create truly free music, akin in spirit to the work of Coleman and Ayler. It’s a mix of raw emotion and exemplary musicianship; love songs that are both sad and dangerous. The album features seven songs, including the mega Indian Love Song and a track Kim Salmon wrote especially for the band, Kim’s Dirt. Dirty Three do not rehearse much. In fact, when they played their first gig, they made the set up an hour before the show. Not the song list, but the actual songs! It is with that edge of uncertainty, that tightrope of risk-taking that results in Dirty Three’s undiluted inspiration.
Now, allow yourself to really feel something about a band again. Listen to Dirty Three. Experience them live. Go on…get yourself a bit grubby…..