DRI, thelegendary band with the iconic logo. They were pioneers in hardcore and pioneers in the crossover scene of the late 80's; melding the sonic fury of hardcore with the precision of speed metal.THRASH!!!!
DRI is one of those bands that I have listened to for almost 30 years; I have seen them countless times and even had the opportunity of playing with them and I never get sick of them. Recently I had a chance to catch-up with the ever friendly Spike Cassidy after a high energy show at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins Colorado on May 10th, 2011. IN THE PIT!!!
Trashhead: You just mentioned something about playing w/MDC not long ago.
SPIKE: Right, in Portland. We sold it out, the two of us. It was one of "...I beat cancer so I am happy!"-Spike Cassidy the last shows in Portland Oregon at the Satyricon which was the infamous club there. It was awesome. It was the first time we played with them in at least two decades. We had a great time; it was good to touch bases with them again and see the old faces
Thrashhead: DRI had been down for a couple of years. How hard was it to get everyone back together?
SPIKE: It was very easy! The hard part was staying down. We weren't planning on being down as long as we were but things got a little complicated and what not.
Thrashhead: I talked to you and at one point you mentioned it might be tough with everyone living in different states.
SPIKE: Everybody wanted to get back together as soon as possible. My health issues and other things were a big problem at the time. We've been going strong now for about a year and 8 months or so and everything is off and running!
Thrashhead: You've been at it hard for almost the last two years. Has there been anytime off in the last year and a half?
SPIKE: We started in like November of 2009 and we've actually only had one month off without any shows in that whole time. Besides that we've played shows every month.
Thrashhead: How does touring now differ than 20 years ago?
SPIKE: 20 years...then we played 60 shows in a row or 59 shows in 60 days, that kind of stuff, 200 some shows a year. Then we drove all over the place in a van. Now we kind of fly in and do a weekend or 6 shows on the east coast then fly back home and then go out the next weekend and then do 10 shows or something like that. Now we've got family and kids, it's not like the old days and we can't really stay out for 60 days or months or something like that. We play as much as we can though we played 150 shows or something like that in 2010. So we're still kind of up there it's just it's not straight months at a time out on the road like it used to be.
Thrashead: What been the high point of your career in DRI so far?
SPIKE: Wow. There's been a lot of ups and downs. The high point I guess is...actually putting out a record. Like our first record. I never thought it would come to anything. We just wanted to be able to play some shows, open up for our favorite bands coming through town at that time back in the 80's like Black Flag, Dead Kennedy's and stuff. We did that and then we put out a record and actually, people liked it. There was a demand for it, we had to repress it. All of a sudden we were putting out records every other year. Just to be a band and to do this as a career was the high point.
Thrashead: You started out in Texas and then moved to the bay area, what was the reason behind the move?
SPIKE: We were playing like every weekend opening up for bands coming through and most of them were from California. We wanted to go on tour, we didn't want to just keep opening up for every band coming through. We learned in San Francisco there were some squats, the Vats...yeah the infamous Vats and we were talking to MDC and they said..."You can come out here, you can get foodstamps, go and eat at the soup kitchen, there are free places to squat at, you can practice there, you can hook up and go on a tour"...And...What the fuck..."Let'sdo it". And we moved out there and within 2 months we were on tour. It was awesome.
Thrashhead: You guys have toured all over the world now. What areas are crazier than others?
SPIKE: There all a little different. For us they really go nuts in the Spanish countries. Spain, Greece, Mexico. I don't know what it is, but they go pretty wild in those places.
Thrashhead: How old is your son now?
SPIKE: He's going to be 11 the end of this month. He's doing good.
Thrashhead: Does he play guitar?
SPIKE: He's taking drum lessons right now. He's starting to play a little guitar, the school he went to didn't have guitar lessons so he ended up taking drum lessons which is a good start. That's where I started.
Thrashhead: Think he's going to follow in Dad's footsteps?
SPIKE: I don't know. I don't want to push either ya' know. I kind of let him do what he wants.
Thrashhead: Does he listen to DRI?
SPIKE: Oh yeah!
Thrashhead: How are you feeling these days?
SPIKE: A lot better. Like we talked about, I was a little messed up today I wasn't feeling very good. And, I think I screwed up my knee. But...I beat cancer so I am happy!
Thrashead: What advice do you have for anyone struggling with an illness?
SPIKE: It's a lot of mental stuff. That's what I found. I just had a positive mental thing with my cancer and I just didn't let it get me down and I wasn't scared of it. I thought I would beat it and I would be cured. I don't know if that helped but it sure helped me. I didn't let it get me down and depressed.
Thrashhead: What' your favorite DRI album and why?
SPIKE: I have two and for two different reasons. I like 'Full Speed Ahead' because it's the newest one and I haven't heard it so much or whatever. And I like 'Dealing With It' a lot. It's the first, was fun for us and it's got alot of different styles in there.
Thrashead: 'Dealing With It' was the first album I heard but I'd have to go with 'Crossover' because that was Junior year of highschool. And it was just nuts. Every party, every time we went skating, in every car, it was 24-7. Then I'd have to say 'Full Speed Ahead'.
Thrashhead: You mentioned the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, but who were you favorite bands when you were a kid or where did you get your influences from?
SPIKE: Well before the 80's before we started DRI I was a rocker. I was into Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Black Sabbath and what not, ya' know. I was even in a band. I played Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple covers and all of a sudden the Sex Pistols came out and the Ramones. It was like "Wow, I reallylike this shit!" I loved the aggression of it and simplicity of it and all that. I started to get into Punk Rock and all of a sudden I heard Hardcore, it was like the Dead Kennedy's, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and bands like that. That's really when DRI started, those were our main influences, early Hardcore. Then it evolved into like Metallica and Slayer and the speed metalbands. Since then I'm into bands like Prong, Ministry. Lately I've been into Static X. I like everything Max Cavalera does. Sepultura, Nailbomb, Soulfly.
Thrashhead: Max should get back with Sepultura.
SPIKE: (laughs)Yea, we just played with them the last two nights before we came to Colorado. 3 and 4 nights ago, it was awesome. But I wish Max was back in Sepultura! (laughs). I never got to play a show with Max.
Thrashhead: Do ever reflect on your influence over hardcore punk and metal?
SPIKE: It feels good that we've influenced so manybands and lots of bands give us props for it and what not. I don't expect it, it's not something I think about. It's pretty cool.
Thrashead: (I say something about the girl that was attacking Harold during their set – I cant make it out on the tape)
SPIKE: It's all in fun and that's what counts.
Thrashhead: Harold seems like a pretty wild dude.
Harold: It happens to me all the time. It's awesome! (yells and goes crazy!)
Thrashhead: This guy would be a riot to tour with!
SPIKE: Yes! 24-7 he's on!
Thrashhead: What should we know about DRI? What should the fans know?
SPIKE: We appreciate the support they give us. Now for 3 decades, we have been playing this long, they've been coming to the shows. They help with the shirts and the stickers and whatever it takes to keep a band like us going. It's very hard these days not being able to sell records. We haven't released a record in 14 – 15 years. The only reason we're able to keep doing itis because of our fans supporting us and we appreciate it. If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be here right now.
Thrashhead: So...The last question...When does the new DRI album come out?
SPIKE: We have about 5 songs in the works. 1 that has vocals that we've been playing live. We want to put vocals to the rest of the 4 songs and then keep working on a record. If we can't get it out soon enough we'll probably just release and EP with those 5 songs. We're working on that and in the meantime we're thinking of releasing some live stuff and what not. We have a really cool live recording from 2004 and are thinking of releasing that or even putting some video clips to it and releasing a DVD.
A new DRI record?! Hell yeah! That's what hesaid. From there we said good night toeach other and I again thanked him for stoking us out on a rad night of DRIbrand thrash!