Interview by Sarah Williams.
Meet EAT DIRT. As their all-caps moniker suggests, they’re going to shout until you take notice, so jump on this bandwagon as early as you can. This unusual quintet are the latest storm to shake the music venues of London.
In the flesh they’re a raucous bunch, unable to stay on stage and choosing instead to get up close and personal with their audiences. They’ve taken a dose of their riotous live performance and injected it into their new EP Welcome to Shithouse-On-Sea, which was released on Umlaut Records on April 27th. It’s four punk rock tracks that are short but nonetheless memorable, like getting punched in the face by a beautiful woman in a dream. Musically, I hear it as sleazy rock ‘n’ roll with a hint of 80’s metal, but their ballsy attitude is 100% punk.
There is a lot more to these guys than just the music. They have their own scrappy, hilarious podcast and their own YouTube channel. We’ve been watching them tear the scene to pieces for months, so we took the chance to speak to vocalist Ben Mills to learn more.
How did Eat Dirt come about? You’ve all been in multiple bands previously – tell us a bit about your earlier musical endeavours as well.
Myself and Richie have known each other since Hevy Fest 2012, we met before I went on stage with my then band The Smoking Hearts. Also Dai our guitarist played the day before in his band at the time Adelaide, I’d met Dai in Luton in like 2010 when we played with each other. Richie and myself started a side project called Dead Beat, with a few friends, one of which is our new bass player Joey Black (Shortcuts, Angst, BodyHeat). Any way I was taking a break from music from 2014 – 2017 after touring relentlessly across the world from 2010 – 2014. One day I heard the Pears‘ Green Star album, and I asked Richie if we wanted to start a band in that vein. Then we wrote EP 1 over email, drafted in some old friends from bands and started playing shows.
Ballad has the most perfect 7 seconds of any song ever in the chorus. Have you considered a second careers as 80 power-ballad masters?
What bit do you mean? The bit where me and Richie harmonise beautifully without any help from computer programming? Yeah, that was the second chorus for Ballad and it’s my favourite chorus I’ve ever written ever. Would love to incorporate those pop punky sing along bits in the next record.
You guys take a much more confident approach to a lot of the bands in the current DIY scene. Who do you take the most influence from?
I’ve learnt from years touring the toilet venues around the country and the world that you have to make an impression. It’s important to be remembered and to leave your mark. But I take a lot of influence from the likes of Davey Havoc, Fat Mike, Greg Puciato, and I spent a lot of time as a teenager in the UKHC scene so that up-close-and-personal, high energy performance attitude. I like to leave it all out there, if I don’t finish the set covered in sweat and gasping for breath I haven’t given it my all.
Has your ballsy attitude ever caused you any issues at shows?
I’ve had a few people get in my face, but I always laugh it off. I don’t believe in fighting crowd members, and normally everything ends in a big hug after or during our set. It’s important that the band stuff stays fun for all involved, I’m out there to have fun and help people enjoy themselves and our music.
You guys have a very strong visual brand. How important do you feel that is for a band?
We’re part timers, we all have kids and jobs and shit so I thought what’s the next best way to promote a band instead of touring relentlessly around the UK all year round? Videos, Youtube content, podcasts. Become a band that people can get to know and see/hear every week without them being in your town at your local venue. It’s still an experiment, but it seems to be working out pretty well. People listen to our podcast and watch our videos, and hopefully they’ll share them with their friends, and their friends friends, and we’ll grow our popularity that way.
I also hear that you have your own mascot?
Jonty the Eat Dirt Lion… He’s our assistant/camera man/editor. He’s a good friend of mine and we love having him around. He’s the 6th member of the band, and just as important as the rest of us. He’s been away for a few weeks and we’re really missing his input in the video output… I mean I filmed one of the webisodes ’cause he wasn’t around, and it just ended up being a video about Richie buying fruit out side the New Cross Inn.
I’ve been really enjoying the Eat Dirt podcast (and thanks for letting us guest on episode 4!). What role do you think podcasting can play in a band’s promotion nowadays?
Podcasting for us is just another way we can promote ourselves and our friends and the bands we love. It’s like playing a show every Thursday for people. Richie and myself talk to each other every day about the weirdest stuff, now we can include the rest of the world in that inane bullshit.
What can people expect from the podcast, if they’ve not listened already?
All of that, plus some awesome music from bands we love. We make a point of reaching out to every band we play and getting permissions, and we’ve had amazing feedback from everyone we’ve played. It’s such a great way to connect with fans, bands and each other!
What records are you really obsessed with at the moment?
Low Teens by Every Time I Die, Symphony of Distraction‘s new record Horse, and Our Lives in Cinema’s All Talk EP, First Ditch Effort by NOFX is still in circulation too. Also My Favourite Murder Podcast… It’s amazing.
I’ve seen you cover Breed a couple of times and I heard rumour of a Nirvana-related EP in works. Can you share any info with us yet?
That’s a cover? I thought we wrote that. The rumours are true. We’re gonna go record that in a few months with an old friend Padge from BFMV. Not sure when it will be out or how, but it’ll be before our new album.
Why have you decided to release a covers EP?
I’ve always wanted to do a covers record, and why not one of the most influential bands of all time?
If your band were lost in the wilderness and you had no choice but to resort to cannibalism… which of you would you eat first (and why)?
Hmmmm… I’d say we’d probably eat Jonty the mascot first. He’s expendable.
What’s next for Eat Dirt? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Or 5 minutes, if that’s too hard?
Finish the Part Timers tour, record covers EP, release that, record album, release that. Try not to split up.
Cheers to Ben for talking to us. EAT DIRT’s Welcome to Shithouse On Sea EP is out now on Umlaut Records. Their live show is high energy and packed with attitude, so make sure you check them out on one of their upcoming dates (mostly around London as they’ve all got real lives outside of EAT DIRT).