Thrash-Punk Pioneers Stir Up A Pit At Slim’s

By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the prime forces in the early ’80s crossover movement that found hardcore punk bands mixing elements of thrash-metal into their sound, D.R.I. (aka Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) was founded by vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy in Houston in 1982 when the principles were just out of their teens.

That same year, D.R.I. released their first recordings, cramming 22 songs into 18 minutes on the 7″ Dirty Rotten EP. The initial pressing of 1000 copies quickly sold out, leading the band to issue it in a 12″ LP version the following year and re-titling it the Dirty Rotten LP. The band would relocate to San Francisco with its members living in their van and sustaining themselves by eating free meals at soup kitchens while playing local shows and eventually touring with Bay Area punk legends the Dead Kennedys.
It was on their 7″ single for “Violent Pacification” and the band’s second album Dealin’ With It that D.R.I. began integrating the thrash-metal influences drawn from bands playing around San Francisco like Metallica and Exodus. Along with LA skate punks Suicidal Tendencies, southern contemporaries Corrosion of Conformity and the East Coast band Stormtroopers of Death, D.R.I. would become revered as pioneers of what would later be called “crossover thrash.”
The band would tour relentlessly through the rest of the decade, releasing such classic albums as Crossover, Four of a Kind and Thrash Zone. While the line-up would change, Brecht and Cassidy have remained constants. While their recorded output would slow during the ’90s, D.R.I. continued their dogged road work, supporting punk and metal bands alike and remaining a favorite on the European summer festival circuit. In 2006, Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer, but even that battle hasn’t kept the band from touring while raising much-needed funds to cover the guitarist’s medical bills.
Last year, the group issued it’s first new studio recording in over two decades. The But Wait…There’s More! EP featured three new songs along with re-recorded versions of the classic D.R.I. tunes “Mad Man” and “Couch Slouch” for punk label Beer City Records. The current line-up of the band that includes longtime bassist Harald Oimoen and current drummer Walter “Monsta” Ryan (formerly with Bay Area thrashers Machine Head and Possessed) returns to its San Francisco stomping grounds for this headlining show at Slim’s Saturday night. D.R.I. is joined by Bay Area groove-metal outfit Skinlab (who reunited last year to perform its debut album Bound, Gagged and Blindfolded in its entirety at a number of shows), Vallejo-based thrashers Infex and opening SF crossover act War Bison.
D.R.I.
Saturday, May 6, 8 p.m. $18
Slim’s
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