Dirty Sweet are an American rock band steeped in this nation’s musical roots, from country to R&B, gospel to classic rock and heavy metal to proto-grunge. A mixture of disparate influences such as The Rolling Stones, Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and early U2 make them an interesting addition to today’s budding rock climate. The San Diego-based quintet’s name perfectly describes their two-pronged approach to writing and performing, what the NME calls “skuzzy, ass-shaking Rawk n’ Roll” crossed with the ability to pick up their acoustic guitars and craft a melodic ballad.
Produced by Doug Boehm [The Vines, Elliott Smith, Screaming Trees], American Spiritual is the band’s sophomore album and first for Los Angeles based indie Acetate Records. From the soldiery “Rest Sniper Rest”, a blast at warmongering politicians to the bluesy, infectious “You’ve Been Warned” or the country, roots-inspired “Star Spangled Glamour”, with its critique of the celebrity-obsessed media, American Spiritual is an album of and for today’s world, capturing the unpredictable and sometimes apocalyptic times in which we live.
“We definitely have eclectic influences,” says Detroit native, guitarist/vocalist Nathan Beale, who joined the band shortly after they formed in 2003 from members of such well-known San Diego area groups as Convoy, Jejune and Lovelight Shine. “Everyone in the group has his specific likes and dislikes, and then you have this place in the middle where we all meet, and expand upon.” Let’s call it the Dirty Sweet spot.
With their long, straight black hair and menacing beards, singer Ryan Koontz and guitarist Beale could easily be mistaken for siblings or outlaws. The songwriting duo’s love of classic rock – as well as elements of country, soul, R&B and gospel that make up their sound is reminiscent of Kings of Leon. Like the Grammy winning, now-platinum Kings, Dirty Sweet have achieved massive recognition in the U.K. and Europe, where they;ve sold out such famed venues as Amsterdam’s Paradiso. But audiences in the United States have started to pay attention, and in the past year alone they’ve have played to huge crowds at both Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
A review of last year’s SXSW festival said of Dirty Sweet’s performance “Ryan Koontz gives you everything you need in a frontman, his commanding vocals matched by his shimmying and shaking across the stage. This band rips, with a born-in-a-garage sound and an effortless Sunset Strip strut that also appreciates the rootsy side of the street. Most importantly, they have a damn good time up there, with their faces beaming as they assault you with a balls-to-the-walls approach. Just a fan-freaking-tastic rock band, keep on eye on them.”
“It’s definitely fun to play,” nods Nathan, “we get everyone to participate. With a live show, it’s all about getting the people to return that energy, so you can create this cyclical thing between the band and the audience, where you’re all in it together.”
It was that exchange between the audience and band that caught the eye of Acetate Records CEO, Rick Ballard, “Dirty Sweet is one of the best live bands I’ve seen in years and that energy is fully captured on American Spiritual.”
“We wanted this to be a thematic album, with the title song about all that our country has been through,” says Beale for the follow-up to the group’s well-received 2007 debut, …Of Monarchs and Beggars. “This is a moment in time where things could go either way. We could fall off the edge completely or figure out a way to fix everything.”
On American Spiritual, Dirty Sweet begins that rebuilding process..