It is very important to search the roots of your music, not only for educational reasons but also to recall or even discover great gems. The case of D.R.I. reveals a historical era in extreme music during the 1980s in the U.S.A. and additionally the appearance of a back-to-the-old-school new audience in the last few years.
The original members of D.R.I. (Kurt Brecht on vocals, Spike Cassidy on guitar, Eric Brecht on drums and Dennis Johnson on bass) started as a hardcore band called Suburbanites. Their rehearsals annoyed Kurt and Eric’s father so much, that he called them a “bunch of dirty rotten imbeciles”. This kind of insult gave birth to D.R.I. in 1982 in Houston, Texas. The band released their first EP ‘Dirty Rotten‘ the next year when they moved to San Francisco and started to make live appearances. The band’s beginning is strictly hardcore/skate punk. Let’s mention at this point some things that are very well known, but always important. By that time in the U.S.A. glam rock has risen resulting in various reactions by the musicians and audiences. At the two sides of glam rock there are two initially separate music movements which not only want to attack glam rock, but each other as well – heavy/thrash metal and hardcore punk. However, influences are inevitable so both thrash metal and hardcore punk incorporate elements from each other, bringing two opposite audiences to the same gig. The most notable bands are Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion Of Conformity and of course D.R.I., who maintained the hardcore punk attitude, lyrical themes and musical aggression including more metallic and heavy elements in their music.
In 1987 D.R.I. released their third album ‘Crossover‘ which also created the label we are using nowadays for this kind of music. The band performs longer and more complex tracks in this album, having also better production. The thrash metal technique is obvious from the first track ‘The Five Year Plan‘ while the vocals remain punk. ‘Tear It Down‘ begins much heavier and makes the balance between thrash and punk more obvious. ‘A Coffin‘ is a classic hardcore punk track in length and execution (just 0:58). The album follows this recipe until the end. One characteristic in tracks like ‘Probation‘ and ‘Decisions‘ is that their intro is slowed down and then they increase their speed until the bridge which is also slower. Technically D.R.I. do what the album’s title implies. They cross over from thrash to punk and from punk to thrash. ‘Decisions‘ is a very well-built track and so is the next ‘Hooked‘, which reveal the passage to extreme metal. The next three tracks ‘Go Die‘, ‘Red Line‘, and ‘No Religion‘ have a more hardcore punk attitude and let’s not forget here the lyrical themes which are highly socio-political and directly combined with the genre. Lastly, ‘Fun and Games‘ and ‘Oblivion‘ add to the hardcore thrash amalgam.
What is essential here is that D.R.I. had to confront negative criticism back then, especially from the hardcore punk audience. Their last full-length studio album was in 1995 (‘Full Speed Ahead‘) and until now, even though the two original members Kurt Brecth and Spike Cassidy keep the band active, there are no signs for new material (theonly exception was in 2016 when they released a 5-track E.P. ‘But Wait, There’s More!‘). What is positive from the life course of D.R.I. is that they gained recognition from the new generations and their music is now considered part of a solid genre that influenced the extreme American scene.