For resilient Knoxville punk legends The Dirty Works, the future still feels bright. Despite disappointment with its documentary's failure to launch and being at odds with its longtime base venue, the group has never been more optimistic. And after eight years together, The Dirty Works may just be hitting their stride.
Once a staple at The Longbranch Saloon, The Dirty Works recently had a public falling-out with its former hub over its booking methods. While the act purports no permanent hard feelings and hopes its long history with the Cumberland Avenue club is not over, it does admit it may be a while before the Strip sees its next Dirty Works show. The temporary separation may be a blessing in disguise as the band, motivated to go beyond its comfort zone again, is exploring new venues around town. This may also be a source of the once-roaming Dirty Works' rekindled interest in touring after three years of limited mobility.
"It's different," says vocalist/bassist Christopher Scum. "I still love playing places where kids come in and express themselves. ... We're playing The Birdhouse for the first time. We're excited about that. Plus, we're excited to see The Disobedients playing again."
"We finally got a new place to play with The Well," adds drummer/vocalist B. Riot. "It's nice to have another venue in town that will accept alternative music. We get a very warm reception there. A lot of our older crowd comes out there because it's a more laid-back club with not as many kids beating the hell out of each other ..."
The Dirty Works have maintained close ties to out-of-town supporters through frequent communication and vocalist Christopher Scum's solo shows. Recordings of its live shows by Brian Oblivion have also kept out-of-town fans aware of the band's continued presence.
One anticipated promotional item with the potential to enhance the band's recognition was the "Rebel Scum" documentary. After two years of filming, not to mention ample financial investment by the filmmakers, the documentary is now shelved. While distribution offers were made, the filmmakers' artistic integrity would not allow editing changes.
"It just didn't come out," tells a disappointed Scum. "They ran out of money to put it out basically. We got copies. It has great camera work, great editing, a lot of money put in. I can't believe they aren't doing anything with it."
"There's nothing like having a professional home movie done," Riot elaborates. "We've offered to take it on tour with us, run it during the week, follow it up with a show and split profits with them. They really don't have interest. They've been courted by some big distribution companies, but I'll give them that as artists, they haven't wavered or surrendered to editing rights. Some of that was to protect us, because they got a lot of us on film that they did not use. I have to commend them for that. As artists they had a perception that they wanted to put out. They put a lot of work into it, so it's their project and I respect whatever they want to do with it. More people will see it, I think. It's just going to take time."
Undeterred, The Dirty Works appear more confident than ever in regard to the quality of their product. Having expanded its creativity with two-man side project Manpile, the band has a new outlook on songwriting. Scum and Riot, who compose Manpile in the absence of former bassist and current guitarist Steven Crime, add that Crime's development on guitar has bolstered The Dirty Works' songwriting capacity. The band's style has evolved so much that it is even considering re-recording previous albums.
"We've really pushed our barriers with our music," Riot says. "I think the time we spent as Manpile helped since we didn't put any limits on our creativity. It opened our minds a little more to the newer stuff we're doing. Steven has progressed so much as a guitarist. He was our bass player. He played a little before, but he's become quite a fine lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist. We're starting to get a lot more creativity on his end. He has a lot more freedom to express himself. ... With the new music, we're not always so serious. There's some more light-hearted stuff. We're bringing a little of the filth and funny back to keep it well rounded."
"The filth has always been there," adds Scum. "I went through a stage for a while where it was all filth and anger. I'm trying to get my sense of humor back. ... We've been together eight years now. Being together that long, working together on a weekly basis, we've gotten to know each other well."
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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