Reserving Dirtnaps on Their New Record Label, the Memphis Hardcore Scene + More

Photo: Matt Wood

No Echo has been covering Reserving Dirtnaps since early 2018, and tracking the band's progress in that time has been great to see. The Memphis-based group's tremendously heavy take on metallic hardcore has been connecting with a wide array of underground music fans, partly thanks to their streamlined arrangement approach. "I’ve always been more of a song-oriented writer but with Reserving Dirtnaps the goal has really been to let the songs speak for themselves beyond just the sum of the riffs, for the songs to breathe and not be too cluttered," guitarist White Paul tells No Echo. "I mean you listen to the best songs ever written...'Yesterday' by the Beatles, 'Whole Lotta Love' by Led Zeppelin, any Black Sabbath song, in hardcore terms Madball, Agnostic Front, Merauder...none of it is rocket science.

"It’s strong, catchy, simple songs that you connect with instantly moreso than what’s got the most bells and whistles. And I’ve tried to embrace that with Reserving Dirtnaps and use that philosophy in a pummeling bulldozer-like way."

The band's potent songwriting and road work is also paying off in the form of a new deal with WAR Records (Enforced, Fixation), the Los Angeles label owned and operated by musician Andrew Kline (Strife, World Be Free, Berthold City). So, what are the roots of the Reserving Dirtnaps/WAR Records connection? Paul explains: "We played with [WAR Records act] Miracle Drug back in fall of 2018 at Flyover Fest in Tulsa. We brought Tom Skeemask out to do our two songs we recorded and released with him (scroll down to listen). Afterwards, Miracle Drug’s guitar player, Matt Wieder, who we had only met once before, informs us that during our set he hit a couple folks up about getting us on labels.

"I want to say he hit up Tom [Sheehan] from Indecision to tell Patrick Kindlon to fuck with us, because Pat had spoken on Axe to Grind a few times about liking us. And maybe there was another party he hit up there, I can’t remember. But ultimately nothing came of it. Fast forward to the last date of a weekend-to-weekend tour we did with Purgatory in spring of this year, we’re in Louisville and Wieder is in attendance and once again during our set pulls out his little black book of labels and starts firing off texts. So I’m like, apparently this dude ain’t gonna stop texting fools during our shows until he gets us on a damn label! One of those was WAR Records, who Wieder informed me did not give an outright no at the time. This seemed promising, so I asked 'What is WAR Records?' He said 'Andrew from Strife’s label.' So immediately, I don’t really care to know anything else. I’m down.

Photo: Matt Wood

"In This Defiance to this day is one of my favorite records ever and if that guy wants us on his label then we’re doing it. Eventually Matt put us in contact with Andrew and from there everything’s history. We have to give full credit to Matt Wieder from Miracle Drug and Mouthpiece and a million other bands for giving us the assist. And working with Andrew is awesome." That seems to be everyone’s take on him and they’re all correct. He’s very easy to get in contact with and is willing to offer suggestions and advice but is never pushy or anything. Laid back but professional. Perfect for a band like us who is under no delusion that we’re ever gonna become a career band or anything but still take it very seriously."

WAR Records will be releasing Another Disaster, an EP that will mark the first Reserving Dirtnaps release on the label. No Echo wonders where the name of the record comes from and Paul explains: "Well, to be honest with you, trying to get this record done, this little 4-song stupid ass record, has been just one pain in the dick after another. Even coming up with a title was slowly starting to feel like a hot poker up the ass. I figure that’s something everyone can relate to. You set out to accomplish something and then every single thing that can go wrong does. But it sounds cool as a record title because it’s like, here’s another Reserving Dirtnaps release to come along and ruin your life. Strap in, we’re taking you for a ride through another disaster, let’s see if you can make it out alive."

Liner notes are important, folks! "The EP was recorded where we’ve recorded everything we’ve done up to this point, at the house of our favorite engineer Alan Burcham. Alan is like the fifth member of the band. As far as the songs go, you can expect the familiar Reserving Dirtnaps vibe but I think we’ve picked the energy up a little bit. We’ll hit you in the chest a little harder this time around."

Reserving Dirtnaps will be heading out on a tour with Karma and Adrenaline in October. "As I mentioned before we went out on a 10-day tour with Purgatory back in March of this year. Mitch from Kharma was filling in on guitar with Purgatory, so we got to know each other and we clicked seeing as how we’re both badass guitarists. Not long after that tour, we were asked to play a show in Louisville with Kharma, but we couldn’t do it because Brandon had just started a new job and wasn’t able to get off due to limited seniority. But before I knew that we were gonna have to say no, I hit up Mitch and was trying to figure out how we could maybe jump on some shows with Kharma on their little run around the Louisville date so we could to make a long weekend out of it.

"By the time Mitch woke up, like 3 hours later (probably about 1PM), all that shit I sent him was now null because we weren’t gonna be able to do it anyway. So the conversation we ended up having was, 'Damn, it would have been fun to play some shows together.' So I said 'We just talked at practice the other night about trying to tour again in October, how about we do that together?' And he said 'Hell yeah,' he hit up Jordan their singer, Jordan said 'Hell yeah, we’re trying to book this East Coast tour in August but we can do it in October with Reserving Dirtnaps' and here we are. Adrenaline was asked if they wanted to jump on some dates, they said 'Hell yeah' and here we are. It goes to show you that you just gotta get out and do whatever you can. Small things will lead to other small things then those things lead to tours which lead to more tours and record deals and 7”s and disasters and everything else."

How about the hardcore scene in Memphis? Paul gives a scene report, along with a little Reserving Dirtnaps-related history. "Our bass player Aaron was in a Christian metalcore band called Few Left Standing back in the late '90s/early '00s that made some waves in that world and they even got signed to Tooth and Nail (who reissued their two full-lengths) right before they broke up. But there are always bands popping up here and there. Everything kinda goes in waves with hardcore bands in Memphis.

"Right now we got Thief’s Hand for more of your straight forward tough shit and Barren Arrows who is more on the metalcore tip. Autolith is another band that’s been playing a lot, they will satisfy all your loud doomy cravings. Their drummer was in Seraph the Light, a band that Sunny from Hate5six travelled to Memphis for to document their last show about a year ago. There’s more bands to name but right now I’d say Memphis is in a pretty good spot. You can go to a hardcore show and not have to see Reserving Dirtnaps at every single one."

Photo: Matt Wood

New label. New EP. What else can we expect from Reserving Dirtnaps in 2020 and beyond? "I think if we can ever finish this 7” that the next thing for us to tackle is to get a full-length out. I don’t know if it would be out in 2020 but I hope to at least be able to get one written in that time. That’s my next goal though, I’ve never been in a band that had a big ass record on the merch table and that’s what I want. This was actually inspired by the Purgatory tour. They had a big ass record on their merch table and I was like 'We’re gonna get one of those' so that’s what I’d like to do next. And continue to get out and tour. There’s a lot of places we haven’t been and there’s like 5 people all individually located in the various vast reaches of the country that really want to see us, so we got some work to do there too."

From the First Blood reference on the font used for their Part II EP, it's clear the Reserving Dirtnaps guys are fellow Sylvester Stallone fans. So, if we were to set up an Over the Top-styled arm wrestling match between Brandon and Harm's Way vocalist James Pligge, who would Paul put his money on? "I’m not sure what James’ background is, but I do know this: Brandon is a true competitor who has played Division I football in college and started all four years as offensive tackle, so even though he might be out-jacked by James, I think if Brandon can go back to insanity-level competitive mode, where he’s just a maniac that feels no pain and you can keep coming at him and coming at him and coming at him but he never breaks...I think if he could go back to that place, he would win. He’d probably be the underdog but that would just make the payout sweeter. Like when Stallone bet on himself and made out like a bandit."

Stay tuned to Reserving Dirtnaps' social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for more info on the forthcoming release of the Another Disaster EP.

Reserving Dirtnaps tour dates:
9/7 - Memphis, TN - Mean Streets fest w/ Clenched Fist, Inclination, and more
10/4 - Cincinnati, OH - Northside Yacht Club w/ Kharma and Adrenaline
10/5 - Albany, NY - The Fuze Box w/ Kharma and Adrenaline
10/6 - London, ON - Call The Office w/ Kharma and Adrenaline
10/7 - Ottawa, ON - Black Squirrel w/ Kharma and Adrenaline
10/8 - Montreal, WC - The Ritz w/ Kharma and Adrenaline
10/9 - Hingham, MA - Sons of Italy w/ Kharma 
10/10 - Long Island, NY - Amityville Music Hall w/ Kharma 
10/11 - TBA w/ Kharma 
10/12 - Virginia Beach, VA - West Beach Tavern w/ Kharma 
10/13 - Chattanooga, TN - Sluggos w/ Kharma 

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