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After a 20-Year Drought, D.R.I. Is Set to Release New Music

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It's been just over 20 years since D.R.I. released a new record, but that's about to change.

The Texas band launched in 1982 as a hardcore act. Five years later, their short, ferocious songs (most clocked in under a minute-thirty) got longer as the group moved in a more metal direction. They're often credited as pioneering the "crossover thrash" style.

The evolution worked for D.R.I., and they're going strong after all this time, a few lineup changes notwithstanding. The band still features original vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy. Harald Oimoen has been on bass since 1999, and drummer Walter Ryan is the latest addition, joining in 2015.

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D.R.I. is scheduled to perform Friday, February 19, at Club Red in Mesa.

About those many years with no new material?

"We'd taken a good amount of time off. And when we came back together, we had many offers to play, so we started doing that and have just been busy trying to make a living playing and touring," Brecht says. "Bands like us make most of our money touring and selling merchandise at live shows."

Everyone in the band has a D.R.I.-related job to keep things going. For instance, Brecht makes D.R.I. wallets and other items to sell at shows and on eBay, and Spike handles the booking duties.

The new release isn't out yet, and the band is busy finalizing artwork and liner notes in hopes of getting it out soon. But it won't be a full-length.

"Just a handful of songs to test the waters," Brecht says. "We haven't put out anything new in so long, so we wanted to see how much interest there really is in it."

Though they've been heavy on the metal sound since their Crossover release in 1987, the soon-to-be-released EP gets back to their hardcore punk roots. Even though the music changed, Brecht's vocal style has always kept the hardcore heart beating in D.R.I.'s music. With the new songs, the whole band is making that trip back to the past with him.

"It's more old school hardcore," he says. "It's straightforward, without the metal guitar sound."

That said, he's not interested in totally saying goodbye to metal.

"I'm more into the hardcore myself, but it's okay if we keep the metal because we mix it all together," he says.

What's nice for them is that no one's really complaining about hearing a lot of their old tunes.

"Sometimes people ask about new music, but mostly everyone seems happy to hear a mix of stuff from our past releases. The live shows have been doing really well."

For so many bands who base their success solely on the size of the shows they play, D.R.I. doesn't mind riding a rollercoaster between big and small events. "We are lucky in that way," Brecht says. "We can play a more intimate show one night in a pizza parlor basement to 50 people on a three-inch-high stage, and then the next week we're in front of 100,000 people in Colombia.

"Sometimes I feel sorry for bands who have passed the point of getting to play those itty-bitty clubs. It's so much fun to have everyone just right there in your face, people shoving you and you shoving back."

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