Music News

Danny Dirtnap and The Video Nasties Are "No Hope Kids"

Got no car,
Got no money,
I got nothing,
Nothing, nothing, nothing
Nothing at all

It's a sad irony that Danny Dirtnap hates hipsters like Nathan Williams, the San Diego kid who records under the name Wavves. Though one is a Pitchfork darling who every tight-jeaned kid in the country adores, and the other is a grubby east Mesa greaser willfully alienated from everything currently "cool" in Western civilization, they have a lot in common. Really. Like Williams, Dirtnap has no car, no money, and loves dissonant, recklessly fast rock 'n' roll music. He is a "No Hope Kid," a 23-year-old self-labeled dirtbag who works at a pizza shop and, until this month, lived in his dad's house near Falcon Field.

"Someone at a bar asks, 'Where do you live?' It's the same song every time. 'Oh, I'm out in Mesa. East Mesa actually.' Then usually a look of disgust or pity is shot my way. A lot of people grow up in Mesa and then, at the first opportunity, moved to the downtown Tempe college party town or to the downtown Phoenix art scene. I am not one of those people," Danny once wrote. "Out here in Mesa, we sit on porches and smoke endless amounts of cigarettes. We discuss our existence as humans and our purpose. Then one night we realize there is no 'purpose.' That's the joke. So rather than moving to a more 'hip' or 'happening' part of town, we stay here."

If Danny sounds a little naive, he's not, really. Before he could legally drink, Danny Valdez was married with a kid. Now he's the part-time custodian of a 3-year-old son, along with his ex-wife in Chandler. Yet he makes time for a band and a 'zine. Danny's biggest aspiration is to set something in motion with the Phoenix punk scene, and he's confident it'll happen.

"It's, like, how people have a hard time believing how you could have palm trees, swimming pools, ice cream, the suburbs, and have punk rock in Huntington Beach. How is that possible? Then, years later, you learn about it and it's like, 'Oh, fuck, that's how.' It's the same fucking thing here. I feel it in my fucking bones. I have no doubt about it that, 20 years from now, this is going to be a music scene people are going to be talking about."

That said, Danny professes fatalistic doubts that he'll live long enough to reap the rewards. He's always had a feeling he'll die young, he says. Like Hank Williams.

"Hank Williams is a very, very, very important person to me. I'm not a religious person anymore, but Hank Williams is like a father figure from above, ya know? He speaks to you. As a young man, he speaks to me. That's something I can't get from listening to fucking Minus the Bear."

Are bruised

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention up-front that Dirtnap, the publisher of a popular local 'zine called Valley of the Scum, and I have some history. In his 'zine (available in local record stores and, soon, Hot Topic) he's had plenty of criticism for me and for New Times: "The magazine has covered local rock 'n' roll/punk music in the past and sometimes quite well. As of late, though, if you don't fit the bill of what's 'hip' with the downtown crowd . . . your band can't get coverage. The head chump/chimp in charge is music editor Martin Cizmar."

It's worth mentioning that, before that was published, I was unimpressed with Danny's music. Here's what I wrote in my review of The First Five Months, the debut by his band, The Video Nasties: "The Nasties are boring, self-indulgent punk rock poseurs from east Mesa without an ounce of originality or the demonstrated ability to play their instruments with the basic competency you'll find at a typical school-sponsored battle of the bands."

While lacking mutual respect, Danny and I do share an appreciation for New Times copy editor Jay Bennett. I like his word-working, Danny loves his garage-rock band, Scorpion vs. Tarantula, who graced his publication's cover ("SET TO EXPLODE!" it proclaimed) a few months ago. So it was that I made Danny's acquaintance, through Jay, at a show a while back. And so it was that I was invited out to east Mesa to spend a Tuesday evening hanging out with Danny and his adoring sidekick Travis, drinking The Champagne of Beers and talking about music in his dad's garage. The thing is, prepping for the long ride out to east Mesa (yes, it's long, though I live in west Mesa), I couldn't stop listening to Wavves. Partly because the recorded output of Dirtnap's own band is essentially unlistenable and partly because the coolest band in the world and a band I think is among the worst locally have so much in common.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar