Approaching downtown Pontiac on Dirt Fest weekend, the growl of bands and fans alike can be heard from a great distance. As you approach, thunderous drums rumble the ground under your feet, heavyweight guitars ripple your eardrums, and when the crushing basslines thump your chest – you’ve arrived at Dirt Fest.
As you step inside the silver fences that enclose the street and parking lot that surrounds The Crofoot, your senses take in the waves of tattoos, the ripples of adult beverages, and a black sea of concert t-shirts that populate the Pontiac crowd. Metal fans in many shapes, sizes, and varying intensities of painted faces, make up the eclectic gathering of festival-goers. Regardless of if you left the sleeves on your favorite band shirt or not, the crowd has one thing in common…they are ready to rock hard – really hard – to current metal favorites: Killswitch Engage, Asking Alexandria, Hatebreed, Attila, and more!
Detroit Proud was there to take in the sights and sounds of the over 60 bands scheduled to play live, interview a few Michigan bands, and report back on the man made famous by shamelessly posing for a Kodak moment in the middle of a mosh pit. Turn up your streaming music device, crack open a fresh PBR tallboy, and enjoy the metal mayhem that was Dirt Fest 2016!
After watching Detroit’s Wilson rock the main stage, Detroit Proud caught up with Wilson front man, Chad Nicefield. Chad discussed Wilson’s new album, his history of working at The Crofoot, and helped shine a light on the day’s greatest mystery…if a hot dog is a sandwich! Check out what Wilson’s lead singer had to say!
Hometown show at Dirt Fest, what’s it like playing here versus playing The Crofoot?
Festivals always feel different, festivals are their own beast. There’s a lot of chaos. There’s a lot of things going on, a lot of friends, a lot of interviews. It’s not like a gig where you show up, might have a couple interviews and then you play the show, pack up, hang with your friends or other bands, then you go.
Here at Dirt Fest, it’s like you show up and it’s like “AHHHHHHHH”…there’s all this sh*t going on – “You want an elephant ear in the middle of all of this? Here’s an elephant ear” [laughs]. It’s cool, they’re both different loves, but the festival world is different.
You’ve worked at The Crofoot for a long time…
I have been at The Crofoot for 8 years since we opened…I cleaned the 1st pile of puke in this building.
You’re helping to organize Dirt Fest and performing here as a headliner with Wilson, must feel pretty great.
It is a lot of work, even within the band. This year, our team did a lot of the logistics of what’s going on, filled in all the vendors staffing etc. Next year, it’ll be a lot with the lineup. They say I’m a man of many hats, sometimes I forget to take off some of those hats. Today is pretty cool, not only has Wilson played Dirt Fest a few times over years, but my old bands too.
After Dirt Fest, what does Wilson have planned?
We’re writing. This summer, we pretty much had off. Playing Dirt Fest and three other shows, and that’s it. We spent a lot of time renting cabins up north.
Tell Detroit Proud readers about how you guys have approached writing your third album.
Methodical. Some of the guys are writing stuff on their time, they bring it in and show it to us. I don’t really get my head around what’s going on until it’s time to focus all my energy on that part of the band. Right now, we’re in the thick of that. All of my attention, all I really care about is creating the next record. We work together as a band. Sometimes, I’ll sketch out an idea and show it to the guys and we’ll work on it together. Jason [guitarist Jason Spencer] will do the same, then everyone gets together and throws in their two cents and it really comes together.
What can we expect from this new album?
We have the title, we have the artwork, the idea of what we want to do. We don’t know when it’ll be finalized, that’s up to the label. We’re very much in tune with what we want to do with a next record. We learned a lot of lessons over the years.
When you get into a situation when you’re working with a team – not just the band, but the record label, agents – they all have an idea of what you are. And maybe that’s not the same idea of what YOU think you are or even within the band. There are five dudes that might be like, “well, I don’t think we’re that kind of band” or whatever it is. You have to put all those people’s thoughts into a melting pot, but also their egos. Sometimes it’s good, you can come out with a great meal. Sometimes you come out wondering what that meal would have tasted like if it was just the five of us.
The first record, Full Blast F**kery, was literally that – we didn’t think anything of songwriting. We were just writing songs and that was it. We didn’t expect it to do what it did, which was gain notoriety and get a record deal and those things.
Moving into the record deal world, that’s where all those “other” things come in. Which is great, because people believe in your band and they’re spending the time and effort with you to help nurture your product and grow. But you’re also in new water, you gotta listen…I should listen, right? In the back of your head, you wonder, “if we would have just done that different…I just f**king want to do that”.
How has what you’ve learned made Wilson a stronger band?
We learned a lot about songwriting from the last album. We’re using all that information we’ve gained over the last five years to [decide] where we should be spending our efforts – and that’s in the songwriting. We’re becoming songwriters, not just musicians. We’re really getting into it and doing what we really want to do, what to sound like, what message it is, you know? We have an idea of what we want and we feel really strong about it.
What can Wilson fans expect to hear on the new record?
It’s a mixture of our two records. It’s heavy, but it’s more melody substance, there’s not as much yelling and screaming. There’s still heavy vocal deliveries, but we’re exploring tones and really getting into the ’90s sound that we love. We’re coming up with ideas that are outside of our normal box and we’ll see how they pan out.
Last hard-hitting question: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
No. I don’t think it’s a sandwich because of the meat. I don’t eat hot dogs, I think it’s disgusting. I mean, I like meat, I eat meat. So I guess, the idea of a sandwich, yes a hot dog is a sandwich.
However, I don’t know. The definition of a sandwich…*pauses to think*…the idea of it is two things, one on top of another, but the bun …the hot dog meat lays in it. A proper hot dog bun, the hot dog doesn’t come out on the side. You can’t purposefully take those pieces of bread and put them together, you’re cupping it.
A hot dog is more or less a cup. A bun bowl.
Next, the Detroit Proud team sets sail on a voyage to take in more Dirt Fest! With Chad’s bun bowl theory still on our mind, we were hungry for more delicious metal! Lucky for us, we stumbled into Our Dying Day’s performance! Hailing from the Upper Peninsula, we had to catch up with guitarist Rory Wills and hear about their journey to Dirt Fest!
Rory, the U.P. is a long way away, tell us how Our Dying Day ended up at Dirt Fest.
We are a Metalcore band out of Marquette. Started with Jer Weiger moving back from Minnesota – jammed for quite a bit and tried out a number of vocalists and bassists. None really stuck until we met Josh Beaver who had just moved here from Escanaba. Josh knew Tom Sundquist from Escanaba and asked if he wanted to be a part of Our Dying Day and he gave it a shot. So here we are about seven months in and getting ready to tour.
What’s the music scene like in the U.P.?
The music scene, for original metal, is pretty scarce up here. There are loads of talented musicians, but not really in the metal/original scene. It’s pretty frustrating living up here and being a part of a Metalcore band because there is not much for venues. The closest venue, with any type of stage and/or lighting and sound tech is probably Green Bay.
How were you approached to play at Dirt Fest? What was playing at that show like for you guys?
Josh saw a post about Dirt Fest that was helping Flint through its water crisis and thought it would be a great idea to jump on board to help fight that battle with the people of Flint. It was an excellent opportunity for us to be a part of, considering the immense amount of talent. I mean, when you have powerhouses like Killswitch Engage, Born Of Osiris, Hatebreed, Asking Alexandria, and so many other coveted bands playing that same, single-day festival, it’s really a no-brainer.
Was there another performance at Dirt Fest you really enjoyed?
A shout out to our brothers Six Degrees of Suffering and Surrender The Flesh… these two bands have extremely bright futures. It was intense to watch Bury Your Dead play a reunion show. Mark (the drummer) had told us he hadn’t even played the drums in two months and they still KILLED it! That is something to look up to!
What’s next for Our Dying Day?
We are currently working on routing a tour, slated to begin early to mid-November. Plus,we are about to drop our next single… stay tuned O.D.D.ities… we will be shredding in a city near you soon!
Last but certainly not least, is a hot dog a sandwich?
[Laughs really hard] No, it’s not. It’s in a single piece of folded bread, not two separate pieces.
Do not miss Our Dying Day thrashing a stage near you – great live show you don’t want to miss! Detroit Proud was lucky enough to capture tons of great photos of some of the Dirt Fest performers and participants. One of the unexpected stars of the gallery was Dirt Fest veteran, Jerimiah Wills. He was the star of a photo that went viral, we had to track down Jerimiah and see what he had to say about Dirt Fest and his mosh pit selfie! (Click Here to view the Dirt Fest Gallery).
Tell us about your “selfie” moment. What has the response to the photo been like?
My “selfie” photo has been taken well by my buddies. I am always the anti-selfie advocate, and then all of a sudden, I’m on CBSdetroit.com, so they had fuel and have let me have it…most thought it was a selfie, but it was actually me taking a live video of the crowd behind me.
Ok, we’ll let you off the hook for the selfie. How many years have you been to Dirt Fest?
I have been attending since 2011, it’s been getting better and better with more popular bands. I was pumped for Killswitch Engage and the local band It Lies Within. The event in Pontiac was pretty cool for the fact you could go inside The Crofoot and hang out for a bit in between bands.
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Hell no! It’s a damn hot dog!
A hot dog is not a sandwich…but it’s meat inside bread, the frankfurter debate continues. Thank you to Jerimiah, Rory from Our Dying Day, and Chad from Wilson for taking the time to chat with Detroit Proud and share their Dirt Fest experiences. Check out the links below for all the info you need on the bands we talked to!