Interview with Mihai Tivadar of Dirty Shirt
Romanian's Dirty Shirt are different. There's no two ways about it. And yet that's exactly what I like most about them! On their latest album, "Freak Show" (which you can read all about at the link below this interview!), the listener is able to experience a very cool and real example of just how far you can push heavy metal's boundaries while still waving the genre's banner proudly! While their music isn't for the faint of heart or those without a keen sense of adventure (it's a walk on the wild side friends!) it's still got everything that metal fanatics could ask for such as screaming guitars, pounding drums, thick bass riffs and lead vocals that would send a shiver down your spine! Thanks to the the modern marvel of technology we call the Internet I was able to toss out a few questions for band member Mihai Tivadar. I want to thank him for taking the time to answer them and I encourage all of you to check out "Freak Show" for yourselves!
Andy-Could you introduce yourself for our readers and fill us in on how Dirty Shirt came together please.
Mihai Tivadar-I am Mihai Tivadar, guitarist, keyboard player and main songwriter in Dirty Shirt. Our music is based on a hardcore-industrial-nu metal structure, mixed with various other influences that inspire us: Romanian folk music, world music, electro, funk, etc. As many bands in the world, we started out as a college band comprising several friends from a little town in northwest Romania (Seini), some of us having already played together in children bands :)
Andy (A)-Any story behind the band's name?
Mihai Tivadar (MT)-The band's name came up on a Friday afternoon at the train station of the city where we were studying. We were all wearing the same style of shirts (typical of the mid-90s, at least in Romania), and these shirts were not exactly the cleanest in the world. As a result, we decided to adopt this name, but when we re-united in 2004, we gave some serious thought to changing the band's name. Ultimately, however, we decided to keep it because, even though our music changed quite significantly over the years, the band members remained the same and we felt it fit with our new musical direction.
A-"Freak Show" features a little bit of everything from heavy thrash to funk and yet it all sounds remarkably well-grounded. At it's heart Dirty Shirt is very much a rock/metal band isn't it?
MT-Yes, we are basically a rock/metal band, but we like to blend different musical styles. The thing is we didn’t want to get stuck in one genre. Moreover, one of our basic principles is to not restrain ourselves musically (as an independent band, we've had the “luxury” of being free of any contractual constraints). Thus, if there's a great idea that has the potential to fit into our music, even though it might seem odd initially, we will integrate it and make it work. It's true that after the band re-united, it needed a couple of years to experiment, develop and finally find its identity (which is obvious on the several demos we released in that period). The end result was a varied, yet unitary, music style.
A-What inspires you musically and personally Mihai?
MT-As an artist, I take inspiration from musicians I like, mainly rock/metal, but not only. There are many great bands that influenced us, such as Faith No More, Korn, System of a Down, Rammstein, etc. But, at the same time, we've striven to find our sound, to be ourselves, not only musically, but also on stage. Personally, there are several people close to me – family members, friends and acquaintances – who serve as role models to me. In addition, there are certain artists, writers, directors who've influenced me through their works and achievements. There are too many to mention all here, but I'm grateful to them, and try to take the best and adapt it to my own personality.
A-Now, in our e-mail exchanges you mentioned that you are the only member of the band that lives in in France. How does that work out as far as playing lie and everything?
MT-My move to France was the reason why the band split in 2001. At that moment, it was virtually impossible to imagine continuing with the band. But music is like a highly addictive drug, and with the development of new technologies, low-cost air companies and European integration, we were able to give the band a fresh start several years later. It is still quite complicated, but it works. For example, I record song ideas and then my colleges work on them (everyone bringing his own personality), and then organize “individual” rehearsals on Skype. Certainly, the others continue to work without me. For example, we started the “Freak Show Tour” without having had one rehearsal with the complete line-up :). Moreover, given our pretty busy touring schedule (this year we had more than 40 shows) and my unavailability for certain gigs, our friend Dan Petean will fill in as a “touring musician” on the last leg of this year's tour.
A-Where do the rest of Dirty Shirt call home?
MT-Our home is northwest Romania, somewhere in Transylvania, the land of vampires, ghosts and other related creatures :)
A-Nice! So, tell me what is the scene like in Romania?
MT-The Romanian scene has developed quite strongly over the last years, having more and more good-quality bands. This was made possible by the development of new technologies, which made it easier for bands to record and release new material. Additionally, Romania's entry into the touring strategy of international bands (underground or mainstream) had a positive impact on their mentality and attitude (learning through direct experience). I should also add that the emergence of more advanced communication and social networks made the information become almost instantly available, so Romanian musicians are up-to-date with what’s happening around the world. Finally, another contributing factor was that more and more bands started to tour abroad. The “negative” aspect is the difficulty to make people come to concerts in greater numbers. It would also be nice if more Romanian bands would be invited to bigger European festivals, but this is still only a beautiful dream. All in all, despite certain persisting problems, I think our scene is on the right track.
A-I would assume that Dirty Shirt has a loyal following in Romania right?
MT-Yes, we think we have our loyal fans. Of course, we are an underground band and usually have around 100 people at our shows. Our videos also have a pretty good following thus far. We are slowly but surely building a solid fanbase. We need to push ourselves harder with each album and tour, and the results will come, I'm quite confident. Rome was not built in one day, was it? :)
A-How has the reaction been outside of Dirty Shirt's home country for "Freak Show"?
MT-We are pleased that the feedback for our latest album has been really great, regardless of country or even continent. We've received excellent reviews in both major magazines and on “smaller” blogs or webzines. Another important “test” was our first “European” tour, which consisted of several gigs in three countries: Germany, Belgium and France. The public's feedback was awesome. Here you can watch a short “medley” video with the ambiance at these shows.
A-What does the new year hold for Dirty Shirt?
MT-It appears that the new year will be at least as active as 2013. First of all, we will continue touring, hoping to play in more European countries, but also at some major international festivals. Additionally, we started to look for a label and booking/management deal. We hope we'll find one because, at this moment, our activity is already too complex to be managed by ourselves only. However, this is quite difficult, because the “music industry” is in crisis and the competition to get signed is very strong. Not least, we started to work on our next album, and if everything goes well, we'd like to record it next year.
A-Are there any other Romania bands that you would suggest our readers check out? Or for that matter French bands?
MT-There are many excellent Romanian bands. It's difficult to compile a complete list here, so I will only mention some that I like a lot: Targ3t, Legion, White Walls, Diamonds Are Forever and Breathelast. The French rock scene is obviously more developed and includes some great internationally-recognized metal acts, such as Gojira, Eths, Gorod, etc. Also, on our European tour, we played with a couple of bands that impressed us a lot, such as 6h33, ZGZ and Hell Rules Heaven.
A-I always like to give the last word to the band members themselves. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans? Have a favorite story from your travels that you would live to share? Anything and everything is fair game so I pass the mic to you!
MT-If I have the “last word”, I will take the opportunity to talk about the social movement of the Romanian youth – ignored by the authorities and mass media for several months – against various governmental projects on gold mining and gas extraction, which can generate ecological and social disasters. Continue the fight for your ideas and dreams, for a better world for us and our children.