Ishan Karunanayake from DIRT CITY [Interview]

Sydney’s Dirt City inaugurate themselves to authentic, riff-craving afans everywhere with the release of their self-titled debut EP!

Establishing an emphasis on their own musicality and reimposing the roughness missing from modern metal, Dirt City doesn’t shy away from the grit and dirt, instead, they flourish in it. Their six-track debut body of work is produced by Nathan Sheehy (DZ Deathrays, Birds of Tokyo) and mastered by Grant Berry (Redhook, Fangz). It signals the consummate offering of the sonic space and soundscape the band will reintroduce to a flock of heavy fans, craving the soul and grime of the riffage. Unedited and unapologetic, Dirt City renounces the overproduced climate of modern bands and instead accentuates the palpable and human feeling that the genre should bring.

Everblack Podcast spoke to Ishan Karunanayake from DIRT CITY about their debut EP, origin of their sound and influences, love of Dio, Sabbath and White Zombie, covering Billy Eilish and upcoming plans.

Watch/listen to the interview here: 

On the premise behind the project, Dirt City said, “Metal’s been lost in a game of one-upmanship. We’re taking the ego out and letting the song take the limelight. There’s a tonne of bands in the scene trying to play as fast as possible, with click tracks, backing tracks, pitch correction and all these other supports. We’re sick of that. We want our music to be out there raw; no trickery, just metal. No loopers, no backing tracks, no clicks – we think audiences want to hear the guys in the band, not computers – and that’s our priority.

Dirt City’s self titled EP immediately sets the tone for the non-computerised aesthetic with the opening track ‘Kings’ by paying homage to two of the band’s key influences in Black Sabbath and White Zombie, while also showcasing the dynamic and powerful range of vocalist Warren Harding. His voice transitions seamlessly between rough and distorted and harmonised high hooks, with the lyricism spoken from the perspective of a dying, bleeding-out, slain king.

At #2 comes ‘Squelch’, a three-minute rollercoaster of underlying grit and lyrical angst growing increasingly frustrated and violent, with low-end riffage anchoring the tune.

Death In the Desert’, kicks off with a masterful intro that emphasises the band’s aptitude for compelling music design adding elements of middle eastern percussion with sitars and tablas into metal riffs. An incredibly rhythmic take on sludge metal riffage, while also provoking plenty of chaos and fear.

Ensuing is the band’s cover of Billie Eilish’s ‘You Should See Me In Crown’, accentuating the depth of darkness the band underscores throughout their body of work. The band keeps the essence and arrangement of Billie’s version whilst turning the song subtly on its head by replacing the soundscape with subtle blasts, heaviness, and riffage.

Up next is the grunge-heavy track ‘Cocoon’. Intensity permeates throughout the dark story told from a sadistic antagonist’s perspective.

Wrapping up the aged and decaying novel of grime-filled metal is ‘Clickhole’, Dirt City’s artistic take on progressive metal, and their requiem to society’s online overconsumption. The instrumentation shines through, with distorted riffage, before surprising the listener with a sudden shift to solo flamenco guitar spotlighting the diversified experience of the band.   Throughout, there are moments of ambience making for an atmospheric experience to really allow the listener to appreciate the dirt and heart of Dirt City’s exposition of metal.

On the process behind the body of work, the band says, “We wanted to present something more compelling than what modern metal bands were offering, so we introduced a vast array of exotic percussion which brought total magic to many sections of the songs. We took away our high gain amps and plugged in our hyper-fuzz pedals. We were sick of the precision knife edge tones and found something with true grit. This started with one guy’s demos – which were then picked up, freshened up and mangled by everyone involved.
Dirt City is made up of four experienced musicians that have been up and down the Sydney scene – all with a passion for the foundations of innate, organic metal music. Vocalist Warren Harding, guitarist Ishan Karunanayake, bassist Jon Chosid, and drummer Andrey Suzdultsev, aim to imbue heart and authenticity back into the scene, showcasing their experience as longtime gigging musicians.

The band aims to breathe life into the overproduced and lifeless zeitgeist that has plagued the heavy scene in recent times. Through heavy distortion and emphasis on grime and grit, Dirt City positions themselves as the antithesis of the detail-oriented, soulless and quantized modern djent bands. Dirt City keeps things human by trusting themselves and not a computer to produce hard-hitting riffage and lyricism that will permeate through the listener and leave a lasting impact beyond a single listen.

Dirt City is out now!