DB HOF NO. 55
The making of D.R.I.’s “Dealing With It”
released: March 1985
label: Death/Metal Blade
It’s hard to say who was more shocked—punks or metalheads—by hardcore band D.R.I. signing with Metal Blade Records via the label’s new Death Records imprint in 1985. For the hardcore scene, seeing one of their own leave the DIY world—the band had issued previous releases via their own Dirty Rotten Records—was cause for concern and drew derisive comments that the band had sold out, even if it was to an indie label.
It may have been less jarring for the metal scene—especially since some of the burgeoning West Coast thrash bands seemed to be well aware of California hardcore—but based on Metal Blade’s NWOBHM-influenced roster in the early ’80s, this seemed to be an unlikely signing. Although Metal Blade president Brian Slagel may have eventually looked like a genius after assembling Death Records’ lineup—D.R.I., C.O.C., Cryptic Slaughter, Dr. Know, etc.—that wasn’t necessarily the consensus at the time.
D.R.I.’s own motivations were simply to sell more records. A nonstop touring machine originally from Houston, TX, they wanted their new album to be in as many shops as possible, something that had been a constant problem with previous releases, and Metal Blade offered a solution. As a result, they became unlikely heroes in the development of crossover. Though they clearly were starting to add more metal elements to their songs—slower tempos, longer songs, double-bass drumming—by their own admission, there was at this point no conscious effort to align themselves with the metal world.
Which is why this album, rather than 1987’s consciously genre-blending Crossover, is being inducted into the Decibel Hall of Fame. Dealing With It is basically a hardcore punk album, with a few nods to metal. And for many a metalhead, it was a gateway to hardcore. It was also the beginning of a relationship between two previously separate but similar genres that has continued on nearly 25 years later—a relationship that’s still spawning bands like Municipal Waste, SSS and many others in 2009.
The story starts in San Francisco in 1984, where the band—vocalist Kurt Brecht, guitarist Spike Cassidy, bassist Josh Pappé and drummer Felix Griffin—has relocated from its native Texas and is squatting at the “Vat,” an abandoned Hamm’s Brewery…
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