For any band, the prospect of doing 100 shows in 100 days would be a daunting prospect, but for the boys in Houston and the Dirty Rats, it’s about proving their skills, merit and dedication to the spirit of punk rock.
“One of the big motivations behind doing it,” says guitar player and vocalist Houston, “is that we’re playing Europe in the fall, and we needed to raise money for that. Also, it seems like the only band that’s ever done it was Black Flag. And I thought that if we were going to make a statement, this would prove that we were serious.”
For a band whose average age is 22, Houston and the Dirty Rats take their art seriously, and they are doing this as part of a well-planned strategy for punk rock success.
“You’ve got to kind of look at it like it’s a job, but it’s a fun job,” Houston explains. “It’s definitely something serious — more serious than I think a lot of bands do.”
Going on a tour of this magnitude is just as much about honing their skills as it is about getting feedback from as many fans and potential fans as possible.
“What we’re going to be trying to do,” Houston says of the band’s recording philosophy, “is we want to release a bunch of EPs, and then we’re going to probably do an album eventually. We’re from the school of thought that part of doing 100 shows is about building a fan base, build a network, and then really focus on the material.
“Next year,” he continues, “we’re going to take some time off, record some EPs and then hit it hard again. Then we’ll have this whole network of people who are like, ‘We liked you before, but these new songs are awesome.’”
Another aspect of doing a tour this ambitious is keeping health and hygiene in mind in order to pull it off — something that the band says they have been conscious about.
“You definitely need to take health into consideration,” Houston says. “We have not been partying too hard, because you can’t. There may be an after-party, but then we’ve got a seven- or eight-hour drive.
“Sometimes a band will put you up or sometimes a fan who enjoyed the show will put you up. Then you’ll get a shower and some food and get to sleep on a couch. But there are instances when we sleep in our van and eat a lot of fast food. The home-cooked meals are what keeps up the morale though. We have gym memberships too, so we can shower at the gym.”
After doing some research, Houston and the Dirty Rats may have a case for setting a world record for this tour.
“We’re the only band besides Black Flag — and there’s no hard proof that Black Flag did it — but we’re the only band that’s done this independently,” Houston says. “We don’t have a label, there’s no plane tickets, there’s no booking agents, there’s no tour bus, hotel rooms — it’s just us in a van.”
Their shows at Andy’s in Denton on Wednesday and Reno’s in Deep Ellum on Thursday mark the end of the first third of their 100 days on the road, and the tour is already opening up new opportunities and exposing the young band to things they have never seen before.
“We experienced bike week in Daytona, Florida,” Houston says. “I’ve never seen so many motorcycles before. We were in Fort Lauderdale for spring break, and it was packed. We’re also really excited to be seeing the Grand Canyon soon.”
This will be Houston and the Dirty Rats’ second time playing Dallas, and they are looking forward to playing a city with a good music scene.
“I feel like Dallas has a really good working-class vibe,” Houston explains. “When we played Dallas that first time [last Valentine’s Day at Three Links], it was one of the best places we had played in the United States. Really good, receptive crowd.”
In defiance of putting any specific label on the band’s genre, Houston wants the people of Denton and Dallas to know, “We’re fun, and we don’t suck.”
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