FACE VALUE: Hank Pratt (from left), Bo Orr, and Blake Connally of Dead in the Dirt

Kendra Connally

FACE VALUE: Hank Pratt (from left), Bo Orr, and Blake Connally of Dead in the Dirt

Dead in the Dirt's grindcore assault 

Blake Connally talks new records and hardcore's shortcomings

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On Aug. 6, Atlanta grindcore trio Dead in the Dirt will release The Blind Hole, the group's debut for modern metal powerhouse Southern Lord, following 2011's "Fear" 7-inch. The lineup features Blake Connally (guitar, vocals, lyrics), Hank Pratt (drums), and Bo Orr (bass, vocals. The group has spent most of its time on the road since coming together in 2008, honing a distinctly volatile and politically charged grindcore assault. Before the album's push gets underway, Connally took a few minutes to talk about signing with Southern Lord, straightedge, and how hardcore let him down.

How long have you been playing music?

I'm 26 now. I got my first guitar when I was 9 years old, and I started a hardcore band when I was 15. Then I started a band that was a strange art punk-screamo-grindcore-type thing called Me & Him Call It Us. We were together for four, five years. But when it was time to actually go somewhere with our music, we were at each other's throats. I moved to Richmond when I was 21, then moved back and formed Dead in the Dirt in 2008.

Dead in the Dirt doesn't play Atlanta much these days.

It's difficult for us to play in Atlanta. We have a good relationship with 529, mostly because [manager/promoter] Kyle Withrow and I have known each other since before this band existed. Aside from WonderRoot and 529, there aren't many venues for us in Atlanta. Over the last decade, we've had some great underground spaces, but so many good opportunities crash and burn because the people running them let so much slide with drinking and drawing attention to the space and it disappears. My wife and I bought our house with a nice show space in the back. It's called the Garden. We do matinees and it's a sober space to keep the money going to touring bands, instead of "I can't help you out with $5 because I spent it on beer." It can detract from attendance.

How did signing with Southern Lord happen?

Hank plays in a band called Foundation who asked us to go on a West Coast tour. We played some shows with a Southern Lord band called Xibalba. We also had a partnership with a young kid who was running a free music blog. We had two EPs up for free, and when we returned from tour, Greg Anderson at Southern Lord emailed saying he'd downloaded our EPs and was dying to work with us! I read it 15 times to make sure it wasn't a prank.

On Facebook, the band's interests are vegan, straightedge, atheist, which is more akin to hardcore than metal.

The first record I ever got was White Zombie's Astro-Creep 2000. I moved straight to death metal after that. Growing up, there was alcohol at parties, pot at parties, but it never interested me. I grew up in Wilkinson, Ga., which is like cows, you know? There's nothing there. I won't get into it too much, but it played a part in my childhood development, and I never wanted to subscribe to something like that. ... I knew Minor Threat's music, and thankfully I switched high schools where I got into hardcore. The straightedge movement is important to me because some of the people I looked up to gave me reassurance that I could be who I am and grow as an individual through that community. But if you're loyal to a genre instead of an ideal it will let you down. Hardcore was a massive letdown. I thought everything would fall into place: Right-wing politics, sexism, and racism would be out the door, but they're prevalent in hardcore, so I've taken base values and not been so concerned with the well-being of the genre. A lot of people think a vegan/straightedge outlook as being a primarily hardcore perspective. But a lot of early grindcore was about it, too ... Good grindcore still talks about these things, and that's kind of where we fit.

If you go to a metal show, the vocalist screams and the music is fast, but when you read a lot of hardcore and metal lyrics there's no vulnerability, no human connection. ... We're kind of black sheep because we have so many opinions on these things, whereas some bands just want to play fast and heavy and have a good time. Our goal has always been to care about what we're doing. A lot of bodies that come out are looking for somebody to drink with. But people that are there for real music and real things will appreciate us in the long run.

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