By Tyler Francischine
There are few moments in this life more imbued with joy than when you hear a song that stops you dead in your tracks. On the drive to workplace hell or while parked in the driveway of an abode you dread entering, a melody or rhythm can transport you — body and soul — to a place where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
At least that’s how I feel when I listen to DirtBike.
Photo courtesy of DirtBike
DirtBike was born about six months ago among the retirement communities and salty shores of Boynton Beach, Fla. The band is comprised of Mark Dubois, guitar, keys, vocals; Matt Stuchal, guitar and keys; Jordan Richards, guitar, keys and electronic percussion; Ryan Delawyer on bass and Jesse Price on drums and percussion.
Dubois, 25, writes and records the band’s material. He says he aims to create songs that stick.
“I want the listener to bite their teeth down or squeeze their steering wheel hard and say, ‘Gosh darn it, this is so solid,’” he says. “Or maybe they let the full song play when they only have a minute left of their drive.”
So far, DirtBike has released an EP called Them: four short and sweet songs that layer bright, soaring melodies on top of jazzy rhythmic foundations to create tight, toe-tapping compositions. From the surfy opening of “Tornado” to the Strokes-y guitar licks of “Forget About It,” Them evokes images of long car rides and high times spent with good buds. When the track “You Wear Me Out” opens, try to keep those shoulders from shimmying.
Mark Dubois live in Orlando. Photo by Ed Holten.
Dubois says the band’s sound is influenced by his diverse musical history: he’s been a member of a deathcore metal band, and he was a jazz drummer at Palm Beach State College for a couple years before transferring to FSU to get his bachelor’s in communications.
“I think that’s truly where the rhythm of DirtBike gets its roots from,” he says. “Also, I love Dr. Dog, Bill Evans, The Unicorns, maybe some Fleetwood Mac. I’ve been heavily into MGMT’s new album Little Dark Age as well.”
Dubois’ songwriting process is akin to building a home. You’ve got to start with the foundation.
“The first thing I do to create any demo or piece is have some sort of drum groove or rhythm. It’s a little strange, but without a groove or a beat, I can’t hear any melody or chords in my head. Once I have a rhythm, I build from there,” he says. “Lyrics are the last thing I add, and I never dwell much. It’s an improvisational thing when it comes time to record.”
DirtBike live in Orlando. Photo by Ed Holten.
Dubois began teaching himself the ins and outs of digital recording when he was 16, and he continues to learn each day in the tiny bedroom recording studio he’s built within his Delray Beach home. Currently, he’s working on brand-new material for DirtBike’s first full-length album.
“I am more excited about the new material than the old, always,” he says. ”I’ve slowly been working on the new material since we got back from our winter tour in January. I am trying my best not to rush the writing process in any way. I want this album to outdo the EP by far, so getting the time to write is currently a special and tedious thing. So far, the songs are all about a specific person. Pretty original, right?”
No matter what lies ahead for DirtBike, DuBois says the project is a fulfilling way for friends to get together and play music they love.
“Success to me is having the patience to build a full-length album, record it, release it under a label (or maybe no label) and getting a chance to tour the music with my best friends in my band,” he says. “I don’t write music to play shows or festivals. If it happens, it happens!”
Photo courtesy of DirtBike