Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (D.R.I.) started off as a straight-ahead and speedy punk band. However, they gradually incorporated heavy metal elements into their sound as they evolved. The band, alongside Corrosion of Conformity and Suicidal Tendencies, was credited as one of the first to fuse thrash metal and hardcore punk.
Amazingly, D.R.I. also achieved the rare feat of retaining their hardcore and skatepunk fan bases even if they crossed over to metal. Guitarist Spike Cassidy and vocalist Kurt Brecht were the two constants throughout numerous lineup changes. Surprisingly, the band persisted for over a decade.
Formed in 1982 in Houston, Texas, the band first played under the name the Suburbanites. Spike, Kurt, his brother Eric (drummer), and Dennis Johnson (bassist) renamed the band Dirty Rotten Imbeciles – a frequent insult from Kurt and Eric’s father, who objected vehemently to their rehearsals.
The band first started playing live around Houston and released Dirty Rotten EP, their 22-song debut on their label. In 1983, they re-issued Dirty Rotten EP as a 12” LP and retitled it Dirty Rotten LP. It helped make the band a household name in the underground punk scene.
After numerous lineup changes, D.R.I. scored a deal with Metal Blade. D.R.I. also earned more fans when Dave Lombardo (Slayer’s drummer) praised them in an interview. The band made their Metal Blade debut when they released Crossover in 1987. The album made the band’s punk-fusion ambitions quite evident.
In 1988, they released Four of a Kind, the first D.R.I. album to make the national charts. Thrash Zone, the band’s 1989 release, is their most metallic offering yet. It was also considered among their best works. Two songs from the album – Abduction and Beneath the Wheel – also received significant airplay on MTV.