As far as rock groups go, The Dirty Shirts have a pretty unusual origin story. Years ago, when Cameron Moreland and Nick Santa Maria were kids, they met doing volunteer work in Mississippi. “We both had instruments, so we hit it off right away,” Moreland says. They both loved rock, too, and growing up, they developed a habit of sharing music with one another. Over the years, the duo learned to love everything from British rock to R&B to punk and much more–all while playing in their respective bands.
Now, many years, gigs and bands have gone by since that fateful meeting, but the two friends always kept in touch. Now, they have a new project: The Dirty Shirts, a Dallas rock band set to release their debut single in early October.
“This is the culmination of people who have known each other and loved each other for a long time, but it’s also a new beginning,” Moreland says. “It’s new music, with a fresh sound.”
Through college (Moreland in Lubbock; Santa Maria in Oklahoma) and multiple bands, both members of The Dirty Shirts honed their skills as “hired guns,” two reliable, skilled players who you could plug into your group and trust with your sound. For the most part, they played in Americana and blues rock bands. The guys enjoyed that, but they yearned for their own sound. Plus, what music lover doesn’t dream of starting a band with your best friend?
“This is our opportunity to take the reins, and really own our sound,” Santa Maria says.”
“I’m proud of all the records I made, but it didn’t sound like the stuff I grew up with,” Moreland says. “It would be a shame to never pay homage to the music we loved.”
So, after a weekend at a lakehouse with some beers and guitars, the two lifelong friends decided to honor their love for rock bands like The Strokes with a band of their own making. With help from the seasoned pros at Modern Electric, Santa Maria and Moreland teamed with drummer Sawyer McGee, guitarist Shane Hudson and backup vocalist Rachel Ally to cut a pair of singles and a 10-song album. Music maestro Noah Eichler handled co-producing and engineering duties. The singles and videos will debut this fall, while the album is slated for a 2021 release. When it drops, it’ll be accompanied by a slate of visuals from uber-talented photographers Cal Quinn, Aly Fae and Rico DeLeon — a team-up Santa Maria calls a perfect match.
“We knew they would understand the marriage of the music and visuals,” he says. “Both need to be striking, memorable, and something that’s going to kick you in the teeth.”
Lovers of early 2000s rock will find plenty to enjoy with The Dirty Shirts, who have managed to pull off a record that is at once nostalgic and fresh. All of their years of experience have led to this: pure rock escapism that the band can’t wait to play live in front of a post-pandemic audience.
“It has that energy of the rock ‘n roll you grew up loving,” Santa Maria says. “It’s so danceable and so singalongable If nothing else, for 2 minutes and 50 seconds, you’re going to enjoy the hell out of yourself.”