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An 'Us' Thing

Photo courtesy Studio Saint James
Photo courtesy Studio Saint James

Eugene-Portland punk band Dirtclodfight has an impressive pedigree stretching back to SoCal in the late ’80s, including stints with well-known record labels Flipside and Cavity Search. 

After an extended hiatus, bandleader Phil Merwin rebooted the band in Eugene, along with Portlanders Dean Miles on drums and Jason Locher on bass. 

“I could never really get away,” Merwin says, recalling his decision to reform the band. “It’s what I do.” 

Merwin says that while based in California, Dirtclodfight found an audience in Australia. And now, after a successful GoFundMe campaign, the band is headed Down Under for a long-overdue run of shows. 

But first, on Nov. 5, Dirtclodfight bids a temporary farewell to Eugene with a show at Wandering Goat. Merwin says the show is a thank you to all those who contributed to the tour. “It’s a celebration,” Merwin explains.

Merwin says Dirtclodfight’s latest release, 2014’s The Main Sequence, has unusual inspiration for punk and hardcore music: It’s a concept album paralleling the life cycle of a star with an individual’s path to enlightenment. 

“It harkens back to hardcore stuff — but a little more melodic,” says drummer Dean Miles. “It’s not a ‘me’ thing,” Merwin says, describing his band’s songwriting process. “It’s an ‘us’ thing and that’s how I like it.” 

The Main Sequence ranges from moments of quiet post-rock to searing crescendos of guitar noise and battering-ram guitar riffs, amounting to something like a hardcore band covering Pink Floyd tunes, with Merwin’s voice at times reaching the tortured but operatic heights of classic metal. 

Say bon voyage to Dirtclodfight alongside Eugene’s Psyrup and Paleons 8 pm Saturday, Nov. 5, at Wandering Goat; $5. 21-plus. — William Kennedy