When he came to McMaster University to study kinesiology, Toronto born David Koffman may have not thought he’d become a rock and roll star in Hamilton but that’s part of the education he got since coming here. Once on the sidelines, Koffman enlisted some of his old friends for a Mac frat benefit and it would become the origin story for Dirty Rick. Some two and a half years later, Koffman and Dirty Rick are still looking to add the Hamilton scene.
“When I was in high school in Richmond Hill, my friends had a band and I was kind of the fifth Beatle of sorts,” recalls Koffman on aiding his friends’ band without being an official member. “I didn’t really know much about it but I was a huge music fan. I had taken in some concerts in my adolescence — thanks to my dad I saw Green Day, Bon Jovi, Killers and I had my finger on the pulse of some cool music. My friends started playing shows and I’d be at all of them.
“Years later, I was about to graduate but my fraternity was organizing a charity concert as a graduation project and I decided I wanted to get the old band back together,” adds Koffman. “I jumped on stage with a covers group with some friends from McMaster as well. We did that one night but there was some talk that maybe I’d take it to the next level but nothing came of it. When we did it again the next year, I was in the band with my old friends. We started to move in a different direction and focus on originals. In high school they were playing more pop punk but we moved more into a blues rock direction — think Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, which reflects our terms musically as fans but then we all have our own spices that we throw in. We’ve done the benefit now for four years and I’ve played with Dirty Rick at it in some capacity. Now we’ve released an EP and we’re a legit band — if you would have told me that three years ago I wouldn’t have really believed it. The culmination of a lot of things coming together but I wouldn’t have thought, you’ve got songs out, people might know who you are and I'm really thankful at this point. It’s my old best friends from high school that I’m now playing in a band with, which is a dream come true of sorts.”
While Koffman has since graduated McMaster, he’s still studying in Hamilton and that has offered him the opportunity to continue making a splash musically here.
“I’m actually still studying in Hamilton at the other end of the city at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy,” says Koffman. “By day I’m studying to heal people physically and by night perhaps in a mental capacity with music. When I came back to school here, it seemed like a good opportunity to get more deeply entrenched in the Hamilton music scene. I live five minutes from Doors and it’s been a great place to go to. I don’t play any instruments, to this day I’m just the singer. I loved singing karaoke as a kid and jumping up on whatever stage I could but I didn’t have any training. These guys helped me as a singer and a frontman otherwise the rest I’ve learned from the greats like Jim Morrison and Freddie Mercury or some of my other favourites.”
Since April 2017, Koffman, Chris Barrett (drums), Christoph Neuland (bass) and newest addition Alex Maich (guitar), have been pricking up ears and perhaps raising eyebrows as Dirty Rick.
“Our original guitarist Allan Cocunato came to practice and told us that he had a dream of us playing at the ACC and the banner behind us said, “The Dirty Ricks”,” says Koffman. “We all looked at each other to see what the others thought and we all liked it except like the Facebook movie where they decided to not call it ‘The Facebook’, we dropped the the to make it a little cleaner. Plus another Hamilton stalwart band, Arkells, would definitely be on top of that. We get a good reaction almost every time we tell people our band name. If you’re eliciting any reaction, I think it’s a good sign.”
The band name seems to be a touchstone for people but the music is where it’s at for Koffman and company. With a show built to spotlight Hamilton music, Dirty Rick will showcase songs from their Post Candid EP released last summer as well as their recently recorded songs from their Hamilton sessions at Halo Studios with Roman Marcone.
“We released the two new songs in September and really love the new tunes — we’re excited to get four new tunes out in the New Year but we want more people to hear all of our music,” says Koffman. “We’ve got a show that brings out some great Hamilton friends. LT The Monk is a big name out at Mohawk and he just played Supercrawl. We’ve got a McMaster connection as well — my friends are putting together a cover act called Astrals that will be playing with us on this show. And we met Arwen Roussell at Supercrawl, her band The Chestnut Tree Café says they’re from Niagara but she lives in Hamilton. So this show is all Hamilton, which I’m really proud of. There is some amazing music happening in Hamilton and hopefully more people will buy a ticket to a show and support the scene every once in a while. More people want their local music, they just don’t know that they want it, if you know what I mean.
“We’ve played forty shows now so the novelty has worn off a little but sometimes I still shock myself and think about how once I was just a guy in the audience,” adds Koffman. “For me, the attitude towards music I want to have is you keep loving it. You don’t want to think of it as a job even if it is. We realized that in this age where everybody wants to go dance in clubs, we don’t want to produce electronic dance music, we want to produce rock and roll dance music. We bring a really intense and fun show. I have a great time — our fans have a great time. It’s really special. Dirty Rick is loud. Dirty Rick wants to get you moving.”
Dirty Rick plays this Friday November 15 with LTtheMonk, Astrals, and The Chesnut Tree Cafe live at Doors Taco Joint and Metal Bar. Doors are at 8pm and $10 gets you in. Click on dirtyrick.com