Cameron Moreland and Nick Santa Maria met as kids doing volunteer work in Mississippi. Little did they know that fateful meeting would turn into a lifelong friendship that would shape them not only as friends, but as fellow musicians finding their sound.
Many years have passed since the fateful meeting, but the two friends have always kept in touch. And now, they have a new project together.
Through college (Moreland in Lubbock, Santa Maria in Oklahoma) and multiple bands, both honed their skills and (for the most part) played in Americana and blues rock bands. The guys enjoyed that, but yearned for their own sound. Plus, what music lover doesn’t dream of starting a band with your best friend?
After a weekend at a lake house 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 seasoned pros at Modern Electric, a pair of singles and a 10-song album was born. The singles debut this fall/winter, while the album and video are slated for a 2021 release.
We caught up with Dallas rock band The Dirty Shirts to discuss their new project.
You met as kids doing volunteer work in Mississippi. What was your life like growing up?
Nick: Music was a pretty big thing for both of us early on. We started playing shows in different bands around the time we were 13 or 14. It’s pretty much all that we cared about from that point on. Other than that, I’d say we both had pretty normal upbringings. It wasn’t until we got older that we went crazy!
What’s it like being in a band with your best friend?
Cam: We’ve been friends for so long that it just seemed like a natural progression of our friendship. It would’ve happened sooner, but we were both playing in bands, touring with this group or that group across the country, living all over Texas. Once we both relocated to the DFW area, it happened pretty quickly. Listening to records over a few beers turned into wanting to make one together in fairly quick succession.
How did you come up with your band name?
Cam: We’re both huge fans of English rock and roll bands, and knew we wanted our name, sound and aesthetic to give a nod to that, without being obnoxious or over-the-top about it. We threw out a handful of other ones, that I honestly can’t even remember, but as soon as we said “The Dirty Shirts” — we knew that was the one. It matched the attitude that we wanted our music to have.
Who are your main musical influences? How have they impacted your sound?
Nick: That’s a fairly loaded question! The whole time we’ve known each other, we’ve sent each other bands that ranged from Refused to The Kooks, and both grew up listening to classic rock like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. And, like I said, we’re both huge fans of English rock and roll, which I think comes out in our sound a lot – Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, The Verve. And like anyone else coming up in the early 2000s, The Strokes were massive for us. I think if you throw all of that in a blender with some disco, you’ve got us.
Tell us about your newest single “Ol’ Chains Romance.” Why this song?
Nick: It was the first song we wrote together, even before we had a name, and we thought it was a great way to introduce people to our sound. Our record is turning out to be pretty eclectic, but not cluttered, and it felt like “Ol’ Chains Romance” had a thread that went through all of the songs.
What’s next for The Dirty Shirts?
Nick: We’re hoping to release another single—“Shake”—in the next month, and we’re about to head back into the studio to finish out the album. The full-length should be out in the spring, along with some other visuals that we’re working on. COVID willing, we’ll be hitting the road early in the new year. But the train left the station, even the pandemic isn’t going to stop us.
Cover photo Claire Cassidy
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.