Dirty Shirts Band Combines Pop, Disco, Rock ‘N’ Roll

New ‘eclectic’ but still danceable ‘poppy’ record to release in early 2025

Nick Santa Maria recalls family dinners at his grandparents’ home in University Park before attending concerts in Deep Ellum at the age of 16.

Now, he’s the lead singer and songwriter of The Dirty Shirts, a Dallas-based dance-floor-rock-’n’-roll group with pop, disco, and rock elements. 

“We also throw around the term ‘glam trash,’” Santa Maria said. “Very sparkly but very rough around the edges too. It’s all about balance.”

Members celebrated the band’s three-year anniversary the same week they performed four shows at South by Southwest in March.

Santa Maria said he hopes his shows give attendees the same experience he had going to local shows growing up.

“The world is nuts; it’s so stressful,” he said. “There’s so many things going on at home and abroad, and for … however long we’re playing, I want you to forget about all that and just have fun and have a drink, jump up and down, scream.”

However, the shows are slowing down this year as band members are focusing on a record planned for release in early 2025. One song will be released per month until the end of the year.

“(The record) will still have the very dancey, poppy stuff that we have been doing, but I think that we’re really expanding into something that is a little more … eclectic, and there’s a bit of everything for sure,” Santa Maria said. “I really wanted to write a guitar rock ’n’ roll record and something that I would’ve been super stoked to hear when I was like 14.”

Before working with The Dirty Shirts, Santa Maria played guitar for country bands. He then collaborated with a friend to write non-country songs before the pandemic hit and their live-show gigs dried up.

“(The pandemic) really gave me the time to focus on my own music for the first time in a really long time,” Santa Maria said. “That was kind of the start of (the band), and we found some buds to play on the record.”

The Dirty Shirts lineup has seen some variation, and Santa Maria has been the only consistent performer.

“That’s been the beauty of it, I think, because we’ve gotten so many different people’s perspectives and spin on things as it’s gone on,” he said. “It’s been a core group of probably eight or nine people.”

Santa Maria grew up listening to music with his parents and started his music career playing the trumpet in middle school.

“Then I found out that I’d have to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning and march in the August heat in Texas if I wanted to play in high school, and I knew myself well enough,” he said, noting that’s when he took up the guitar.

Santa Maria says connection is what people love about music.

“You connect with the artist that you’re listening to over the radio, you connect with the people on stage, you connect with the other people in the crowd,” he said. “I’d love to see it be less on the screen and more in person.”

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