While Dinkus 9 has only been together a few years, the groups could probably already make its debut on VH1’s show, Where Are They Now? Of the original three band members, only Heim remains in the group. As for who the other past members were, Heim warned me, “Oh man, you’re going to wish you never asked that….” Because this list of different names and instruments (for a brief time, a DJ had been incorporated into the band) eventually turned into a jumbled mess, here's a synopsis. Everyone in D9, besides Heim and Jeff Mayne (tenor sax) has been replaced at least once. And besides these three, current members include Neil Brodfuehrer (guitar), Tim Sadue (bass), Ryan Martin (drums), and Adam Soon (trombone).

Although the six members of this group began playing ska, they’ve recently adopted a more punk-ish style. “People tend to label us ska once they see that we have a horn section, and, growing up, we were a ska band,” said Heim. “It’s a bit difficult to get booked in a lot of out-of-town clubs these days because there’s supposedly no scene left for it. I usually tell promoters we’re a punk band. Not to bash the ska scene because god knows it doesn’t need any more of that, but there are so many bad ska bands out there. A lot of it just lacks substance; I know because we used to be that.” With four independent releases under their belt, most recently Shameface in 2002, these guys may as well have the word “determined” tattooed on each of their foreheads. So far, D9 has shared the stage with big-name bands, such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Planet Smashers, Run DMC, and The Ataris. The band has also played Warped Tour two years in a row and will once again take the stage in 2003. Because fame hasn’t bitten D9 in the ass as of yet, the group still embraces the intimacy of a smaller venue. “My favorite kind of shows are the small, hole-in-the-wall, all-ages shows where the band plays on the floor,” said Heim. “Kids go nuts! You can just feed right off all the energy because everyone is like a half a foot away from you.”

While offers from record labels have been made, there have been no John Hancocks as of yet. “We’ve had offers, but none of them are attractive enough for us to buy into,” said Heim. “We’ve been working really hard the past few years and label help would be nice, but it’s not necessary.” And if these boys aren’t busy enough, the band has also been working on a side project called Benson, with big-time producer Dow Brain of Underground Productions, which has evolved talents, such as KRS One, Aerosmith and Marky Mark. The group is planning on recording within the next two weeks. Although recent focus has been drawn away from Dinkus 9, you can still catch these guys at local Buffalo venues or on their east coast summer tour.

For a long time, Heim wasn’t really into the whole “music label” scene, viewing it as “selling out” a band’s organic musical roots. After numerous tours around the country, however, those “company perks” that a music label has to offer don’t look quite as bad. “I used to be one of those kids in the crowd yelling ‘sell out’ at a commercial pop punk show, but now that I’m on the other end of things, I have a better understanding,” said Heim. “Sleeping in the van in Walmart parking lots every night gets old. I don’t see any shame in a musician actually seizing the opportunity to actually make a living off of doing what he or she loves.” But the music industry isn’t perfect and many changes need to be made, Heim said. “I don’t think that the musicians get to reap the benefits of their hard work. But then again, this is a country saturated in capitalism. Leave it to America to screw up something as beautiful as music.”

With so many musicians getting sucked up by the ritz and glitz of stardom, bands such as D9 keep the rest of the musical world in check. “I never really expected anything out of this,” Heim said. “I just enjoy being able to hang out with my friends and do what I love. We’re going to keep at it until it stops being fun.” Dinkus 9 leaves for its summer tour July 20, and dates can be found at http://www.dinkus9.com/. CDs are available at New World Records, Home of the Hits, Record Theater and at www.interpunk.com by Amanda Zackem

Passion runs deep within the veins of Nick Heim, lead singer, guitarist, manager, and “glue” to the Buffalo-based band Dinkus 9. After having been through six years of come-and-go members, there’s still a driving force that keeps him going. “Most of my life, I had been playing in ensembles, playing classical music, but that’s not for me. Being in a band is like an incurable disease that you get some twisted kick out of. You can't escape it, and it’s addicting as hell.” This addiction began in middle school when Heim and his two friends -- Jonah Ferrigno (drums), whom he claims was the “best musician I knew at the time,” and Brian Whone, who’d recently learned how to play guitar -- decided to start a band. But these boys weren’t virtuosos from the get-go. It was a rather painful beginning. “The sounds that followed were indescribably horrible. It was some sort of weird mix of Nirvana covers, Smashing Pumpkin covers, and like three original songs, that were everything but original,” Heim said. Going along with their “weird” music, they decided to give the band a “weird” name. “You have to understand we were just entering high school. We always called each other ‘dinkus’ for some reason, and thought it would be a weird but cool name for a band,” said Heim. “I don’t know how the number thing came into play. It might have been the wrong answer to a math question or something.”