I was cracking up the entire time I was interviewing Diet Cig, a pop punk duo from New York, in town for a one-night show at The HiFi this past Wednesday. Making people laugh is a big thing for these guys on and off stage. The duo were in high spirits when I cornered them for the interview inside one of the narrow hallways at the Murphy Building. Forming just months ago, the band managed to land a performance at the most recent SXSW. If their mantra is anything to go by, having fun is one great way to get noticed.
Images provided by Wil Foster (Rock Candy Photo)
Aubrey Smith: How you met: (Alex) you wanted a light, and (Noah) you were in the middle of a set. I guess you weren’t too offended by that?
Alex Luciano: Yeah right? You were pretty nice about it. If someone came on stage during my session and asked “do you have a lighter?” I would be like, “Do I look like a have a lighter for you?”
Noah Bowman: It was a house show and it’s just “anything goes at a house show.” It was the last thing I expected to happen, but I thought it was more funny than offensive I guess. So I said, “no but I have a bottle of wine. I don’t know… just take it.” Someone was bound to have a lighter there.
AS: You guys must vibe off of each other’s humor.
NB: Totally. Basically we’re just like “you’re kinda funny and cool let’s hang out.” And it went from there.
AS: Alex you started with acoustic, correct?
AL: I did. I had some songs written and was like “what am I going to do with these?” They could really go any direction. They were just my own little songs that I didn’t know what to do with. We tried to do some acoustic recordings and they weren’t awesome.
NB: They weren’t anything exciting. The songs were good but we were like, “what if we got dramatic and made it really loud and added drums and electric guitar and punked them out.” We tried it and were like, “this is a lot cooler. This is fun.” There’s nothing wrong with acoustic, but we wanted to do something that would make people…
AL: …we wanted to make people dance.
AS: Was that your initial goal?
NB: I think we were still figuring that out. During the record Over Easy, we had a rough idea. Now I feel after we put that out and have played so many shows, we’ve started to realize what kind of a band we want to be. Which is we want it to be in your face.
AL: But also sensitive and speak to people through our music in a way. Or just prove that you can write sad songs that are about sh*tty stuff, but can still be fun songs. We’re trying to find the balance between promotional music and fun music. I feel like our music is really cathartic. At least for me it’s like, “ahhhhhh these are my feelings but it’s so fun!” It’s the best way to deal with them.
AS: A common theme from past articles and interviews describes you guys getting into this because you were bored. That you guys were like, “why not, let’s just do this.” That’s not a typical start for a band that just got featured at SXSW. Do you agree with those write-ups? How do you take that?
NB: I guess “bored” is such a harsh word. It was more like we had some down time. (Alex) wasn’t in school, I wasn’t in school. So we were like, “what are we doing today?” We tried to do this to see if anything came out of it for fun. Maybe play a show or two.
AL: We put a show on and were like “that was fun, let’s do it again!” It’s all been a lot of “that was fun, let’s do it again.” And so they asked if we wanted to go to SXSW. And now we’re like “that’s fun…”
NB: “…let’s do it again.”
AL: It’s been super chill. We do it because it’s fun. We’re so grateful and lucky that all these people want to watch us and listen to what we’re saying. Honestly, we’re just doing this because it’s fun for us.
AS: I’m sure you had no idea it would lead to where you guys are now.
NB: No. We thought we’d play a couple house shows and then we’d figure out something else. We never thought we would be where we are now.
AS: Noah you were part of other projects before Diet Cig. What inspired you differently to record this entire EP in two days?
NB: We knew that we could get it done in this short amount of time. We did it during Halloween. We were like “all right we’re not going to trick o’ treat this year, we’re going to record a record.”
AL: There were a lot of cool parties going on, but I was at my house. But then my roommate and I were like, “f*ck there’s kids here! We don’t have any candy!” We were giving quarters to these kids and we were like “this is not what we should be doing.” And that’s when I was like, “you know what. F*ck Halloween. We’re going to do this record.” The parents of the kids were like, “Don’t put that in your mouth, it’s not candy.” (laughs)
NB: It was awkward.
AS: Yeah, I hope they didn’t think they were laced! So when you started working with Noah, did you feel cool with him working with you on your lyrics?
AL: I didn’t feel like Noah tried to reword or restructure lyrically anything. It was a lot more of the dynamics of the song and making it more interesting with different levels and parts. All of the lyrics were mine. (Noah) built the rest of the song around the lyrics.
NB: I agree. She always has something to say. I respect her vision and what she’s trying to say. I stand by it.
AS: Have you written songs before?
NB: Not for Diet Cig but I’ve written for other bands.
AS: Do you plan to?
NB: Eeeeeeeh I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. That’s kind of our whole vibe. What happens, happens. We’re easy going.
AS: A common message in your current EP is “stop caring about how others look at you and just have fun.” Why is that something you are passionate about?
AL: That was a big thing when I was a freshman in college in a new scene. I wanted to go out and have fun, and everyone was worried about being cool. And I was like “I get it… you guys are cool. Now let’s have some fun.” What bonded us was how we wanted to have fun, and that’s why we are successful in this band. Our relationship as band mates is successful because we are about having fun. We’re not worried about looking or being cool. I think that coolness comes with being yourself and having a good time. I think that if you’re being genuine and going out of your way to be nice then you are cool.
AS: Yeah it comes more naturally that way. You have a new LP on the way. What can listeners expect from it?
NB: It’s going to be dank. We’re excited for it.
AL: It’s going to be awesome! These are some of our best songs ever. We’re playing some songs from it tonight.
AS: What are your expectations for tonight’s show?
NB: We’ve never played in… where are we? Indiana? We’ve never played here, but it’s going to be fun.
AS: You’re in a cultural hotspot in Indy, so you’re in the right place. Do you have any rituals before stepping out on stage?
NB: We used to play ‘Shake it off’ by Taylor every time before we played.
AL: Yeah we kind of dance it off or stretch it out. We shake it off ourselves.
AS: Looks like you have your own rendition of Shake it off, Diet Cig style. Now it’s time for the lightning round.
AS: Most difficult instrument to master:
NB: The violin.
AL: The theremin.
NB: That sounds like a drug. Cough syrup or something.
AS: Favorite exotic animal:
NB: Frogs are cool.
NB: We’ve been into frogs lately.
AL: Noah heard this really cute joke from a kid on the Internet. Can you tell it?
NB: Haha, yeah, it was like “what is the only animal that is ugly but still happy? A frog.”
AL: A frog! I just love the idea of a little kid thinking frogs are ugly but they have their smiley little faces. They’re so chill. Frogs are chill as f*ck.
AS: Dream musician or group to have a conversation with:
AL: Toxic era Brittany Spears
NB: I was thinking JT in his prime. With those fresh curls. I’d even talk to him now.
AS: Hidden non-musical talent:
AL: We’re really good at snaps game. I can make Noah guess any celebrity by just snapping my fingers. It’s a cool party trick. We can read each other’s minds.
NB: I paint. I don’t know, that’s why I have paint all over me.
AL: I embroider stuff.
NB: She’s good at crafts. Craft queen.
AS: Go-to karaoke song:
AL: Aaron Carter’s “House Party” rap.
NB: I’m a twin, and the Blues Brothers song… we would always do the Blues Brothers because it makes sense. I used to do Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” if I was really feeling saucy. She has some hiiiiigh notes in that song. I always forget how high it gets in the song and can’t do it at all.
AS: Number one place you wish to perform:
NB: Madison Square Garden. That’s going to be my moment when I’m like, “All right cool. I did it.”
AL: I want to play at the Sydney Opera House even though they don’t let bands like us play in there. But I want to play there anyway because I’ve never been inside. That or the White Castle on Broadway in Brooklyn. Just really light that place up.
3/26 Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
4/6 Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
4/8 Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom4/12 Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
4/16 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
4/18 San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park
4/20 Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater
4/23 Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
4/24 Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre