Interview: Diet Cig
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We’re sat in the upper floors of the labyrinthine Hare and Hounds in King’s Heath and ‘slop pop’ duo Diet Cig are enthusing about their first visit to a Toby Carvery, a “big landmark that everyone’s been going on about.” Seven weeks into a tour the pair are still full of energy and enthusiasm, a trait that anyone who has been won over by their bitter sweet pop punk jams would recognise – this is what makes them such a vital and endearing band. Today they form part of an important line-up of radical, DIY punk at All Year’s Leaving festival alongside Downtown Boys, Priests and Idles. But even in that that of like-minded bands, Diet Cig stand out as different. While they bring the same progressive ideals and messages to listeners theirs is the light in a sea of darkness – Diet Cig are the radical punk party band we’ve been needing. A band for just two years Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman came together over a cigarette at a house party in New Paltz, New York, starting life with a PR ready story and setting them up for the blinding rate of success they have enjoyed to date. The wonderful, confessional and personal pop punk songs on their debut full length album Swear I’m Good At This (arguably one of the albums of the year), paints only part of the picture. Almost constantly on tour the band are winning hearts and minds with their uber-energetic live shows and likeable personalities. With a clear love of what they do they are easy to love back. “I think what we do is fairly straight-forward. It’s just really fun. We take what we do seriously but we don’t really take ourselves too seriously. We just want to have fun and provide a safe-space for other people to have fun,” explains Alex. Noah adds, “I think we’re just a fun, energetic band that’s there to make people forget the shitty things that are going on.” For me, ‘fun’ is the central adjective in describing the work of Diet Cig but that fact doesn’t diminish that there are also many important messages and issue to unpack in their music. But rather than taking an abstract, political or universal approach issues Alex takes a more personal line drawing on ‘lived experiences’ putting issues into a real human context. But how much of this comes from her directly? Alex is direct and honest in answering this question, “Everything, oh my gosh. Every song is very personal and has something to do with my own lived experience and I find it easiest to write what I know, especially on this new record that we put out I was getting really emotional with myself and packing that into songs that could be fun or cathartic. “Our song ‘Sixteen’ I talk about having sex with someone with my own name, so that was kinda an awkward share when the first time I played it and my family was in the audience at the show. That was definitely a bit OH MY GOD. My little sister listened to the record, she’s thirteen almost fourteen, and she’s like, ‘mom do you know Alex’s song is about having sex’ and she was like ‘yeah’. She’s in middle school so she thinks it’s hilarious. So that was a funny share but I never felt it was to personal. I don’t think I would write it in a song if it was ‘too personal’.” Even with the complete confessional nature of the lyrics, those writing about the band have sought to add additional narratives to the story of Diet Cig - such is the lot of female artists (or acts with female members) even in 2017! From the early days journalists have tried to sensationalise their relationship – are they a couple, are they siblings? It must be impossible for them to just be in a band together, right? Alex butts in clearly annoyed, “It doesn’t matter at all, it’s such a stupid question. Even if you are dating, it doesn’t matter, I mean does it change something for you? It’s such a strange thing.” “It’s just that people like to put things into categories. It’s like, if they are a couple they are like this band, and if they are not a couple, they are like this band. It doesn’t matter”, adds Noah. But Diet Cig are not a band to tolerate this bullshit for long, as Alex explains, “I think we’ve called out enough journalists and said, ‘don’t fucking even ask us that, are you joking?’ People don’t even ask us that anymore. When we started people would ask us ‘are you dating?’ I would say ‘Fuck. You.’ We only have so much time here ask me like a real meaningful question or like see how I like my eggs, or something.” It’s ‘over-easy’ in case you were wondering.
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