Interview: Diet Cig

Diet Cig

Earlier this week, I had the chance to talk with Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums) of the band, Diet Cig. We chatted about how they write songs, artists they admire in today’s music scene, and their recording plans for after their tour wraps up.

I’m here with Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman of Diet Cig, prior to their upcoming Fall tour with Rubble Bucket, which includes a stop in my hometown of Washington, DC. Tell me how you got paired up with Rubble Bucket and describe any comparisons (if any) to your sound and theirs?

Alex: We love Rubble Bucket, as they are a band that we both listen to a lot even before we started this band.

Noah: Even in high school, I would go to shows of theirs because they were so big. I think it’s great that they’re still touring as much as they do too.

Alex: We’re lucky enough to have them bring us on tour, which is like super exciting for us. I feel like their live performance is very high-energy like ours and was one of the first shows that I saw that had such a high-energy live performance. I think really kind of formed that type of shows that we would like to put on when we started our band and so it’s going to be surreal to be playing with one of our most influential bands. I think as far as our band’s sound compared to each other, it’s different but we both have high-energy live shows and fun songs that make you wanna dance.

It looks like you guys will be the main support act on this tour and will have the opportunity to gain more fans along the way.

Noah: That’s part of the reason why we love doing support tours because it puts in front of a new audience that we may not get on our own. So, it’s nice to kind of just show up and meet some new people and gain some new fans too.

Alex: Yeah, sometimes in the past we have gained so many fans, some have even been some of our strongest fans and supporters, so we’re really excited to meet these Rubble Bucket fans. These are fans that are into really fun music and I’m excited to be a part of the shows.

This next question is for Alex. I heard you recently tore an ACL playing a show. How has the recovery process been?

Alex: It’s been going really well. At a tour stop in November, at a festival, I tore my ACL and then I kept playing on it until June of this year. Which was…incredibly challenging and then I had the surgery to fix it in June and this whole Summer we kind of took off to heal it up and make all the right moves. I’m feeling super well and feel like I’m ready to go, but I feel like this is going to be the first tour where I feel “strong.” Like, about as strong as before I tore it. Which is really exciting because I feel like I’ll be able to move around more and hopefully my physical therapist doesn’t see too many videos of me jumping around on stage <Laughter>. They said, “Be careful!” But yeah, the recovery is going really well.

Cool! I loved that “Green Eggs and Ham”-style vinyl record that you did for the re-release of the “Over Easy EP!” Who comes up with your merchandising ideas, and how do you stay connected to the products your band produces?

Noah: I guess there’s a couple different ways that we reach out for merchandising ideas. For example, Chelsea Beck and others, and within that list we just try and collaborate with them and give them sort of an idea of what we’re thinking of. As far as the “egg” (vinyl), that was mostly just us coming up with that idea. We reached out directly to the record plant and said, “Is this even a possibility?”

Alex: We had been dreaming up this possibility as soon as we put out the EP and our manager, Jessie, was really excited and said, “Yes, we can do this. We will figure it out.” So yeah, it’s funny that you mentioned that Green Eggs and Ham vinyl because we were just talking to her about making different variants. And it’s kind of funny when you talk to the vinyl people and say, “We want to make an egg!” <Laughter>

How would you describe your relationship with the “Hello Merch” company?

Noah: We love them! We probably drive them crazy with all of our ideas…

Alex: Yeah, they’re awesome. They run our whole merchandise store, they ship everything out directly to our fans and they process all our orders and keep constant communication up with us on what they have, what they need more of, and they are really just the nicest people. Even if we have an order that is super last minute, they always tell us that they will find a way to make it work.

Tell me about your recording plans for 2018/2019 after this tour wraps up. What’s in the works?

Alex: So we are currently in the process of writing our next record.  We don’t really have any hard dates of when we’re recording what but we are definitely working on new music. We’re also excited to take some time off from touring since we really haven’t had much time write, ya know? We wrote I Swear I’m Good at This in between tours for a bit and then we would be home for 10 days, then back on tour, home for a weekend, then back on tour. So we were really writing that record in those “in-between” times. Which was cool, but also incredibly stressful. On this next record, we really just want to take the time to get it right and without the added stress. We’re really excited to do this tour and then come and chill out for a sec so we can work on the follow-up.

What artists do each of you look up to? How do they influence your band’s sound or songwriting style?

Noah: Oh, I feel like for me it changes a lot. I don’t know, I feel like lately I’ve been playing the Commit this to Memory Motion City Soundtrack record non-stop. Sometimes I’ll just fall into a record like that and say, “Wow, they really figured it out!” Then I’ll go another month and something else will pop up. Something always catches my ear and I think that it’s pretty cool and I love how they did that drum transition or part. I really feel like it changes a lot.

Alex: I feel similar as to having certain things that I gravitate towards that I am influenced by. Some of the pop stuff like Carly Rae, Robyn and the tour with Bleachers in the Spring, made me realize just how talented a songwriter Jack Antanoff is. I’m really interested in the way that pop songs are structured and learning exactly what makes a song catchy. Or, why does this song make me feel like I can do anything…So yeah, I’ve been listening to a ton of pop music and I’m trying to think who else I’ve been checking out. I should really just go through my recent Spotify lists.

You recently did a tour with an additional keyboardist and bassist. Do you find the songwriting process to be easier with only two band members, or is there ever a chance you will add more members?

Noah: I guess we’ve never really wrote any songs with more band members as Diet Cig, but writing with just two people has its ups and downs and its own challenges. I feel like going into the next record will still be just the two of us, but we may have a few guests come in for different parts. Nothing set in stone, but we’ll see what happens.

Alex: I think I can imagine writing our songs with just the two of us with bass parts and we’d love to have some friends do some collaborations with us in the studio. It would be nice to have a fresh perspective and work with someone with fresh ideas, but I really think the focus of the songs will just really be the two of us. Even with our last tour when we had a keyboardist and a bass player, it was really fun and really opened up so many more ideas with more musical brains in the room. It really just refreshed us and gave us confidence to say, “Yeah, these songs really are awesome!” So it’s always fun to do collaborations with our friends.

How would you describe your fan-base and your live shows/interactions with them? I know you guys are big on reaching out to your fans on social media.

Alex: We really love them! They are always so supportive and it’s really just a cool community. They are people who really care about the well-being of others and it’s a lot of kids who are under 21, but we still have fans that are in their mid-30s too. It’s a really interesting and broad mix of ages and demographics with our music. The main thing is that I always make a point to comment at our shows that it’s about caring about each other and a safe space. We don’t tolerate any violation of consent in the audience and we want them to dance and have fun, but not without getting consent from someone who doesn’t want you dancing up on them. I feel like our fans have a clear understanding of that and they care about each other. And even the internet community, it’s great to talk to these people we met on Twitter in person and these are type of people that I really would want to be friends with. That’s why I think social media can be a really cool place and have people come up to us and say, “I’m that person on Twitter and you liked my post!” It’s really great to build these types of relationships with our fans. It’s really positive.

Final question for you both, what advice would you give to young bands looking for their big break in the music industry?

Noah: Don’t be afraid to fuck up. Just keep going and keep believing in yourself and don’t try to compare yourself to other people’s type of music. Once you start doing that, you kind of just get stuck. So really just remember why you’re doing the type of music you’re doing and just keep at it. We’ve played so many horrible shows, but you really just gotta get through them and learn from them.

Alex: Yeah, I also think its very important to surround yourself with people that you trust and believe in your project. So, whatever that means to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean finding the perfect manager, but build a team around you that is supportive because it can be really hard to do everything on your own. It’s very important to build up your community and family around you. I don’t think we would have gotten as far as we’ve gotten without our amazing team. Big shout out to Father Daughter Records for believing in us early on, and now Jessie (our manager) is one of the first one’s to tell us just how much she believed in our music. You really just gotta find the right people early on…and be nice!

Thank you, Noah and Alex for your time today, and I wish you both the best of luck on your upcoming tour with Rubble Bucket and look forward to seeing what you guys deliver in 2019!

Alex: Thank you so much for taking your time too to talk to us about our music. Bye, have a great day!