Just finishing up at SXSW 2017 in Texas and about to kick off a tour promoting their first LP Swear I’m Good At This, New York punk duo Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman had a chat with JOSEPH WILSON, and talk about the band’s unique approach to punk.
How was South by Southwest?
Bowman: It was great and crazy, fun, awesome and exciting and exhausting. It was like a summer camp – it was insane. It was everything.
Luciano: We had a really great time; we played so many cool shows. We got to run into so many of our friends we never really got to see all in one place, which was so crazy. It was fun; we played around ten shows, so we were constantly running around to the next gig. Either meeting up with somebody, or we threw a rager of a house party in the Airbnb we were staying at and that was awesome. It was just a blast overall – it was a good warmup for our tour.
Did you meet a lot of people?
Luciano: We got to see a lot of bands that we don’t really see that often. We honestly caught most of our friend’s bands, which was really fun. We did make friends with this amazing band called Alex Napping who we got to see live for the first time.
Bowman: It’s kind of hard because of rolling around so much. It was hard to plan and go to a show, like don’t set your heart on it because you’re probably not going to get there. So we would go with the flow, fall into shows and go and find our friends.
Luciano: It was fun, but it was also quite stressful – you have to let go of any expectations and kind of hope for the best or else you get FOMO.
The fact you guys did that just before a tour, how do you guys stay energised?
Luciano: Sheer adrenaline.
Luciano: Beer (laughs). We drank a lot of beer and lattes, those amazing drinks.
Bowman: It’s just the fact that its fun and we’ve enjoyed doing it. We could be doing something else, that’s not as fun but the fact we have his opportunity to go forward and keep playing every day and doing something that we love, it’s easy to get excited every day.
How does it feel for the band to be about to release it’s first LP?
Luciano: It feels amazing.
Bowman: It feels great – it feels really good.
Luciano: We’re really proud that we built this record let alone recorded it and it came out the way we wanted it to sound. We were just like “oh my god we did this thing” and now that everyone can hear it, we’re just super excited. We love the songs, we think they really show who we are right now.
Has there been a lot of support from family and friends?
Bowman: We all have been in this together and received support from our friends and family, to get us to this point, to finally releasing our first, full length record. Which is crazy to think this is the first one because it feels we already had a first one. Our family and friends have been super excited, its an exciting moment for us right now.
Luciano: We have friends who are so amazing and kind but they did this embarrassing thing where we had a party and they put our record on, they were like “these are my friends, they’re right here,” and I was like “listen, I love that you support our band and I love our record, but maybe let’s not play the whole thing at this party because I’m embarrassed now.”
Bowman: They were asking random people we don’t know, “do you really like it?”, who didn’t know how to answer the question because they were standing right there.
Luciano: It’s a cute thing, but very embarrassing.
Is the latest record personal?
Luciano: We get really personal, I get really personal with my songwriting on these records. Because I think of how personal some of this record is a lot of it blends with my feelings about feminism and the way women and how femme people are treated. There is this stigma for sharing your feelings, which I think is something I feel like oppressors don’t want people to be empathetic towards each other in kind.
I think that definitely our records are pushing back against this idea that you should keep your emotions to yourself, or people who think it’s punk to be tough and not share your feelings. I think we’re pushing back against this idea that you have to be closed off to be cool.
It’s like no, punk can be empathetic and kind and honestly I think it’s a feeling or sentiment that a lot of bands we are in the scene with also promote. It’s been really amazing connecting with other bands – the people who inspire us on this idea that it’s cool to be empathetic, it’s cool to say fuck you to the system by being kind and caring and going out of your way to be nice to people and share your feelings and be heard.
It’s easier to be nice and I think a lot of the people we interact with are peers that music-wise echoed that sentiment. It’s cool to be nice; we are surrounded in this scene of people who are working for empathetic and kind communities in punk.
Punk bands who take a more empathetic approach to their music – do they find it harder to break through?
Luciano: Right now we are so thankful. We have come up in the scene where there have been other bands to look up to. Bands that have shown being kind and caring is cool. We were lucky enough to come up and be a part of this thing before we even realised it and be surrounded by people who were nice and fostering this community. We never had that struggle.
Although I remember when we first started there was this too-school-for-school kind of thing and everyone was punk and mean. I think once we found actual bands that we liked, we started becoming a part of the scene.
Has that “I don’t care attitude” of punk been abandoned for something more open?
Luciano: Totally, I think as more bands set examples for just being kind. You’re at a show and you’re playing with a band and they’re nice to you and they’re kind and go out of their way. When you’re at a show and people start moshing and hurting people and the band stops in the middle of a song to make sure everyone is safe and good – that kind of thing echoes, it’s a really strong and important way to be radical and be punk.
I think that sentiment is growing and I think the more bands that are promoting this idea of making sure people feel safe at your shows and caring about the community you create, the way your words make people feel. I think it’s really contagious and I think it’s only getting bigger and everyone just having each other’s backs more.
The more people see that, the more they are going to foster their own community. It’s pretty exciting; I think the scene is going in a cool direction right now.
Are you hoping the album will foster a sense of community within the scene you play in?
Luciano: I hope that our album resonates with people in a way that they can feel like they feel heard – they feel like someone else gets what they are going through. I also think our tour is coming up, we really want to foster that idea of caring about people and having safer spaces at our shows and make sure that people that come to our shows can feel like a part of this community.
I think the album and also the live shows inspire people to care about each other and listen to each other’s feelings.
Comparing the point of now going on tour to the time you guys met, how does it feel?
Bowman: It feels crazy, we definitely at that point of meeting each other for the first time never thought this would be a reality that we thought we would be in a band together. It’s exciting, it’s really cool and this is our livelihood now, it’s become our career and I guess I don’t even know what we would be doing, it just feels so natural.
Are there any plans for the band to hit Australian shores?
Bowman: We are really trying to make that happen. You guys are just so far away, I wish we could just hop on a plane and be there in two hours but we’re definitely working on that.
Luciano: We would definitely love to hug all your koalas.