New York pop-rock duo Diet Cig are no strangers when it comes to playing in Texas. First, the band opened up for Bully at Walter’s, where they dominated the crowd and made their presence loud and clear. Shortly thereafter, at a much larger venue, the group opened up for the acclaimed indie-emo band the Front Bottoms at Warehouse Live. The group, composed of Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, spoke to Free Press Houston following their high energy set at Sound On Sound Fest where we got to talk about touring, Twitter beef, and what really gets them excited.
Free Press Houston: The first time I got to witness a Diet Cig show was at Walter’s when you opened up for Bully, who is also playing Sound On Sound. However, a couple months later, you opened for the Front Bottoms at Warehouse Live, a larger venue. How did Diet Cig get selected to both of those tours?
Alex Luciano: Oh, cool. Hell yeah! We toured with Bully right before the Front Bottoms, which was super fun. Bully is, like, the best band ever!
Noah Bowman: The difference between the two was that the Bully shows were great, but they were at 400-max capacity shows, which was big for us at that point.
Alex: We played the Parish in Austin and thought, “This is the biggest show we’ve ever played.” There was so much energy. It was so much fun.
Noah: Yeah, but those Front Bottoms shows were, like, 2,000-cap and you’re just like, “Woah, this is a whole different world!” It was great, it was fun.
FPH: On this tour, have you guys kept all the things, rig wise, that people became familiar with from those prior tours?
Noah: I have a different kit that I use now.
Alex: It’s pretty much the same, I’m in the midst of a gear overhaul. We’ve been going guitar shopping trying to get the right head. Noah find his setup, and I — before our record release — am trying to have all of my shit together, which is really exciting. I’m currently using the same gear I used last year, but by 2017, my goal is to have the overhaul. New, fresh stuff. I’m really excited. When we go in a guitar shop, we’re like, “Woah, so many guitars!”
FPH: Are there any pedals in particular you’re looking for? I mean, what’s the sound you’re wanting but may not quite have yet?
Alex: I’m not even into pedals yet. I’m still in the guitar and amp circle. If you can get your guitar sounding right through your amp, then that really determines what pedals you need. I currently use an old tube screamer, a fulltone, and an MXR distortion fuzz. Once I get my new setup, I’ll probably get new pedals. I’m not even there yet.
FPH: Lately, I’ve been interested in the importance of subgenres, and your band is labeled as “slop pop.” Is that a fair statement to make?
Noah: I guess it’s like — we do play pop music.
Alex: We’re like this sloppy punk band that plays pop, you know? We write pop songs, but we’re not a pop band. We’re sloppy and fun. We just make pop music. Sometimes we’re really put together and sometimes we’re sloppy. It doesn’t really matter.
Noah: We’re not as polished as other bands. I don’t know. I think people use subgenres just to categorize bands.
Alex: People love to make sense of things, it’s within our nature to put things into categories. That’s the thing. Subgenres are kind of important, because it helps people to compartmentalize different bands. It’s also kind of bullshit. That’s why we made up our own, we’re slop pop.
FPH: So you guys coined that term?
Alex: Yeah, we made it. I mean, it’s like people are writing about your band and deciding what subgenre you fall into, so we decided to make our own. It felt right.
FPH: If writers and critics have influence over genres, what about reviews? Who’s really in charge of that?
Noah: Um, I don’t know. They’re all the same, I feel like.
Alex: If the critics took the time to listen to the record and really unpack your music and thought process, it doesn’t matter if NPR wrote it. As long as they took the time to genuinely listen to your record and make an effort to unpack it in a way that’s honest and real, then it’s great! We’ve had really small blogs do a write where I swear they didn’t listen to it, but then we’ve also had huge papers say we’ve done good and bad. I don’t think it matter who you’re writing for, it matters that you are thoughtful and honest. It’s important that you actually listen to it and put the right thought into it.
FPH: What does being verified on Twitter mean to a band? I mean, does it have a real significance? What was the first thing you remember thinking when it happened?
Noah: Alex is the Twitter person.
Alex: I was so excited to get verified. A couple of days after it happened, you know Martin Shkreli, that really bad pharma bro? He was tweeting to some amazing writer and said, like, “Yo, call me up and let’s fucking fight.” It was disgusting. He even put his phone number on Twitter! I was like, “Oh my God.” So I retweeted it and was like “You wanna fuck with such a horrible guy?” He tweeted us and said he was going to have Twitter remove our verification! I was like, “You will not, you’re such a bad guy!” For a day, I was wondering if I made a mistake? Did I just fuck with the wrong asshole? Like, could he even do that? He didn’t.
Noah: I didn’t even know that happened.
Alex: Yeah, I didn’t tell you. I was genuinely nervous for a day! Like, not my precious verification! Then I thought that it didn’t even matter, because this guy is an asshole and he deserves to be fucked with by putting his phone number on the Internet. It was really exciting. I remember being really nervous was like, “Wait, what if he knows someone at Twitter?” He’s a millionaire or billionaire or whatever. He didn’t get my verification removed and I’m sure that people fucked with him.
FPH: Has your record been pretty clean since that? What about beef with anyone else? I mean, they are other verified people that are known for getting into arguments with people, namely Marc Maron.
Alex: Nah, I wouldn’t try to start fake beef. I feel like I could start real beef with so many shitty people. I like being positive on Twitter, most of the time, but it is kind of fun to get petty. We’re pretty chill.
FPH: You have one of the most energetic shows that I’ve ever seen. When you started, was that something that took learning or were the both of you always just energetic while playing? What were your personalities growing up?
Noah: Starting this, we learned so much. This is Alex’s first band, but I’ve been drumming in bands forever. On the drums, I can’t move that much. I remember the first few shows, Alex was stiff like a plank during a song, shaking.
Alex: It was really scary. It is nerve wracking to put your art out in front of people. It was people we knew at our first shows, too. I thought, “If I fuck up, all of my friends are going to see me do it.” The energy helped us get past the nervousness in a way. It was something we learned to do as a mechanism to play better shows.
FPH: So this was your first official band? Why was the time you started it the right time?
Alex: I don’t know, I think it just happened.
Noah: Yeah, I was in a band and we were recording. When we had spare time, I was like, “Oh, hey, let’s try this.” It just went from there. It made sense.
Alex: I never thought that I would be in a band. It was cool and felt good. It was fun. That’s the thing, it was really fun.
Noah: We weren’t like, “We’re doing this because we have to do this.”
FPH: Your debut, Over Easy, was released a while back in February of 2015. What’s next for Diet Cig?
Noah: Well, we just finished recording a record, like, three days ago. We’re about to go back and master it. So we have a record out next year which we’re so stoked for. It’s our first full length record. After the release, we’re going to tour and see what happens after that.
FPH: Was Diet Cig born bad?
Alex: I think we were born bad, but bad like, “Yo, that skate trick was bad.” Like, sick or nasty. We were born bad like that. I think we’re low key kind of soft. No beef on Twitter, except for that horrible guy.