Interview: A Chat With Alex & Noah from Diet Cig

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Credit: Shervin Lainez

With the release of their debut album Swear I’m Good At This coming this week, I chatted with Alex & Noah from Diet Cig about their new album, 'Link In Bio' and hugging koalas.

Amy: You were recently at SXSW, how was it?
Noah: It was insane and fun, crazy, exhausting, hot, sweaty and awesome, all the above. It’s SXSW, if you’ve never been, you gotta go because it’s great. 

Alex: It’s wild. We had so much fun, we made so many friends, and we had so many fun shows, and it was a really good exercise before we start our tour. It kinda got us back into the groove of playing lots of shows. It was really fun.

You were there last year as well, was it much different the second time round?
Noah: I think this time we had more of an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. I think the first year was a little bit hectic, we played like 13 shows or something, and we were running around not knowing where anything was. But then this year, we flew in, and we had less stuff. We did around 10 shows, and we kinda knew the way of the land, like where the venues were, so it definitely made it a little bit easier. We weren’t as flustered this year

Because it’s so busy, do you get much time to relax or catch any of the other bands?
Noah: I feel like it’s so hard to plan to go see another band because you don’t know if you’re going to get in by the time you get there. A lot of the time when we were done playing, we would go with the flow, we would see how the night kinda took us. We did get to see a lot of bands we are friends with and enjoy like PWR BTTM, Jay Som and Vagabon, so we got to see a lot of our friends in bands.

Alex: It was a lot of that. I feel like we had our own schedules. We would finish our shows and then text our friends then and there like ‘where are you?!’ I had a couple of plans with bands, and I didn’t get to see them. I feel like I saw a lot of other bands I didn’t even realise I wanted to see until I was watching them and having so much fun. It was definitely really intense and fun, we were running around everywhere, hoping you would catch a band.

So your debut album Swear I’m Good At This is coming out this week, how does it feel to finally get it out?
Noah: So good!

Alex: It feels so good! We’ve been sitting on it since October, and we have some singles out, which we love, but we just want everyone to hear the record as a whole. It feels amazing to finally to get to show it to the world. People have been waiting so long for this record, and everyone who has had our backs and stuck with us deserves it.

Where did you record the album?
Noah: We did it in two different studios. We did it in Atomic Sound in Brooklyn with Chris Daly, who produced it. We also went up to his studio in New Paltz, and at Salvation Recording Co, so we kinda split it up. We went to Atomic because it’s a bigger room and we wanted a bigger drum sound, and a bigger sound all round. It was fun. It was nice to work with the same engineer from the Over Easy record. Also, my brother is an engineer, so he helped out, and our friend Travis also helped out. So it was a really relaxing and fun process.

Now one of the tracks on the album ‘Link In Bio’ I discovered it on the train after a bad day, and it pretty much captured all my feelings at the moment. How did that song come about?
Alex: It’s funny, we actually had the instrumentals for the song for a long time, and we had other lyrics, and we kinda felt weird about that song. We thought, ‘maybe it will be on the record, maybe it won’t’, and so we recorded the instrumentals, and I hated the vocals, and we needed to scrap them. I couldn’t think of how to rewrite the vocals and get across the point that I wanted until literally the day I went to record them. I kept playing the song, and I thought I would do them on the spot. I ended up writing them on the spot, and it was kinda coming from this place of saying fuck you to being this idea of being a chill girl. You know, the kinda girl that doesn’t get mad about stuff and doesn’t really care. I’ve hated that for so long. The idea that boys would like me more or people would think I was cooler If I was easygoing and didn’t care about stuff, and be one of the guys. I realised that that’s such bullshit, you should never be ashamed of having feelings and expressing them. It deals with my frustration of this idealisation of women who don’t share their feelings. No, it’s not cool to push away your feelings, and there’s no one specific way a women should be. The song says fuck you to the idea that women should be anything than exactly who they are. It was really crazy, I wrote these lyrics the moment I sang them on the record, and I had no idea if I was getting my point across or If I was saying what I wanted to say. And a few days later, I was like ‘yes, I nailed it’, and I’m really excited about it. It’s actually one of my favourite songs on the record, and I’m proud of the lyrics, and also the instrumentals. I think both of us stretched outside our comfort zones for the instrumentals on the song.

Yeah, it’s great a song! One of my other favourites on the album is ‘Apricots’, but it’s also very different from the rest of the project. Why did you take a more mellow approach with this song?
Alex: I think that we wanted to try to see what it would be like to really, really strip down what we were doing and get to the bare bones of the lyrics and the melody of the song. It’s like an interlude in a way. It was really cool as we didn’t know what it was going to be like to record it, and it felt so right to have that breathing room on the record. We love the lyrics for that song, and we really wanted to showcase them.

Is there a particular place where you love to write?
Alex: I feel like I write all over the place. I don’t have some special ceremonious place to go and write. I think of lyrics, and I write them on napkins, my phone notes are full of these one lines. I think of lots of lyrics when I’m watching other bands, I’m really inspired by other bands that we play with. It almost sparks this thought that can turn into a lyric. I feel like some of my favourite lyrics have come at me out of nowhere and not when I’m sitting down to write. I think everywhere is my favourite place. I write some of my best lyrics when I’m outside of my comfort zone. 

You’re playing shows in the US and Canada now, but would you like to come to Australia soon?
Alex: Yes!!
Noah: We would love to come to Australia!!
Alex: Oh my goodness, we want to come so bad! I think it will happen sooner than later. We just want to hang out with you guys. 

When you come to Australia, what would be the first thing you do, well apart from sleep as it’s a long flight?
Alex: I want to try Vegemite.

Really!? It’s not that great (laughs).
Noah: It's not that good?

No (laughs).
Noah: I also want to see a Koala and a Kangaroo. 
Alex: Yes! I want to hug a Koala. I want it to clutch me like I am its friend. 

I’ve held a Koala once, and it’s amazing!
Alex: Really! Are they so soft?

Yeah, it’s like holding a teddy bear or a puppy. 
Alex: That’s it, that’s what I want. I still want to try Vegemite. I feel like I won’t like it, but I want to try it anyway. But I want to hug a koala! 

Written by Amy Smolcic