WE ARE THE SALLY STRUTHERS OF SHOEGAZE: AN INTERVIEW WITH DIIV
DIIV, Photo: We Get Press
The New York rock group has risen in popularity in recent years with their subtle vocals and squealing guitar riffs. With an extensive headlining tour schedule and a recent tour as support for Ride, the band has kept busy, but DIIV is set to release their latest record, Is The Is Are, in coming months. You can catch the band at Numbers on the first of November and can buy tickets here. Here is a recent interview with vocalist Cole of the group.
What got you interested in starting a band?
Well, I kind of fell into playing music in a way. I’ve been playing guitar for my whole life. When I moved back to New York I became a part of this crowd of musicians and started playing in all these bands while I was working at a restaurant in Manhattan. I started touring with Beach Fossils and it was a lot of fun. I started to notice that Beach Fossils began turning down a bunch of cool shows that I really wanted to do at these cool underground venues. There was this really cool music scene that was happening in Brooklyn for a while. I asked [Dustin] why we weren’t doing these shows and he said “there’s no money.” I didn’t care about the money, I just wanted to play. I started to write my own songs, enough for a setlist, and formed my own band. There were so many cool venues I wanted to play at like Death By Audio and others. They’re all gone now. It was a way to reconnect with my friends. Everything just took off from there, I started getting asked to play shows almost every night of the week, almost two hundred shows a year.
You mentioned Death By Audio, did you ever play with A Place to Bury Strangers?
Uhh… [asks bands] “have we ever played with A Place To Bury Strangers?” I don’t think we have, but we’ve seen them a bunch of times. They’re a great band to see live, super loud.
What drew you to shoegaze?
It was partially playing with Beach Fossils. I was really into the Captured Tracks bands. I don’t really consider us a shoegaze band, but we do draw a lot from the textures and sounds in shoegaze.
Say you had to play a genre different than rock, what would it be?
I don’t really think that’s possible at all? I play guitar, that’s all I do. I don’t know what I could do besides rock music. Maybe I would do EDM or something. I have no idea.
In the early days of the band, you changed the spelling of the band due to the fact that there are multiple bands named “Dive.” Did you ever think about completely changing the name to something else?
[laughs] No, should I? I think the name fits. To me, the name of a band is not really important. Some of my favorite bands ever have terrible names if you think about it. Nirvana is good example. If you think about it, it’s pretty bad, but it fits. I definitely wouldn’t change it again, it was hard enough the first time. Luckily, we were early enough in our career to where it didn’t really matter. We only had a couple of singles out. You just have to get creative with what you do, you know? It’s not like I looked the name up on the internet, I didn’t even have the internet.
You’ve opened for bands such as Japandroids; any standout moments from those tours that helped shaped DIIV?
Well, where we were during the tour with Japandroids was pretty much the opposite to where we are now. We were supporting [Japandroids] at the nice sized venues. Now, we are pretty much where they were when they were on that tour back then. After that tour we came home and played Webster Hall and headlining it where we opened previously. It was pretty much a preview for what was to come, those are how tours usually go. We opened for the Vaccines in England, they were playing these big arenas. It kind of makes you think “Do I want to be this band?” What do I have to do to get to these arenas?
You just finished playing some shows with Ride, was the band in the same mindset as the tour with the other bands?
It was way different, Ride were one of our childhood heroes, there’s nothing that can be compared to that. I could never turn that offer down. The difference was that Ride was such a big influence on us, they’re like the godfathers of shoegaze with more of a punk edge. That’s where we draw parts of our band from. They’re a little more classic rock than us, but it’s still the same idea.
What are some the the things the band listens to on the road? Would any of the artists surprise your fans?
Well, whoever is driving gets to be the DJ, so we switch it up pretty often. When I’m driving it’s a lot of Johnny Thunders. If [Andrew] is driving it will probably be Dmx or Nas, it just depends. I don’t know if anyone would be surprised with what we listen to, we’re all over the place in terms of our taste in music. For example, I love country music, like the old kind. I love Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and stuff like that. There are some new acts I like too, like Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride.
Besides the size of the crowds, have you started to see fans that don’t necessarily look like the old fans since you band has started to rise in popularity?
Eh, not really, just the obvious differences. When we were still a local band in Brooklyn people gradually started to learn the songs, but it’s like that for most bands. A show is pretty much your only chance to make a first impression, but now people know the songs and are there to see us. Now we have to live up to the expectations the fans already have for us. We are playing a lot of songs from an album that’s not released yet on this tour, we’re previewing it for everyone. I think a lot of the new material is surprising people, it kind of reminds me of the old days when we were previewing the first record. As we grow the fans want to see us more, they want to ask us questions, it’s just different, but it’s great!
Since we are based out of Houston, I’d like to throw a reference out to you. If Riff Raff is the Rap game James Franco, what is DIIV?
If Riff Raff is the rap game James Franco, then we are the Sally Struthers of shoegaze.