When I first called Diet Cig… Well, actually they missed my call. After reaching out to me a few moments later Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman were incredibly apologetic, explaining that they were in the middle of practice. Actually, they were trying to nail down the set list for their (then) upcoming tour. Hidden away in upstate New York, they’d been playing a bunch of different song combinations, trying to see what worked.
Diet Cig exploded onto the scene with the release of their EP Over Easy in January 2015. Filled with songs about adolescence, terrible ex’s, and empty apartments, it’s incredibly fun to listen to whether you’re crying yourself to sleep or dancing around your bedroom pantless.
I was lucky enough to be able to to bombard the duo with questions about relevant things like their tour and upcoming record, and then not so relevant things, like their favorite middle school bands.
Where are you guys practicing today?
Bowman: We’re out at my parents place. They have a studio in upstate New York and we kind of come up here to hide out and try to write and practice whenever we’re home.
That sounds amazing. Is it in the middle of nowhere? Because that’s what I’m imagining.
Luciano: It’s literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s like down this cool little dead end dirt road that looks like a trail into the forest. We are hiding out hardcore.
Bowman: It’s definitely nice for a while, but when you’ve been here too long it gets a little scary.
Luciano: Yeah, like yesterday I had to run down to the city just to be around other people for a second. I was like, “I need to go! I need to be able to get Indian food delivered at 11 o’clock at night to my apartment.”
Your tour starts in a couple of days! What do you guys usually do to prepare?
Bowman: Yeah it starts on Friday… I guess it’s a lot of figuring out if we have enough merch. That’s always kind of the hard thing, figuring out how to do the math for that.
Luciano: I feel like our merch people are not at all fazed though because we’re always like, a week before touring, “Oh my god! We need merch! We need you to make them today and send them tomorrow!” and they’re angels.
Bowman: I guess…
Bowman: Yeah, haircuts. Make sure the vans all spic and span. Gears all working.
Luciano: Yeah, we usually try to run through our songs if we haven’t played them in a while. Especially now that we have these new songs. So we’re really in our tour prep now. It’s really a quick tour, but I’m also turning 21 on this trip. So I’m kind of emotionally preparing to give a speech like, “Shout out to all the bouncers who didn’t take my fake ID. Shout out to my friends who served me even though I was underage.” Something like that.
That’s so exciting. Do you know where you’re going to go when you turn 21? Do you have bars picked out and stuff?
Luciano: Not really! Our booking agent is this badass awesome chick who lives in Chicago and we’re going to hang with her. We’re playing a festival on Sunday and then Sunday night at midnight, I turn 21, so I think I’m just going to end up somewhere. We luckily have off the next day, since it’s my actual birthday. I was like, “Please don’t book us a show because I’m going to be hungover as fuck and it’s also my birthday and I need to chill.”
That sounds great. What are your go to drinks?
Luciano: Whenever I go to the bar, my first instinct is to do a whiskey ginger… or ginger beer if they have it.
Bowman: I guess… I like cheap beer. I’ll go for a High Life or something. I guess if I’m feeling a sexy drink or something, I’ll get a whiskey and something else, but usually I like cheap beer.
Luciano: Yeah, cheap beer rocks.
Bowman: You don’t get drunk so fast. With one craft beer you’re like… I’m having a nice craft beer and it’s 45% alcohol and then you try to operate and you’re knocked out because it’s so strong.
Luciano: I did have this amazing vodka mule in Paris though that literally changed my life. And I’m not a big vodka drinker but it was vodka, ginger beer, cucumber, lime, and a little bit of Tabasco to make the ginger spicier and I think I ascended into heaven tasting that. It was so good.
Is there anywhere in particular you guys are most excited to play on this tour?
Bowman: I feel like we’ve gotten to play a lot of places.
Luciano: We actually haven’t played D.C. in a long time though.
Bowman: Yeah we haven’t.
Luciano: Since, like, last summer or something, right?
I’m going to be in Scotland when you guys are in D.C. and I’m really upset I’m missing it.
Bowman & Luciano: Agh!
Luciano: We’ve only ever played house shows in D.C. So I’m so excited to come and play a venue and see all our friends. I think we’re playing with The Solids too and they’re awesome. I’m also really excited to go back to Chicago this weekend because every time we go there it’s so much fun.
I know you guys are in New York right now, but would you ever be interested in moving to another city?
Bowman: I feel like whenever we go out on tour we’re always like, “Okay. Can we see ourselves living here?” Because it’s kind of easy for us if we did want to move somewhere. It’s not like we’re an eight piece band, so if we wanted to go somewhere it wouldn’t be that difficult. But I guess every time we do go out it’s kind of in the back of our minds. Like, do I fuck with this? Could I see myself hanging out here?
Luciano: We hand each other surveys saying, “Do I fuck with this?” [laughs] I feel like we’re constantly considering it. We love Philly. We love D.C. We went to Olympia, Washington and it was awesome. There are so many awesome cities where I’m like, I could stay here for a while. But I feel like we always keep coming back to the idea of living in New York. We have a lot of friends in a lot of cities but I feel like our core group is back in New York right now. Our label is in New York. We have a pretty decent apartment and stuff. So I don’t know! We’re kind of in this weird place where we’re like… should we move? Should we not? It’s definitely a possibility.
Bowman: We’re also out on the road so much it’s hard to get into a flow somewhere. I don’t know. We don’t know. We’re just trying to figure it out.
Luciano: We’re just restless people I feel like. We go out on tour and we’re like, where else can we go? What else can we do? We’re always trying to find something to do or somewhere to go.
Do you guys still consider New York to be your home then? Or is it more like the place you stop the most?
Luciano: Hmmm. I feel like it’s home.
Bowman: We both grew up in parts of New York. We’ve always been New Yorkers.
Luciano: Yeah, it’s only a two hour drive to where we grew up as kids. Right now we’re at Noah’s parent’s house, which is only two hours away from the city. It definitely feels like we’re home when we’re in the city. Which is kind of why I’m thinking it would be cool to move somewhere that was so completely foreign to us. Somewhere where we’d have to think on our feet and explore a new city.
You guys have toured internationally in the last year. How was it?
Bowman: It was awesome! It’s such a cool feeling to be able to fly over the ocean and then play shows in a different country. It’s a really cool feeling and I thought I would never do that in my entire life. And now we’ve done it. It feels really cool.
Luciano: Yeah, it was a life changer honestly. The first time we went over to England, I had never been outside of North America, and so I was just like, “This is crazy!” Even though everyone was speaking English it was still such a culture shock. We’re just so grateful to be able to play music for people across the world.
Is there anywhere you haven’t been able to play yet that you’d like to?
Bowman: I’d like to go to Berlin or Germany or something. I’ve heard a lot of cool things about Germany. I guess we’re going to be playing Canada, Montreal and Toronto, for the first time so I’m excited for that because I haven’t been there since I was in high school.
Luciano: It’s funny how we’ve never played in Canada and we’ve played overseas.
Is there any past crowd or show that stands out to you as the best show you’ve ever played?
Luciano: Philly is always an amazing fun crowd. We’ve played at Goldilocks Gallery, which is a really awesome DIY art space that’s pretty huge in Center City. We played this awesome show with Kississippi and And The Kids and this other Philly band called Fake Boyfriend. There’s this whole warehouse and we’re on the fourth floor of it and the whole floor was shaking while we were playing and there were so many people and it was so much fun. I just remember being so… blissed out, so happy. I was having so much fun.
Do you guys miss playing smaller house shows?
Luciano: We actually played a house show recently! We played this festival and some person came up to us and said, “I’m hosting a secret after show at my house tonight and it’s going to be a big party, do you guys want to play?” And we were like, “yeah totally.” It was a total house show. Drunk as hell in the basement, going crazy. It was really fun to go back to where we started because we had started playing so many house shows… but also all my gear got so dirty and nasty after an hour and I was like… I can’t do this everyday!
If you could curate your own festival who would be there?
Luciano: Like a big ass festival?
Whatever you want. It could be as big or small as you dream.
Luciano: Okay. In the top font I would have The Strokes… also Kanye West…
Bowman: This just sounds like every festival.
Luciano: I never get to go to any of them! I’d have Sylvan Esso because they changed my world. Oh and Car Seat Headrest and Angel Olson. Who would you have?
Bowman: I’d have Bully, Hop Along, Jank….
Luciano: All of our friends! PWR BTTM, Kissisippi, And The Kids, all of them. All of those bands to just make it fun. I would have such a fun time curating a lineup for a festival I would have…
Luciano: ASAP Rocky, I want it to be a mix of rock and hip hop. Maybe have Drake headline. Yeah definitely have Drake headline… Or Kanye… Hmm I want Drake. I take that back.
I’m so disappointed you picked Drake over Kanye.
Bowman: I have no preference so…
Luciano: I think for a lot of people it’s one or the other.
Yeah, which is kind of silly because I they do different styles of hip-hop even if they do borrow from each other. The Life of Pablo is very different than Views.
Luciano: Yeah totally. Speaking of Kanye tho, I would have Chance The Rapper headline this festival.
Luciano: I think him being on that Kanye record just elevated it to the next level.
100% Have you listened to his other band? The Social Experiment?
Luciano: No! I didn’t even know that’s a thing.
Yeah. They have an album out called Surf and it’s like a jazzy gospel rap album.
Luciano: That sounds amazing. We have an 11 hour drive on Friday and I need all the music recs I can get.
What do you guys usually listen to when you’re on the road?
Luciano: We’re kind of guilty of listening to the same music over and over again.
Bowman: We’re listening to a lot of 2005 pop-punk. Like Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue”.
Luciano: I would pretend I had a reason to cry to “Ocean Avenue” in my middle school life. We go through phases. We’ll go into this really current indie rock, hip-hop kind of thing that everybody is listening to but then will go into John Mayer and we’ll only listen to John Mayer for three hours and just mom out. Once we’ve been in the car too long we get a little weird with it because we’ll just play one artist for hours.
I feel like that’s almost bound to happen when you’re stuck in the car for so many hours.
Luciano: Yeah, like the other day we were just obsessed with the whole 2005 pop-punk thing and we talking about this band and that band and we were like really? Is this what we’re talking about right now? I don’t know. There’s not a lot to do when you’re in the car for 11 hours.
I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet. I’m at work and I’m trying not to scream about it, but were you guys ever My Chemical Romance fans?
Luciano: Yeah totally. I liked their hits. I had like six songs on my iPod that I loved.
Bowman: I was not a fan. No disrespect or anything, I just feel like they never could figure out what they were trying to do musically. All their albums are so all over the place. I saw them live and they opened up fro Blink-182 and it was the ultimate show, but I was so turned off by it. I’ve always been turned off by it.
They are totally mad. But they broke up forever ago and they just put something cryptic on their Facebook that makes it seem like they’re going to get back together and I’m so excited I feel like I’m going to die.
Luciano: WHAT??? That’s amazing. Also, I’m so jealous. I was a Fall Out Boy super fan in middle school, but I almost wish they broke up and never got back together because their current stuff is shitty radio pop. But I wish that my favorite middle school band was getting back together today.
Bowman: I was a big The Used fan. It was always like, The Used or MCR and I was The Used… but they got kind of ridiculous too. Their first record is great.
I feel like the kids that liked The Used in middle school were a little bit cooler then the kids that liked the other alternative bands.
Luciano: Yeah they were a little more…
Bowman: A little grimy.
Luciano: They were less theatrical with their whole vibe. I like MCR more because they were just MORE.
If both of you could resurrect bands that had broken up. Who would you choose?
Bowman: Algernon Cadwallader is the only band I’d like to see again live. Now their guitar player plays for Hop Along. That band was so good. I listen to their first record all the time. It’s awesome.
Luciano: I would resurrect P.S. Eliot with Allison Crutchfield and Katie Crutchfield… but I actually think they’re getting back together for this one festival I didn’t get tickets for… but I want to see them so bad. I loved that band. It’s in New Jersey or something. It’s like Don Giovanni Records Festival. It looks cool. There’s no corporate sponsors. I love PS Eliot. I would love to see them live.
So you guys are releasing your new album soonish, right?
Luciano: We’re releasing it early next year. In 2017. But we’re recording soon and we’re getting our finishing touches on writing the songs and we’re so stoked on them because we’ve been playing a lot of them live and they’ve been getting such a good response. We’re just so excited. They’re some of the best songs we’ve ever written.
Is there any particular song you feel attached too? Or especially proud of?
Bowman: Hmmm. It’s hard to tell… All of them. They’re all so fresh and it’s nice to have a chance to play new songs and new material.
Luciano: The thing is we’re so picky. We write tons of songs. And we’ve been trying to write this sucker for a year and a half and we’re not even totally finished yet because we’re so picky. We’ve only kept the songs that we’re immensely proud of. The songs that made the cut. So They all mean something. None of them are meaningless or whatever kind of songs. They all feel really good playing them. Lyrically I can stand behind them really strongly and they’re just a little more developed than our other songs. One song, “Tummy Ache” is really one of my favorites. It’s just about being a girl or a marginalized person because of your gender.
Your songs are wildly person and really forthright and honest. Are you ever worried about sharing too much when you’re writing?
Luciano: I don’t know. I think I’ve refrained from writing about sex, but not ever because one of our new songs talks about having sex with someone who has the same name as me. That’s the one thing I’ve always really wanted to write a song about, my sexuality, but at the same time I always felt like it’s too… It just ended up being uncomfortable.
That can definitely be uncomfortable. Especially if people you know and love are listening.
Luciano: Totally! We were visiting my aunt and my cousin when we were in Chicago last time and they were like, “Tell us about some of your new stuff,” and we were at a point where we had only really finished this one song that was about me having sex with a person who has my name. And I was like, “Oh… I’ll let you know when the record comes out” and they were like “No, no, no! Sing us one of your songs.” And I was like, “I don’t want to do that right now…” Yeah I was like, “You can just wait until the record comes out.”