Pop-Punk Duo Diet Cig on Their First Record and Guy Fieri
Noah Bowman and Alex Luciano are the dynamic duo behind Diet Cig, a pop-punk Brooklyn band taking over the DIY scene with high-energy tunes stuffed with tongue-in-cheek, autobiographical lyrics. It was only two years ago that Bowman caught wind of Luciano’s cathartic lyrical ability and suggested they collaborate, reworking Luciano’s acoustic demos by amping them up—literally. Since 2014, the 20-somethings have ditched academia in pursuit of punk rock stardom, even releasing their debut EP Over Easy with Father/Daughter Records. Diet Cig’s meteoric rise in the punk scene has afforded Bowman and Luciano the opportunity to play highbrow festivals and support bands like The Front Bottoms on national tours.
With headlining shows leading up to The New Year, Diet Cig continues to poke fun at the grim circumstances that plague young adults’ lives with a lively guttural flare. Between bouts of relaxation and prep before their show at Brooklyn Bazaar last month, we sat down with the duo to discuss gender deconstructions, their imminent Spring 2017 record debut, and a shared obsession with Guy Fieri.
Excited for the show tonight? What’s it like to be performing for a Brooklyn crowd?
Noah: We feel like we don’t play in Brooklyn as much as we used to because we’ve been on the road. But it’s fun to come back and perform because all of our friends are based here. We’ve just been answering texts all day asking, “Can I get on the guest list?’ And I’m like “Eh, maybe?”
Alex: We’re also playing with some of our BFFs like Thick, the band that’s opening tonight. And they are, like, the most badass band. We played our first Brooklyn show with them back in 2014 —it actually might be two years exactly since then. And it was the funniest, weirdest show ever that we just hopped on the day of. And Adult Mom is so good too. We just played with them at Mulberry College and they fucking shredded! We’re super excited.
You have one of the most infectious personalities on stage. How do you wield that much energy into your sets?
Noah: I kind of fuel off of [Alex] most of the time. Usually before we start, we jump around and get in each others’ psyches, and we stretch it out.
Alex: And the sets are so short so we’re genuinely grateful that anyone wants to even come to our shows. So, we see the crowd and we’re doing our thing and watch all the energy [the audience is] giving us, and we know we have to give them our everything in the next 30 minutes. It’s kind of like a sporting event in a way. It’s the same way I used to hype myself up for soccer. Like, telling myself you’ve just got to do this—just one more game and then I’m good. It’s just fun!
Noah: It’s definitely the crowd too. I always kind of judge [a show] on our initial walk in. If you can feel what the crowd is doing, like sometimes there’s a guy yelling something really ridiculous or the entire room is to the ceiling excited, you can pick up on that.
Your lyrics are very clever in the way that they play around with nostalgia. Can you discuss how you reclaim the awkward happenstances of youth through your songs?
Alex: Everyone—well, I guess not everyone—grows up and goes through that really shitty adolescence where you feel like you’re the only one who gets yourself and everyone else fucking sucks. And I still feel this way sometimes. A lot of the writing I did on Over Easy was honing in on these feelings. It was kind of like taking these bad moments and repurposing them into something better for myself. And a lot of the new songs feel this way too, but just a bit more mature.
So how did you approach writing your first full-length album as opposed to the EP?
Noah: It’s just odd because when we we were doing the EP, we weren’t planning on really doing or going anywhere with it. It was more like, “Let’s just record this and have a document of something we did in our time of living.” We just sent it out and whoa—we were shocked! We’ve been touring on just an EP for two years, which is still kind of crazy.
Alex: Yeah, it’s wild! I couldn’t even play guitar when we started. I was so bad and the sound was rough. So, when we were recording this, I kept thinking, I’m shredding this! We were also on the same wavelength a little more this time; everything feels more intentional.
Tell me a little bit about your new song “Tummyache.” Lyrics like “Trying to find my voice surrounded by all boys” and “It’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” are really sharp sentiments. Do you hold any contention for the punk scene as a woman?
Alex: The song is unpacking the idea that it’s really tough to be tender and soft and still be considered punk. And I think there is a lot of testosterone in punk right now—there always has been. Punk was built around testosterone, even though we had great ‘90s punk women and Riot Grrrl that have come through and made femininity punk too.
But, all in all, punk is still traditionally testosterone-driven. We’re not like screaming “Emasculate punk!” but being tender is radical. It’s really hard to be soft, especially during a time like this. I think what I was getting at with that song is that it’s so much easier to jump to anger than it is to be emphatic and soft.
I saw you recently met Guy Fieri. Please tell me everything about this experience.
Alex: That was me!
Noah: She’s obsessed with him.
Alex: Everyone always messes up his last name! It’s pronounced “Fieddi.” It was when we were recording. I snuck out and went to his book signing. And I spent like $40 on his cookbook.
Noah: I had no idea where she was going.
Alex: And I went up to him and was like, “Yo! Wassup Guy Fieddi.” And he was like, “You got my name right!” But I seriously think he’s more than just a funny meme. He’s actually a good ass dude! He just goes to some places and makes businesses better, and he promotes real people and real food. He’s a positive force in the world. You shouldn’t have gotten me started on it.
Only one follow-up: Have you tried out any places from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives while on tour?
Noah: We did once by accident in Richmond, actually! I don’t remember the place’s name, but we didn’t know what to order and the waitress was like, “Well, Guy Fieri has been here.” And she pointed out what he had. They had this QR Code that you could scan and watch the episode while you ate.
Alex: Like, haven’t you ever wanted to be watching the Food Network and be eating what you’re watching? It was so surreal.
What’s changed with your upcoming record? What should we be expecting?
Noah: We just sent it away to mastering. We just finished mixing it—we’re so close to having it done and to the point where it’s out of our hands and in the label’s hands. We don’t have many more shows till we release the album this spring so we’re gonna keep some tracks as a surprise until we release the record.
Alex: I’m at the point where I just want to hear it and be done. I feel like we haven’t stepped away from it and came back to listen to it yet. It’s exciting. We’re in the middle of figuring out the track listing now, and we’re just so proud of this thing we made. I still can’t believe we made a record. When we did the EP, Noah was just like, “Please write one more song so we can have five songs.” And I was like, “Five songs?” That seemed like so many! I couldn’t believe people wrote full records. And now that we wrote this record—we couldn’t be more proud.
Images via Dominique Goncalves
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