Diet Cig is a NY duo known for their energetic live shows and incredibly relatable, catchy lyrics. The band is as sweet as you’d expect them to be based on their fun exterior, but also as badass as the personal songs they perform. And if you’re thinking, “Oh great, just another pop-punk, alternative band from NY”—think again. Diet Cig has a truly unique sound with dynamite personalities to back it up. Just coming off their tour with Rubblebucket, we chatted with Diet Cig about growing up in a band, how their songs are created, and the importance of the history of music. Check it out!
Scene Point Blank: Diet Cig’s been a band for 4 years now and you started playing together because it was something new and exciting for you both. And it seems like the band still has so much fun—Alex, I’ve seen a few photos of you wearing a leg brace onstage, but you’re still so psyched to be there. Does it still feel the same as when you first started making music and is it even better now?
Alex Luciano: It’s definitely different, and I would say it’s even better now. It’s really cool seeing how our fanbase has grown and getting to interact with our fans at shows and online has made it so much more fun and special. We want to be friends with all these people that are here hanging out at our shows; it’s so sick! I tore my ACL onstage in November and got surgery for it this summer, which is why I was wearing a leg brace. It was like “Oh my god, this thing that we do literally broke my body,” but starting to play shows again after that surgery, even though I had to wear my leg brace, was so fun to get back into it. It felt so good to see our fans and everything is still so fun!
Noah Bowman: Yeah and also just our live show, like we’re playing with Karli, who’s on keys and vocals now, and building our touring team. Our touring package has definitely become more fun because we’re trying different things and getting tighter as a band. It’s fun and we try to keep ourselves on our toes.
Scene Point Blank: Music is obviously healing in many aspects, and it seems like music has not only allowed you to grow as people, but it’s also expanded your personalities. And that could just be growing up in general, but do you think music has helped shape your identity?
Alex Luciano: We started this band when I was 19. Now I’m 23, and I feel like this band has been really empowering and changed who I am and how I view the world. I feel very confident in myself in that I don’t want to take shit from anybody. And I’m really thankful for this because I think we definitely have just grown up a little bit, but also you can’t take the band out of the equation because it has been such a big part of our lives.
Noah Bowman: I have the same feelings in just the fact that we’ve gotten to see the world by traveling in the States, and even overseas, meeting different people and learning how everyone else lives—how there are similarities and differences. I don’t think I would have ever gotten that if we weren’t in this band. Definitely being in this band has opened my eyes to a lot of different things that helped me mature.
Alex Luciano: I almost want to go back to my 19 year-old self right when this band started and be like, “Okay, you can relax. You got this. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks about you. You have your own magic going on and let that do its thing.”
"It’s a radical act to have fun. It’s really fucking cool to feel good about yourself and have fun for a little bit dancing around at a show or in your bedroom listening to music."
Scene Point Blank: Take a song like “Sixteen” which has been described as hilarious, but I also see it as super empowering. The band does have such a high energy, but at the same time, I think you’re writing very real, personal songs. Do you think that juxtaposition allows your music to reach more people, and is it intentional?
Noah Bowman: We definitely went into it when we started writing with the idea that you can write about things that aren’t happy and still make these songs feel fun and upbeat. We could have just took these songs and wrote sad-feeling songs, but we were like “How can we get this point across, but also add this energy where you just let it all out?”
Alex Luciano: We really wanted to have it be like a cathartic release where we’re reclaiming these bad things that have happened and turning them into a fun, kind of a joke but also serious; something you can laugh about and make your own. Not letting those situations control you, taking them and just being like, “Okay, that bad thing happened, but we’re getting through this and we’re having fun.” It’s a radical act to have fun. It’s really fucking cool to feel good about yourself and have fun for a little bit dancing around at a show or in your bedroom listening to music. The world is literally trying to beat us down so hard into constantly being miserable, it feels really good and it is very intentional for us to take these songs that could very easily be sad or angry and turn them into something you can have fun and dance to and reclaim for yourself.
Scene Point Blank: Diet Cig seems to lie within neutral territory between pop and punk—it’s not exactly top 40 and it’s not overly aggressive—do you think you’re going to experiment more with new sounds and styles or do you think it’s more of a natural process that just happens when you start creating music?
Alex Luciano: With the new music we’ve been thinking about how to incorporate more pop elements into it, but I also feel like we want to go bigger on both ends. We want to have bigger guitars and sick rocking parts, but we also are really looking to incorporate more pop-centric stuff like more hooks, more fun synth parts, dance breaks, etc. Pop music is awesome, we fucking love Top 40, but also it’s so fun to rock out. So I feel like with our newer music we’re trying to figure out how to have more of both of those ends of the spectrum.
Scene Point Blank: Have you created any new songs for a future record? Would you release an EP again or do you think next up is another full-length?
Noah Bowman: It’s gonna be a full-length. We’re in the beginning stages, I would say. We’ve been on the road so much we really haven’t had time to sit down and create anything. We definitely have the conversation all the time.
Alex Luciano: We have a lot of pieces. I think next year we might release some singles first that aren’t a part of our record. We definitely will have some stuff cooking for everybody next year and maybe a couple little things before an actual record. We have so many ideas we want to flesh out and we’re so excited. We’re going to finish this tour and then start piecing all of our ideas together, so hopefully next year we will have lots of stuff for you guys!
Scene Point Blank: Alex, I know you’ve said when you started writing you realized you could write about anything -- mundane things and make them into songs. And I’d agree that any good writer has that ability to turn the ordinary into interesting. So what’s the writing process like for you when you get an idea for a song?
Alex Luciano: I honestly wish there was one specific formula or process, but it’s like walking down the street, having an idea, and pulling out voice memos and recording a melody or lyric. Or if we’re home, for lyrics I’ll just sit on the couch with a guitar and try to flesh something out by playing it over and over again with different chords. All of our songs are very honest and autobiographical in that inspiration comes from everything, everywhere, all the time—it’s so random. Like I’m cooking dinner and I have this idea, let me grab my phone and sing it into my voice memos real quick. It’s often that, and then coming back and piecing things together, trying to find a common thread like these two melodies kind of fit on the same song or these two lyrics that I wrote two weeks apart can come together. It’s a lot of gathering random bits and pieces and trying to form a cohesive song out of it, which is pretty fun to go back a month later into my voice memos and be like “Okay, what do I have in here? Oh wait, I forgot I even wrote that, that’s sick, let’s use that!”
"We feel grateful to be a part of this wave where the mainstream media is really excited about women in bands, but it’s a constant battle of, “Yes I’m very excited to have this platform as a woman in a band, but also can we stop making playlists that say Top Female Bands? Can you just put us in the Top Bands playlist?"
Scene Point Blank: And what’s the overall process like?
Noah Bowman: Most of the time Alex will write the lyrics, or at least have a guitar part, and she’ll show me and I’ll take what I can from that to structure it more into a cohesive, dynamic song. It’s a little bit of both, but most of the time Alex will have a chorus or a verse that she’s really into and it’s like “Okay, how can we take this and make it work as a whole song?”
Alex Luciano: I write the lyrics and Noah writes all the drum parts. I mostly write all the guitar parts, but also we collaborate on ideas. We’re learning how to be more collaborative. When we first did our EP I kinda already had all the songs and came to Noah and he structured them and added drums. And now it’s like we’re getting ideas together and learning how to build a song from the bottom up together. It’s definitely challenging, but also really rewarding and exciting when it works.
Scene Point Blank: This is a tough one: Favorite song off of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American?
Noah Bowman and Alex Luciano: Oh!!
Alex Luciano: I mean, I love “The Middle,” obviously. I remember being in the car as an elementary schooler and hearing the song on the radio and being like “Mom, this is my favorite song.” I feel like after I’ve actually listened through all of them, “Praise Chorus” is my fav.
Noah Bowman: I think it might honestly be “Bleed American.” I like how it just comes in. It’s hard, I’m looking at the track list now and I’m like, “All of them!”
Alex Luciano: It’s hard because we listen to that record all the time when we’re home, but we have it on vinyl so we just listen to the whole thing and I feel like in my brain it’s just one long, awesome track. It’s such an incredible record through and through.
Scene Point Blank: The band has been vocal both as feminists and defending women in music history when comments are made like, “Growing up bands like you didn’t exist for us,” when they actually did—Women can get marginalized in music, especially when those comments are made. And I love that the world is embracing femininity and declaring 2018 “Year of the Woman,” but it’s also 2018 and comments like the former are still made and I still see things written like “female lead singer” instead of the “lead singer.” As people in the music industry, what are your thoughts on this?
Alex Luciano: I feel like I get really frustrated when a lot of journalists are building this story around the interview like, “Diet Cig is in this new wave of women in bands. It’s so crazy, women are in bands now!” And it’s like woah-woah-woah, women have always been in bands. Rock ‘n’ roll was literally created by a woman. It’s frustrating and I try really hard to kick that narrative because we wouldn’t be here if weren’t for the women, non-binary, trans, and queer people who came before us. We feel grateful to be a part of this wave where the mainstream media is really excited about women in bands, but it’s a constant battle of, “Yes I’m very excited to have this platform as a woman in a band, but also can we stop making playlists that say Top Female Bands? Can you just put us in the Top Bands playlist?” It’s definitely trying to find a balance where we’re celebrating women, queer, trans, and non-binary people and that it’s amazing we’re all making music, but also while celebrating the current bands, let’s not erase the people that came before us. There is progress being made, but we’re constantly striving for more inclusive stuff. It’s tough—we’re proud to be a part of this generation of people and women making music, but we try really hard to check our privilege and make sure we’re not a part of a narrative that erases all the people that came before us.