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An interview with Zachary Cole Smith and Brooklyn band DIIV


We caught up with Brooklyn band DIIV right before their sell out gig supporting The Raveonettes at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. We managed to corner them in a quiet back room, interrupting their time on grand theft auto, to chat about their tour with The Vaccines, playing with Fucked Up, new label Captured Tracks and somehow Geordie Shore was mentioned.

If you’ve listened to DIIV, you’d probably be a little surprised to see them touring the UK with The Vaccines, I mean they couldn’t be further away, DIIV are fresh, they’re cool, and they have a dreamy pop sound that just compels you but frontman Zachary Cole Smith explains “we’ve heard of The Vaccines before, but you know, not heard them heard them, you know what I mean?” Justin (The Vaccines frontman) on the other hand is a big fan of the New Yorkers and set up the tour. Its pretty surprising that Z.C Smith hadn’t heard of the Vaccines if you’ve ever read any interview he’s done. The man’s a music machine, with tracks, albums and genres hardwired to his brain for him to pick and quote on demand.

At the band seemed a bit tentative to really get into , perhaps bored numb from the eight hours they’d been waiting in the pub to play their set. When we asked Cole what he thought about the Vaccines musically he shot the question straight back at us making us admit we weren’t big fans before jumping in with his own sensationalist reply: “I mean, I guess they’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen” the frontman qualified his answer, probably realising the extent of what he’d just blurted out: “I mean it’s the kind of thing that happens when you tour with a band and you hear the same songs and you see the same show every night and you’re friends with them and you chill with them every day. It’s like Stockholm syndrome or something. No matter what, no matter how good or shitty the band is by the end you just like the music, ‘cos you just have to. You choose your favourite songs and you sing along sometimes”.

It’s easy to forget that DIIV, as a band, have only been together for the best part of a year, their debut album Oshin has been a huge success, touted as one of the best albums of 2012. Guitarist Andrew Bailey who was the most forward and engaging of the four, explained that the popularity of the album has taken them by surprise a little and when discussing the band moving forward made it clear that every step to success had been chosen carefully and vociferously pursued: “Captured Tracks have been great, I think it was a pretty obvious aesthetic we wanted to take with the album, and they had the right kinda influence”, Cole intervened, “Yeah, I mean, we kinda pursued them, like, publicly” [laughs].

Although DIIV supporting The Vaccines seemed a little unlikely, on the 17th of September, punk band ‘Fucked Up’ joined the tour to play at Alexandra Palace; a subject that made the whole band prick their ears and move their music history memories into gear: “I thought that was rad, it was fucking awesome” said Cole, then, Bailey jumped in: “It was fucking crazy seeing him jump into the crowd, like on all these little girl Vaccines fans, just like waving his sweaty body on them”, Cole jumped in: “yeah just this big fat, sweaty bald guy screaming in everyone’s faces, seriously dude it was fucking awesome.”

With this being DIIV’s first tour in the UK (barring a couple of gigs in London), they’re getting stuck in, squeezing in as many gigs as they can to tour the country, taking a particular shining to the Geordie’s, Smith said: “Newcastle’s a nice city, I have friends up there, I know some guys in a band called Little Comet. They’re getting pretty big now; I think they had a page in NME or something. They’re cool,” only for Bailey to interject with: “everyone tells us about this Geordie shore, all the time, Geordie shore,” followed by a rumble of derisive laughter.

With Z.C. Smith quick to turn the conversation back to music, and continue to recall the gig at Alexandra Palace he sat up in his seat and became a little impassioned: “Those kids have no idea, even London doesn’t have a big hardcore scene, Like probably half their crowd [The Vaccines] buys like one record a year, they don’t know what punk is, they don’t know what hardcore is they don’t know what rock n roll is or whatever the fuck” Smith continued: “somebody just says here’s the vaccines and they just like it, but like they have no context for taking in what they’re doing and Fucked Up as a band like, you know, he like knows a ton about music, they’re coming from like a really specific context, so its kinda funny.