Some bands toil in obscurity despite years of brilliant work. The fickle nature of labels, media and you prevent these bands from being anything more than being the blip d’jour on Pitchfork’s radar….and then there’s Diehard. This New York based four-piece has the inherent ability to know their influences and use them to create a sound that has passion and originality dripping from it’s fingers. They exhibit a musical saviness that you’d expect from a band with years of experience. And yet….they’re only playing their first show tonight! We found them thanks to a tip from Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. If you’ve ever liked a band on Matador Records, you need to listen to this band. Ezra Selove and Liz Schroeter share vocal duties with Ezra playing lead while Liz plays rhythm guitar. Dave Herbert plays bass and Zeph Courtney (who has played with Rivers Cuomo and Juliana Hatfield) plays drums. Referencing virtually every great late 90′s indie rock band, they still manage to put a spin on it that makes it fresh and exciting.
Diehard- Karaoke King
After following the trail of bread crumbs left behind by Kip Berman, we found the members of Diehard and asked them a few questions.
TDOA: Your music heavily references Superchunk in a wonderful and complex way. Can you talk about your influences and how they inform your music?
Liz: While I hope that Diehard will end up as its own unique thing, I’m ok with sounding like a ’90s alt cover band — it’s what we love! The whole reason Ezra and I started the band is we were always geeking out on the same ’90s alt rock. Archers of Loaf is probably the one we come back to the most. I never personally listened to a ton of Superchunk; I’m the one bringing more of the Yo La Tengo and Wedding Present influence to the band.
Ezra: I borrowed a tape of Superchunk’s No Pocky For Kitty from a friend’s older sister in high school and it changed my life, in that D. Boon ‘punk rock changed our lives’ kind of way. Then I heard “Web in Front” on the Mallrats’ soundtrack and my head imploded. They were both so noisy and melodic; I had nothing to compare them too. That combination is like candy to me. Aside from the early 90s Chapel Hill stuff, the early to mid-90s Dischord releases also made a huge impression on me. Of course Fugazi, but really I personally feel more of an ‘influence’ from Smart Went Crazy and Bluetip. Their lyrics were just so sharp and proved it’s possible to write jaded or sarcastic songs without needing to resort to whining or being glib. And it’s a personal thrill to find just the right way of telling someone off in a song and getting a crowd to sing along at the same time. It’s pretty liberating mentally and cheaper than heavy drinking.
TDOA: You seem to share vocal duties, how do you make decisions on who’s going to sing on which songs? Do you see reaching a point where one person is deemed the “lead vocalist”?
Liz: We try to share vocals as much as possible and aim to keep that balance, however Ezra writes more of the songs than I do so it tends to at least start out in his voice.
Ezra: I think our voices compliment each other pretty well, so I enjoy writing stuff that we can both sing. The more the merrier. She’s an actual singer though, so I hope we balance out the lead duties more. I’ve gone on a hiatus from writing lead vocal parts for songs so Liz can write her own parts.
Liz: Whoa oh, I have work to do. And by “actual singer” Ezra means I was in chorus in middle school.
TDOA: You’re friends with Kip Berman from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. How did y’all meet and what support has he given to the band?
Liz: Kip and Alex from TPOBPAH, Ezra and I all worked together at the same marketing agency. I still work there in fact. We all give to each other the support you give your bros in bands — going to 100 of their tiny shows until one day they are selling out Bowery! We’re so thrilled they are having such success!
Ezra: I was in pre-school with Alex (Pains’ bassist) and we’ve been best buds since middle school. We grew up finding new bands and learning about music together. I remember the exact moment he introduced me to Weezer (“dude, you gotta listen to this…it’s a song about a sweater”). Half of everything I know (about life, really), I have him to thank for. As for Pains, I like them more every time I see them. Everyone should like them, really. The nice thing is not an act. They are actually that awesome. I just plan on leaping onto their coattails the first chance I get – that’s cool, right?
TDOA: The band has yet to play their first live show (seriously, if we’re doing an article on you before you even play live we expect to be on the guest list when you headline Coachella!), but how long have you been practicing together?
Liz: Awhile. I was in a band called Bling Kong that kind of disbanded in late 2007, so after that Ezra and I found more time to write and practice and it’s been a more determined endeavor since then. A couple months ago we recruited Dave and Zeph so we could get LOUD.
Ezra: Dude, you can have the exclusive interview when our first record goes platinum and we’re playing the Garden. We’ll hook you up with crazy perks. I’ll get Young Jeezy to play your birthday party. (ed. note: Young Jeezy? SWEET!)
TDOA: What’s next for Diehard? Record an album, shop the demo, what’s the battle plan?
Liz: Ezra is prolific — we have like 15 more songs half or wholly written. We want to record them as soon as we can afford to and play more shows! No one really needs a record label these days, but if one were to offer to support us, that would be awesome.
Ezra: My plan goes like this, “Dear Mac McCaughan, please, please, please put out our record.” And, for the record, that’s 15 or more half or wholly written songs waiting to be learned, beyond our current set of songs. I’m a grad student, so I don’t get out much.
TDOA: We never, ever ask people where their band name came from because it’s usually been asked to death by the time we get to them. Since we’re the first ones in…..What’s up with the name? Big Bruce Willis fans? Great band name.
Liz: Thanks! I had a stupid lyric in the song “Christine” that included the word “jellybean” because it rhymed with “Christine.” Ezra misheard me as saying “John McClane” and Diehard became the name of the band (and “John McClane” became the lyric). I insisted on having a bad-ass sounding name to keep us from writing wussy-ass songs.
Ezra: Seriously, have you seen 12 Monkeys? It’s great! On the half-serious-at-most-tip, after a while I started appreciating the name for its actual definition and what that implied about us. All of us are kind of overzealous about the things we like, which I think most people can relate to in some way.
TDOA: Top 10 fave albums of last year?
Liz: My 2008 favorites are all kinda mellow — The Acorn, Delta Spirit, Chad VanGaalen, Ruby Suns and Ida to name a few. Ezra and I fell in love with Wye Oak last year. I also really love this local band called Appomattox, who sound pretty ’90s to me.
Titus Andronicus – Airing of Grievances
Wye Oak – If Children
Centro-Matic – Dual Hawks
School of Seven Bells – Alpinisms
The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride
The Dodos – Visiter
Zaza – Cameo EP
Constantines – Kensington Heights
Brent Gorton and the Tender Breasts – Loud Ness
Blitzen Trapper – Furr
TDOA: If you could vote one band/artist off the island we call Earth, who would it be?
Liz: As a new band, I think we’re in no position to make enemies. But I will say if you have monotone vocals with a lot of reverb to cover up how boring you are, and you aren’t the Jesus and Mary Chain, I’m not your fan.
Ezra: We actually wrote a song about this. It’s called “Shark Suits”. I have a tendency to dislike bands more for their posturing than anything else. It’s just music, dudes. Chill out.
Diehard will play their first show tonight at Union Hall in Brooklyn. Someone call all the cool kids (I’m talking to you Stereogum), so they can hop on this bandwagon before Spin sucks this band into their vortex and claims them as their own (We’re still bitter about the whole, An Horse thing).
You can also listen to more of their music by visiting their myspace page here.