Each week we’ve provided you with a smattering of great music that’s crossed our desks. Today we wanted to focus on a solitary release, because we’re really blown away this time. NYC’s Diehard new EP packs a punch that sets it apart from the other guitar bands who love showing their 90′s indie rock influences on their sleeves. Remember those great Guided By Voices songs that claimed to be all cacophony but were filled with melodic bliss? The first song, ‘Awkward As A Hilltop In Kansas’ leads in with that same swoon before kicking into a rock song that would make Pollard or Bachmann (name that band!) proud. This is truly the rare EP that doesn’t have a weak song, but doesn’t dwell on the same themes/sound on each song. We found ourselves saying, “I like this song the most” at the end of every song, which is the sign of a great record. Guitarist/Vocalist Ezra Selove took a few moments to talk about the recording of the record.
First, here’s a track from the new single.
Diehard- Cool Kids
TDOA: We feel like there’s a definitive shift in the sound of the new EP that gives it a really unique sound. Was there a conscious effort to make a record that sounded different than the first?
EZ: Actually, most of the songs we’ve recorded were all written around the same time, with the exception of “Awkward as a Hilltop in Kansas,” which was written a few years ago after a party at my house in college that caused me to go a touch agoraphobic. The first three songs we recorded as our demo (Christine/Karaoke King/Shark Suits) just happened to be the ones we thought were the best at the time. When we decided to record the EP, we chose songs that seemed to fit together, and I think the EP came out sounding pretty consistent. Overall, our songs are still inspired by the bands we love and the kind of music we think is fun to play, so I don’t think we’ll wander away from our ‘sound’ anytime soon.
TDOA: Can you talk about the lyrical themes of your songs on this EP and how they were inspired?
EZ: Despair, loneliness, New Jersey, the usual. We’d joked about calling the EP ‘More songs about movies and friends’ and I think that sums it up pretty well. The lyrics have a purposefully healthy dose of self-effacing and self-deprecating humor. Pop music is based on people bemoaning their lousy relationships, so whenever I do mention something approaching that sad bastard area, I have to make fun of it, at least a little. Not so the listener achieves a full laugh; a snicker will do just fine. I find remaining literal works better towards this end than abstraction. Real life provides enough minor shocks that I don’t feel like I need to make up anything too far from the truth up just yet. John Darnielle once had something really clever to say about this in reference to song-writing in general, but I can’t find the quote at the moment. Let’s assume it would make you smile while you groan. I think that’s around what I’m going for.
TDOA: I know that there’s been a bit of discussion about which song to use as the single. Did you make the decision internally or get input from others? I’d think it’s hard to pick which of your “babies” you like the best.
EZ: Definitely both. We asked a bunch of friends their opinions and we got different people gravitating towards different tracks. We considered two factors: does the song grab the listener early on so they don’t wander off to the other free mp3s a few clicks away and does it give them a good idea of ‘who-we-are’? While the video we’re working on is for “Back to the Future IV,” we chose “Cool Kids” as a free download on Insound.com’s digital mixtape because of its immediacy. I hope both of those songs get spread around the interwebs. I’m pretty proud of them and I think they represent us well.
TDOA: As you prepare to make a video for the single, do you have a director or theme in mind?
EZ: We’ve been working with our good friend Keith Hopkin (artworknotavailable.com) on putting the video together. Funny dude, that one. The theme is a semi-literal adaptation of Back to the Future IV. There will be crazy lights, oversized boxes of cereal, and – just maybe – an adult onesie. And fire. Lots of fire.
TDOA: How has your comfort level changed performing live since you started last year? What can people expect to see from you live?
EZ: My stomach stopped hurting before shows, so that’s progress, right? We’re learning to curb our apologies for occasionally hitting the wrong notes. Liz is working on her guitar windmills and if the show is going really well, I will certainly lose my glasses at some point.
People can also expect to see just how good a representation the EP cover is of our drummer Zeph’s face. He is actually only 2-D, yet he can still play! It’s quite impressive. That one armed guy from Def Leppard’s got nothing on him. People can also expect to see just how tall Andy (our bassist) is. I heard he once looked Shaq in the eye.
TDOA: What plans do you have to promote the EP? Any chance we’ll see you playing outside of the northeast in 2010?
EZ: We had our EP release show in Brooklyn on January 7th. The EP will be on sale through Insound.com and at Other Music in Manhattan for starters. Sure, you could snag the MP3s somewhere, but you really gotta see and touch the CD package. We’ve been personally silk-screening cardboard folders with the artwork and stamping the track info on the back of each one. Every EP is hand numbered–so much love goes into each copy!
Diehard is going to play out as much as possible in NY this winter and spring and around the general northeast area (Hear that kids? Want us to play your party, just write!). We’re also hoping to come down for SXSW. Basically, any non-skeezy way we can get the record out there within our means, we’ll likely do.
We’re also going back into the studio in February. We have a ton of songs yet to be recorded. There’s so much more to come.
The band generously has given us this track for you to download for free. Right click and save……and you will be saved!
Back to the Future IV
You can order the new single from Diehard here.
To learn more about the band, visit their website here.