Diet Cig have finally figured out their weird language of music
The story behind Diet Cig goes like this: Noah Bowman was playing guitar in a band at a house show in New Paltz, a small college town two hours out of New York City. Alex Luciano was in the crowd and asked Bowman for a lighter. Bowman, who’d never met Luciano before, offered a bottle of wine instead.
As these things do, this chance interaction led to Luciano and Bowman forming a two-piece band, with Luciano who’d never played guitar before, on guitar and Bowman who knew how to play drums, but had never played drums in a band before, on drums. Diet Cig was born.
“We’d never met before then,” Bowman says. “In fact, if it hadn’t been for that moment I don’t think we would have ever met, and this band would never be a thing. It was all coincidence and super random.”
A short time later Luciano had written some songs. Bowman added rhythm and structure and a short live repertoire was born. The fledgling two-piece’s first show was at a house in New Paltz, an event that Luciano admits was terrifying.
“I swear I had an out of body experience that night,” Luciano laughs. “I kept looking at Noah and he was like ‘One more song, two more songs, we can do this.’ It was really scary. But doing that one show, I was like ‘I can do this.’ Noah was very reassuring but I was super nervous given that it was my first show.”
A friend of Luciano’s had a recording studio and offered to record the songs. “We wanted to record them for fun, just to show that we had written these songs,” Luciano says. “As we were recording, our friend and engineer Chris Staley said ‘These are good. You should send them around before you put it out.’ ”
The recordings became the Over Easy EP, released on Father/Daughter Records in 2015. While Bowman was familiar with touring, for Luciano the realisation that this ad hoc music activity had become a ‘real’ band came as something of a surprise. “I was always really freaked out by the idea of playing music with other people, of communicating my ideas to them because I was never trained in playing guitar or any other instruments,” she says. “I didn’t really think I would ever be in a band. Now I really love it.”
Diet Cig hit the road, playing shows outside of the north-east region of the United States where the pair had grown up. “Our first cross-country road trip was a tour,” Luciano says. “It was a great way to see the US. I don’t think we’ll ever give up the touring aspect of it. It’s so cool. It’s probably our favourite part.” Bowman and Luciano also moved down to Brooklyn, a move that both acknowledge was valuable for the proximity it gave them to other artists – even if the expense and occasional stress of living in New York City was a shock to the system.
In 2017 Diet Cig released their debut album, Swear I’m Good at This. As with Over Easy, the lyrics were largely inspired by Luciano’s personal experiences. “The whole record is based on emotions that I’ve had, experiences that I’ve had. It comes from a really honest, vulnerable place in me,” Luciano says. “But I feel like the way that I write songs is really honest. I don’t know how to write songs in any other way.”
Swear I’m Good at This also reflects a more collaborative and symbiotic musical relationship between Bowman and Luciano. “For this record we did a lot of it together, because we’d been playing together for two years and we knew each other’s strengths,” Bowman says.
“We learned to communicate in terms of music this year, which is really exciting,” Luciano says. “At first I was feeling very new to music and I wouldn’t know how to explain what sound I wanted. But by the time we wrote this record we were totally in sync, we could understand this weird language of music when you’re writing with someone. It’s really weird. And I think we’ve finally figured out, it’s really cool.”
By Patrick Emery
Diet Cig’s debut album Swear I’m Good At This is out now on French Kiss Records.