It’s 11am in Brooklyn and Diet Cig have just woken up. “It is actually kind of late for us,” guitarist and singer Alex Luciano insists, lest you think they spend all day lounging about in bed instead of heading out to their day jobs or, y’know, cracking on with their debut album. Some of us have been waiting a while.
We’re speaking in early November. The band’s first EP, Over Easy, was recorded around this time last year and, for an EP that was kind of recorded by accident, it was an amazing success. In fact, a lot of things about Diet Cig seem like the breezy coincidences you’d find in an indie rom com. Just take their meet-cute: the scene, a college houseparty. Noah Bowman was drumming with his old band, Earl Boykins, when Alex interrupted the set to ask him for a lighter for her friend. He didn’t have one, but he did have a bottle of wine… One minute they were a couple college kids hanging out at a kegger, the next they were Diet Cig, soundtracking break-ups and make-ups across the world, asking us all if it feels better in an Ivy League sweater.
Diet Cig’s songs are small, in a way. They pointedly ask about your new girlfriend or tell you to shut up about your band, snapshots of what it is to be young and American and more worried about dancing than the future – small, everyday concerns that translate across oceans. The band are a bit flabbergasted by the reaction. “I think the universe aligned and our music hit people in the right spot at the right time,” Alex says, trying to make sense of it. “When we released it we didn’t think there was really anything that special about it and then a lot of people were like, ‘We connect with this so much!’ It was kind of weird.”
“Yeah, I still don’t really understand it,” Noah adds. As nice as crowds yelling their songs back at them and occasionally getting recognised might be, it puts quite a bit of pressure on the duo to nail their debut album. It’s in the works as we speak, they assure me. They are “writing it. Hardcore.” But the list of reasons why it’s taken a while that immediately follows makes you wonder if that pressure is making things a bit tricky.
“Before we wrote [Over Easy] we didn’t even know we were going to record it,” Noah says. “And this time we have so many things lined up already for next year, it’s like we have to write it, in a way.”
It’s not just the schedule worrying Alex, whose skills as a songwriter and musician have increased massively. Before she and Noah became Diet Cig, she had only ever played “cutesy” acoustic guitar and plugging in an electric one was a revelation. “Everyone’s listening now,” she says. “And they have this idea of the kind of music we’re going to put out and all that stuff. So I feel like I’m growing as a musician in general and I’m scared that it will be different.”
There’s a lot of times that we get up to go play a show and a lot of bros are like ‘Oh, a two piece band fronted by this small girl.
You can tell that Diet Cig have grown, even from the two-song EP they put out later in the year, bursting with beefy riffs and fuller vocals – and the album will feature more of the same. “It’s going to be big,” Noah says. “Just because we’re a two piece doesn’t mean that it’s going to be stripped down a lot, we’re going to keep it big in some way. So we’re trying our best to do that without making it seem like there’s fifteen other people playing.”
Keeping the live show bouncing is a big deal to Diet Cig, whose whirlwind set blew us away at CMJ this year. They start every show with a ‘Shake It Off’ dance party and are keen not to lose any danceable real estate to a third member. “I think people underestimate the two piece band,” Alex says. “There’s a lot of times that we get up to go play a show and a lot of bros are like ‘Oh, a two piece band fronted by this small girl’ – and then we play and they’re like ‘Woaaaah!’ And I’m just like, ‘Yeah! Bye!’”