lauren stern digs a new band…
If The Dig isn’t one of the top bands on your radar, they should be. This indie rock band born and raised in New York, have been developing their sound since they were teenagers and now have established themselves as a band to watch out for. Their just released sophomore album Midnight Flowers has this psychedelic vibe that you can’t help but get trapped in while listening. After streaming it from start to finish, it left me wanting more, which typically doesn’t happen to me when listening to an artist I’ve never heard before.
One of the Dig’s original members and singers David Baldwin graciously took some time out to talk to me about about the band’s biggest influences, the music scene in New York, and their upcoming headlining tour. Catch them tomorrow night, November 4 at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly and Saturday October 6 on Cameo in Brooklyn. [Press Photos by Jai Nima Idowu]
David Baldwin: Well, me and Emile started playing when we were eleven and I guess it was kind of an individual thing. I guess we each kind of started playing an instrument early on our own and then we both wanted to start a band in middle school and I guess the way me and Emile [Mosseri] met was that we were looking for a bass player in the band I was in and Emile joined that band.
PB: That’s cool. Who were some of your biggest influences back then and who are some of your biggest influences now?
DB: I would say back then, I mean it’s always been the pretty big I guess the kind of cliche ones. Back then, Jimi Hendrix was like the big one. Nirvana was always a really big one and probably still is and a lot of classics like obviously The Beatles and Neil Young. We’re huge fans of all that stuff. Bob Dylan. So that stuff is probably like the root of all of it.
PB: What are the biggest differences between Electric Toys and Midnight Flowers?
DB: I guess we all kind of think the new album has more of a cohesive sound like from one song to the next it kind of sounds like it belongs on one album. Where as, ‘Electric Toys’ is more of a collection of songs we have written over a period of four years or so. So it doesn’t sound so much like one album like there’s kind of different styles and the songs sound pretty different from one to the next.
PB: I read reviews of the album and some of them said that you guys fit into this New York music scene and I thought that was kind of weird just because I feel like there is, at least from what I’ve seen, a lot of different scenes in New York. Do you think that there’s one definitive music scene in New York?
DB: I definitely agree with you on that for sure. I think there’s a lot of different scenes. I guess when you think of the Brooklyn scene or whatever I guess you think of more of a hip-type thing and I don’t feel like we’ve ever really kind of fit into that. But yeah, I think there’s so many different scenes in New York. I think when we play it’s usually our own thing and it doesn’t really feel like so much like we’re part of a scene around here at least.
PB: Yeah that’s what I thought too and a lot of reviews compared you to Vampire Weekend and the Strokes, which are both New York bands. My personal opinion when I heard the album was that it did sound a little similar to Vampire Weekend but it wasn’t like you were imitating them. Like I said though, The Strokes was one of the major comparisons which I thought was a little weird because I only heard a little bit of similarities. Anyway, after I read that review, I looked online and I saw that you rehearsed next to the Strokes at some point. Do you think you drew inspiration from them when you were recording or was it just a coincidence that a little bit of their sound was in your sound?
DB: I think The Strokes thing mainly comes from the first album, the Electric Toys album. Like there’s a couple songs on that I can definitely hear that. I think yeah it was probably a mix of both like because we were rehearsing next to them that I guess it was kind of like, they were kind of like, I don’t know if it’s on our minds, but they were that band that was brought to our attention more just because of the fact that they were right there and I think it probably subconsciously trickled out a little bit into the music just like on a few songs. I feel like those couple of songs were the ones that we were using to promote the record so that was kind of what people heard. I think the ones that sounded a little but like them were the ones that we kind of put out first so it kind of got that connotation a little bit.
PB: One of my favorite songs off the album is the single ‘I Already Forgot Everything You Said.’ When I listened to the whole album, that song really stood out to me. I just really love the overall vibe of it. Can you talk about how that song came about?
DB: That song was the first song that we wrote for this new record and we kind of wrote it, it was probably one of the more quickly written songs, and we wrote it together as a band. It’s probably one of the more collaborative songs that we have. We just, Eric started playing some chords and we all started messing around with different things and I guess everyone just started coming up with the different parts and we kind of started writing the lyrics together as we were just starting to jam on the song. It came together pretty quickly and then we went home and added more verses and all that stuff. But it came together really naturally and everyone was just contributing a lot when we were writing that one.
PB: I saw that song and your other single are on this cassette tape that you guys created. I really liked that because I hate technology. I’m so old school. I just refuse to give up old technology, I just love that kind of stuff. Was that kind of the reason why you guys decided to make the cassette tapes? Do you guys feel that you want to go back to old roots or is it that more of a kind of thing with the music industry? The music industry right now is trying to focus on digital media and downloading music, you really don’t see people buying CDs anymore. Is that something you guys wanted to bring back with this or was it a cool thing that you wanted to incorporate in promoting the new album?
DB: I think it was probably more of the latter. It was actually Mark’s brother. We were just kind of hanging around and talking about different ideas of things to have for some merch at our shows and Mark’s brother just came up with the idea, Mark’s our drummer and his brother was like ‘Oh you guys should just make a couple of songs on a tape.’ It’s kind of it’s something we can make ourselves, we don’t really have to go to a manufacturer and have them make it. So we decided it would be a cool thing to have a limited number of tapes and just sell them. It was more of that but it was also a little bit of wanting to have something different because you always have CDs and people can download. The idea is just to have something a little bit more unique and there’s a download code on the inside of it too so there’s a little bit of both. A lot of people who bought them didn’t have tape players they just got it just to have it.
PB: Since you guys are kind of fitting into this indie rock category, I was wondering, are any bands right now that you guys are really digging?
DB: There’s, I would say, a lot of the stuff that were into is older music but I would say as far as the new bands we all really like the Here We Go Magic album, I don’t know if you know that band at all.
PB: Yeah I do, they’re awesome.
DB: We really like their new record a lot, we listen to it all the time. So them. I guess other than that the ones that we all kind of like, everyone has a little bit of their own taste but we all kind of like Dearhunter and Radiohead and Arcade Fire. Bands like that as far as bands that are still playing now.
PB: Can you talk about the tour you guys have coming up?
DB: Yeah, we’re going on the road with our friends from Portland they are called The We Shared Milk. They’re an awesome band. One of the guys in the band used to do sound for Portugal the Man.
PB: Oh that’s awesome.
DB: Yeah and now he’s doing his own thing and they’re a kick ass band. We’re really psyched about it, it’s going to be our first headlining tour. So we’re just psyched to go to all of these different cities and have our own shows and play with those guys.
PB: Is there any particular show on this tour or outside of this tour that you all are really psyched about?
DB: We’re really excited to go back to L.A. We just did a residency there over the summer and we had such a good time out there. We were a little bummed to leave. So we’re really excited to go back there and Austin is always a great place as well. We’re really really excited to go down there.
PB: I saw that you guys did South by Southwest. I don’t know if it was last year or the year before?
DB: Yeah, it was the year before.
PB: Are you guys thinking about doing it this upcoming year?
DB: Yeah actually we’ve been talking about trying to go down there again this year.