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Diet Cig is the talk of the town in New Paltz right now, and for good reason. The music community in this region has been quietly thriving over the years, but as of late they’ve been getting more attention outside upstate New York. With two singles and a music video out, Diet Cig are building momentum.
Fronted by Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, the duo has an organic and unpretentious pop-rock sound. From ranting about super lame and boring ex-boyfriends, to wistfully shitting on your hometown’s music scene, to rambling about the struggles of moving into your first apartment, Diet Cig keeps it 100. (As one would expect, since the songs were written in Luciano’s bedroom.)
This week, Diet Cig released their debut Over Easy EP, which they describe as, “a collection of songs that capture the innocence of adolescence and infatuation.” For all the adults out there who still can’t fully let go of their inner teen and have been suppressing lots of angst, this EP was made for you. Growing up is a weird process, but you can still maintain a carefree attitude throughout the transition.
We can confirm that Diet Cig sounds as cute and comical on the phone as they are on all five tracks from the EP, but don’t be mistaken—they shred so hard that they sweat up a storm, too. Get into their Over Easy EP and read our interview with Diet Cig below.
So I read that you both first met in the middle of a show, is that really how it happened?
Noah: Oh yeah, oh yeah. It was pretty funny how it came to be.
Alex: Yeah, it was pretty cool. It’s funny because for the longest time after I met Noah, we didn’t think about music for us, it was all for his band, Earl Boykins. I was making videos for them and stuff, and going to all their shows, and it was kind of lucky that finally we decided we should make music.
Noah, how do you do Diet Cig and Earl Boykins at the same time?
N: Well, it’s not easy. [Laughs] We try our hardest to book a lot of shows on the same bill. It definitely gets confusing when you’re not playing the same bill and both bands have shows in the same week and you’re just trying to remember what show is whose show. It’s still fun, I love both bands, and as long as I’m having a good time and everyone else is having a good time, I’m usually okay.
Do you both play music full-time or is this a side gig and you’re doing something else?
A: I go to school, I’m a student at SUNY New Paltz, but this takes up a lot of my time. I actually work at a bakery in New Paltz and I intern at Teen Love Records, so it’s definitely a lot going on. Music is always this fun priority in my head. It helps me get away from all the craziness. You kind of do music a lot though…
N: Yeah, I’ve been helping out my brother, he’s also into music. He’s actually a twin which is kind of fun. He’s in the city, and he’s got bands he works with and sometimes I help with his sessions. Or if Chris Daly, who’s our engineer, if he’s got bands that come in, I actually live in the same house as the studio and the bands record downstairs, so if I can help with anything or backup on something, I help where I can. My day gig is I do construction and paint houses and shit like that. I’m not in school anymore.
Did you go to SUNY as well?
N: I kind of bounced around. I kind of hated school in general, I never really fell into the groove. I went to Perkin’s for about a year, and I just didn’t really enjoy it that much at all, and I ended up dropping out and moving to Hudson actually up in New York, which was fun. And then I moved to New Paltz, and then this happened, and I’m kind of just going with the flow now.
Alex, what are you studying at SUNY?
A: I study media production so like videos, and they teach us how to use Advent and recording devices…TV studio stuff.
I talked with Dean Engle from QUARTERBACKS a few weeks back when he was in D.C. He came to do an in-studio for my college’s radio station. He mentioned you guys! He’s such a cool dude.
N: We helped fix his guitar the other day, he was actually at the house. He’s great.
A: Yeah, he’s a really nice guy.
Could you tell me more about New Paltz? There seem to be a lot of good indie bands coming from that area so I’m assuming that the music scene is pretty close-knit.
A: Yeah, it’s definitely very close-knit. It’s kind of cool because it’s a college town so every year there’s new people. We’re actually playing a show pretty soon at this girl’s friend’s house and it’s kind of really cool because there are always new places to play everywhere. It’s such a tight-knit place like you said with bands like we play with a lot of the same bands, but the scene is still positive. Everyone is still supporting each other and it’s like a family because it’s so small. I feel like we really produce some gems, I don’t know if that sounds kind of lame, but there’s really cool bands that come out of New Paltz in general. I feel like New Paltz and our area is finally getting some notice which is really cool because there have always been cool bands here. Like you grew up around here.
N: Yeah, I went to high school like 20 minutes away from New Paltz so I kind of knew a lot of bands coming through. And it’s crazy because all of those bands that I knew in high school aren’t in New Paltz anymore. They’ve all either moved to Brooklyn or grown up as a band. It’s cool to see what comes next and who moves forward or what bands stay together. It’s awesome now because like QUARTERBACKS, I’ve known him… he’s been playing since I was in high school so he’s been here for a while, and it’s great that he’s finally getting some press. He’s always been everyone’s favorite.
A: It’s a cool place, we really enjoy it here. It’s nice that I can go to school and be involved in the music scene at the same time, that’s the most important.
Alex, where are you from originally?
A: I’m from this really rural area near Albany. It’s kind of like the scary valley. It’s an hour and a half upstate from New Paltz so not too far. I went to a really, really small high school, I graduated with like 75 people, but it was cool. It makes New Paltz feel like a huge city.
N: Her town is so small, there’s like one store, that’s it. You get everything from one store. It’s like Twilight Zone, it’s kind of scary. Everyone knows each other… I’m not used to that.
Wow. I feel like I knew everyone from my hometown, but I had about 2000 kids in my high school…
A: What! That’s huge. Yeah, no our town is like the kind of town where with every single person you graduated with, you know their mom, you know their dog, their crazy aunt… It was very tight-knit which is kind of cool, but definitely makes New Paltz feel very exciting and full of so many people.
How long have you both been involved with music?
N: Well, I’ve been playing… It feels like forever. My Dad is a drummer and so I kind of was born into the whole music world. So I originally learned how to play drums and I ended up learning how to play guitar so I would be able to rock out with my Dad when I was a kid. And then it kind of went full circle. The first band that I played drums live for was probably like eighth grade so it’s kind of fun to play drums instead of guitar because I get to hit stuff. [Laughs]
A: I got a guitar in high school and learned how to play a lot of covers. And then when I went to college I started writing songs just by myself not really thinking that I would be in a band or anything, it was just something that I did that was cathartic and a way to get things out of my head… So I guess you could say this is my first band experience ever and performing live my own songs ever. It’s really scary, our first songs and stuff. I did a lot of open mics in high school and felt like I could perform in front of a crowd, but all of a sudden they were my songs being played. I was like “Oh my god! This is it, this is real.” And it was really fun and I want to do it again.
Talk me through the recording process for the Over Easy EP. Where did you do the recordings and how long did it take to write and produce all of the songs?
N: So pretty much this whole project was just like “let’s just do it for shits.” We had no plans to ever release it, we just wanted to have something. So we did it over at Salvation Recordings with Chris Daly who had done all the Earl Boykins records, which is where I live now. So we were like, “Let’s just pick a day.” And it just happened to be Halloween actually so we did the whole record in that night. We recorded everything, all the basics and even vocals, that night, mixed it the next day, and what you hear right now is what it is.
A: Yeah, it was like…
N: …like a marathon, but surprisingly we got through it.
A: It was really fun. I had never recorded in a studio before and Chris, who was our engineer was so great. He was just very encouraging, but he wanted it to sound really good and was critical in all the right ways which is so important for everything. It was fun, it was like we were hanging out. Like Noah said, he lives there so it was like hanging out and also recording our record.
N: I can’t wait for the next one, I’m excited. We’ve already started writing the next album. We don’t know if it’s going to be a full-length or an EP, but we’ll see.
A: We’ll see! We’re just going to do it like we did before, keep doing it while it’s fun. We have a really great time writing our songs together and the whole process of making them real. When it feels nice and we have enough songs for a full-length, then yeah. If it’s a little EP, then it’ll be that. Whatever is fun.
“Harvard” has turned into my favorite low-key “I don’t fuck with you” type song right now. Can you tell me about how it came to be? What was going through your mind when you were writing that or was there a specific it was inspired by?
A: It’s funny, that was actually the first song we ever wrote. That song has the first power chords I ever played, Noah showed me and I played them and then immediately sat in my room and wrote that song. It’s kind of about this ex-boyfriend I had who, I actually dumped him. It sounds like he dumped me for a college girl, but I dumped him and then he want on to date a Harvard girl and was trying to be like “Oh, well I’m really cool” about it and I was like “You know what? Fuck you, I bet she’s boring.” He was really boring and I was like “Nobody is surprised that you’re dating a girl at an ivy league school. Isn’t that just great.” I don’t know, it was just me being pissed off that he thought he was doing better.
That song is my favorite on the EP, I just think it’s fun to play and it’s my big “fuck you” song. It has a special place in my heart because it was the first song I ever wrote for Diet Cig and my first rockstar song as I think of it because I was playing power chords for the first time. I’m glad someone else likes it too though!
Noah, what’s your favorite track on the EP?
N: I’d have to say “Pool Boyz” ‘cause I was there when most of that stuff happened in a way. Not the getting arrested in the pool part, but the other parts… [Laughs] I don’t want to give too much away. I love the chorus, I get to kind of hit hard on that song.
A: It’s definitely the most fun to play live because we just go nuts. After that song we’re always just like sweating and freaking out, and it’s so fun.
I almost forgot, how did you come up with the name Diet Cig?
N: I don’t remember now…
A: It was short enough to embroider on stuff.
N: No, I think it was whoever we knew was trying to quit smoking and was just like “I need a diet cigarette…”
A: And we were like, “We’ll be your diet cigarette!”
N: We didn’t really think about it. We were just like, “We need a name.”