“I feel like I’m a completely different person to what I was three years ago; I’m coming from a different point of view,” says DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith. With arrests, rehabilitation and his relationship with Sky Ferreira coming under greater media scrutiny, not to mention a foul-mouthed web outburst by one band member, as DIIV’s second album ‘Is The Is Are’ comes round, it’s a chance for Smith to make one hell of a statement.
“It’s about the stuff I’ve experienced in the last three years; big stuff, stuff that a lot of people go through in their lives, existential stuff,” he explains, mapping out the process of what promises to be another single-minded representation of his own consciousness. “It’s still all me, I’m still writing all of the songs and I’m playing almost everything, but I’m definitely writing more for the whole band,” he continues.
“When we played the last record live we became a band, the songs got fleshed out and it became totally different. Now I know what we’re capable of live and who’s going to be playing the parts. When it comes down to it we are a live band and ultimately it’s not fair to have something on record that doesn’t translate live.”
While the added live dynamic has allowed new possibilities to be realised, it remains the compiling of this into a representative record that Cole sees as the true mark of DIIV. “You can be the greatest band in history, but when it doesn’t get put down on to a record that represents what you do, time forgets you. For every Rocket From The Tombs or The Screamers… I just didn’t want to be one of those bands that has a following live but can’t translate it on to a record. A record is like your claim to immortality: That’s your impact, everything else is just fleeting and temporal.”
DIIV air new material live at Williamsburg Hall of Music on Thursday 10th July 2014.
It wouldn’t be fair to describe Smith’s personal experiences of the last three years as fleeting or temporal, but there’s the opportunity for them to fade in significance and become shadowed by a response that has the potential to reach beyond. Legally, he’s had his hands tied for parts of that period, forbidden from speaking on the case following his arrest for drug possession and driving a stolen vehicle. Left to look on, Cole has no hesitation in admitting it was a situation that became painfully distressing.
“I spent three years having tape over my mouth. Even after Sky’s charges were dropped it didn’t matter because nobody was able to say anything. Sky turned into this punching bag for chauvinistic, male-dominated music media and it was so upsetting but we didn’t have a voice. Finally she put her record out and got to say all this stuff she’d been wanting to say. Now I have a chance to talk about everything that I’ve wanted to say and I get to make a statement musically about what I think the world needs.”
Combine these experiences and new musical perspectives, and you can see the space emerging for DIIV to work in a way that moves beyond the gliding, melodic and immediate nature of their debut. “It has its darker moments,” says Cole, alluding it seems to both the concepts and sonic make up, “but I think it’s a much more diverse record. We’re just free to do so much more: people are more willing to listen to what you have to say [on a second record]... I want DIIV to be a rock band that continually evolves. A lot of these songs are more accessible and poppier, whilst some are way darker and weirder than anything we’ve done before.”
That evolution culminates in the early autumn when the album is set for release, with a lot of the songs airing for the first time as DIIV head out on the road for a run that so far includes London’s Field Day in June. “We’re looking forward to playing all the stuff, we’ve tripled the amount of material that we’re able to play so that’s exciting,” he says before concluding with his most telling remark yet.
“When we were making the record I was really aiming high. I wanted to make a record that lasts for a long time and resonates with a lot of people. I wouldn’t be making music if I didn’t feel like it needed to exist and I really feel like this record is going to mean a lot to a lot of people… it’s going to really affect people and connect with them.”
After months of adversity, it seems Smith has taken each knock in his stride, ready to bring back an incarnation of DIIV that’s more forceful and poignant than anything he’s put his name to before.
Taken from the May issue of DIY, out now. DIIV’s new 'Is The Is Are' album will be released later this year.
DIIV will play Field Day (6th - 7th June), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.