Die! Die! Die! Prove to Be More Than Just a Noise Punk Band from Dunedin
The New Zealand post punk icons share a new video and stories about their sixth album "CHARM. OFFENSIVE."
Today, we're premiering Dylan Pharazyn directed video for "How Soon Is Too Soon (It's Not Vintage It's Used)," by Die! Die! Die! 'How Soon Is Too Soon (It's Not Vintage It's Used),' is the first single from their forthcoming new album CHARM. OFFENSIVE. You can watch it below, before reading about the story behind the creation of Die! Die! Die!'s new record and what the band have been up to in recent years.
"Things felt completely different when we recorded What Did You Expect," says Andrew Wilson, the frontman of Die! Die! Die!, one of the most prolific bands to emerge out of New Zealand's indie, noise rock, and punk scenes over the last decade. "We'd really laboured over our last few records, but that EP came together very quickly. It was very easy to do." Andrew is thinking back to July 2015, when he decamped from Auckland to London with Die! Die! Die! drummer Mikey Prain to work with English musician and record producer Rory Attwell at Lightship95, a recording studio inside a boat moored in the Thames. With Rory handling production, backing vocals and bass guitar, they reached what Andrew describes as, "a real turning point." "The whole process was just fun, fresh, and very simple," he enthuses. "It was the first time since our first EP where things kind of fell together naturally."
The What Did You Expect EP was a relatively low-profile release, but it set the stage for Rory joining the band, and the creation of Die! Die! Die!'s forthcoming sixth album CHARM. OFFENSIVE. Rooted in a stylistic conversation between post-punk, noise pop, shoegaze, lo-fi, experimental electronica and punk rock, at its emotional core, CHARM. OFFENSIVE. is the sound of a road-worn underground band relaxing, and falling back in love with music all over again. Over their career, they've toured the world more times than you can count on both hands, recorded with the likes of Steve Albini and Shayne Carter, had their highs and lows, and ultimately, come full circle with their recent creative rejuvenation. In Andrew's words, "Out of any band, we've had some fucking bad luck, but we've had some amazing luck as well, and never cowered away from a challenge."
"On the surface, they are this noise punk band from Dunedin, but people who don't dig a little deeper sometimes miss how incredibly melodic their songs are," observes Reuben Bonner, Die! Die! Die!'s New Zealand booking agent. "There is a lot going on in CHARM. OFFENSIVE. It's just such a clever album.
"No one wants to say they've grown up, but this time, we did everything we've been running away from."
"I think as people, we loosened up a bit over the last few years," Andrew admits. "No one wants to say they've grown up, but this time, we did everything we've been running away from. We've always wanted to be the best, and in the process, we put a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Being in a band is one of the most beautiful things you can do; it's meant to be fun and freeing, not over thought and laborious." This new sense of freedom might have begun with What Did You Expect, but it really kicked into a higher gear while they were touring through New Zealand and Australia to promote the release.
"We had three days off in Byron Bay, and a friend of mine knew about this recording studio up in the mountains," Andrew recalls. "We went up there and made a bunch of racket. It was all improvised, but a few songs came out, and they sounded really fresh and fun to us." A major factor in all of this was Rory, and the energy he brought to the table. Rory and Die! Die! Die! first crossed paths in 2009, when his old band Kasms supported them on a UK tour. Over the years that followed, they continued played shows together and became firm friends. "My first impressions of them were how energetic and natural they were," Rory recalls. "There was no rock-posturing, and all of them would fly all over the stage, even Mikey somehow, even though he was sitting down drumming. It was exciting, brilliant, hilarious, and oh, loud."
Rory offered to record them, and when it came time to tour their fourth album Harmony though the US and Europe, they asked him to join them on bass guitar. 'We had these shows booked for CMJ in New York, and we were meant to practice in London first, but London being London, we didn't," Andrew says. "We flew to New York, and Rory had to improvise our bass lines at these NZ music showcases, and we played with [Canadian noise rock band] Metz at Death By Audio in Williamsburg. It was a total shambles, but in some ways Die! Die! Die! Being a shambles can be really fun. We were terrible, but it was really fucking fun. Once we were on tour, it all came together. Rory refreshed us."
"The old rules didn't matter, and when we thought about it, who had even told us those rules anyway?"
After the initial CHARM. OFFENSIVE. recording sessions in Byron Bay, Andrew and Mikey reconnected with Rory in London before touring China in September 2016. In London, they returned to Lightship95 to rehearse and record. In four days, they knocked out the bulk of the album, and again, the whole process was just really fun. "I had the guitar amp I've used since I was 18, and we were messing around on drum machines and writing different stuff," Andrew says. "We've always been involved in noise music, and we used to see the music we wrote as being Die! Die! Die! Songs or not Die! Die! Die! songs, but this time we didn't. That meant we could experiment with electronics and instrumental stuff, and we didn't have to worry about whether anything sounded too poppy. The old rules didn't matter, and when we thought about it, who had even told us those rules anyway? It was a self-imposed framework. We'd been letting our own bullshit tell us what we could or couldn't do. We built these walls for ourselves."
Die! Die! Die! first started touring China in 2011, and had an elaborate plan to record CHARM. OFFENSIVE.'s vocals and overdubs while traveling from city to city by train. For a number of practical reasons it didn't pan out, but they made a plan to finish everything in New Zealand after playing some summer shows at home. "I think China is the future," Andrew enthuses. "It's the future in all elements, from renewable resources to music scenes. Everything feels so fresh there. Everywhere you go, they have these amazing D.I.Y communities. It's just a bunch of people getting together to play music for the sake of music. Since we started touring there, a lot of dialogue has opened up between the New Zealand and Chinese undergrounds. It's been great watching bands we've toured there with like [Beijing noise-rockers] Birdstriking develop into these amazing guys, and play shows with us at home."
Before CHARM. OFFENSIVE. comes out, Die! Die! Die! are returning to China for more shows with Birdstriking. The two bands are also releasing a split 7" through Beijing underground legend Nevin Domer's Genjing Records. "The response to Die! Die! Die! in China has been so good," enthuses Nevin. "The scene here has only really just begun, and audiences are eager for new music. Sometimes I feel it's hard to hold the attention of Chinese fans, as they are exposed to a lot of diverse stuff at once, but Die! Die! Die! Through persistent touring and consistently explosive live shows, has won a loyal fan base here and continues to grow it with every visit."
After their Summer 2016 shows in New Zealand, Die! Die! Die! rented out Chick's Hotel in Port Chalmers, near Dunedin. Once arguably the best small live music venue in the area, it's now a recording studio. There, they completed all but two songs on CHARM. OFFENSIVE., finishing the last of the record at the now defunct Space Monster D.I.Y space in Whanganui. "This album was such a beautiful process, and so many people helped us out," Andrew says. "Chick's Hotel represents our community and home in Dunedin, and Lightship95 is our home away from home in London. Then, everything came together in Whanganui. Jack from Space Monster is an old friend of ours. When they opened Space Monster, it actually blossomed into this amazing community. I think a lot of people got to meet each other through there that might not have otherwise. It was really nice, because we had two days before Rory had to go back to London, so we hung out, finished the album, and he left. It was so organic."
You'd think they'd be ready to relax for a bit before launching a new record, but they're already thinking ahead. "Die! Die! Die! are still so enthusiastic after all these years," says Reuben. "They just want to get out there and play shows and make more records. I got a message from Andrew the other day saying they were going to Dunedin to record again, and this was before the first single from this album had even come out."
'CHARM. OFFENSIVE.' is available Oct 6.