ARTICLE PATRIK SANDBERG
PHOTOGRAPHY SANDY KIM
MEET THE SUMMER'S MOST SONOROUS GRUNGE GAZERS
The press release for the band DIIV describes the sound of its debut record, Oshin, as “one part THC and two parts MDMA.” The drug references make perfect sense once you experience the Brooklyn four-piece’s percussive, narcotic melodies washing over you. Originally an alter-ego for frontman and songwriter Z. Cole Smith, DIIV (formerly called DIVE, before a Belgian industrial band from the early ’90s with the same name came complaining) concocts a serpentine euphoria that delivers a contact high, hitting a nerve of sonic memory that runs through late-’90s shoegaze and grunge all the way back to the heyday of Creation Records.
“I initially formed DIIV as a sound idea at home, recording stuff onto my computer,” Smith says of the project’s genesis. “Once it gained focus, I put a band together with friends and people that I knew from hanging out who play in bands around here.” Now joined by Devin Ruben Perez, former Smith Westerns drummer Colby Hewitt, and childhood friend Andrew Bailey, Smith is raking in music-blog accolades with songs like his cover of Kurt Cobain’s “Bambi Slaughter” and the breakout single “How Long Have You Known,” (video below) which presents a chiming, chasmal orchestration that floats in like a strand of DNA recombining early Cure records and the warm, whirling production that Captured Tracks, the LP’s label, is now known for. Smith cites references including “’70s and ’80s punk music, especially the Minneapolis scene in 1979 and Seattle in 1989, and a lot of German psychedelic music.”
Despite these touchstones, Smith and company are adamant that it doesn’t matter what led them in the direction they’ve gone, and if the genealogy of their sound doesn’t make much sense, all the better. “I hope the band can come across as conflicted and contradictory,” he says. “That’s my nature. The songs are hopeful, but they’re also sad and mad. I love people and I hate people. I love animals. I love my friends. Thank you to everybody. Text me.”