The Sick Humor of Downer Punks Diat
The indifference of Diät is haunting.
On the opening track of Positive Energy, the Berlin four-piece’s debut LP, Diät croons, “Write a manifesto, write a shopping list.” This attitude permeates through the album (just released on Iron Lung). They gave enough of a shit to write and release a stellar record, but you can feel in your gut that they would just as soon jam a song for 10 minutes too long as they would turn off their amps halfway through their set — whichever would get more of a rise out of the audience. It’s the journey, not the destination.
Diät are a band that can’t be held down, and their willingness to experiment — to abandon any notion of what something is supposed to be — is what makes them exciting. With Positive Energy, these veterans of the international mosh community have gone more post-punk and less regular-punk than on previous recordings, combining the influences of the Mob (U.K.), Wire, countrymen Total Control (half the band is originally from Australia), Trans by Neil Young, Rikk Agnew, the first two Terminator films and the frigid East Berlin winters.
On first glance the album’s title may come off tongue-in-cheek, but when it comes down to it, accepting the darkness can be pretty damn positive.
Diät is Tobi on guitar and vocals, Neutron on guitar and vocals, Iffi on drums, and Nordberg on bass and vocals. All answers were given via email by Neutron.
Who are you and where do you come from?
When Dawn of Humans came to town, we decided to take these shrooms I'd been growing after the show, and at one point in the early hours of the next morning, Sam [Ryser] from DOH spurts out, “It’s not about where you're from, it's about where you're at; and right now, I'm by the tree.” I like Sam, and that shit has stuck with me. I'm by the pool in the south of France. My bandmates call me the Freak.
What is the best Berlin street lingo?
"Your leather jacket's getting pretty matt slowly."
Tell me your favorite and least favorite band/project, past or present, of each of your other bandmates, and why.
I've never liked any of Iffi's previous bands. There's some badass footage of him on the YouTube singing for a band called Cold War. Dead ringer for Rick Ta Life! Tobi's in a punk/rock 'n’ roll band called Modern Pets, who we're pals with, but all love to hate; they're like the lesser-known Pennywise of Europe in the sense that they've been writing and releasing the same song for what might almost have been 10 years now. They've also managed to tour the world from it. There are Modern Pets stickers in every cubicle in every venue I've ever shat in, and I've only ever met one person who was a fan of the music. The elevator music Tobi writes in his room with his analogue synths is sick. Last time he showed me a new demo of his, I hallucinated for a split second. I thought I was a fish. Nordberg has a pretty clear rap sheet; Burning Sensation is the one.
You guys seem like a good fit for Iron Lung because you're punks making punk-oriented music, but it's dark and melodic, not only punk. Do you feel at home there? How did it come about?
Tim Davies is a London based “punk.” Tim has a fantastic box of 7”s. Back before we started the band, we were all back at Tim’s South London abode for an after-hours mash-up and raided that 7" box. Note that Tim was not home. Note that actually none of the tenants were home. The house got kinda busted up, at least in a London sense, i.e., many of the house rules were broken. The tenants were quite unhappy about this the next day, but amidst all the chaos, Tim’s only concern was if we played his Pick Your King. Whether we did or didn't play Tim’s Pick Your King is irrelevant, because we played Carnage, and All the Sad People turned out to be instrumental in us deciding to play a U.K. punk- influenced style of music.
Tim ran a record label called Dire. When we recorded the first 7", still full of nostalgia surrounding that key evening at Tim’s flat and hoping that our own pressing might one day be included in the fabled 7” box, we sent the recording to Tim asking if he wanted to put it out. Tim was so into the A-side, he immediately bought a bag, did it by himself in his bedroom and listened to it on repeat all night long. His housemates went on to tell us how they would constantly hear him playing that recording, for weeks. Anyway so our drummer Iffi runs a record shop and label, and has a shit-ton of contacts. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, he was curious as to who else might be interested in this recording, so he emailed the songs around to a few folks. Iron Lung bit back and said it'd fit well into a series of two-song singles they wanted to release (along with Pig "this music is not for humans" Heart Transplant), and that was that. I think they were into the Australia trivia. We were chuffed to get an offer from an established U.S. label with such a cult kind of rep, so [we] basically dogged Tim and told him to forget it. Tim’s housemates never heard him play those songs again.
Being a band in Germany, is it important that you take a clear stance on fascism?
Does it matter where you're situated? Those morons are ubiquitous. On the next Diät record, there may or may not be a song about Nordberg’s Nazi plumber.
What makes a good show for you?
When Nordberg's moshing.
Would you rather tour Europe or America?
Pretty stoked to be going to America. I would like to tour Mallorca for the rest of my life.
Is punk an important part of your life?
The music, yes. In my teens and early 20s, it was. It's been instrumental in a lot of the decision-making I've had to do and being where, who or what I am now. In a nutshell, I moved to Berlin to be in a punk band. I'm always gonna be curious about the music; I'm curious about all kinds of shit these days. I love my punk friends.
Does drug use have an effect on your songwriting or performances?
It's affected how many times some of us have made it to rehearsal. I think in general we all try to stay relatively sober before a show, and every now and then we'll have a blowout or a dabble in the jam room, but it's usually to reconcile after one or all of us has had a blue. In saying that, though, Tobi and I were completely ratted while recording the guitar and synth tracks for Positive Energy. It was Christmas, and while all our mates had left town to be with their loved ones, Tobi and I camped out in our jam room for a few days with a big bag of all sorts. In hindsight, it was probably the dumbest shit we could've pulled, as neither of us had much of an idea how to operate the equipment we were recording onto, and a few of the guitar tracks had to be redone, but at the end of the day I think it was a pretty decent way to spend Christmas: oblivious to the festivities going on around us, totally enveloped by the experiment of creating our debut album.
Do you like to dance?
Ever heard Chimo Bayo?!