DIIV Into Album Two

DIIV Into Album Two

Three years after their debut LP Oshin, Brooklyn's DIIV is ready to return with their double-disc sophomore album is the is are. Frontman Zachary Cole Smith talks exclusively with VMAN about the new album and what to expect

Three years after their debut LP Oshin, Brooklyn's DIIV is ready to return with their double-disc sophomore album is the is are. Frontman Zachary Cole Smith talks exclusively with VMAN about the new album and what to expect

Photography: sandy kim

Text: Patrik Sandberg

It's hard to believe it's been three years since DIIV released their debut album Oshin on Captured Tracks—music that hasn't lost its urgent sense of emotional relevance. Such is the nature of the band's signature narcotic blend of C86, krautrock, and '80s melancholia, the audio equivalent of a sun-drenched, sorrowful, Super 8 film. Abstrusely titled Is The Is Are, after a line in a poem written by a Parisian writer just learning English, the second album conveys something universal yet nonsensical, just the sort of confused, skygazing feeling we get from DIIV's music. Below, read an extended interview with frontman and principal songwriter Zachary Cole Smith, who tells us about the rollercoaster of album 1, and hanging on for album 2.

How has your music and your perspective changed since Oshin

ZACHARY COLE SMITH Man, I feel like everything has changed since then. Oshin was basically made for fun, for my friends. They were songs I wrote so I could put together a band and play a few small Brooklyn basement shows. I wanted to transport myself back to the time when I was playing in Beach Fossils and we were part of this cool, small, fun underground scene before we outgrew it. Then after a year or so, we had outgrown that scene ourselves. Oshin took on a life of its own, and it took the band on a rollercoaster ride. This new record was written while trying to hang onto that rollercoaster. The new LP is much more diverse, accessible, and lyric-driven. It's a product of a lot of crazy life experience.

How were you conscious of these differences when you went in to record the album?

ZCS I wrote hundreds of songs for this album. It was just sorting through those and picking songs, combining them, revising them, and all of that took a couple months out in L.A. We were rehearsing them all day everyday in a giant warehouse I rented. The main difference in recording Oshin and Is the Is Are is that we played all the songs from Oshin live almost every night at some different club or party. We played four or five shows a week for almost a year all over New York. We got to see which songs the crowd responded to, and the album's song order is basically just our live setlist. But for this record, I recorded it before we ever got a chance to play most of them live. We had no idea what people were gonna think of them.

What are YOUR thoughts about these songs? How do you feel about them and what do they mean to you?

ZCS This is an insane record for me. It's a document of the craziest, most up-and-down period of my life. Happy, sad, happy, sad, amazing things happening, terrible things happening. I just tried to hold on. So really, this record is so important to me. It's as honest as anything I could possibly make. Musically, I am very proud of it. It's everything I hoped our second album could be. I poured so much of myself into it, it was an intense process all around. I think all of that shines through on the first listen.

Can you share any specific details fans can get excited about?

ZCS There are 18 songs: fast ones, slow ones, happy ones, sad ones, dark ones, poppy ones, grungey ones—but all melodic to their core. There's a lot of guitars and interweaving melody lines. You can finally hear my voice and understand the lyrics. I don't hide my voice behind a ton of reverb. The lyrics are too important to me to actively disguise them.

Where does the title of the album come from?

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