You might best know New York's The Dig by their relaxed rock tune "I Already Forgot Everything You Said" off their 2012 album Midnight Flowers, but the quartet made up of two singers and three songwriters have a dynamic and expansive music catalog under their belt, including the 2017 album Bloodshot Tokyo. The latest album stays true to their laid back and grooving melodies, but also explores different moods and tones to deliver diversity across the 11 tracks. Band members David Baldwin, Emile Mosseri, Erick Eiser, and Mark Demiglio are currently out on the road in support of the newest album, and they'll be in Chicago this Friday. Before the tour stops at Lincoln Hall, we chatted with one of the band's singers and songwriters David Baldwin, all about the tour, new music and more! If you want to know about The Dig's collaborative writing process, which books they're reading, how they feel about pumpkin spiced drinks and pineapple on pizza, check out our chat with The Dig!
ANCHR Magazine: Congratulations on the newest album Bloodshot Tokyo, which you released earlier this year! How was this album different from past work, in terms of the writing and recording scope?
David Baldwin: Thanks, we appreciate that. Probably the biggest difference between this album and our past work was our overall approach. We went into this one with way more songs to choose from than we ever had before. In the past we'd always had to balance writing the music with booking tours, self-managing, etc. This time around we decided to put all of that on hold and do nothing but write songs for a couple of years. I think we grew a lot as songwriters in that time and naturally a new kind of sound evolved.
AM: What challenges do you encounter with having multiple songwriters in the band? On the flip side, what do you find rewarding about being able to collaborate on the writing rather than having one person do it all?
DB: The biggest challenge we face having multiple songwriters in the band is allowing space for a singular vision to find its way onto a record. You always know that every idea, every lyric is going to have to make it through the committee, and we've talked about how we always have each other in our heads while we're writing. One of us might be alone writing a song and think, oh so and so won't like this because it leans to heavily toward one style or another. So keeping the edges of a singular vision from being shaved off can be a challenge.
On the flip side, because we've been writing songs together for so long, we speak the same musical language. I think this helps the most in finishing songs that one person may have started but couldn't quite see all the way through on their own. If you feel like you're stuck with a song but you're excited about what's there, you know you can bring it in to the rest of the band and someone will come up with something cool that you never would have thought of. We've also noticed that the songs of ours that people seem to respond to the most are usually the ones that were the most collaborative.
AM: Which songs from the new record are you most excited about playing when you’re on the road in the fall?
DB: We have a hoot playing all the songs, but some live favorites in no particular order are "Pool of Rotting Water", "Jet Black Hair", "Bleeding Heart", and "Self Made Man."
AM: How do you guys usually pass time when you’re on the road? What are your favorite podcasts, books, and other ways to stay entertained?
DB: We usually just blab away at each other and make Instagram stories. But a good Marc Maron will get you clear through Nebraska. Some Norm Macdonald standup will do ya. We all try to read on the road from keeping Tour Brain from setting in. Notes From The Underground, Tortilla Flat, Ta-Nehisi Coates' new piece The First White President have made up some of the recent tour readings.
AM: In the past you’ve thrown black wigs out at your shows before you played “Jet Black Hair.” Do you have anything special like that up your sleeves for the upcoming tour?
DB: We do have a little something up our sleeves. It's called our Total Request Hotline. The number is 347-422-6434, and you can call it to request a song all throughout the tour. Doesn't necessarily mean we'll play it, but you can still give it a shot. In fact, a nice gentlemen named Harrison called it today to make a request for our Chicago show.
AM: Since you’ve been a band for several years now, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned a musician?
DB: To make what you want to hear and not worry about the stuff you can't control. But that's easier said than done.
AM: What have you learned about each other from knowing each other and working together for so long?
DB: We learned that when one person makes a joke and it gets a laugh, everyone in the band has to go around and repeat it at least once.
AM: I heard that you and Emile used to play in a Rage Against The Machine Cover band back in the day. If you were to form a new cover band today, which band/artist would you cover exclusively and what would the band name be?
DB: Would have to go with a surf-rock band that does instrumental versions of C.C.R. songs. We would name it The Loose Screws.
AM: Who are some of your favorite new artists at the moment, or new music from more established artists that you can’t stop listening to?
DB: Kendrick Lamar, Queens of The Stone Age, Angel Olsen to name a few.
AM: Besides the tour, what else are you looking forward to for the remainder of the year?
DB: We're looking forward to keeping the writing going when we get home, and also to some new things we have coming out in the near future.
AM: Also, as a bonus question, I thought we could play “Dig or Ditch,” a cheesy game I made up that’s a lightning round of a few polarizing topics/items. If you like it, say dig, or if you hate it, say ditch.
- Pineapple on pizza: dig or ditch? Dig
- Cilantro: dig or ditch? Dig
- Watching the previews at the movies: dig or ditch? When thinking about it, Ditch. But when it's happening, Dig.
- Coffee: dig or ditch? Dig but fantasize about ditching.
- Scary movies: dig or ditch? Dig
- Pumpkin flavored food/beverages: dig or ditch? Dig
- Nutella: dig or ditch? Ditch
- Country music: dig or ditch? Dig.
- Spicy food: dig or ditch? Dig
- Snowy days: dig or ditch? Dig