Open with a Joke – An interview with Brightonian Noise-Punk Provocateurs DITZ
PHOTO CREDS: Luis Kramer
Hailing from the beachside town of Brighton and straight into your earholes, come DTIZ: a noise-quintet riding a new wave of post-punk that’s going to make a splash across the country and the continent. Known for being on the heavy side of the music scene and meteoric tunes, Underground had the chance to have a momentary chat to the quintet about all things DITZ from Germanic dictionaries to their newest release which hit media platforms this month.
We met in the Lexington, sat cosily on sofa squeezes members Jack, Caleb, Cal and Anton while Archie’s left on the not-so-comfy wooden chair. Overlooked by some ominous wall-mounted animal heads the boys introduce themselves by breaking the ice with tales of how Archie “fell up a massive hill on a bike because the chain fell off” and announcing to a pub full of punters the time Caleb got “shat on by a bird in Portugal” before quickly making jokes about Cal’s veganism and how Anton’s cheeks go red when he’s pissed. To which Cal gleefully adds that “he looks like Santa, it’s great. And he smiles when he’s pissed to.”
Despite having only had a handful of releases as a band and of this line-up of members alone, the magic that bounces between them makes it hard to tell that they all came to play together kind of out of convivence. The longest standing members Cal and Caleb met in college and had tried to get a band together for a while. In fact, “it wasn’t until we met Anton in Brighton that we started to get going”, says Cal, “then we had that guy over there (pointing to ex-drummer Myles) who was part of the original four piece. Then when he decided that he didn’t want to drum anymore, we got Looker (Jack) into drum.” Archie who lived with Jack at the time then joined in the DITZ humdrum: “I had an old band that split up and I was looking for something to do. And I was initially just going to be a pull in and then stayed on.” And from there the current five-piece was conceived.
However, while they all now make up the body of the band the boys seemingly had no clue where their name originated – bar Cal. Looking to him for the answer Cal describes staying at his parent’s house and flicking through a German dictionary and being struck by the catchiness of that one word. What does DITZ mean in German you ask? Well the same as it does in English, because, as Cal explains, “it was from the English section of the dictionary… I thought it sounded catchy and I like the meaning, it implies a little carelessness that I like”. That seems to be the catalyst for the whole band’s setup, which Jack backs up quite nonchalantly stating that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Given the current climate of new bands we spoke about how saturated Brighton is for aspiring musicians, as the boys explain, and how it’s easy to become big-headed and let that be your downfall. However, for DITZ, the seaside location is merely a starting block for their future. “You are surrounded so there’s loads of venues and promoters,” Jack explains. “There’s so many likeminded people which is really cool, there’s not much of that where we are all from.” Yet with such opportunity comes greater competition, which as Cal claims is also his only criticism: “there’s not enough music fans to the people in the bands.” With such a ratio the DITZ boys find refuge in notorious music pubs of London, because, as Cal continues, “there are more people who want to go to gigs.” And “people seem to enjoy it a lot more too” Jack reinforces.
Yet London isn’t the only place DITZ have more recognition than their homesteads, in fact they’ve made it overseas taking on Europe. “Portugal was really good” says Cal as we discuss their favourite places to play. “Yeah Mucho Flow festival had a really cool inside venue, then they had food and drinks outside and everyone’s lovely”, Archie reminisced. Playing alongside Black Midi was an apparent highlight of their continental tour alongside the offer of food and drinks, while the bird excrement incident wasn’t brought up again. Instead the conversation led us to delve into the inspiring creators, which Cal claims is PHOTO CREDS: Luis Kramer
topic that “sparks off everyone and then we end up with a list of like 60 names!” But the main ones show off their roots firmly set-in the “generic noise rock” genre with “some psyche in there too” as Anton explains. Yet while that’s kind of expected from their sound, Cal goes on to tell us how they aren’t limited to these genres and that “SOPHIE is my favourite musician”. Caleb and Anton have an affinity with James Blake, and they all agree that Arianna Grande’s newest tracks are pretty rateable.
In saying that, there’s something far more punk about their sound and styling than there is modern day pop. And as purveyors of music that push the extremities of sound and style, us Undergrounders wanted to find out what the driving force is behind this wonderfully tongue in cheek satire and irony that emanates from their tracks. Cal puts it simply saying, “it’s the easiest way to argue.” Make ‘em laugh is clearly a mantra for DITZ, “because I never win arguments unless I open with a joke”, Cal continues. “I won’t win unless I win people over that way first”. And he’s not wrong, “it makes everything easier” Archie concurs, “and that’s the main thing isn’t it: having a laugh. There’s no point otherwise.”
There’s no doubt that this is at the heart of their newest release ‘Gayboy’ which saw its release this month. With such a pervasive title, the song slaps you right in the face with some punk paradox. “I thought it was a title that would get people talking – I don’t think it’s that poignant really to call it that.” Explains Cal, “but I do like it because it is quite aggressive, as an insult and one that I personally don’t like.” The song snatches this toxic language out from the hands of those who try to justify it, before they tar, feather it and stick a middle finger up to its users. So, while the song title maybe a shock to some, Archie claims that “when you read it and hear the track together the message comes across straight away.” The song is a confrontation towards the title, the boys explain, “the title is the insult and the song is the response” says Cal.
Taking on bigotry in all its irony, “the song is about how people get angry but angry at something they don’t understand” Cal says. In its lusty riffs and reverberant drums, all heavily coated with pissed-off lyricism, the track flips ignorant bigots the bird while exploring the spiralling anger that aggressive language breeds. Sounding somewhat different to the songs that they have produced before; the band describes the creative process of ‘Gayboy’ as being a slight step away from the way they made preceding tracks. “I wrote it while I was at my parent’s house, and I only had my laptop on me. So, I wrote it all on Ableton,” Cal describes, “which I think influenced how it sound because everything is sort of short and stoppy which sounds quite electronic.”
PHOTO CREDS: Luis Kramer
Lasting only 2 minutes 40, Cal’s not lying when he says its short nevertheless its sharpness and acute antagonism only but adds to the meaning and is all thanks to the rest of the band’s collective effort in getting “tone and the effects right: adding the character on top of it” just as Archie explains.
While they all laugh at the idea that the song sounds as though they know what they’re doing, as Caleb claims, for their first track of 2019 it’s certainly one way of kicking off the year with the right foot. It’s also their second release with permanent creeps, a label that has some killer names from the underground scene attached to them, thanks to their PR manger Luis Kramer who aided in the blossoming of the relationship between the boys and the label, which Anton explains. And they don’t plan on stopping here, in fact they want to release at least one track a year, although in saying that it all depends on what mood they’re in according to Cal; but even that only adds to the DITZ’s sincerity.
They are also planning on crusading their sound across the sea “with a tour in France and a post-Brexit tour” says Anton, “but we will have to see how that goes down”. “I think we will get more sympathy from the Europeans…” concurs Cal, “because we like them a lot”. No doubt they like them too, because DITZ even in all their proactive ways are jokers at heart that you can’t help but laugh with as they carelessly point at fools that encircle us all
Get involved with ‘Gayboy’ for yourself here:
Word by Aimee Williams-Maynard