Zachary Cole Smith, formerly the drummer for Beach Fossils and now the guitarist and vocalist behind DIIV, went from being down-and-out as a painting-crew foreman in Western Mass. to recording for Captured Tracks and modeling for Yves Saint Laurent. “[I was] power washing houses, cleaning my boss’s gutters, it was kind of bleak and depressing,” Smith says of his former life in Northampton. “I would wake up, drink a beer, go paint a house, and would live off, like, sunflower seeds.” Expelled from the notoriously experimental Hampshire College after a semester, Smith stayed in Northampton, occasionally sneaking into campus libraries because he looked college-age, “I really loved the town — it’s like this urban enclave.” Now touring with DIIV in support of its second album, “Is the Is Are,” we asked Smith to give us five insights into the new LP.
It was inspired by the art The title comes from a poem that was written by this French dude Fredrick Deming. We had a bunch of lettering and conceptual art for the album. I worked with three artists, two in Tokyo and one in Paris.
It’s a double album “It’s pretty diverse, a pretty big double album — I really wanted to deliver something strong.”
It came out of one of the most crazy roller coaster periods of his life “Up and down, happy sad, good bad, and I think it kind of shows it. The last album was real deliberate; a bunch of those songs I wrote in a very short period of time. . . . The first album was just one trip through the whole thing. It’s an album you can listen to in one piece.”
The new record is more diverse “Subject-matter-wise, it’s more dark and honest, a little more inspired. I really like the first record, but I think this one is something way different. We are the same people in general; we are just a couple years older and have lived through more crazy [expletive]. It’s a product of a different period of my life; it’s a different kind of vibe, different statement.”
Influences “My experience playing with Beach Fossils, making music. I got to just watch somebody do it, like, ‘alright, I’m doing this, I’m starting this band.’ It kind of proves to me that anyone can just sit down and start a band. I’m really into this record by this band BEAK>, it’s Geoff Barrow from Portishead, and I just discovered it last night. And Jesus & Mary Chain, since I saw them last week and it was mind blowing — they are like my favorite band anyway.”
DIIV plays with No Joy and Sunflower Beam at the Sinclair, Cambridge, on Saturday. Tickets: $18.