Interview by Tobias Carroll
Brooklyn’s Diehard are a four-piece band with a deeply-rooted love of 90s college rock. Listening to their songs, one can hear the influence of Archers of Loaf, That Dog, and — I’m perhaps getting more obscure here, but hey — Madder Rose. Via email, I volleyed some questions about books and songwriting to singer/guitarists Ezra Selove and Liz Schroeter Courtney, bassist Evan Flath, and drummer Zeph Courtney. And given that half of the band (full disclosure: friends of mine) are also responsible for the excellent Snap Truck, it seemed foolish to not bring up the subject of food writing as part of the conversation.
You have two vocalists and two lyricists in the band. How do you coordinate who sings what, and how do you find a balance between the two?
Liz: It usually starts with who wrote the lyrics, which 90% of the time is Ezra. But sometimes he writes songs with my vocals in mind, or I’ll take a partially written song and run with it, vocals-wise. On rare occasions, we’ll have a song that could be sung by either one of us, or by Evan (also a great vocalist), at which time we have an American Idol-style sing-off to see who should ultimately be the singer.
You recently used a Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of your first full-length. How was that experience? Is it something you’re planning to revisit in the future?
Liz: It worked out great. While people may be hesitant to spend money on CDs and records these days, they are usually more than happy to support bands they like in some small financial way when they know it really makes a difference. But we were really impressed with the degree to which friends and fans of our music opened up their wallets for us. Not that it didn’t require constant pestering on our part. While I’d like to do it again in the future — it’s a great way to essentially pre-order an album — I feel like you can only Kickstart your creative projects once.
Given that half the band runs a food truck, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about food writing. Are there any books, websites, or writers you’re particularly fond of?
Liz: I read Gael Greene’s Insatiable a couple years ago. It made me drool. Also she’s such a rock star. She slept with Elvis!
Ezra: I really like Slice Harvester, a blog about Pizza in NYC.
Evan: I’m a bigtime Mark Bittman fan because he respects the ingredients, gives the reader a lot of credit and never condescends.
Zeph: Two of my favorite books are Cod and Salt, both by Mark Kurlansky. They’re more based on food than about food. They end up being about the history of civilization, which includes food.
What has the band been reading lately?
Liz: I’m reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins right now, and just picked up Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Though I’m usually more of a fiction reader because I have such a short attention span, and non-fiction lulls me to sleep on the subway.
Evan: I’m currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones, etc) but would like to borrow the Dawkins book when Liz is done. My favorite piece of “literature” is Catch-22.
Ezra: I just finished The Magician King by Lev Grossman and am knee deep in Ultimate Spider-man back issues.
Zeph: I’m currently reading Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot, the scathing tell-all by jilted Kraftwerk “drummer” Wolfgang Flür. I read mostly non-fiction because I’m a Pisces.