Maybe it was the cupcake on the CD cover. Or maybe it was my need for new tunes on an upcoming road trip and the fact I can’t connect an iPod to my car stereo.
A plethora of CDs arrive in padded envelopes at the Weekly offices from artists we’ve never heard of, some we never get around to listening to or end up using as colorful coasters (sorry). But this one was different.
Really, I think it was the cupcake on the cover of Electric Toys that struck my fancy (big fan of all things cupcake-y here). So, I popped the CD into my stereo on a drive to Cali last month.
I listened to it three times on the way there.
A few more times on the drive back.
For the first time in a while, I found a solid rock band I could get behind, er, cheer in front of. And one the hipsters hadn’t claimed as their own, or something the radio has made me hate out of sheer repetition.
While The Dig was driving through the mountains of Colorado where AT&T proves yet again they do not have most of America covered, I caught up with singer/bassist Emile Mosseri while he was traveling with guitarist/vocalist David Baldwin, keyboard/guitarist Erick Eiser and drummer Jamie Alegre. Their July 18 gig at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay (doors open at 5 p.m.) marks their first Vegas show and the last on their current tour opening for Thrice, Kevin Devine and Bad Veins.
You guys are credited as being from New York and playing together since elementary school, but you’ve got a member from Canada and met someone in Boston. What’s the whole story in your own words?
Emile Mosseri: Dave Baldwin and myself grew up in Chappaqua, New York. We met when we were 10 years old, and we were playing in bands. Then we picked up Erick. We met him at a Guitar Center; he was playing keyboards. We met him in Boston when we were about 15. He’s from California—
Erick Eiser (in the background): I picked you guys up.
Mosseri: He’s saying he picked us up. And then Jaime is from Canada. When we moved to New York we started playing with him about a year and a half ago as The Dig.
Where do you guys call home now?
New York. The band formed in New York. We’re a New York band.
Queens and Manhattan.
Since most people in Vegas probably haven’t heard of you, if you had to describe the band in five words, what would those be?
Five words? Let me consult with the band...
(In the background someone asks, “Does it have to be five?”)
Ok, how about seven?
They said, “catfish, blast, rock and roll.”
I hear someone yelling “dick” in the background…
Sorry about the “scrappy dick” in the background.
On a different note, how about a quick story behind a few of the tracks on the album.
“Carry Me Home” was written about a dream I had about midgets carrying me to water and sacrificing me.
Ah, not really. No. It’s just a song we wrote about a guy who’s getting carried on the beach.
So no midgets.
Yeah, just really short people. No midgets. (laughing) Really short dudes.
Then there’s “Two Sisters in Love.”
That one I’m definitely wondering about.
(Someone talking in the background) Uh, it’s about nuns exploring each other’s bodies...
Sure, why not?
Well, how about “Sick Sad Morning”? That’s probably one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Ok, “Sick Sad Morning” is a pretty straightforward song about a guy who’s fucked-up over a girl and a straightforward love song. He’s just tired and strung out and maybe hungover thinking about his girl.
I’m always really interested in album art. What’s with the cupcake?
My girlfriend’s an artist and she would draw all our T-shirts and posters and stuff. She drew an image of a girl trapped inside a cupcake and we were considering using that for the cover, and then we thought it would be cool to experiment with photographing the same image. We went to one of these strange, old hobby shops that sell entire miniature cities, like, for those people that are obsessed with recreating little cities. And we bought these miniature businessmen and just fooled around with them and ended up with the cover we have now.
Since you guys aren’t super well known — yet — there’s the quintessential band-name origin question, plus, has there been any confusion with the ‘90s alt-rock band Dig?
Every once in a while at some events [people mention it], but it’s not that often. I think they had one record. I remember the album cover; it was some kind of mutated face on old rotted fruit. Luckily we have the “The” to separate us from them.
We were living in Boston, and we were surrounded by the word a lot. There’s a weekly newspaper called Dig, there was a movie called Dig, there was The Big Dig. Somebody suggested we call the band The Big Dig and we didn’t want it to be too close to the construction project in Boston, but we just liked the way it sounded.
What was it like collaborating with producer Bryce Goggin, who’s also worked with Pavement and The Ramones?
It was a real privilege and treat working with him. He’s an incredible guy with an incredible ear, and we’ve known him for years. When we first moved to New York, he produced the short EP we put out. This is our first full-length that he’s been involved with. He was much more involved the second time around with releasing our debut record. He came to all our shows and came to our rehearsals, and there was a lot of pre-production leading up to the initial tracking we did. So he was great. He’s done a lot of work that we love, and we respect his input a lot. It was like having a fifth band member for a while.
Anything music fans should know about the show at House of Blues?
This tour’s been a lot of fun. It’s a very diverse bill. Musically we’re very different sounding than Thrice and the other bands, too. So I think it’s definitely worth coming out. It’s also the last night of two months on the road with the same four bands, so it’s a celebration.