Diarrhea Planet: “We All Went Through Our College Drug Phase, and None of us Give a Fuck About That Anymore.”
Brendan Menapace spoke to Jordan Smith, 1/4 of the band’s guitar arsenal and one of three vocalists, about surviving on tour and stepping away for the sake of an interesting album.
So, first of all, congratulations on the new album.
How are you feeling about it now that it’s been out for a bit?
To be honest, I’m really not sure still. We had most of the summer off. Critical stuff doesn’t really mean anything, that’s just people talking about it. That doesn’t mean that the record will do great or bad. And so I feel good that it’s done and I’m excited to make another record to move on from this one, but we haven’t even toured on it yet, so I’m not sure how I feel since I hadn’t gotten a chance to play it live yet.
Well, good thing you’re about to go out on tour again.
Yeah. It’ll be the first support tour for it. And I will say, I definitely prefer playing a lot of the new songs live, because they’re just more interesting to play, more stuff going on. It’s just that we’ve played a lot of the same songs for so long, it’s kind of nice to have stuff that’s different stuff every night. So we’re not just like, “Oh god, we have to play ‘Kids’ again tonight,” you know?
Totally. And for a while, it seemed like you guys kind of never stopped touring.
We were doing, like, 200 dates a year or something, and we’re finally stepping back from that, because, honestly, one of the reasons we haven’t put out more records than we have is that we tour too much. And it just wears you down to your core to where you have to go home and sleep for like a month, and then start writing. You’re just so emotionally drained from tour because you’re just super tired all the time. And we’ve been just going back to do 100-150 for a second, just trying to make more music.
So when you come home and you’re in that state, it’s like really hard to write. You kind of have to get back in the swing of life and experience life again so you have stuff to write about. I hate records that are only about touring. Like, I hate bands that just write songs like, [singing] “Gettin’ in the van! This is where I belong!” I hate that shit. It is so lame and so boring, and no one wants to hear those fucking songs, except maybe the guys crying in the van because they miss their girlfriend. We just try to avoid writing stuff like that, but we’re like, “Where have we gone in the last two years?” We’ve only toured. We need real life experiences to write about. So that’s kind of why we moved back from touring that much. You just can’t keep up with your creative output because it’s like a different type of lifestyle.
So do you think you guys have gotten better at touring from all of this?
Oh yeah, definitely.
What are some things you’ve learned that you absolutely cannot leave home without?
Two things that I never tour without are Ibuprofen and super power vitamins. I take high potency vitamins that are powdered. And I take those every day because it keeps me from getting sick. ‘Cause when you’re tired, it just gives you that little more energy and stuff like that. Ibuprofen for my throat to keep my vocal chord swelling going down, because I yell a lot when I sing and I have to monitor that. And I never get sick when I’m on the vitamins so I just have to stay on them. Because if you get sick on the road, it’s the worst.
Besides that, I always have a jean jacket with me and, generally, I’ll throw in a pair of shorts. But it’s like, you always want to have, like if it’s gonna be cold out, always make sure you have a few things for if it’s warm, but if there’s even a chance that it’s cold I always have a ton of cold weather stuff stashed under the seat because it sucks being super cold on tour.
I actually remember seeing you one time in Philly and you said you had to cut your favorite show pants into shorts.
A lot of the stuff on the road, one of the reasons we’ve gotten better at touring is Jake and Jamin from Jeff the Brotherhood have bought us so many tour hats. And one of the things I do that they taught us is, “OK, you only bring two pairs of pants on the road. You bring one pair of pants that you wear all day out and about, and you bring one pair of pants for when you’re on stage because you sweat so much.” They get gross and pants tear on stage from doing moves. So now my pants’ life cycle is I have a pair of jeans that I wear for a year and then they bump down to the show ones, and they get the shit beat out of them. And then once the knees blow out you cut them into shorts. And then I wear those for the summer shows. It’s like I just keep bumping pants down like day-to-day pants, show pants, shorts.
Now you said you’ve gotten better at the logistics of touring, but do you think you guys have gotten better at being an actual band of people all on the road?
Dude, I always joke with everyone, but I think a lot of people would be super disappointed. We don’t really party, man. None of us are really into it anymore. We all went through our college drug phase, and none of us give a fuck about that anymore. And none of us really care about getting wasted every night either. Most of us are like 28. A lot of our friends still do that, but we tour than most of our friends. And after you do it, we used to just go crazy.
Well you guys are doing some pretty intricate stuff. So being fall-down drunk on stage might not be the best idea.
We decided a long time ago, one of the first things in the band that we made a rule, was when we added four guitars was, “Alright, well, if we’re going to do this it’s got to be focused. No one is allowed to be wasted on stage.” We did it just kind of as a rule and as a courtesy to each other, you know? … It’s just something we do to respect each other, and we want to give our best every time.
So, a lot of bands have some memorable stories about coming through Philadelphia for the first time, whether it was great or terrible. Do you remember the first time you played in the city, and how did it go?
We’ve always had luck in Philadelphia, and partly because we were plugged in with Perry [Shall from Hound]. And so Perry helped us avoid a lot of that. Really the only time I can think of was when we played at a venue called Boot and Saddle…
I was at that show!
OK! So do you remember me calling out that guy for starting a fight? We were playing that show and our friends, this band in Philadelphia called Left and Right, their bass player, his name is Andrew Abbot, he’s not a big dude. He probably weighs like 140-150 pounds, and he’s like 5’9.” He’s skinny. He’s a small dude. And we’re playing this show, and this drunk dude, it’s so weird, he just turned around and grabs Andrew. And this guy was like 6’2,” 6’3,” and he had Andrew by, like 80 pounds, easy. And he just starts clocking Andrew in the head for no reason, like point blank, I can hear the contact of his fist with Andrew’s skull. And we were like, “Fuck you!” It was just some dude that got drunk and went crazy. We were really pissed about it, because he beat the shit out of our friend like that. I was ready to cut that dude’s head off with my guitar. Like, fuck you.
Well, we’re glad it didn’t scare you guys out of Philly.
Other than that, everyone’s been really cool to us. It might be a little different for us, though, cause it’s like seven dudes walking around. And I don’t think anyone’s going to fuck with seven dudes, unless they want to get their asses beat.
So what are you looking forward to with this tour the most, other than playing new songs?
Man, honestly I’m just looking forward to getting out of town for a second. It’s been a long, hard summer. A lot of life changes. For me, it’s kind of a cathartic thing. I just need to get out there and do some work and get back in the swing of things.
What kinds of life changes?
You know, girlfriend breaks up with you. Lose a car. Get a car. All kinds of stuff like that. The first half of our summer, our Sprinter actually got stolen from my apartment. Some dude just broke in the window and hijacked it. And we got it back and got it fixed, but then a week later my girlfriend broke up with me. Like, Jesus Christ, what the fuck is going on? So it’s just a bunch of bad stuff happening in a row. But, that being said, the summer has been swinging back in a big way. It’s kind of weird. So I’m just excited to get out of the city a little, really enjoy touring again and then come back in the fall and feel rejuvenated.
And now you have plenty more life experiences to write about other than getting in the van.
Yeah! It’s been great because I’ve actually started pulling ideas together for that, so I’m excited. I think we’re going to be working quite a bit this winter to get some new stuff recorded, or at least writing stuff so we can get in the studio quickly.