I’ve been thinking for days on how to describe New York quartet The Dig without sounding like a complete fangirl, but the bottom line is this: This band is freaking awesome. Whether it’s a straightforward indie-pop song such as “You’re Already Gone” or a moody alt-rock tune like “She’s Gonna Kill That Boy,” or even a mixture of the two as in “He’s a Woman,” these guys just nail it every time. And when they perform these songs live, it’s even better.
The Dig was ahead of the curve when most musicians pick up that first instrument, during those formable high school years. Bassist Emile Mosseri and guitarist David Baldwin were playing music together since they were 10 years old. Keyboardist Erick Eiser joined the two after meeting them at a summer music program in high school. Although he didn’t join the band until a year ago, drummer Jamie Alegre grew up around music because of his father and uncle.
Years later, with the combination of their musical experience and teaming up with producer Bryce Goggin (The Ramones, Akron/Family), these four guys are getting ready to deliver their full-length debut Electric Toys on June 8.
What got you into music? Was there a certain band or a moment that made you decide “I want to be a musician”?
Jaime: I started at an early age. My dad played drums. Played in a band with my uncle, so I grew up in music at a really early age. I started playing drums, influenced more by rock ‘n’ roll. That’s how I started.
Was your dad a rock ‘n’ roll drummer?
Jamie: Yeah, he played in like a Top 40 band. My uncle also wrote songs as well. They recorded a few records.
Erick: Would you say your biggest influences is Michael Bublé?
Jamie: Celine Dion.
Erick: Oh, ok.
Emile: Two classics. Well, David and I grew up together in New York playing music. We were in a Rage Against the Machine cover band that was an instrumental Rage Against the Machine cover band.
David and Emile: No singer.
David: No Zach de la Rocha.
Emile: No one had the balls to sing, so we just played. We started playing music around the same time.
Erick: Yeah, I’ve known these chumps for about nine years and I met them when I was 16, 17 in Boston. I’ve been playing keyboards since I was a kid. I was like seven or eight, I think. I always wanted to play guitar, but for some reason my parents wouldn’t let me play guitar. They forced me to play piano, so I just turned the speakers really loud and tried to make the piano sound like a guitar.
David: My dad gave me a Jimi Hendrix book and I think that’s what made me want to play the old guitar.
Since the two of you have been playing since you were 10, how would you say your music has progressed since then?
David: I don’t think it has really at all.
Erick: I think it’s gotten worse.
David: If anything, it’s a lot worse.
Emile: We peaked way too early. We were the biggest band in middle school.
David: We have original songs now. That’s one way that it progressed. We play our own music.
Emile: We sing now. Our songs have words and we sing. Before it was just…
David: …jamming around.
Emile: Rage Against the Machine.
David: We were an instrumental Dave Matthews cover band too, which was really awesome. We actually went from Rage Against the Machine immediately to Dave Matthews cover band. Same band. All the same guys. One day we decided that we didn’t like Rage anymore. We liked Dave. We started smoking weed and started wearing hemp necklaces.
Emile: That’s where we went wrong. Hemp necklaces rubbing off on us, our skin, affecting our decision making.
Who did you record with for this new album, Electric Toys? When did you start recording?
Emile: We started recording this summer. We recorded with a guy named Bryce Goggin in Brooklyn. Made a record in Brooklyn and we did about 30 days with him. He was really involved in producing the record and pre-production and all that. He’s a good friend of ours and an amazing guy.
When you mentioned he was involved, how much involvement did he have? Was it helping you write songs or was it shaping your sound?
David: Shaping the sound, definetely.
Erick: Definetely helping us arrange the songs. He made some different arrangements, cut things out.
David: A lot of great ideas for all the songs.
Erick: Came up with a couple of synth things and helping us find certain sounds for different instruments. Coming to rehearsals before we started recording. Coming to shows, taking notes and just try to learn the songs as best as he could so that when we actually went in to record, he’d have a better idea of the music and everything.
So for those who haven’t heard of The Dig, what would you tell someone who’s like…
Emile: Who hasn’t heard of The Dig? Do those people exist?
David: Well by that, you mean everyone?
Emile: Yeah, every single person.
If someone asked you, “Why should I check out your band,” what would you tell them?
David: I’m not so sure they should. No, I’m kidding. Say it’s fun. Our shows are fun to go to. Try to make them fun. There’s a…
Erick: High energy.
David: We play with some energy live that you can dance and sing along. We get the crowd involved in some songs. It’s fun. I think our shows are fun. People say that our live shows have a little more energy, but we’ve also been getting a lot of great feedback about the album as far as like the sounds of it.
Emile: We’re great. We’re just so great. It’s a tough question. You don’t want to toot your own horn, but you have to.
David: Then again you don’t want…
To be a jackass.
Emile: Yeah, well. Can’t help that.
David: It’s too late for that.
What else is in the future for you?
Jamie: Our official release, our album release will be June 8 online. You can get it online.
Emile: I’m sure we’ll be right back out once the record’s out.
David: Hopefully we’ll be back in Austin soon. This place is awesome.
For a photo gallery of Dig live shots, click here.