James Velvet Under Brown. Soul singer enthusiasm with punk rock recklessness. Anti-folk. Proto-punk. Pavement cover band. These are all the descriptions I found of Brooklyn’s The Due Diligence, which will be playing Friday night at Work | Release.
When I first started listening to their most recent album, Are You Down, I just thought, “ok, another retro-garage band to throw into the mix.” But as I kept listening, all these other elements kept creeping in. Psychedelic, R&B, a dash of 90’s alternative pop (if their older stuff is reminiscent of Pavement, the newer more polished tracks remind of Weezer). I began to have much more appreciation of the sound. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but there’s something else going behind the music.
Plus, it’s catchy as hell.
Bands like The Due Diligence will really come to define this era, a time when bands are becoming indefinable, and genre blending is it’s own genre —- a path which was laid down by music’s greatest gift, David Bowie, R.I.P.
But more importantly, the spirit of the 60’s– a time when authority was questioned and mores were challenged–has not only come back with a fervor, its influence has become present in most realms of music. The youth then were too young to fully understand what they were getting into, but now it’s 2016, and we’ve had some time to reflect. Behold, a brave new world.
But still, it’s about the music. And Friday’s gearing up to be a great show, especially with Norfolk’s own Ladada opening the set, another fantastic garage rock outfit that is poised to do great things. The front-man of the Due Diligence, Issac Gillespie, was kind enough to share with me via email some more insight into these themes.
AltDaily: The word psychedelic translates as “soul revealing,” and I would say that there are definitely psychedelic elements to your music. You’ve also been described as a soulful singer. If you vibe with all that, could you tell me what that means to you?
Isaac Gillespie: Temple Grandin says that frustration is the animal feeling of being held down by a predator. To me, psychedelic music is like the opposite of that feeling. It’s a transcendent feeling of pure possibility.
I spent my first four years in New York living with this psychologist who was in her seventies. She is a very cool, very wise woman who had been a part of Martin Luther King marches in the sixties and stuff. She told me, “Most of what I do as a therapist is let people see that they’re not stuck. People walk around with all these reasons why they can’t do the things they’re feeling and so I talk to them about it. Hopefully they see there’s no brick walls, there’s no chain on their ankle.”
I grew up with the music of the sixties and the funny thing is is that when you listen to the ORIGINAL psychedelic music, there’s not really any unifying sound. It’s Jimi Hendrix’s fuzzed out swagger, it’s the Byrds’ jangly twelve string, it’s the overdriven thump of the Velvet Underground, it’s the lilting bounce of the Grateful Dead. So “Psych” is not actually useful as a way of categorizing music – really what all those bands have in common is the FEELING of being FREE. Of realizing, oh wait we’re not stuck at all.
And it’s the same with Soul (which doesn’t actually SOUND that different from sixties rock, by the way). You’re looking for that feeling of unfettered possibility.
What was your favorite moment from this current tour, any tour?
I’ve been advised not to tell that story until 2019, per the State of Georgia’s statute of limitations on criminal trespassing.
I’ve read online about how you interact with the crowd (challenging people to dance offs, etc….). Was this something you’ve always imagined as a part of your act, or something that evolved with your sound?
Well I first want to clarify that our show is not exclusive or confrontational. Mostly. I mean, I’ll exclude you if you’re being an asshole, ha ha ha.
Really what it’s all about is this sense that people just want to have fun, you know? Sometimes, though, they might feel like they need permission. So that’s what I’ll do, I’ll get off the stage and approach people and look them in the eye and dance with them. But it’s more like, “Hello! I see you! Look, we are in this room together and alive.” People forget that. They forget that they’re alive. Especially in New York. But once you remind them, they’re mostly pretty happy about it.
Could you tell me the story behind the video for “Party Crasher”?
We shot that video at my two favorite venues in New York. The tattoo story was shot in the recording studio at Silent Barn, which is where we also made the record. I brought in all these mirrors to dress is up like a spooky DIY tattoo parlor and during the setup, Julian Fader (who along with Carlos Hernandez runs the space and made our record) tripped on a mirror and cut himself real bad. At first he tried to shake it off but it quickly became clear he needed to go to the hospital.
The thing was that we were shooting in the middle of the Bushwick Open Studios festival so people kept coming in to check out the space. They’d walk in and then spot this literal puddle of blood on the floor and just recoil. We had fake blood on the set for the tattoo scenes and kept trying to be like “No, it’s fake blood!” but you could tell they weren’t buying it.
The performance stuff was shot at a great newer club called Palisades, which is a wonderful place.
What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
I’m told that ponchos are on their way back in.
Last thing you listened to?
Recently I’ve been obsessed with Frank Sinatra, that great feral priest of 20th century masculinity. They’ve been doing all this stuff for his 100th birthday and somebody on the radio played the final song from his final concert, it’s incredible. You can hear it on YouTube, it’s 1995 and his voice is shot but he still has that PRESENCE, you know?
And what does he choose as the last thing he’ll ever sing? “The Best Is Yet To Come,” it’s this saunteringly ballsy “fuck you” to death. He knows it’s his last curtain call and he uses it to say “I’m not beat!” It’s astounding – a fade into eternity, like the end of some Fellini movie. He literally goes out barking like a dog.
For more info on the event, click here.