Atlanta-based DiCaprio are gearing up for the release of their first record I Went To The Mall Yesterday And I Got Sick out in February. Between eloquant wordplay and a raw-sounding music philosophy, DiCaprio have proved a knack for catchy punk tunes. Find out what happened when we caught up with the band after the Third Opinion.
It's only when you listen to I Went To The Mall Yesterday And I Got Sick that it hits you. Choruses are definitely the band's strength; pretty much every song features some sort of rallying cry after each verse. But this is where the magic happens; during these verses, guitarist-vocalist Kyle Swick wavers between full vigor and complete disinterest. He talks as much as he sings, bored and blasé. But this sort of vocal nonchalance is part of DiCaprio's style. In fact, the band rely heavily on it. It's their trademark. Just like London-based rockers YOWL, melody supports amazing vocal lines and makes for a stand out commentary.
Unlike YOWL, DiCaprio are punk. There's no reliance on effects, everything is so simple. But still their sound remains so beautifully odd, angular and inverted. Return To Babylon, for example, sounds like someone is breaking through a window. This is when the band is at its best, balancing their dissonant and crunching world with rigid, brash structures.
The first track which truly stands out from the rest is Dark Water. Vocals are up front, guitar riffs are driving and the upbeat tempo is to die for. The chase is on here, and then suddenly you take note of the lyrics. There's some work that has gone into this...carefully chosen, meaningful and striking words of beauty.
The only remark we could make is this one: the record does have a monotony attached to it. Only a handful of tracks point towards a different style or "mood", meaning a certain lack of contrast between the big songs. However DiCaprio are able to mark changes. Ectoslavia, Dark Water, Small Bog and Hell Face all offer a truly original sound on the album; a sound which can be developed as the band progress with time. Here's what happened when we caught up with DiCaprio members Russell Rockwell, Kale Svvick and John Rae...
How did DiCaprio all start?
Russell Rockwell: John and Kale are roommates, and I met them upon the recommendation of a friend. We were all in a bit of limbo since our previous bands had recently broken up, and we were all looking to move beyond simplistic indie rock and punk, into something darker that reflected our recent personal struggles. The result was Dicaprio, and so far the results have been unintentionally cathartic.
You've all come from different bands, what inspires you when you create music?
Kale Svvick: I pull mostly from personal experiences and observations; when I’m riding my bike, or walking down some hallway, or staring at my computer screen, or when I’m at the bar at one in the morning and The Fall comes on and everything’s a bit blurry and people are talking to me but I don’t understand what they are saying. // RR: Dreams I can’t remember, sunny days, and sad movies with happy endings.
"Record Store Day, and major labels in general, have made it abundantly difficult for smaller independent artists and labels alike to get records done in any sort of timely manner"
What kind of atmosphere did you strive for when making the new record then?
RR: We practice a lot, at least by punk standards. Once a week, maybe more. Before we recorded we were running through each track ad infinitum, I think it made for a very relaxed recording environment, just because we all knew what each of us had to do for the record to turn out well. We record at Studilaroche in Atlanta and the engineer who runs it, Ben Price, usually works with experimental, psychedelic bands; he’s always willing to try weird things without putting any pressure on us. // John Rae: I like a lot of candles and flower petals. Maybe some incense. I want to feel like I’m being seduced by Seal.
So the new LP I Went To The Mall Yesterday And I Got Sick comes out one year after the recording. Why?
KS: It just takes that long, if not longer, for any small label to do a physical record these days. Record Store Day, and major labels in general, have made it abundantly difficult for smaller independent artists and labels alike to get records done in any sort of timely manner. We wish the record was out already, we’re just still waiting on them to be pressed.
"Bad Moon Rising really changed the way I thought about songwriting,
and about punk rock in general"
What's it like at one of your gigs?
RR: Though we occasionally play shows with touring bands who come through Atlanta, most of our shows are with local D.I.Y. bands. There’s a good punk scene in Atlanta right now, so there’s a pretty high chance that if you come to one of our shows you’ll see a better band than us.
Being a punk three-piece, let's play a game of threes. Three things people don't know about DiCaprio?
RR: We play pool more than we practice. // KS: We play Mario Kart more than we practice. // JR: Honestly we only spend about 5% of our time together playing music.
Three records which are underrated masterpieces?
RR: Rapture by Siouxsie and the Banshees. // KS: Denton After Sunset by Teenage Cool Kids. // JR: Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion. It's a pop monolith. Its got these crazy catchy, super dirty bass lines. It's absolutely infectious...way too many people totally dismiss Carly as this one hit wonder, when really she’s just now coming into her own.
"I actually don’t listen to Sonic Youth at all. But everyone talks about them all the time so I guess they must be pretty influential"
Parquet Courts, Sonic Youth and Silver Jews. Which one is the most influencial?
RR: Sonic Youth has been the most influential on me, both as a musician and an individual. I started out listening to their more traditional alternative rock albums like Dirty and Goo¸ but when I heard Evol it blew my mind! It’s such a heavy and intense record, yet still so intimate. // KS: I’ll second my friend Russell up there. Bad Moon Rising really changed the way I thought about songwriting, and about punk rock in general. // JR: I actually don’t listen to Sonic Youth at all. But everyone talks about them all the time so I guess they must be pretty influential.