Positive jams

By CHRIS CONTI  |  September 18, 2013

I caught up with John via an email Q&A just prior to deadline.

Are you living back in RI again? Is there a DT lair somewhere on Smith Hill (or under the E & O Tap) yet? I recently relocated from Nashville to New York. Ian and Dennis live in Rhode Island, Rob is in Nashville, and Chris lives in Philly. We tour so often that we really don’t rehearse much, so it’s not much of a logistical problem. My family sold their house on Smith Hill, so now when I’m in town my lair is in western Cranston.

With the personal trials you were going through around the time of the album, did you find it more or less difficult to pen words and melodies?Did the writing provide an escape valve of sorts for you? It was pretty easy writing the album. I kind of felt like each song was just flowing through me. It was a long process, but it wasn’t difficult. It was great because it felt kind of therapeutic.

Were there any major differences the band had to get accustomed to with working with Steve Berlin in Portland, OR as opposed to doingDivine Providence at Machines with Magnets? Steve definitely wanted to craft the songs in a way that we weren’t used to. Luckily we were all open to his ideas and very receptive, otherwise it would have been a nightmare! He trimmed the fat on a bunch of the stuff and was very hook-oriented. He must have done a good job because I get the melodies stuck in my head. When we recorded at Machines we entered the studio a little unprepared. I love Divine Providence, but as soon as we hit the studio for Negativity, the whole thing was basically ready to go. I’d like to work with Steve again, and I’d also like to work with (MWM’s) Adam Landry and Justin Collins again as well.

Are there any leftover tracks from the sessions that may turn up as B-sides? We do have some B-sides. We did a session with Steve in February 2012 that yielded a few songs that will work well as B-sides for Negativity.

Anything in particular you were listening to while recording the album? I was listening to mostly NRBQ and the latest Local H record. And I know that I wanted to make a record like Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True, which we didn’t do anything like that, but that album was on my mind a lot.

Any plans to continue Dudesmash as a yearly event? Hell yeah. Year two was great!

What’s next for you and the band? Is there an official release date for the next Diamond Rugs album yet? Will we hear more from Middle Brother? We’re just looking at touring for a good, long while. Beats me when Diamond Rugs 2 will come out. It’s still not mixed. That one could take a bit. No plans with Middle Brother as of right now. A lot of people ask me about that, though.

How do you guys come up with the setlists on a nightly basis? We used to play songs on the fly until we hired a sound engineer. It makes their job a hell of a lot easier when you have a plan. We do setlists about an hour before we go on stage, but we don’t always stick to them 100 percent. If we do then something must be wrong, like a vibe thing.

When was last time you listened to a DT album from front to back? If so, which one? Negativity. I had to approve the mastering job. I don’t think it’ll be the last time I listen to it front to back. I’m proud of it. I like showing it off.

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