Die! Die! Die!
Die! Die! Die! (sometimes styled Die!Die!Die!) is a three-piece New Zealand noise pop/punk/post-punk band. Formed in late 2003, they have released six albums, all backed with extensive international touring. A number of different bassists (Lachlan Anderson is currently in his second stint with the band) have played alongside permanent members Andrew Wilson (guitar, vocals) and Michael Prain (drums).
Die! Die! Die!
|Genres||Punk rock, post-punk revival, noise pop|
Etch N Sketch
Flying Nun Records
|Past members||Michael Logie|
The Drummer Smells Nice, Carriage H, and Rawer (1999-2004)Edit
While at Logan Park High School in Dunedin, Andrew Wilson and Michael Prain were three-time Pepsismokefree Rockquest entrants - in 1999 with The Drummer Smells Nice, then twice with Carriage H. They won the national competition in 2001. With Wilson playing bass, Prain on drums and guitarist/vocalist Tim "Tiddy" Smith, Carriage H released one EP, Power of Grey Skull in 2002 and disbanded shortly afterwards.
Along with bassist Ricky French, Wilson (who began playing guitar for the first time) and Prain then formed a short-lived Wellington-based group called Rawer. Henry Oliver (who would later become Die! Die! Die!'s second bassist) saw Rawer perform and recalled their sound as "a sea of pedals and effects". In 2003 Wilson and Prain moved again, to Auckland, and formed Die! Die! Die! together with bassist Kane Goulter.
Writing in 2018, Oliver recalled being in the crowd at a Die! Die! Die! gig in the summer of 2003-4. "It was meant to be their last show", and after the apparent disbanding of Die! Die! Die!, Wilson, Prain and Oliver (who had been a member of So To Speak) started a new band. Initially Wilson and Oliver both played guitar, but the latter ended up as bassist.
"We immediately started practising four or five times a week and soon decided to continue the name Die! Die! Die!. I always liked the name, people already knew the band, and they had recently received NZ on Air funding for a single which was still to be released, so, why start at the bottom of the hill again?" - Henry Oliver, 2018
First tours and the Die! Die! Die! EP and album (2004- early 2006)Edit
Within weeks of this new incarnation of Die! Die! Die! forming, the band began touring. At first they performed four dates around the North Island, then a national tour followed before they travelled to Australia. "We existed in a constant state of momentum" and within two years had also taken in the UK, Europe, and the USA.
Recorded releases quickly followed, starting with their first EP, Die! Die! Die! in 2005. A debut, self-titled album was recorded the same year, during the band's first trip to the USA, at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Steve Albini, whom the band met through fellow Dunedinites HDU, producing. Wilson later recalled that "we did the first album in two days". It was released in New Zealand in January 2006. An international release followed soon after (including North America on SAF Records).
Locust Weeks (2006)Edit
In 2006 a second EP, Locust Weeks, followed. It was co-produced by Kevin McMahon at Marcata Studios in upstate New York. All four tracks of Locust Weeks were added into the British release of the album Die! Die! Die!, on Pet Piranha Records.
Die! Die! Die! returned to the United States for a tour that included the 2006 edition of Austin, Texas' South By Southwest festival, where they played "the last slot of the night on the closing night of the festival". "The Austin Chronicle warned that you would lose all indie street cred if you missed them play, and influential UK industry mag MusicWeek ended up picking them as one of their ten highlights of SXSW."
Soon after South By Southwest, and fuelled at least in part by connections made at that festival, the band toured with Wolfmother and played in the UK, mainland Europe, and Japan. Henry Oliver, writing in 2016, said, "At the time, Die! Die! Die! existed on a kind of low-budget neverending tour. We’d leave New Zealand for as long as possible, play as many shows we could get in a row and then decamp somewhere until we booked another bunch of shows." He left the band during a month-long break from touring in 2006, and was replaced by Australian Lachlan Anderson.
Part Time Punks and Promises, Promises (2007-2008)Edit
On April 8, 2007, Die! Die! Die! played a show at the Echo in Los Angeles. The resulting six-track live recording, Part Time Punks, included two songs from the Die! Die! Die! album and one from Locust Weeks. Closing track "Blue Skies" (which dates back to Henry Oliver's time with the band) hadn't been released before, but a studio version would appear as the final track of Promises, Promises later in the year.
Promises, Promises was the band's second full-length album. It was recorded in New York and produced by Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) in sessions that Andrew Wilson later described as "ten days in a barn". New Zealand saw an October 2007 release date, followed by releases around the world (February 2008 in the US). The album saw the band move away from the more hardcore tendencies of their first record towards a more bass- and drum-heavy sound - partly due to the influence of new bassist Lachlan Anderson, but also because a broken hand limited Wilson's guitar-playing.
In a four-star NME review, Camilla Pia says that Promises Promises "is all squeals and yelps, tornado riffs and frantic battered drums – and if that’s not enough for you, it’s emotional, danceable and catchy to boot." The Guardian, calling Die! Die! Die! "a peculiarly lip-smacking band" also gave four stars.
After touring for almost three years worldwide, the band began working on a third album in Dunedin. After writing and rehearsing, mainly at Chicks Hotel in Port Chalmers, they recorded Form over nine days in Auckland with producer Nick Roughan (Skeptics) in August 2009. It was their first album recorded in New Zealand. In April 2010 Wilson said that Form was "finished...in November", although it wasn't released for another half a year.
Even while Form was in production and work had begun on its successor, Die! Die! Die! kept touring. What seemed to the band like a reduced schedule for 2009-10 was summarised as:
"We haven’t done much touring this year. Last year we only did about three tours or so. We did one two-month European tour and one month in Europe. We did a couple of New Zealand tours and I think we only went to Australia twice last year. I think we only played Brisbane once and that was with Wolfmother." - Andrew Wilson, April 2010
Form - called a "dense sounding album" by Wilson - was released on Flying Nun Records in July 2010 and debuted at number 1 on the independent charts and number 19 on the National Album charts. It was released during a 13-date tour of New Zealand, then shows in Australia, UK, Europe, and USA followed.
The New Zealand Herald gave Form a 5/5 rating and called it "certainly their best lot of songs to date". Under The Radar judged it "one of the most exciting albums of the year." In 2011 Form received New Zealand Music Award nominations for Best Alternative Album and Best Producer, and a Taite Music Prize nomination.
By the time these nominations were received, work had begun on Die! Die! Die!'s next album. Before their next release the band would abandon these early songs and sessions, record something almost entirely different, disband, lose another bassist, and find a new manager.
In May 2011, Die! Die! Die! recorded their fourth album (Harmony) at Black Box - a studio on a French farm - with producer Chris Townsend. These weren't the first sessions for the album - in April 2010 Wilson had said "we’ve pretty much got a whole good chunk of almost another album done" - but in this new setting, and with Townsend a new contributor, "they threw out most of what they'd planned to record and came up with a whole lot of new material."
However spontaneous recording was, Harmony wouldn't be released for almost two years, during which the band's touring took them to China for the first time. It was after this "amazing...but really gruelling" trip that Lachlan Anderson left the band.
"Having been touring almost non-stop for six years when they returned to NZ in June , despite having an album's worth of songs under their belt, they thought Die!Die!Die! was finished. Anderson wanted to move to Melbourne, and Prain and Wilson were sick of each other too." - New Zealand Herald, 12 July 2012
As well as being under personal pressure ("We were so close, and it gets to the point where you just need a break. And we all wanted new things from our lives,") the band were unhappy with their Flying Nun contract. With no bassist and Harmony still not released, Prain and Wilson spent most of a year apart. Wilson stepped away from full-time musicianship, taking a job to pay debt, and Die! Die! Die! considered themselves finished. They cancelled shows in 2011, including what would have their first appearance in Russia.
“The band was sick of each other and ended. I finished Harmony on my own and there was no DDD for nine months. I didn’t know if I could be bothered releasing an album with no band. Then Manu Taylor put the pieces back together.” - Andrew Wilson, AudioCulture interview
Wilson, working without a band, took a different approach to Harmony than Die! Die! Die!'s previous albums.
"Harmony, that was when the band wasn’t really around. I was just working on my own with different people. I recorded the vocals with Shayne Carter in Dunedin and then re-recorded the vocals in Tasmania and then Chris Townsend, who mastered this album, he really encouraged…not my indulgence, but encouraged what I was doing on guitar in particular. And I think that worked really well." - Andrew Wilson, 2018
When the album finally came out over the period from August 2012 (New Zealand) to March 2013 (UK) it was on the band's own label, Records Etcetera.Rolling Stone and the New Zealand Herald both gave Harmony four stars.
When Die! Die! Die! reformed, Michael Logie (formerly of The Mint Chicks) became the new bassist. The band played their fourth South By Southwest festival in 2013, as part of what Wilson described to national broadcaster Radio New Zealand as "a pretty filthy tour, pretty full on" with pre-festival shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Antonio.
S W I M (2014-2015)Edit
S W I M (short for "Someone Who Isn't Me") was released in August 2014.. Recording of the album was split across Auckland and London, and it was mixed in Tasmania. Like Harmony, it was produced by Chris Townsend. A heavy touring schedule followed, including three trips to Europe in a year.
In 2015 the band broke up for about six months:
"We had been doing this for quite a long time, and you get in a holding pattern. Sometimes the music is not really enough, and you are too close to it to realise that you are not really enjoying it at all. It is also the nature when you are doing it more as a business than as enjoyment." - Andrew Wilson, Die! Die! Die!
What Did You Expect and Charm. Offensive. (2016-present)Edit
"And through it all, the constant is Andrew and Mikey, two high school friends that have been making music together for nearly 20 years – an amazing feat for any act, let alone a band that has thrived on instability, uncertainty and unpredictability." - Henry Oliver, former bassist (2004-06), 2018.
Bassist Mike Logie had reunited with former Mint Chicks bandmate Kody Nielson in new band Opossum, so when Wilson and Prain decided to start playing together again they recruited Rory Attwell into the reformed Die! Die! Die!. Attwell was one half of the team behind Lightship95, a recording studio on a boat moored in the Thames, where in 2015 the band recorded five tracks in a single day (with Attwell producing). They were released as an EP, What Did You Expect.
Die! Die! Die! and Attwell's history dated back to 2009, when Attwell's band KASMs were a UK support act. Their previous recording sessions included Form demos as well as work on Harmony and parts of S W I M. He remained UK-based, unlike the other two members, so there were only short windows of time during which all three members could get together to record.
"It’s changed with Rory, because we never planned to do another record. [...] We had a bit of a break, got offered a couple of shows, did those, and then Rory’s always been a recording engineer and producer so that was a really good asset for us to be able to set up anywhere and do anything. We just started getting a few songs together each time we played." - Mikie Prain, 2018
In the latter half of 2016, at sessions that were originally intended as rehearsals for upcoming shows, the trio recorded the bulk of their sixth album, Charm. Offensive., at Lightship95 with Attwell both playing bass and producing. They finished the year with shows in China (including the Concrete and Grass festival), Europe, and the UK before returning to New Zealand for a 10-date summer tour. Another week's recording took place in Dunedin, and the final vocal and guitar parts were recorded at SpaceMonster in Whanganui the morning before a show in Wellington.
Charm. Offensive. missed a May release date 2017, and was preceded by single "How Soon Is Too Soon (It's Not Vintage, It's Used)" in July. In September Die! Die! Die! played the China Hardcore Music Festival in Wuhan, then the album came out in October. A tour of New Zealand followed.
Reflecting on the album's lyrics, Wilson said, "I have struggled a lot with my mental health over the years so I would be lying if I said that didn’t play a huge part in the making of this record. This album really was a mix of some of the best times of my life and some of the worst." In terms of musical style, Martin Pepperell wrote for Noisey (Vice) that the eclectic album is "a stylistic conversation between post-punk, noise pop, shoegaze, lo-fi, experimental electronica and punk rock".
Critical reception of Charm. Offensive.Edit
In a four-star review for the New Zealand Herald, George Fenwick called Charm. Offensive. "a return to form" and "perhaps their most seamless and confident record to date." He noted that "there's a dynamic rhythm in the song structures and their order that gives the album an engaging depth."
Anderson returns and touring continuesEdit
2018 began with the return of Lachlan Anderson (bassist on Promises, Promises, Form, and Harmony) for four January shows in New Zealand, including Auckland's Laneways Festival, then five shows in Australia in early February.
- Andrew Wilson (guitar, vocals)
- Michael Prain (drums)
- Lachlan Anderson (bass)
- Kane Goulter
- Henry Oliver (2003-06, including the Die! Die! Die! EP and album)
- Lachlan Anderson (Promises, Promises; Form; Harmony)
- Mike Logie (S W I M)
- Rory Attwell (What Did You Expect; Charm. Offensive)
Die! Die! Die! have toured with Franz Ferdinand, Slint, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Wolfmother and The Blood Brothers, and have played several major festivals around the world including spots at SXSW, Incubate, China Hardcore Music Festival, and Concrete and Grass.
|Date of Release||Title||Label||Country||Cat. Number|
|2006||Die! Die! Die!||Capital Recordings, Pet Piranha Records, SAF Records||New Zealand, Australia, UK, United States||CREC1034|
|2008||Promises, Promises||Tardus Music, SAF Records||New Zealand, United States||SAF20|
|2010||Form||Flying Nun Records, Golden Antenna Records||New Zealand, Australia, Europe||FNCD504|
|2012||Harmony||Records Etcetera, Golden Antenna Records, Smalltown America||New Zealand, Europe, UK||REC012|
|2014||S W I M||Black Night Crash Records, Sounds Of Subterrania||New Zealand, Australia, Europe|
|2005||Die! Die! Die!||Unstable Ape Records||New Zealand, Australia||UAR 041|
|2006||Locust Weeks||Tardus Music||New Zealand, Australia||TAR 010|
|2007||7" Split with High Dependency Unit||Independent Release||New Zealand||HDUDDD|
|2007||Part Time Punks: At the Echo - April 8th, 2007||Kufala Recordings||United States||KUF0187|
|2015||What Did You Expect||Bad Health||New Zealand, Australia, Europe|
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