by Chip Midnight
May 13, 2004
"I really dig Dig"
Once upon a time there was a rock and roll messiah by the name of Kurt Cobain who opened up the eyes of music fans around the globe. And in his wake, the record labels scrambled to sign bands that, at that time, were called "alternative" because they were an alternative to the pop-metal and bad dance music that was being played on radio and MTV. So many bands were signed during the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy that it was tough to keep up. Labels were looking for the next big thing and for the bands that didn't sell 100,000 records right out of the gate, a grim fate awaited. There were those bands that slipped through the cracks, that caught the ears of music listeners and made some sort of impact - regardless of how quickly they were forgotten once the next new thing came along. One of those bands was the Southern California five-piece known as dig.
My introduction to dig took place during the 1993 CMJ Convention in New York City. It was my first time at the convention and I was told that I should try to find some of the parties that offered free food or free beer. When I was handed a flier by some snowboarding company about a 3-D video that they were showing at some hotel, I decided to go check it out, hoping to score some freebies. As I settled into my place on the floor of the room where the video was to be shown, the screen was filled with crazy snowboarders doing all sorts of crazy stunts. dig provided the soundtrack to the video and actually were shown performing at some ski resort as snowboarders flew over their heads. The music was powerful, anchored by a triple guitar threat, something that I don't think I had heard before in rock music. Though I didn't really know what "shoegazing" music was at the time, this is how I envisioned it. The wall of sound the band created was more impressive than the stunts the snowboarders pulled off and after the video was over, I hit a record store (Sounds) in the Village and bought a copy of dig's self-titled debut. Soon thereafter, back in Ohio, I had the opportunity to catch a live dig show and speak with lead singer Scott Hackwith. The band was riding the wave of the hit single "Believe" and just weeks before, when interviewing Adam Sandler, the comedian told me that dig was his favorite new band. Scott told me in our interview how his wife had just given birth to their first child, Copelan Cash Hackwith, and I told him that if he would supply me with a baby photo of Copelan, I would publish it in the 'zine I was writing for. He produced the photo and I followed through on my promise. Years later, when I got back in touch with Scott, he told me that the article with Copelan's photo has been framed and was hanging in the Hackwith household.
dig changed line-ups quite often, changed record companies, and basically was passed over as the tides shifted in rock. "Alternative" music became mainstream and it was time for new genres (ska, punk, grunge) to get a turn in the spotlight. After release their third album, Life Like, in 1999, dig called it a day.
All along, a fan site reported dig news when it was happening. There wasn't a lot of activity, but the site did offer up info as to what previous band members were up to. And then, earlier this year, the site mentioned that dig's original guitar trio - Scott Hackwith, Jon Morris and Johnny Cornwell - were getting back together and writing some new music, all under the dig moniker. For dig fans such as myself, this was huge news.
I emailed Scott recently to get the scoop on the past, present, and future. Here's what he had to say.
Dig’s last CD came out in 1999. What have you been doing since then?
I recorded a few groups like Beachwood Sparks, The Pattern and a few other people you've never heard about. I also have a music house called Slogan. We do music for film and TV. That keeps me real busy.
Did Dig sort of just fizzle out or did you make a conscious decision to put it to rest after Life Like?
Well, I could have milked it for another season but it was too much of a hassle. The label thing sucked and it just wasn't fun anymore.
I know that you’ve been writing and recording songs since Dig’s demise though, to my knowledge, you’ve never released anything. Will any of those recordings ever see the light of day?
Sure. You probably just heard one at the last commercial break.
Have you kept in touch with any of the former members of Dig? You sure went through a lot of members over the course of 3 records.
No. I'm either making music or hanging out with my family. I'm not really that good at keeping in touch. There are a few out of the bunch I would like to hook up with though … and a few I would like to tell to fuck off.
What do you consider to be the definitive Dig lineup? Are there card-carrying members of Dig or were most of the members just fill-ins that helped you get a record done or shows played?
At the time it was real, we didn't fake it. But there was nothing like the first (original) line up.
So, the big news for Dig fans is that you are going to start working on a new Dig record with Jon Morris and Johnny Cornwell. What details can you supply about this reunion? Is it like the Blues Brothers … will you track down old members and put the whole band back together again?
I called the others but they were busy... but we have the three guitars together again.
Have you started writing songs and, if so, which album would you say the new songs would fit best on?
We have actually started with old demos from the beginning, some four-track stuff that was forgot about so I would have to say the first EP.
What do you hope to achieve with the Dig reunion? Do you want to put out another record on a major label? Do you want to get back into a van and tour coast-to-coast?
We're not really making any plans. Right now we just want to make a good record and have some fun. We just feel the need to rock.
While it's not a ton of new info, the band is apparently still working things out, writing new songs, and thinking of putting out a new CD. If/when that CD has a release date - or when you can download some samples - I'll be the first to report it.
Welcome back, welcome back indeed.
posted by chip midnight at 05:03 PM