interview by Chip Midnight. appeared in Swizzlestick webzine circa January 99. but i don't wanna give too much credit to Chip because first of all, he removed this interview from the Swizzlestick archives, then when i asked him if i could get a copy to archive on this site, he said it was deleted from his computer. so i thought it was gone forever. and i was especially bummed because the interview mentioned me/my site (sorry for the ego!), plus there's a lot of interesting stuff i hadn't heard in any other interviews/articles. but thanks to Google having a cached copy on their server, I was able to finally find it... 2 and a half years later! enjoy.
Will persistence pay off for Scott Hackwith and Dig this time around? In 1993,
Dig released its
sonically pleasing first album and received extensive video airplay for the single "Believe." The band
toured with the Flaming Lips, Blind Melon, Goo Goo Dolls, and the Rollins Band among others, and
seemed to be on the rocketship to stardom. Then came the dreaded sophomore slump. Although
1996's Defenders of the Universe was by no stretch of the imagine a bad effort, the varied styles of the CD may have turned off some of the band's fans. Coupled with the uncertainy of their priority at their record company (RadioActive), Dig threw in the towel and took some time off to regroup.
Three years later, Dig has returned, though it's not the Dig you might remember.
guitarist Jon Morris are the only two members left from the band that released the debut CD. Dig will release Life Like on January 12th on RadioUniverse Records. Hackwith recently took some time to catch up on the past with Swizzlestick.
How have you been?
Really good. Really good. A lot of stuff has happened since we talked last
but everything at this point
is going real well and were having a lot of fun.
One of the more noticeable things with Dig is that the band members have changed considerably since the first two records.
Thats bound to happen. It wasnt any freak-out, break-up, kind of thing. It was just people going off. With the first record, I wrote a bunch of songs and put a band around the songs. Thats kind of the way each record has been. So, keeping in the tradition
How did you hook up with the guys that are in Dig now?
Hmm the guitar player we have (Joel Graves), I met in the studio. He was working at the studio that we recorded the record in. Rob Reddick, our bass player, was in 16 Horsepower. He was a friend of a friend. He came down and was perfect for the job, so hes in. The drummer (Gene Trautmann) Ive been with for a while. Its a revolving position.
As I look at it now, where we are at, this is the band. You always want it
that way. You dont want to go changing members. The way I look at, the
next record, this is the band and thats where were
going to take it. If everybody hangs, and everybody is cool, then well all do it together. Weve only
done a handful of shows, but here are people who have been around the band since the beginning
and they are telling me this is the best its ever been. I feel the same. I feel like Ive honed it in and
figured it out. I really do feel good about it this time out.
Was there ever any thought to dropping the Dig name and writing this as a solo record or with a new name?
Yeah, definitely, those thoughts went through my head. When I first started
writing, I was listening to
a lot of Joy Division, Teardrop Explosion, I wanted to make a record like that like old The The. I
started writing with keyboards and drum machines doing some stuff that I thought was a total
departure. I was going to change the name and I was going to go a completely different direction.
Eventually it got back around. I wrote about 15 songs and sent them to the record company and they were like, "What is this?!?" So I kept writing and eventually I started picking up the guitar again and started to pull out of my haze. Through it, step by step, it kind of worked itself out. Jon started
coming over and as we were putting the band together, it became Dig again. Dig is my band and Dig
is what Im about and thats where this record comes in. It is a lot like that first record because that
first record was for the right reasons. It was an innocent, honest record. I think now Im making music for the right reason. Im not going to lose my mind if things dont chart in the Top 10 or something. All the good stuff is good, but Im not going to go crazy over it.
You released a second CD, Defenders of the Universe, in 96 that nobody seemed to hear.
Yeah, well with our label a lot of things happened. Basically, at MCA, they kind of cleaned house from the chairman on down. They fired everybody. Sometimes the bands are the casualties and they get lost in the shuffle. Thats what happened to us.
Its the typical story. We worked on that record for a long time, it came out, and four weeks later they were done promoting it. Its kind of hard for a band like us. You need the label behind you. That kind of took the wind out of my sails for a while. But I started writing again. I locked myself in the garage and just kind of went for it. This record has been very therapeutic and I really feel as though weve come full circle at least I have anyway making music for the right reason. With that whole first record, coming out the way we did, having some success, the second record it seemed like everybody had an opinion and wanted to be involved.
I went crazy and wrote 70-something songs, demoed 70-something songs, and
I turned them all into
the record company like a fool. So everybody had their pick. I think the record got off in a bunch of
different directions. That can be cool, but then again it can kind of lose some focus. I think this
record is a bit more cohesive.
Between the last time we talked and now, the Internet has exploded. I was searching around trying to find what had become of Dig and it seemed like there was very little about the band on the Internet. It seemed like you disappeared.
You tend to do that. Youve got to stay really current. Youve got
to keep putting it out. There is so
much music out there that fills your space.
Were in the process of getting a new site up. There is a Dig fan in
San Diego that has an
unofficial/official website. Thats about it. In fact, we just found that, and were going to start sending
him all of our new pictures and press and tour dates and have that be our site for a while. He doesnt
know this yet. We havent talked to him yet. Hopefully hes not in combat fatigues with an M-16, "I
love that band Dig." Then Universal is setting up the whole Internet thing too. I think its a great way
for people to find out information about bands and thats really cool.
We were just talking about e-mailing people to let them know the new record
is out. The beautiful
thing about it is its free. Ive gotten into it with my music too. Im doing a lot of hard-disc recording.
What used to take me two weeks to do, Im doing in an hour now.
Are you still producing other bands?
I havent. Ive been writing and doing this record and hanging out
with my family and doing
everything else you do in life. I havent had the time. Its something I want to do, but I just dont
have the time to do it. I am working on a soundtrack to a movie, something Ive always wanted to
do. Come March, I think, Im going to start on the whole thing. Ive been writing for a while for it.
Thats something Id love to get into. Im trying to set up my studio so I can do everything at home.
Im really excited about that.
You said youve been writing the stuff for the new album for a while. How old is some of the stuff on Life Like?
Almost all of it is new. The song "Life Like" was from the first batch of songs from the first record. Its a song thats been around and Ive always wanted to do and finally I was able to put it on a record where it kind of made sense now, so there it is.
There was a lot of material written for the second record. And this record, I wrote a lot, but it was very therapeutic because after the whole fiasco with the second record, I hit my bottom and it took the wind out of me. To start writing again, and to do it over again, a lot of the questions started popping up, like "Why?" I got a lot of stuff out through the songs, I know it sounds very cliché, but I really did. I think the last song I wrote was "Live in Sound," that was the epitome of the record.
My purpose in life is to write songs, thats what I do. Whether they
sell millions, thats one thing, but
if it doesnt sell millions it doesnt mean its a bad song or a bad record. My peers like it and
hopefully it will catch on.
What are the plans now? Are you going to start touring?
Were planning on doing it up as much as we can. You put it out and you
kind of have to go where it
takes you. We can sit and plan on touring for the next year, but we need the help and support of the
label and we need a lot of luck and we need people to like this record. Weve never really
concentrated on the West Coast, which is the obvious for us since we live there. Were going to really start going up and down the coast because that is easy for us.
Were doing a record release party at the Viper Room in Los Angeles. Then were planning our West Coast run, I dont know how with or what it will entail yet. Were definitely going to come back to the East Coast when the record comes out. Then were just looking for tours. Last week we got the list of everybody that is going out so were just talking to people to see what is up. Its kind of weird to start touring in January because the whole winter thing is going on. Definitely the summer, well be out everywhere.
One last question, does your son like his dads band?
Hell yes. In fact, I did a little gig at his pre-school. I didnt play
any Dig songs, of course. Talk about
a tough crowd. I thought the Ramones crowd was bad. Four-year-olds are tough. If you ask him, hell tell you that his favorite bands are Pulp and the Verve. The Verve being number one. Hes out of the Barney phase, and hes totally into the Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Bravo, which Im right there with him, on the Cartoon Network.