Solo saviors from the world of shred, Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet are a group of best friends who live for good times, good people, good pizza, and tons of guitars. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jordan Smith; guitarists Brent Toler, Emmet Miller, and Evan Bird; bassist Mike Boyle; and drummer Casey Weissbuch play loud, fast punk overloaded with fret tapping and pop hooks in tight, rambunctious bursts that rarely exceed 1:45. On their debut album Loose Jewels (Infinity Cat), Diarrhea Planet take everything from metal, punk, garage, grindcore, and even Top 40 to create an infectiously joyous celebration of all things rock. Although Boyle and Bird couldn’t make it on the current tour due to school and their professors “not cutting [them] any slack,” friend John Still filled in on bass while Toler, Miller, and Smith put their skills on overtime. Don’t let the silly name fool you; Diarrhea Planet are dead fucking serious about fun, friends, headbanging, and everything else that makes you happy. And if you don’t like the name, you probably won’t understand the Planet anyways. Just remember: Shred till you’re dead or go to hell.
I’m going to get the shittiest and most mandatory question out of the way first.
Weissbuch: It’s about the name.
Yeah, it’s about the name. But I’m not interested in if you’re afraid of scaring people off. I just want to know how you guys decided on it and how it came to be.
Smith: Diarrhea Planet was originally a two-piece noise band. It was me and my old roommate [Evan P. Donahue] who’s not in the band anymore. Then we asked Casey to join. But we went to [Belmont University] in Nashville; it’s a music business industry school and music school and it gets a bad rep in town, so we don’t really get to play a lot of cool shows. I was also into punk music and Belmont’s really based in commercial music, so we didn’t fit in there either. So we just decided to make a band that we thought would annoy the crap out of every single person in Nashville and we tried to think of the most annoying name that we thought was hilarious.
How’d you bring everyone else together and where’d the change in direction from noise music come from?
Smith: Evan [P. Donahue] and I had to stay at school for one of our breaks and everyone was gone. We decided that we wanted to play a show and we had all these records of just feedback and yelling and annoying stuff, but we decided to actually write real songs. Then we asked Casey [to join] because he had filled in for my drummer in my old band in college. We started off as a three piece, just two guitars and drums when we played our first show. “Ghost With A Boner” was the first DP song. Then Brent and our actual bassist, Mike, we asked them to join next because we were friends with them, we just needed to just take it up a notch, and they’re a package deal. Casey and I were playing with Emmett and our other guitarist, Evan, in another band called Big Surr, and they just started learning the songs and started writing parts of them for fun. The first show they played with us, they weren’t even plugged into any amps. They were just shredding, just standing onstage with us, dancing and stuff. They joined and it’s been the lineup since then.
Miller: The tapping part in “Ice Age,” Evan came up with that. The first show we played with [Diarrhea Planet] for real, he was like, 'Yeah we totally have to come up with just some ridiculous tapping things. They’re going to hate it and they’re never going to have us play with them again.”
I hear lots of punk, garage rock, metal, and definite pop hooks in your music. What influences your songwriting?
Smith: To be honest, the songwriting is really heavily based on bands like Daughters, Bucket Full of Teeth, Latterman and a lot of grindcore and screamo bands. Those bands, the way that they write where it’s not verse-chorus-verse-chorus, but it’s one part after another part after another part, is the same way I write because I listened to that growing up. I really like Against Me! too. I figured out how to sing by listening to Tom Gabel.
But your jams are so loaded with pop hooks.
Toler: We just love pop music, Top 40.
Smith: We listen to Sugar Ray everyday at least once, all the songs where it’s that acoustic stuff.
There’s also a pop-punk feel to your music, but that doesn’t seem to be on your mind when you’re writing this stuff.
Smith: Well, it’s funny but there’s something about punk that just cracks me up. It’s so serious and there’s nothing like 4 guitars playing power chords.
Weissbuch: Yeah, and if the fun does exist, then it’s tongue-in-cheek fun, but not in a good way. It’s like over the top, makes me cringe fun.
Smith: [After ALOHA!] it just turned into making goals like, 'Oh, I really love this song “Dancing With Myself” and I want to write something that makes me feel the same way that song does.” Everything is based on 'Oh, I really like how this song makes me feel, I want to write a song like this,' and it just so happens that it just falls into place that way.
So it’s more of bringing separate grindcore and pop interests together.
Smith: Yeah, plus everybody’s a sucker for an amazing hook. That’s part of all of the bands from Nashville.
You’re good friends with JEFF The Brotherhood. How’d you get so involved with Infinity Cat and the rest of the Nashville scene?
Smith: We played in the same scene and we went to all the shows for Infinity Cat. I ended up interning for them for two different semesters in college and I became friends with Jake [Orrall] when I was there. They started coming to our shows and really liked it and their dad came and saw us too and loved it. We were already on Evil Weevil then but they were like, 'Hey, we really like this, we want to put out records with you guys. If you’re down then we’d love to do this.' By that time we were pretty good friends with them and we were like, 'Yeah this sounds great.' We really believe in that label.
Miller: My dad gave me the Be Your Own Pet self-titled when I was like in 8th grade, so it’s just really mindblowing to be able to work with Jake and Jamin [Orrall] now. It’s really surreal.
ALOHA! got a bunch of downloads; how’d you get all that attention?
Toler: Casey spammed [ALOHA!] everywhere.
Weissbuch: Yeah, [on Brooklyn Vegan] there was like some [post on] The National, the band, who I do love. I was like, 'Oh, it’ll be funny, I’ll just put the link on here and say some bullshit about us opening for The National in New York and it’s going to be really good, like I hope you bought tickets because it’s probably going to sell out.' Then all these people started getting really mad about us even posting on there and it just turned into a bunch of our friends from Nashville backing us up. About two hundred comments later, I tried to post something and since then I haven’t been able to post on Brooklyn Vegan. Sorry, Brooklyn Vegan.
You guys work at a pizza shop, right?
Weissbuch: Yeah, 5 of us work at Papa John’s.
No way, what’s your favorite pizza at Papa John’s?
Smith: Dude, the double layer PREMIUM pepperoni, when we had that.
Weissbuch: Yeah, WHICH THEY GOT RID OF. PAPA JOHN’S, BRING IT BACK.
Smith: Dude, I’ve been doing Dragon Peppers. The best thing at Papa John’s isn’t on the menu. It’s a Dragon Pepper: you take a pepperoncini, you cut the top off and fill it full of crushed red pepper and jalapenos, and you stick in it in the oven for a little bit.
That sounds like something you’d punk your friends with.
Smith: It’s the best. I’ll literally cook like 6 of them at a time and I’ll eat all of them in a row, it’s so good.
I know some of you guys are into skating too. Does anyone in Diarrhea Planet push mongo?
Smith: I did! I don’t skate anymore but I used to push mongo sometimes when I skated.
Weissbuch: You ever heard of rollerblades? We do those. We do those a lot.
Any last words from the Planet to the people?
Smith: Yeah, people need to look up Skimask.
Weissbuch: Skimask and Hooking Up. Two best bands going on right now.
All photos by Natalia Moena