Black Diet Has All the Calories Your Soul Needs to Survive

// Interview by Matt Beachey 

Black Diet would fit in at your mom’s high school prom just as well as they do today at the 7th Street Entry. They have a flair for old fashioned motown charm, but they’re certainly not dragging their heels musically. Their self-described “garage incarnation of soul” has the off-the-cuff, unkempt groove of a band like The Strokes, but they manage to bring the soul and sex appeal of Al Green.  

Black Diet will play at the Paper Darts Pop-Up for the launch of Volume 5. You definitely don’t want to miss these guys, so make sure to stick around after you pick up your hand-sewn magazine. We asked them a few questions to get you frothing with anticipation before they take the stage tomorrow.

PAPER DARTS: If you were to draw a map of the entirety of music, where does Black Diet fit on that map? Who are your neighbors, and what distant parts of the map are maybe linked by a secret wormhole to your locale?

BLACK DIET: In the Rust Belt? Black Diet fits somewhere between Otis Redding and The Hypstrz, Al Green and Make Up, Bobby Womack and The Booze. Essentially any combination of a purer brand of soul and a garage incarnation of soul. As far as secret wormholes go, there's definitely some Americana I had in mind when writing most of these songs. Especially if it's really emotional. Like Ryan Adams. I will break down to some Ryan Adams.

PD: What other bands in the Twin Cities do you look up to? Has anyone helped you guys find a footing in the local music scene?

BD: Oh lord have mercy. Yes. Southside Desire has been a tremendous help to us. In fact, the primary reason we're playing your 5th volume release is because some staffers caught the Southside Desire set opening for Lucy Michelle at The Cedar. SSD was kind enough to bring me up on stage to cover one of Black Diet's jams, and the Paper Darts staff in the crowd really dug it. They are the wind beneath our wings, and they are excellent. We're going to be releasing a split 7 inch with them on July 21 via Pinata Records. Please buy it.

The first band that really floored me here was The Hypstrz. I saw them play the Memory Lanes Block Party last year and I remember watching their lead singer and thinking "I want to be that guy. I want to be just like him." I also look up to Sonny Knight, and desperately want him to give me vocal and performance lessons. That man is a threat. In order to keep this list short, I'll end with Brian Engel, the gentleman/DJ who runs Hipshaker over at the Kitty Cat Klub. Not only do I adore his sets, but he is the most welcoming, effervescent person you'll ever meet. He is at least 20 percent of the reason why I love this city.

PD: You guys used to go by the name JT and the Sloppy Seconds. What inspired the name change to Black Diet? Is there a meaning behind that name?

BD: You know what? We changed the name because I really, desperately didn't want to follow this route of bands that start as 60s soul tributes and then morph their sound in an attempt at relevance once the schtick runs thin. The name was part and parcel with that. It was a lot more useful as a marketing tool, and honestly I really miss it, but ultimately I don't think it represents what's going on with us musically.

The name Black Diet has gotten mixed reviews, but I feel a lot better about it because it's a lot more indicative of not only my sense of humor, but also of a lot of the demons I carry around. I'm really afraid of death, and I think about it all the time. Black Diet has a dual meaning. It literally means to starve someone in prison until they die, but for me it was also a critique of behaviors that I think are killing me, and killing a lot of people that I love. It sounds desperate and dark. Which is how I feel a majority of the time.

PD: What part of the world would you most like your band to tour, and who would accompany you?

BD: We really want to play in Italy, but I think we all want to go for different reasons. I sang a lot of opera in high school, and had this teacher named Maestro Milioto, who was brilliant and tough, but who also used to tell these beautiful stories of his career and the moments that defined it, all of which were in Italy. It made me want to sing on corners there so bad. I think the rest of us want to go because we think Italy would be fertile ground for the kind of music we do. They seemingly have a deep appreciation of American soul, and we think they'd really dig it.

PD: If you could collectively be one band for Halloween, what band would you be?

BD: There's a great video on YouTube of Michael Jackson, Prince, and James Brown sharing a stage. It's kind of a mess. But it's amazing to watch. We would be whatever that band would be called.

PD: If each of you could have any superpower, what would you choose? What would your super hero collective be called?

BD: Sean Schultze wants to speak to animals. Mitchell Sigurdson wants to ride Atreyu from The Never Ending Story. Mugsy wants to fly. Jonathan says, "That Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky cartoon from way back when. I want all of those powers. I cheated." David Tullis would stop time. Garrison Dakota Grouse would go the shapeshifting route.

And we want to be called The Rob Thomas Experiment.

Check out two songs from Black Diet's upcoming release with Southside Desire:


Shoulder to Shoulder, We're Packing a Party

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