Ahh New Orleans. Home to a rich cultural history and a coveted haven for cuisine, celebration, ghost tours, and of course, music.
One such act belonging to the vast music scene in The Big Easy is blues rock n’ roll soul band Diets.
This sprawling band of seven, led by frontman Dustin Dietsche, just released their badass cover of the Shel Silverstein classic, “I Got Stoned and I Missed It.” Accompanying the jangly “Rainy Day Women”-esque single is a music video loaded with classic movie and television clips of various tokers and smokers chiefing away on the beloved herb- but you’ll have to wait to see that when it drops August 7th.
“We really wanted to recreate the song through our own lens. The first time I heard the song, I remember thinking it needed a bit of a New Orleans makeover. The sound we captured is very true to the lifeblood of the band,” says Dietsche.
With artist influences like Muddy Waters, Gary Clark Jr., Black Keys, and band interests like pizza and beer, you know you’re in for a good time with this bunch. Diets vast collection of musicians also belong to various other New Orleans-based groups that include Chicken & Waffles (jazz trio), Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters (alternative country/rock), and Jank Setup (R&B).
We had the chance to shoot some questions their way, and they were kind enough to shoot some answers right back…
So I was hoping you could talk about the inception of Diets and how y’all came together?
Dustin: Diets has been through a few transitions over the past two years when we started out. It started as a four piece guitar-heavy blues/rock project under my moniker Dusty Diets. We released the album Macaroni & Squeeze under the Dusty Diets name. Soon after that release, we started adding horns to our live shows for a bigger live sound- we did these shows under the name Dusty Diets & the Double Down. Then when it came to writing and recording with a new ensemble, the group took its final form. This new, electric soul/rock sound came front and I wanted to change the name yet again to reflect the whole group’s involvement in the sound. I think it kind of started as this idea of “Dustin’s Band” but the potential of this project exceeds that idea and the band has grown to invoke the collaborative efforts of everyone involved. So now we’re Diets (pronounced ‘DEETS’).
And I usually don’t like to ask where a band name comes from, but sometimes I just have to. How did y’all land on Diets?
Stephen (bass): It’s shorthand for Dustin’s last name, right? This kinda just happened and I didn’t ask too many questions… It used to be Dusty Diets and the Double Down. Then I think it might have just been Dusty Diets. And now Diets. Maybe next year we’ll be a German art-rock band named Die.
Dustin: Confirmed. We will indeed become a German art-rock band named Die by this time next year…
Of course New Orleans is a historic music hub, but what’s the music scene like these days? Still bustling and diverse? (pandemic aside)
Stephen: Pandemic aside, there’s some cool stuff. The thing I like most is that the old guard is still out and about. Like on a Monday you could go see George Porter Jr. for $10. He’s a freaking legend! Or like James Singleton or like John Boutte will just walk by my random monday 4pm gig. And there used to always be music at almost anytime. It’s 7pm on a Tuesday as I write this and under normal circumstances I could go downtown and with minimal effort find some good music.
Nick (horns): The music scene out here is incredibly diverse and present, it’s one of if not the single largest cultural entity of New Orleans. Bars and clubs host live music 7 nights a week, where you can see everything from Second Line parades with brass bands to Pop/Top 40/Rock covers on Bourbon Street to Funk, Jazz, and RnB on Frenchmen St. to Alternative, Metal, and anything else imaginable on St. Claude Ave. If you’ve got an idea for music to perform, there’s somewhere in New Orleans you can make it happen. The recording industry is not as large as other musical cities like Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York, our focus is on live performance.
You’ve got your single “I Got Stoned and I Missed It” that just dropped mere hours ago. What made you choose this Shel Silverstein number to record and release as your own?
Nick: Apart from being a great recording and a hilarious song that many of us can relate to (cough cough Leagalize It), Dustin and the band thought we could put an original spin on the song given our influences from New Orleans Traditional Jazz and beyond. It’s also great to find long lost gems like this to re-record and introduce people to something they may have not heard before, I think Dustin bringing it up was the first time any of us had heard it and we immediately fell in love with the track.
Who else might be some prime influences on y’all these days?
Nick: We’ve covered and studied sounds from lots of classic Rhythm and Blues bands like Paul Butterfield and the Blues Brothers, Funk and Soul from groups like Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield. As a horn player I’m constantly trying to listen to classic horn sections like from Earth Wind and Fire, Parliament Funkadelic, as well as newer groups like Lettuce and Snarky Puppy.
Stephen: In this style, Alabama shakes. I also always go back to motown and James Jamerson bass lines which I feel like that bass player is kinda going for a bit; that fat bass throwback vibe. But then we did a song that was similar to You Are The Best Thing by Ray Lemontagne. We did that Ariana grande cover and I was thinking, “what would Thundercat play on this?” And earlier on, we had a tune called Miss Temptation that totally made me want to channel Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny kravitz.
Dustin: In the confines of this band, I look to other bands with a big sound. Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Charles Mingus, The Budos Band, The Mars Volta, St. Paul & The Broken Bones- hearing large groups like these fully utilize every member’s talents to create this larger-than-life sound has always been something I’ve dreamed to recreate. I strive to make the Diets sound as full as these groups and constantly seek out groups with a similar aesthetic.
Aside from Diets obviously, who are maybe some other New Orleans homies or lower key artists folks should know about?
Nick: We all play with lots of other local artists like Ann Elise Hastings & Her Revolving Cast of Characters, Jank Setup, Duane Bartels, Kuwaisiana, Supercharmer, and Chicken and Waffles.
Dustin: Aside from all the groups we’re involved with, I’ve really been digging Tattered Rabbit. They’ve got an interesting psych-rock sound and put on a killer live show.
Stephen: Fantasy Non Fiction. Everyone in that band is a wonderful musician and I love Rose’s voice and songwriting. Super fun and thoughtfully done music. They are the homies for sure. Also Psydonia is one of my favs. They are stoner sludge metal and they crush so hard. They have so much finesse but they don’t sacrifice being heavy because of that at all.
Do y’all write your own material as well? And if so, how does the songwriting process work within the band?
Dustin: We do write our own material also! We have two original singles out already and we’re currently sitting on an album of originals right now. Usually I have a basic blueprint for a song and see how the band can contribute. My favorite part of the process is bringing songs to the practice room and watching them grow. I am super lucky to have fallen into a patch of musicians that care about the sound and try to enhance these tunes with ideas of their own. It’s because of this I try not to have a full idea of the song until we hit the studio.
Nick: We’ve got a fair amount of originals, with most of the work done by Dustin. For some of our recent music Dustin and I have worked together on getting the songs and horn lines figured out, but Dustin usually comes up with the idea and brings it in for the rest of the band to fill in their respective parts.
Stephen: Dustin brings in the tunes. They tend to be mostly fleshed out in terms of structure when I get to them. And usually I get some direction of a vibe and make it work. But I generally have a lot of leeway.
Do you have an EP or LP in the works?
Dustin: Yes- we are in the final stages of production for a full length album. At the moment, we have a couple singles ready for release as we wrap up the rest of the album.
What might you hope the latter half of the year will have in store for Diets?
Nick: Firstly we’re hoping we can all stay afloat amidst this pandemic. For a lot of the band a large portion of our income came from performing music and that has grinded to a halt for the past few months. It is giving us time, though, to focus on our recorded music and get it ready for release. It seems the internet is going to become the means by which many musicians continue to engage with fans so trying to adapt to that will be interesting.
Dustin: We’re really fortunate to have recorded a lot of music before shit hit the fan. We now have the opportunity to give full attention to finishing and releasing this album. For the rest of the year, you can expect the release of two more singles and a full album from Diets.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you could burn one down with any living idol of yours, who might it be?
Nick: I can’t imagine the kind of stories Willie Nelson has got. From the amount of time he’s been alive to all of the different people he’s met and musical movements he’s lived through.
Stephen: Willie Nelson. Stardust is one of my favorite albums. Also so I could brag to my mom (she’s loved him since she was a kid). But also Stevie Wonder. It seems like he’s hilarious and just a light of a person and how can you deny a career and music that prolific? Like how many artists are around that you can fairly confidently say that everybody likes at least one of his songs?
Dustin: Dave Chappelle.