Diploid is a band that blends genre seamlessly to the point where it is hard for me to exactly define what it is they are doing between records. Their music is dynamic; switching from screeching black metal to hardcore/power-violence styled songs and even some soundscape, noise driven work. Their music is body music; like the cinema of Cronenberg, it takes over every inch of your flesh – often in a very uncomfortable, disturbingly beautiful way… like a bad trip.
I had the pleasure of seeing them for the first time in Kuala Lumpur at a festival my band was playing at called Chaos In Rumah Api. Ironically, the band is from Melbourne and I am from Sydney, so it was interesting that one of the bands I responded to most at that fest (besides Lubricant from Singapore) was a band from a city 8 hours away from me.
The following is a transcription of an interview I did with singer and guitar player Mariam. Their latest full length Is God Up There? released at the time this interview was conducted is available for listening below.
How were the rest of the shows?
In South East Asia?
Oh it was so awesome. Indonesia was crazy…
What happened in Indonesia?
We got off the plane and got in this van full of dudes. We were in the van driving there and they were already talking about smoking weed and we were like – “Oh yeh haha,” already getting heaps nervous because we didn’t wanna be the next Schapelle Corby – and then we hung out around these houses for a bit, played the show and went to leave and then our driver just disappeared… so then we had to convince this other random guy to drive us for the rest of the tour, and he says, “well, can I bring my friend?” and we were like “that’s fine” and yeh… haha pretty weird start. They wanted to go to the shows anyway, so they were like “we’ll do it,” but yeah, it fucking sucked haha.
Wow. Did you ever find out where the driver went?
Well, he was hanging around the show and stuff. Smoking weed and drinking beer. Then he just left and went home… never came back.
Rumah Api – otherwise did you play at The Wall?
No, I tried to book us a show there but there’d been a fire and the place had burnt down…
Yeh, we got to play there and it was awesome. The guys really helped us all out because we are vegetarian and stuff so that was hard over there. Of course, though… hanging out with punks, everyone is kinda on the same page no matter where you are, everyone was so nice.
Yes, I absolutely had the same experience over there. It was amazing how accommodating everyone is. I loved it.
Everyone was just so nice and helpful.
Where did you grow up?
I actually grew up in this terrible town about an hour out of Melbourne called Pakenham. There’s like nothing to do there. It was shitty and boring.
Was there any music going on out there?
Yeh, there was this shit thing called Freezer that was like a pay to play sort of thing… sell a certain amount of tickets to get on the lineup and stuff. A weird organisation. So many metal core bands too who sucked. Playing the bro breakdowns. One time, one of the bands was like, “All the girls should just get their tits out”… awful.
That kind of feeds into my next question. Although Melbourne is a very progressive city, do you find that the heavy music scene is still very macho-male dominated? And just your experience with it all…
Unfortunately, there’s not been consistent female groups in grindcore, noise or power-violence. They are always short lived and only do a handful of shows. There are not many females consistently in the scene down here, but that isn’t the same all across the country. Like, there are women doing awesome shit, like TJ in Sydney with Canine and One Brick Today. There’s a lot of great girls out there, and more will pop up.
When people write about you guys or I noticed that people often write that you’re a ‘feminist black metal’ band or a ‘feminist power violence’ band – what do you make of these kinds of labels that often get slabbed onto bands for just having female members? Is it fair to call Diploid a feminist band?
I don’t really mind. A lot of our songs are pretty heavily influenced by feminism. I wouldn’t say that we’re an overly political band or that we have our finger on the pulse of everything but… yeh, I don’t really mind. I wouldn’t be ashamed to be labelled that, haha…
Yeh – so how did the band start?
Originally, it was Reece, Scott and two other friends, and it was this punk band called Diploid 49ers, and then they broke that up and needed a guitarist, and I’d been playing the guitar for like 6 years then and was heavily hinting that they should put me in the band – haha, I was also dating Scott at the time – so they were just like, “aw yeah we’ll just get Mariam in the band,” we would always hang out anyway. I always just wanted to be in the band.
Are you and Scott still dating?
Nah, haha, we broke up but it was a super cool thing…
Being in a band with your partner or ex would be so hard, because I find even being in bands with my mates can be a fucking nightmare. I’m not sure if I could do it with someone I’m intimate with.
Totally. It’s hard because everything sort of merges together.
So let’s talk about ‘Is God Up There?’ – what are some bands you were listening to when making the record?
I’m a huge fan of Bongripper, Useless Children and a lot of droney, heavy stuff, so I was listening to that … Scott is always listening to Melt Banana and anything Japanese. Reece was really into a local band Infinite Void and Parents, who are friends of ours from Auckland.
…and the title comes from Joseph Fritzl case?
Yes! Reece and I are obsessed with serial killers and stuff like that. It’s a quote from one of the children when they came out of the dungeon and looked at the sky for the first time. They were raised really Christian, so when the son looked up at the sky he said, “Is God up there?” and we were just like ahh… after all that, you still think there’s a god up there?
Why the song title referencing Aileen Wuornos?
Well, the running theme on the album is sort of hopelessness. She get’s very cocky with her murders and she feels like there’s no other choice. I was fascinated by her. The end of her life, she just descended into madness and completely lost touch with reality. She was pretty off the planet. Pretty trip dippy.
Photo by ZK Photo
There this great moment at the end of Nick Broomfield’s documentary about her where he talks about how it’s the law that you can’t execute anyone who is mentally ill. He frames it so the last interview with her she’s completely lost the plot and it’s so obvious that she’s not all there. Talking about CIA conspiracies and shit… she shouldn’t have been murdered. It’s crazy.
There’s a sensationalism and fascination in our culture with these killers, what does all that mean to you?
For me, it’s purely curiosity. What is the most insane thing someone’s ever done? I’ve just always been interested in wacky shit. Then I started listening to all these podcasts and stuff about this sort of thing and I realised that I wasn’t the only one into it, and that I’m actually quite normal.
Check out Diploid’s latest releases including a split with Blight Worms on their Bandcamp.