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Brooklyn band DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith thrives after rehab

Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV.

Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV. Photo Credit: Zachary Chick

After the release of its 2012 debut, “Oshin,” indie-rock band DIIV (pronounced “dive”) was pegged by many to be Brooklyn’s next breakout act. All of that changed the following year when singer and bandleader Zachary Cole Smith was arrested upstate for heroin possession.

After spending time in rehab, Cole and DIIV have returned with “Is the Is Are,” a double album that keeps the band’s signature mixture of shoegaze, grunge and dream pop, while documenting Smith’s troubles and his recovery.

amNewYork spoke with Smith as the band prepared for a three-night stand at Market Hotel, where several of its members first met.

 

How did what you went through in 2013-14 influence this album?

The songs are basically just directly talking about everything I went through. Every song is like an attempt to explain myself, explain where I was coming from, explain what happened, explain how I wound up there. I was trying to be as honest and open as possible, for better or worse.

 

Where did the title come from?

I wanted something that felt like I was being misunderstood because I’ve felt so misunderstood throughout the history of the band. People always have weird stuff to say about me and that’s not really who I am at all.

 

Was it hard to bare yourself in these songs?

It’s not the easiest thing to go up there and start singing about drugs and rehab every night but it is kind of cathartic. It has been really nice for me to have this light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what this record was for me. I knew when it was done, it would pull me out of whatever I was in and change my life for the better.

 

Did you believe that drugs and creativity went hand in hand?

It’s the oldest cliché in the book that drugs inspire great art. I can really say that’s not true at all. Maybe the aftermath from all that stuff can help inspire you because it’s such an intense experience and any intense experience gives you material to write about. The record is meant to be a cautionary tale and tell people “don’t do what I did because it’s not going to help you.”

If you go

DIIV is at Market Hotel Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., 1140 Myrtle Ave., Bushwick, markethotel.org, $17.

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