Q&A: Paul Moeller of Digby

LEO: So, I have to ask this: Does the band ever feel like it’s misunderstood by the public? This new EP seems like a completely different group, or at the very least, a completely different aesthetic, than what’s on Falling Up.
Paul Moeller:
I don’t think the band ever feels it’s misunderstood. We tend to not worry about those sort of things even if it were true. It’s usually a waste of time and energy to fret about whether or not somebody “gets
It.” The reason this new EP feels different is because we’re different. We went through a pretty dramatic change, both in our personal lives as well as our approach to writing and recording music. During the recording of Falling Up, we were all very excited and anxious about getting it perfect, which is precisely why Falling Up sounds so clean. This time around, we were so sick of feeling frustrated about everything in our lives that there just wasn’t any room for it in the studio. We wanted the recording to be a reflection of what we were living. Dirty, flawed, real. We knew that what we were going in to the studio to record was right for us, and honestly that was the only thing that mattered.

LEO: The press kit mentioned personal strife in your lives before (or during?) the making of the EP. Could you talk about that?
Essentially, it was a complete wash of chaos and distress. The tour had it’s up’s and downs. Mostly downs. All of us felt as though we weren’t getting anywhere at all. About halfway through, a couple of the guys said “enough,” and I couldn’t disagree with their reasoning. We couldn’t pay our bills, and it felt as though we were spending time away from our families for absolutely nothing. I was having my own marriage issues, and honestly, I didn’t want to create any undue stress in someone else’s. And after one of our friends died suddenly in an auto accident, it was like “Hey, wake up.” It was tough. After a while, all organization collapsed.  Luckily, my divorce was not complicated. I walked away from it all and let her have almost everything. Not because she asked me to, it just worked better for me to have a light load. In fact, the only thing we actually split in two was the debt. But seriously, it was the emotional burden of splitting from someone that I had been with for nearly 15 years that sent me reeling. It hurt. It still hurts. Thankfully, I’m recovering nicely. I fell in love again, and I healed some of those old wounds.

LEO: Did those experiences have an effect on the songwriting process?
Absolutely. I was going through some serious depression when I wrote a lot of the songs. You don’t necessarily get that when you listen to the first EP. It’s more apparent whenever you listen to the entire trilogy. The first EP is mostly anger mixed with resignation. When we sat down together to write the additional material, we went into it asking ourselves, “What and how will we write our last songs together as a band,” because we really thought, “This is it.”

LEO: What do you try to accomplish with lyrics?
In the song “Self Evaluation,” it’s literally a document of Digby. We were sitting there at Ben’s house actually saying to ourselves, “I can’t believe we’re doing this again.” But at the same time, because we allowed ourselves to express that, we ended up having a blast writing it. We kept remembering all the things that pissed us off back then, and we were able to laugh at it. But most of the songs are expressions of many different things that found a home in what was our collective depression.  For instance, “New America” has the obvious reference to the current state of our Union, but it was also a reference to the feelings we were having about ourselves, our record label, the general hysteria of life in that time period. And so they generally tend to come off more abstract than a story told through song.

LEO: How come the recordings are broken up into 3 EPs?
There are a few reasons. One being that we felt it had more impact on radio for them to hear our name associated with something new three times a year as opposed to just once. But the support for that reason is just that CD sales are way down. People don’t buy music from a store like they used to. We found we had more impact approaching this from the point that these were all individual tracks that were going to be downloaded from the web. And by embracing the web as the primary point of sale we cut down duplication costs. It’s a lot of accounting mumbo jumbo. Eventually, a miracle happens and we all end up millionaires. 😉

LEO: Ten (?) years in, what has changed about the way the band thinks and writes? What hasn’t?
Digby is almost eight years old. And our process is always different with each new project, of which we have several on going. In fact, we strive for trying to write using tools that are new to us. It keeps it interesting. And the fact that we still can after our individual crises just makes it all the more rewarding. I’d say the only thing that hasn’t changed is that we’re all still great friends, and we still rely on each other to tell us when we’re writing crap …

Digby’s new EP, What’s Not Plastic?, is available now from Label X/Toucan Cover Entertainment. The band plays a free in-store at ear X-tacy (1534 Bardstown Road, 452-1799) on Friday at 6 p.m., and later that night at Fourth Street Live’s “Homegrown” music series with The Photographic and The Invaders.