Most bands never get the chance to meet their musical heroes. The dudes of Diarrhea Planet get to hang out with theirs on a near-daily basis.
“Right when I started school in Nashville, I went out to a club and watched Jeff the Brotherhood play. It blew my mind,” guitarist Emmett Miller said. “I wanted to play in a band like that … and now we get to play on the same stage as them. They’ve really taken us under their wing.”
The six-piece got signed to the Brotherhood’s label and toured with the brotherly duo this fall. With that connection, Diarrhea Planet has carved out a niche for itself in the Nashville rock community.
And that’s been to everyone’s surprise, especially since the band members attended the city’s Belmont University.
“It has a reputation as a commercial music school with a heavy Christian background. There’s a lot of praise music and John Mayer wannabes. You can imagine how difficult getting over that stigma is,” Miller said. “Being a punk band, you weren’t really accepted by the school, and coming from Belmont, the punk scene wasn’t interested in us. We didn’t belong anywhere.”
To remedy the problem, they sought to coin the most disgusting band name they could think of as an act of rebellion. Diarrhea Planet won. The noise-rock act shifted into a pop-punk collective and, ultimately, into the wholly unique group it is today.
“I like to think of us as the reverse of Third Eye Blind,” Miller said. “When you listen to their debut album, it’s very much a pop record, but the closer you listen, the more hard-rock and punk influences. We’re a power-rock band, as we jokingly call it, but the more you listen, the more pop influences you hear.”
Boasting four guitarists, the half-dozen members churn out two-minute tracks that peel out like a dirt bike before crashing into a blast of fireworks, Van Halen riffs, adrenaline needles and cold pizza. The band’s live show — where Roman candles are a staple — plays out accordingly.
“When I was a kid, seeing Jimi Hendrix playing a guitar with his teeth … you see something like that and want to go further,” Miller said. “We want to be as over-the-top as possible.”
They did just that on their anarchic debut, 2011’s Loose Jewels, but things are less explosive on Diarrhea Planet’s next movement, already in the can and due by summer. Sharing a producer with The Walkmen and Swans, the sophomore effort will showcase a grown-up band, but not one with clinched cheeks.
“We took a step back. It’s prettier,” Miller said. “It’s still got the power, and there are bangers, for sure — something for everybody.”