Diarrhea Planet hail from Nashville, Tenn. The six-piece band plays high-octane rock’n’roll music best suited for going 100 MPH in your dad’s vintage Dodge Dart and slam dunking basketballs like Prince. Guitarists Evan Bird and Emmett Miller interrupted my nightly Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon to discuss life’s harder questions before their Illinois dates in Champaign (Friday) and Chicago (Sunday) this weekend.
Ghost Track: Let’s get right down to it. Would you ever go completely bald?
Evan Bird: Generally, definitely. I’ve got to ride this next album cycle out halfway pretending that I care how I look then I’ll do another full-ass haircut.
Ghost Track: What kind of pancakes do you prefer?
EB: Buttermilk. I’m a purist. Little bit of butter. Lot of syrup. No whip cream.
Ghost Track: Billy Corgan: with hair or bald?
Emmett Miller: I’ve never seen a picture of Billy Corgan.
EB: I’m going to say bald because I feel that makes him look more like Mr. Freeze and I feel like, for their aesthetic, that works better. Him looking like some crazy villain is better than him looking like some kind of nerd guy.
EM: I’ve never seen a picture of Mr. Freeze.
Ghost Track: Chicago guitarist face-off: Tom Morello or Billy Corgan?
EM: Definitely Tom Morello.
Ghost Track: What are the sociopolitical implications of a name like “Diarrhea Planet”?
EM: Stay in school. Stay focused. Live every day like it’s Shark Week. Get dressed every day like you’re going to get killed in those clothes.
EB: I think when the band started it was obviously just a joke.
Ghost Track: Was it Bush Era?
EB: You wish.
EM: Ian Bush era?
EB: I feel like people heard the name and they immediately jumped to conclusions like that. It was like, “Oh yeah, they’re making some comment about the Earth.” We’ve gotten that occasionally. I can’t tell which is funnier: On the one hand being like “No, it doesn’t mean anything,” but on the other hand, it’s almost funnier to lead some of these ex-philosophy majors down some terrible rabbit hole.
EM: It’s always fun letting people project what they will onto our band name.
EB: I don’t really think any of us really think about it anymore, but sometimes people get really opinionated. It’s flattering because they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about something that now I consider to be my career, which is weird enough to say, but on the other hand it’s just easy for me to sit there and smirk with Emmett and get stuck in a feedback loop.
EM: It’s fun hearing all the origin stories that we’ve made up come back to us, like that we lost a bet to Wavves.
EB: We’ve all said so many different things at this point that it’s funny to see which ones get back to you.
EM: Yeah, but they’ll never know that the real reason we called it Diarrhea Planet is that it’s a perfect anagram for airplane hatred. They’ll never know that.
Ghost Track: What is the worst planet in the solar system?
EB: I can’t decide if I wanna say Neptune or if I want to say Mercury because as far as instant death it’s Mars, duh, we get it NASA, Red Planet dude, but I feel like Mercury is just too hot. If all my conditions were perfect as far as me staying alive I’d probably still be too hot on Mercury. Or maybe too cold on Neptune.
EM: Mercury has always really rubbed me the wrong way.
EB: Well, you have to think about how long is a year on these planets because it’s got to be like 100 days or something crazy on Mercury, but Neptune’s probably like a decade. That’d be a lot to think about.
EM: Never been to Neptune in my life.
Ghost Track: Burger King or McDonald’s?
EB: Depends on what I want to get. I’m looking for a burger I’d probably go to Burger King, but everything else I don’t even consider it.
EM: Never been to Burger King in my life.
Ghost Track: OK, now for my more Chicago based stuff: Disturbed or Chevelle?
EM: What is Chevelle? Did you say Chappelle?
Ghost Track: That’s actually another question I had: favorite Chappelle Show sketch?
EM: Does Michel Gondry’s “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” count? I’ve got to go with that. That movie made me cry.
EB: Favorite Dave Chappelle sketch for me is probably the one where he’s P. Diddy and he’s trying to make the band because the part where he says “Go down to Queens and get me a sugar cookie.” That was it.
Ghost Track: Best comic doing it right now?
EM: Hannibal Buress.
Ghost Track: Britney or Christina?
EM: [groans musefully]
EB: Overall, I’d go Christina, but for music specifically I’d say Britney.
Ghost Track: You guys reading any books right now?
EM: Yeah, I’m reading Pale Fire by Nabokov. I’ve only read the foreword so far, but there’s a lot of layers going on. Seems like it’s about layers of perception of the work or something like that getting juggled across those layers. That’s all I’ve taken from it so far.
Ghost Track: Did you get through the foreword?
EM: Yeah that’s just after reading the foreword.
Ghost Track: Have you ever read a book?
EB: No I’ve got nothing. I don’t read too good.
EM: Just finished The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by one Haruki Murakami. It was far out, dude.
Ghost Track: Favorite trick to do on a skateboard?
EB: We always used to throw our board into primo so they wouldn’t fly anywhere because it was never flat and I always tried to do the Rodney Mullen Casper to 360 into, like, the boards upside down and then I spin around and then flip it and it doesn’t do a full rotation and just kind of flips onto its side and I’d be in switch and then I’d have to [makes scratching sound of fresh wheels against the unforgiving pavement] into regular. For a while that was kind of my signature thing with me and my friends. I never really cared about any other tricks. I never really cared about skate parks. I just cared about going really fast. I was really good on the streets. There could be any kind of hazard and I’d be fine. All my friends would be sitting there doing kickflips and I’d be eating a Fruit Roll-Up or something.
EM: I always thought it’d be a cool gimmick as a skateboarder to only be able to hardflip. No other tricks. Just hardflips.
EB: Like if somebody really presses me, I’ll try an Ollie, but I’m not going to land it.
EM: Immaculate hardflips, like off of stairs. Like, you can do anything as long as you do a hardflip.
EB: Out of a plane. You just jump.
EM: And do the world’s slowest hardflip. That’s my dream: Go Pro with only hardflips.
Ghost Track: What was the longest manual you ever did without cheat codes on Tony Hawk Pro Skater?
EM: Owner’s manual.
EB: I never attempt it without cheat codes. I think every time I play that game I’ve got pretty much every cheat on. I don’t like playing any video game or game or doing anything unless I’m cheating as much as much as I can. Not to win, just to enhance the game for everyone.
Ghost Track: I was just talking about how the first time I heard Primus was on Tony Hawk Pro Skater. What’s the best song you were introduced to by Tony Hawk?
EM: “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. It’s in the second one.
EB: The one that stuck with me the most was probably a Bad Religion song, I can’t remember which one, but remember being like, “Damn, that’s pretty cool,” and then my buddy’s older brother gave me the No Control album and that is probably 60 percent of the reason I wanted to pursue playing rock’n’roll. Not necessarily to achieve anything, but just because it sounded cool. Still to this day I listen to it all the way through every couple months just to reset.
EM: I’ll never forget the first time I landed a hardflip on Tony Hawk Pro Skater. I’ll never forget because Everclear’s “Wonderful” was the soundtrack. It’s on the second one.
Ghost Track: Have you guys ever played in Champaign before?
EM: Is that where Blank Range went to school?
EB: I feel like we’ve been there, but I don’t think so.
Ghost Track: Favorite place to eat in Chicago when you’re in town?
EB: I really dig, of all the deep dish places I’ve been, and I always say “Illuminati’s” but I know it’s Lou Malnati’s.
EM: I like to go to Jewel-Osco and get really thick wheat bread.
Ghost Track: Favorite venue to play in Chicago?
EM: Lincoln Hall.
EB: Lincoln Hall is a close second to Schuba’s for me. Shouts out to Doug at Lincoln Hall.
EM: Sup, Doug.
Ghost Track: Are dinosaurs real?
EB: I mean, yes. Real as in they breath? No.
EM: I’ve seen Jurassic World. I know they’re real.
EB: Yeah, dinosaurs are real. I’m pretty good buddies with Chris Pratt. I mean we’re, like, pretty famous, so we’re friends with that guy, and that was all on location with real dinosaurs.
Ghost Track: Do you like Neapolitan ice cream?
EB: I like vanilla and strawberry, but I don’t like chocolate ice cream very much. I usually just zero in on the vanilla and strawberry, so in that regard, yes, I like Neapolitan ice cream.
EM: I like Neapolitan ice cream. I like that it looks like a stoplight. I also like getting the peppers in the three pack. I like to go to Jewel-Osco to get some ice cream, a three pack of peppers, and some really thick wheat bread. Also, I’ve never jumped and I’ve only had grapes twice. I’ve never told a joke in my life.
Ghost Track: Favorite horror movie and why?
EM: Airplane. I didn’t know how they were gonna land that plane and it was freaking me out.
EB: I think Alien is probably my favorite horror movie with, parenthetically, Psycho is the first movie I saw where I wasn’t scared, but I was so on edge the whole time. I think that scares me more.
EM: I’ve never actually finished a movie.
EB: Never seen a movie in my life.
Ghost Track: If you were a fictional character, who would you be?
EB: Jake Barnes from The Sun Also Rises or Statler, of Statler and Waldorf, from The Muppets. Whichever is the shorter of the two old guys, that’s me. Who would I want to be? Leonardo DiCaprio version of Howard Hughes, which I guess is a real character, but a fictionalized version of a real guy. That’d be dope. Jack Reacher.
EM: Wedge Antilles.
Ghost Track: I don’t know what that means.
EM: Leader of Rogue Squadron?
Ghost Track: Any last words?
EM: Mike and Big Time are the strongest man in the world. Brent was never a baby and his parents have never seen him naked.
EB: Anything I said goes double for Tuff Gus.
Diarrhea Planet plays The HighDive in Champaign tonight (7/10) with Single Player and the second day of West Fest in Chicago on Sunday (7/12).