A LONG TIME AGO (2009) in a galaxy far, far away (Nashville), a star was born. But this was no ordinary star—it was Diarrhea Planet.
This faint blip in space steadily grew brighter as time progressed. After releasing an unremarkable debut, 2011's Loose Jewels, Diarrhea Planet began its triumphant orbit around the rock 'n' roll solar system with the release of 2013's I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams and 2014's Aliens in the Outfield EP.
The band's energized concerts are notoriously rowdy. Despite reports of a few crazy-sounding SXSW shows in Austin earlier this month—where they played upside-down from a venue's rafters and even engaged in an airborne guitar solo battle from the tops of 30-foot-high staging columns—guitarist Evan Bird describes the festival as tamer than previous years. "We had a relatively low-key year, as far as shows that we played," he says. "Everybody stayed relatively sober this year, which was pretty weird." The band's onstage antics, paired with tracks names like "Ghost with a Boner," convey a "party time, excellent" laissez-faire approach to songwriting.
But Diarrhea Planet has steadily grown into itself, emerging as one of modern rock's most inimitable titans. For good reason, too—the band's four guitarists play power riffs that twinkle like rays of sunshine before exploding into blistering, sonic fireballs. Set this molten soundscape to chugging drums and fat, slithering, python-like bass lines, and for a few minutes Diarrhea Planet becomes the center of the universe.
The band's forthcoming full-length, Turn to Gold, is out June 10 on Infinity Cat Recordings, which Bird describes as "a small, independent but formidable and fairly badass label based in Nashville." The new album sounds like the soundtrack from a Guitar Hero meets Donkey Kong hybrid game that characters from Wayne's World would play in Noah's Arcade. Diarrhea Planet seems equally inspired by early '80s hair metal and classic rock—Bird tells me they've been listening to a lot of Steely Dan.
"I think old fans are gonna dig [the new record]," Bird says. "At its core, it's the same band and the same sound, but we've taken more time on this record to really work the arrangements and the songwriting.... All the gratuitous guitar soloing is there, and all the hang time is there, and all the sing-along stuff is there. It's the best of all components, but sonically it's a huge leap forward." He also notes that the album, which was recorded at legendary Nashville studio Sputnik Sound, is the closest their recorded work has come to replicating the incendiary, unhinged sound of their live shows.
On Turn to Gold, the band is adolescent, longing to be taken seriously while still being named Diarrhea Planet. It begins with the anthemic instrumental opener "Hard Style," which sets an expansive tone for the rest of the record. Lyrically, Turn to Gold reveals some signs of evolution on Diarrhea Planet—it finds lead vocalist Jordan Smith singing honestly, without the snark of the band's previous releases. It's not completely devoid of humor; there's still a track titled "Bob Dylan's Grandma." And as long as they're named Diarrhea Planet, people like myself probably won't be able to take songs with titles like "Let It Out" very seriously. But all jokes aside, Turn to Gold really does find the band turning their party-ready music into seriously golden rock 'n' roll.