“Long sleeves and black jeans definitely wasn’t a good idea today,” sighs Ditz drummer Jack Looker as he pulls out a seat and joins us at our long table. He’s not wrong. Just outside the window, Brighton is roasting in 32-degree heat. To make matters worse, it’s also graduation day, so as we peer out of the Hope & Ruin’s massive front windows, we’re occasionally treated to the sight of a student, wilting in their robes, passing by like characters from Hogwarts who have inexplicably been pitched onto the set of Miami Vice.
Inside our air-conditioned pub, the five members of Ditz are busily devouring plates of vegan poppers and chatting about their new single ‘Seeking Arrangement’, which has just been released online. Evidently happy about the write-up, the band are now speculating on the reaction in their hometown. “They’ve said that we’re part of Brighton’s hardcore scene,” says lead singer Cal with a shrug of resignation. “That means people are probably going to be pissed off again.”
They might have a point. Ditz are definitely not your usual, run-of-the-mill hardcore kids. Sat together like this, with their contrasting styles and mannerism, they feel more like the cast of The Breakfast Club than a noise band. Meeting via gigs in the city and working behind various bars, the band are a curious hodgepodge of different tastes and characters. When he’s not playing drums, Looker, for example, is a driver/roadie and has just come back from a long tour with HMLTD. With a broad grin, he’s ever ready to jump in with a story or some gossip from the studio. In contrast, Anton, the band’s guitarist, is quieter and seems slightly more reserved than the others. The band’s fixer, he’s a long-time sound engineer and promoter – his company HotWax puts on shows throughout the city.
Cal and guitarist Caleb go back the furthest, though. “Me and Caleb both lived in Gloucestershire together,” explains Cal. “We tried starting bands out there but there was really nothing going on in that part of the world. I mean, the only bands where we were from was the Wurzels.”
Although they clearly love living here, Brighton, it seems, is yet to take Ditz to heart. The band hasn’t played a show in their hometown in ages and the quintet has recently been seeing bigger crowds when they hit the road. “We tend to get a better reception when we play in London” says Cal. “Maybe it’s because we’ve never been a ‘shit band’ in London. We were a ‘shit band’ for ages in Brighton before we became a ‘good band’ – I reckon that’s the reason why we kind of get overlooked.”
“I think people like being pissed off – it’s a catharsis. The only difference between the people on stage and the audience is that the people in the band need that catharsis more often. You have to pick your targets, though. I mean, I had one the other day when I was nicking people’s hats. There was this one guy’s hat that was like this straw fedora and while on one hand I really wanted to nick it, on the other you’ve gotta think ‘what kind of person shows up to a punk show in a straw fedora?’ Eventually, I plucked up the courage to steal it, and you know what, he seemed alright.”
+ The Winona Ryders