Experience a Beautiful Blackout with Diet Kong

Staying up late
Like animals at the zoo
Good god, we’ve been here all day
There’s nothing left for us to say

—From “Shoot the Freak” by Diet Kong

Keith Gladysz and Jenn Penn, the now married singer/guitarist and singer/visualist of Diet Kong, grew up in Dix Hills. They didn’t reconnect until grad school at NYU, and formed Diet Kong in 2004, at which point Pulse writer Alan Semerdjian also played guitar and co-wrote some of the songs. In 2009, Keith and Jenn grew tired of city life and headed to the Catskill Mountains, where they transformed a winery into a home and recording studio (along with raising animals on a farm). After getting settled, they recruited drummer Jeff Harrigfeld, and “Beautiful Blackout” is the latest disc from the electro-rock trio.

Influenced by everyone from Pole and Fischerspooner to the Animals, Depeche Mode and Run-DMC, lyricist Gladysz characterizes Diet Kong’s newfound sound as “digital beats in snowy solitude.” An eclectic mix of pop, rock, and electronica, with a little 80’s thrown in, “Beautiful Blackout” is anything but boring. (A fan once said that if the character Winston Smith from Orwell’s “1984” had a favorite band, it would be Diet Kong) “Shoot the Freak” has an edgy Fischerspooner quality, while standout track “A Forest” successfully merges synths with Pixies-esque guitar lines and vocals. And if you catch Diet Kong live in Brooklyn or NYC, you’ll also be visually stimulated.

“We’re not interested in just sounding good when we play,” notes Gladysz. “We do whatever we can to make our live shows real sweaty. Music is more than sound, that’s just the beginning. We want everyone in the room to get lost in each other. A really big element of our shows is the projections that loom above and on us as we play. Jenn manipulates the videos she makes, and mixes them on the fly like a dj mixes turntables. That’s why we dubbed her a visualist.”

While Diet Kong always likes to break new ground, Gladysz isn’t positive what they’ll tackle next, but one thing’s for sure– it won’t be folk music:

“City people move to the woods to channel Dylan? Pretty tired. I’m actually listening to more electronic music now than ever.”

For more info check out: http://dietkong.com/

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.