After a 30-year hiatus, pop-folk outfit Those Who Dig return with the syrupy, simply love pop of “Underwater.”

Photo by Ryan Moore Photography

By Cy White, Photos courtesy of Those Who Dig

Known for their blend of pop, folk, funk, disco and ballads, Austin-founded quintet Those Who Dig bring their latest piece of musical whimsy with track “Underwater.” Founded 1991, Those Who Dig have carved a place in Austin’s pantheon of quirky, unique, nuanced musicians. A 30-year hiatus saw the members pursue different passions, but it was always the music that called to them.

Like a lover meeting the other part of their heart on the other side of the world, Those Who Dig were drawn back to each other. “Underwater” brings a different kind of energy to the band. It’s a syrupy bit of love pop that asks listeners to consider a love that’s easy. Love that doesn’t ask more than that you float within the emotion. Tread the proverbial waters of love and allow it to carry you. Songwriter and lead vocalist Kit Pongetti admits a love of the Bee Gees spurred the creation of the track. That kind of simple sentimentality drips from every note of this track. It’s uncomplicated, rich in natural and authentic emotion and a fun peek into the purity of love.

“My friend and I challenged ourselves to each write a song inspired by The Bee Gees,” Pongetti reveals. “It had to be a love song. I don’t like drama and games and negging and cat and mouse etc. So I wrote about love being pure and steady, not subject to whims or social constructs, that makes you feel like you can do anything. It was written on acoustic guitar, but I always imagined it having strings and horns—a la Quincy Jones. So I was thrilled when the band decided to record it as a Those Who Dig tune and lean into that light rock-disco vibe that just feels so good.”

Please introduce yourself to our readers. (Depending on who’s answering the question, if you could also introduce the band in your own way.)

I’m Kit Pongetti (f/she/her), singer, songwriter, percussionist and acoustic guitar player in Those Who Dig (TWD). TWD formed in Austin 30 years ago, and although the band technically broke up by graduating and pursuing our degrees—from doctors to graphic novelists—we’ve stayed close friends and musical collaborators through the years. 

You mentioned that you took inspiration from the Bee Gees with this latest track. Beyond it being a pure love song, what aspects of the Bee Gees sound/music inspired the creative process for “Underwater”? 

My lite rock cover duo THE ARTISTS (with the great Jean Villepique) had started covering “How Deep is Your Love,” “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” and Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want to be Your Everything.” I mean, those titles say it all! The Bee Gees just wear all that drippy, breathy emotion on their sleeves and I love that! Then, of course, their harmonies. Layering voices on top of each other is like being in a fantastic relationship. I’m sure there’s science behind that, about getting a dopamine hit when hearing harmony. In any case, I’m an unabashed harmony addict. 

The imagery of water is obviously a focal point. What about water do you equate to love?

I guess I had just found a relationship that felt easy, like I didn’t have to work so hard to be loved. I could finally move freely, fluidly and, you know, stay underwater for the long haul.

The title of your upcoming LP, Begin Again, is very apropos. What new beginnings are you excited about?

Lilah (Sturges) wrote our title track and has the best answer. For me, I guess I’d say that my kids are growing into independent humans, and I’m really excited to see how they will begin their lives as big people on earth. I’m super excited to take care of myself again and see what comes of that crazy notion.

From Lilah: With “Begin Again” (both the song and the album), we are talking about how even with all of the difficult things we’ve been through over the past few years, there is still plenty of hope and good to be found. We are starting over with this album in a lot of ways, and a lot of us have kids who are going through their own beginnings in life. What could be more appropriate?

What can fans and newcomers of your music get excited about with Begin Again and Those Who Dig?

Personally, I am so excited that we are collaborating again because we don’t really give a rat’s ass anymore! I mean, ’90s TWD was pretty much just pop-folk. Though we are still pop-folk (hehe), we really went for it with this album. We got synth-driven Beach Boy pop, orchestral strings and disco trumpets to samba and feel-good Dad Rock. Rod (Sherwood) really treats each song as its own piece of art. What does it want to be? What instruments and voices will best serve it? It’s really fun to have no boundaries and I hope that is as fun for the listener as it is for us, because we aren’t stopping!

Any final thoughts?

When you’re little, you think that 30 is So Old. Then you get there and think that 50 is So Old. And then you get there and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, it is old. Let’s do this!” It’s freeing. So, I hope that rediscovering the joy and light of being a part of a 30-year-old band is inspiring that “it’s never so over that you can’t begin again.” Boom! (Shakalaka boom!)

Recorded at Cedar Creek Studios in May of last year, an with engineering from Andre Moran of The Belle Sounds, Begin Again is planned for release later this spring.

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