In September 2013, Sky Ferreira and DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith, were arrested in Saugerties, New York, charged with a number of offenses, including drug possession. In a new interview with Stereogum, Smith spoke at length about the arrest and the impact its had on both his and Ferreira’s careers.
“We were driving through a really small town in the middle of the night, and a cop pulled out in front of us and a cop pulled out behind us,” Smith said. “I had a warrant out for my arrest, so they arrested me immediately. And then they searched the car, which was full of gear — all of our music equipment, all of everything. And they just tore everything apart, and they just found all sorts of stuff… It was bad.”
Smith explained that he had a warrant for driving without a license. He also admitted that the truck he was driving were stolen and the drugs found inside the vehicle were his.
“I’ve just always been the kind of person that you can’t say to me, ’That stove is too hot. Don’t touch it,’” he said of his drug use. “I have to just touch it and figure out how hot it is — you know, hold my hand just above it or touch it with my little finger. I always have to push my limits. So all the sudden there’s this drug that enters the scene that’s this ultimate forbidden thing, and that makes it the most tempting thing around. I’ve always struggled with various addictions throughout my life.”
According to Smith, the arrest had severe repercussions. Both musicians were ordered to rehab and received probation, and Ferreira is also required to enroll in anger management classes. In addition, Smith said Ferreira lost several modeling jobs.
“Basically the gist of my release from jail is I was released into the custody of the Ulster County court system,” Smith explained. “I don’t own myself right now. I’m property of the court until I prove myself to be cured,” he says. “That really sucks, and that casts a big shadow over the whole tour.”
Smith told Stereogum that he takes full responsibility for the arrest and continues to wrestle with the subsequent guilt. “Basically I just was stupid. I fucked up, and it was entirely my fault, and I fucked up my girlfriend’s life. She literally didn’t do anything wrong. She basically was just a passenger in the car with a person who was out of control for a minute. She got in deep shit… Her career got really fucked up because everybody thought she was a drug addict, which she’s absolutely not. That’s the worst part of it for me is that I really fucked her over.”
He also acknowledged the negative perception now associated with DIIV: “I feel like there’s all this weird mythology that sort of surrounds me, and it distracts from the purity of the band. If somebody mentioned DIIV, they wouldn’t hum the song, they’d be like, ’Oh yeah, the guy who got pulled over driving a stolen car with heroin in it.’ I really hate that.”
Even still, when asked if he still uses, Smith answered, “It’s a complicated thing.” He explained, “With drugs you always have a pretty complicated relationship with it. So according to AA and all that stuff, I’m never recovered. But now I’m at the point where I’m in recovery. I have to report for drug tests and stuff. I wouldn’t say I’ve beaten it or anything because I don’t know if anybody can, but I’m trying my best. I can’t say, ’No, I’m totally clean and sober.’ But like anything, it’s a little more complicated.”
Smith is channeling these recent events in the recording of DIIV’s sophomore album, which he said is almost finished.