By Aniruddh ‘Andrew’ Bansal
Based out of Toronto, Canada, hard rock quintet Diemonds started out in 2006 and consist of Priya Panda on vocals, C.C. Diemond and Daniel Dekay on guitars, Tommy Cee on bass and Aiden Tranquada on drums. They play a very bold, energetic, bombastic style of rock ‘n roll, with an element of sleaze. They put out their debut full-length album ‘The Bad Pack’ last year via the Underground Operations label, and had a busy time touring North America from coast-to-coast including notable slots at Heavy MTL, Seattle Hempfest, The Whisky A Go-Go and opening for the likes of Slash and Steel Panther. The year ended with the band receiving a nod for their music video “Get the F*&k Outta Here,”named the number four video of the year by UK’s prestigious Classic Rock Magazine. Yesterday, I had a long and fun chat with Daniel Dekay to talk about all things Diemonds. Check it out below, along with their fantastic music videos, and visit them online using the links at the bottom.
You have a tour coming up pretty soon. What kind of tour is it? Are you playing your own shows or opening for other bands?
We’ve got a couple of opening slots. These are North American dates only. We’re playing with LA glam legends Faster Pussycat, we’re playing with Crashdïet from Sweden. So we have a couple of openers coming up but the majority of our dates are all headline slots in the US. We’re headed down to South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas for the first time, playing shows consistently all the way down there. After that, in April and May we’re heading down to the Maryland area to play a pre-party for the M3 festival which is a very, very popular glam fest. So we’ll be doing just all sorts of stuff around with just about all kinds of bands, punk, metal, rock, glam, sleaze, whatever. We love it all and we’re really stoked to be out and finally getting to play some nice long headline slots, because these half-hour opening slots are fun but nothing is better than tearing it up for an hour-and-a-half for everyone.
That sounds awesome, man. So, I’ve never been to the SXSW thing but I keep reading about all these showcase events where various record labels and magazines put on these lineups. How much does it help a band like you to get exposure and be noticed in the industry?
Oh, it’s huge! SXSW is as you nailed it. It’s a massive gathering of bands, labels, magazines, and companies. You can pick up endorsements and everything. It’s huge and of course there are music lovers. The entire city turns into one massive, massive camp ground for venues and people. So it’s huge for a band like us to get a chance to go and play down there, play to people who may have never heard of us and hopefully they see something that they love. We’re lucky enough to be playing the High Times Magazine’s annual awards show called the Doobie Awards. We’re nominated for an award and we’re also going to be playing a set for them at their show. So that’s really exciting for us as we are big advocates for the High Times and what they stand for. We’re also going to be doing some showcases on the Saturday during that week, so it’s going to be an awesome couple of days in Austin. We’re really excited, it’s our first time at that festival and we can’t wait to see what it’s got in store for us!
Very cool. It’s funny the way I discovered you was through the band Holy Grail. They actually posted the link to your page on their facebook, and I just checked it out. I really love that band so I kind of follow them a lot and check out what they’re posting. I believe you’re good friends with them too, so how did that come about? Just by playing shows together up in Canada?
Yeah, they were recently on a touring package with HellYeah and our good friends from Quebec, Dance Laury Dance. And we played on that show in Toronto, so that was actually the first time that we played with them but we’ve known those guys for many years. Holy Grail has a pretty solid connection to the city of Toronto, they’ve had a lot of friends here. I’ve known Luna for a long time and Eli is a wicked dude as well. It’s cool that we finally got to hook up with them and play a show together for the first time. It’s always great when bands that are like-minded are supporting each other. I saw that they posted our page on the internet, and we do the same for them. They’re really cool guys and their new album [Ride The Void] is absolutely killer. I highly recommend everyone to go check it out. It’s the best stuff they’ve ever put out.
That’s true! I love that album. It’s the best of this year so far, that’s for sure. But listening to your music, I can see that you play a straight-up hard rock style with a sleaze element. What appeals to you about that style that you decided to play it?
It’s really the music that we love and grew up on and listened to. Bands like Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row play a huge role for us in the sleaze element of our music. But we get a lot of our classic rock-driven influences from bands like KISS. We love it heavy, we love it loud, but we also like getting girls every once in a while, so the sleaze element ain’t so bad!
In terms of your guitar playing, when it comes to the writing, what do you do? Do you write more of the rhythm parts or the leads?
Whenever there’s a lead played by either guitar player, they write their own leads. It’s a band song writing process. Someone comes to the table with an idea, it gets tossed around the jam space and everyone contributes. It’s not like I’m writing a solo for C.C. and he is writing a solo for me. Your solo is your time to shine, it’s your time to showcase what you want to do and what you hear in your head trying to put it on the fretboard. But altogether, everyone’s writing their own parts. Drums are put together by our drummer Aiden, Tommy is writing his own bass parts and Priya is writing her own vocals. It’s really all five of us coming together and that’s what gives Diemonds their sound, the five people putting their own twist on the song.
I checked out your YouTube page and you have a lot of videos on there. I think I saw at least four. It’s great that you’re putting that much effort into it because these days bands don’t really do that. They just put out music videos for promotional purposes. You’re actually putting ideas and stories into the videos. That’s cool man. So that must be something important to you.
Oh, absolutely! It’s huge for us. I wont’ call anyone out but there’s a lot of bands big and small, everyone’s just putting out videos of live performance or some kind of abstract art video that you can’t really follow, or lyric video. That’s not really engaging. It doesn’t grab someone. It doesn’t interest us. I can’t sit and watch a whole video like that, so why would I ever want to represent my band that way? So when it comes time for videos, we take it very seriously and we want to do something that we would enjoy watching. So our latest video ‘Get The F&$k Out Of Here’ is a total tribute to 80s slasher horror films. We have some acting stuff in there, dialogue and a storyline. It’s something that you can follow and it keeps you engaged while you’re listening to a badass song. I think that’s the lost art of a music video. We’re stoked that people started noticing that we take time and effort in putting our music videos together. We appreciate that you appreciate what we’re doing, because we try to make it interesting for you guys. Keep watching because we’ve got plenty more ideas!
So, can we expect more videos then, for the songs you’ve not yet done videos for?
Absolutely! Right now there are three videos out for songs off of ‘The Bad Pack’, so we might call it a day on videos for this one album because three is already more than a lot of bands would do. But definitely we’re going to keep putting out videos. In a world where CD sales are down and people aren’t really finding music in the ways they used to, it’s become like a YouTube world where if you have a video and it grabs people, you can go viral and people share it on the internet. You know the way everything works now. A video is really a valuable tool and bands that aren’t putting out videos, they need to realize the value of putting out something interesting and engaging, and fun. The whole idea is, you want people to have fun. You want people to enjoy what they’re watching, not just watch some crappy video because they like the song.
I think your musical style is pretty accessible even to people who may not necessarily like rock, specially with the music videos because you put in a visual aspect that might appeal to regular people.
Who doesn’t love bong hits, blood, horror movies, boobs and all the good stuff you can find in our videos? So I guess the idea is to try and reach out to people who might have thought, ‘Hey, I’m not really into hard rock or metal. That’s not my style!’ But then they see the video and the next thing you know, they’ve got the hook caught in their head and they’re out buying the CD. Hopefully the videos can convert some people who didn’t think they were into rock n’ roll, and may be they’ll find something that will become their favorite type of music! You never know.
So, obviously your band is female-fronted and I think Priya has a great voice and stage presence, but with female-fronted bands it has negative impressions on some people because a lot of such bands go in a different direction and stop focusing on the music. They start selling just on the girl alone. What’s your take on that?
Oh, I don’t think it’s fair. We’re not fricking Lady Gaga kind of band where that’s the focal point. I mean, Priya is one of the boys with us. She’s as much part of the band as anyone else, but obviously being in a female-fronted band we’ve heard those kinds of things before, and that’s the kind of impression some people have of a band with a girl in front. But Priya is as much part of Diemonds as the guitars, the bass and the drums. On tour she’s like one of the boys and we’re just one big family. So I don’t think it’s really fair to put us in that category of bands that sell basically just focused on the female aspect, but I will say that there are bands that are guilty of it, and we don’t think that’s cool. That’s not what we’re trying to do.
Exactly, man. You mentioned the US tour coming up, but in general have you done a lot of US touring? I lived in LA for five years between 2007 and early 2012, and I don’t think you came through there all that much.
We’ve done a lot of US touring, but generally speaking, mostly in the mid and east area of America. For the past number of years we’ve been down there in the summer. However, last year we were stoked to do our first Western American tour. We played at the Whisky in LA with Crashdïet last year. That was awesome, it was our first time playing on the strip. You know everything it’s about, man. It’s right up our alley. It was a great experience and it was a sold-out show. That was a lot of fun and then we played our way right up the whole West Coast doing shows all over. We did a bunch of shows in SoCal and then we played in Western Canada and through Canada on our way back. So we spent a lot of time in America. It’s our home away from home. Everyone in the band loves going down there, and we show a lot of love to North America. Our record just came out in Japan last month, so right now we’re in the works trying to get everything going for some overseas stuff. We’d love to be in South America and Japan, we’d love to do back to India again. We love touring and it’s pretty much what we do.
You mentioned India. When was the last time you played?
The last time Diemonds were in India was in 2009, I believe. It was actually a headline show. Diemonds came down and played a massive show in Shillong. It was the first female-fronted rock band to ever play in Shillong, which they say is the music capital of India. It was awesome, a massive outdoor show. Ever since then, everyone in the band is dying to go back and experience that again.
Dude, that’s amazing! I didn’t even know that you played in India. I’m actually sitting in India right now, in the city of Bombay. Even I’ve never been to Shillong because it’s so far in the east, kind of like the US West Coast-East Coast thing.
You’ve got to get out there man! It’s truly the rock n’ roll capital. It was a wicked experience. We were very well received, there was a lot of heavy promotion going on and the show was very well attended, and people seemed to enjoy it a lot. So, we’d love to get back there.
That’s cool man! So finally, have you been working on a new album and will it be released any time soon?
Yeah, that’s like super top-secret information but since you’re a cool dude I’ll let you know. We’re working on a bunch of new material. We were actually down in the jam space last night doing some demos. We got a bunch of new stuff to play for everyone. We’ve been working on a couple of songs that will probably be making their live debut on this upcoming US tour, and we’re still on tour supporting our last release ‘The Bad Pack’ which came out in October on Underground Operations. But we’re musicians. We crave to make new music, so we can’t stop. There are going to be some new songs on this upcoming tour, and hopefully a new record before you know it!
Upcoming Tour Dates:
3/9 – Columbus, OH @ The Shrunken Head
3/10 – Louisville, KY @ Third Street Dive
3/11 – Nashville, TN @ Foobar
3/12 – Memphis, TN @ Memphis Rehearsal Complex
3/13 – Little Rock, AR @ The Rev Room
3/14 – Dallas, TX @ The Curtain Club w/CRASHDÏET
3/15 – Fort Worth, TX @ The Rail Club
3/17 – Austin, TX @ The Red Eyed Fly Events Page
3/19 – Tulsa, OK @ Venue Shrine
3/20 – Lee’s Summit, MO @ Jerrys Bait Shop
3/21 – Fort Wayne, IN @ Berlin Music Pub
3/22 – Detroit, MI @ Small’s
3/23 – Toronto, ON @ The Hideout (Canadian Music Week Showcase)
3/30 – Brampton, ON @ Spot One
3/31 – Etobicoke, ON @ The Rockpile w/Faster Pussycat
4/6 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club w/CRASHDÏET
4/7 – Ottawa, ON @ Mavericks w/CRASHDÏET
4/26 – Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
4/27 – Pennellville, NY @ Monirae’s
4/28 – Cambridge, MA @ TT The Bears Place
4/29 – New York City, NY @ TBA
4/30 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Diving Horse
5/1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Rebel Rock Bar
5/2 – Colombia, MD @ Sonoma’s
5/3 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Shop
5/4 – Erie, PA @ The Crooked I