True American Firepower: In Conversation With Diamond Lane Singer Brandon Baumann

By Andrew Bansal

In 2014, Los Angeles-based quintet Diamond Lane made a rapid rise as a force to be reckoned with in the hard rock and heavy metal scene in their hometown and beyond. For Diamond Lane, 2014 was centered around the release of their latest full-length effort ‘Terrorizer’, a nine-track offering of quintessential American ‘working class’ heavy music. In addition to mind-blowing local performances at venues such as Loaded and Troubadour, Diamond Lane frequent Las Vegas and the California desert, and in their attempt to branch out into newer territories in 2015, they’ve already announced their participation in the upcoming Rocklahoma festival. I recently caught up with singer Brandon Baumann to talk all things Diamond Lane and more. Enjoy the conversation below.

Brandon, it’s good to have you on Metal Assault. Your new album ‘Terrorizer’ came out in 2014 and I’ve been really enjoying it, as you know. How long did you guys work on it? It sounds like it took a lot of thinking and planning to do it properly.

Thank you, Andrew. First of all, I’m really glad that what we created with Terrorizer resonates with you. That’s exciting for us. That whole process was a really great one. It marked the beginning of a new era, so to speak, when Dave Vandigitty (drums) joined the band. Everything just kind of cemented into place and we really became a tight unit. So, creating that record was a lot of fun. We did it differently than we have in the past, as this time we created it all together, playing live in the room, going through the ideas and getting the ebb and flow, and the real energy and essence of the songs. So, I’m very glad that we were able to capture that and put that out to have people digging on it. It’s been a tremendous 2014 and we’re very much looking forward to the road ahead.

For newer bands, it’s important to have a good representation of yourself on your recordings. A lot of bands put out low-quality recordings because they don’t have the budget for anything better. I think it’s better to wait till you have the resources to be able to do a proper release, and you did that with this album.

Absolutely. I think that’s quite essential because the fact of the matter is, the album is the advertisement for your show. The songs are everything. Without those, you’ve got nothing.

Exactly. And from what I understand, you’ve been a band for the past three years, but in 2014 you were particularly active, putting out this album and doing a lot of shows. It’s been your most active year in that sense.

No question about it. We went pretty far and wide in 2014 and it’s only more motivating us to ramp things up even more in 2015. We’re going to be working on a follow-up to ‘Terrorizer’ in the first part of the new year, and then hitting it hard. It’s time to take Diamond Lane to parts unknown.

That’s awesome, man. But what was the reason for not being as active earlier. Were you just busy working on music?

Well, it’s a combination of things. It’s never been easy, and it’s all about the ingredients and how things work together. In the past couple of years we were still playing shows out and about, and we released two records before ‘Terrorizer’, but we definitely put in the time to really hone in on being able to deliver the best quality product we’re absolutely capable of.

When I hear your music and lyrics, the blue-collar ethic is pretty clear. It’s a good approach making rock music for the common man, as that way you reach out to a bigger audience. Right?

Absolutely. We’re just like every one of them. We’re willing to work and do whatever it takes to continue that. So, we are the fans and the fans are us. We all believe and care about the same things, and it’s an exciting position to be on the other side of the coin where we can entertain and give people the hell of a show that they deserve.

Even with your band name, I think it’s a genius idea to call it Diamond Lane. Every time I’m on the freeway, your band comes to mind.

I love it! It’s free branding nationwide (laughs).

So, obviously you’ve been an LA band and you’ve played shows mostly around here. How has the LA scene treated you? A lot of people badmouth it, but I believe there are good bands in the scene if you’re willing to explore it.

Sure! Like most things in life, it’s all about relationships, and your attitude, as well as what you’re bringing to the table. I think there are a lot of flaws, of course. What infrastructure doesn’t have that? But there’s a lot of goodness to be found, and if you surround yourself with people who are willing to nurture the creativity that you’re bringing to the table, value what you’re doing and treat you with fairness and respect, I think that goes a long way and keeps everybody with a smile on their face.

Well said! And aside from the LA shows, I’m sure you want to branch out and reach other places. People outside LA would welcome the chance to see a band like yours. What are your plans in that regard?

We’re going to continue to stay active in the circuits we’ve been regularly going to, Southern California, Central California, Las Vegas, and doing these short runs and seeing tangible results over the course of several weeks when you repeat those markets. But we want to do that on a more grand scale, and are looking for opportunities to go out to the mid-west, the south, and continue to expand outward. I think we have something potent and worthwhile to contribute to the future of the rock ‘n roll community. We take that responsibility very seriously but we have a great time doing it, and that’s the point.

Yes, and with your kind of music you will appeal to pretty much all parts of America. With some bands that’s not a given. It depends on what style you’re playing.

Absolutely. We want to be the torchbearers for something universally righteous.

That’s a good way to put it. So, the one thing that struck me the most when I saw Diamond Lane for the first time at the Troubadour in 2014 was the vocal delivery. It’s not so common to have good clean singing in rock and metal anymore. Where does that come from? Have you been singing for a long time, even before this band? 

You know what, I’ve kind of always loved the idea of singing and entertaining since I was a kid. But when you get to the formative years of learning your craft, you’ve got to buckle in, so I was getting voice lessons and learning. I always consider myself a student. There’s always something to learn, and working on your voice is different than practicing your guitar scales or working on your drum patterns and timing. My body is my instrument, so I always wanted to take care of that and deliberately just try to sound like myself, not getting caught up trying to one-up or replicate somebody else’s sound. All these legendary, amazing singers, Cornell, Layne Staley, you name it, they’re just sounding like themselves with their voice instead of trying to chase something, and that’s what makes them special. So, the singing part is something that I enjoy endlessly. The fact that I’ve been blessed with an instrument that I can continually work on and improve upon so I can deliver the best possible product, that’s what I’m all about and I love that so much. I’m glad that it comes across to you. It’s nice to throw in balls and grit in your vocals, but by no means does that have to be the only thing, and it’s better when blended in with clean singing, just like with guitar you can’t just solo a million miles an hour for the entire song. You’ve got to have shades and a little bit of variety.

As you rightly said, every singer’s vocal chords are their own and you cannot really replicate anybody. That’s the great thing about singers. Guitarists can sound exactly the same but singers cannot. With that said, in terms of your on-stage personality you must be inspired by other singers that you’ve grown up listening to and watching. Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

When you’re talking about frontmen, you’ve just got to look at David Lee Roth. Unquestionably. What a charismatic, absolute madman! He commands the stage and really is one for the audience. His kind of fearless, effortless, laid-back approach, and done with so much conviction, was always so inspiring to me. And then of course, you run the gamut of legendary frontmen, everything from Freddie Mercury to Axl Rose, they all bring something unique and different to the table, and that ability of theirs to command the crowd is very exciting. Even someone like M Shadows, he has the crowd in the palm of his hand. In general, I think that comes with having confidence in your ability and knowing what you can bring to the table honestly, and connect with the audience. Everybody is one together.

Diamond Lane links: website | facebook | twitter | instagram | bandcamp