We are proud that our Band of the Day feature has enabled us to unearth some hidden gems over the past few years but also it enables us to bring you new bands and sounds first and we could not be more excited by todays Band of the Day Diamond Black. Diamond Black is brought to you by Ben Christo lead guitarist with The Sisters of Mercy and Night by Night, but this new band boasting of a talented line up of colleagues Ben has met along the road promises to be bigger than all this. Trends in music come and go and often they are inspired by real life events, what is happening in a country at the time, whether that be politics or a national feeling and what we have been seeing is a return to 80s style rock, often with a wistfulness and and empathy with a bygone era. What we are also seeing is the return of bands and songwriters capable of articulating feelings that we all go through but only a few are able to speak them in such a way that they resonate with the many.
Diamond Black on their debut track “Sorrow” have already managed to make this connection, a combination of gothic rock, electro, energy and words torn from the soul leaves us hoping that Diamond Black are here to lead a new era of dark rock and one that we can all relate to. We caught up with the band to learn more and really understand the inner world of Diamond Black.
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Ben: We’re based in Camden, London. Respectively, we are from Hastings, Bristol and London and Helsinki.
How did you meet?
Ben: The first time J.I. and I met was pretty much onstage! It was “Trash Fest” in Helsinki, where we’d both been recruited to play a Skid Row cover as part of the festival’s finale. We were in respective bands at the time (Night by Night and Spirit Raiser), but had a good chemistry onstage, thus Jaakko said to me after: “One day, you will be my guitarist”. I laughed it off at the time, but his premonition came true. Vincent depped on drums for Night by Night on the 2013 Y&T tour, and we stayed in touch ever since, as I loved his work ethic and easy-going nature.
Adam and I have known each other on the London rock scene for years, as we’ve often DJ’d the same nights at The Electric Ballroom and the Intrepid Fox. We connected through a shared love of such random things as James Bond, 80s British comedy and Manic Street Preachers. A mutual friend would often comment “There aren’t many serious musicians in this scene aside from you and Adam. You should do something together.” And, again…
How long have you been playing as a band?
Ben: The writing and recording process began at the end of 2014, but has been a bit staggered since. This is due to various things, including members touring as session musicians for other bands or personal emotional difficulties that have slowed our productivity (conversely, these crises have also been a creative force behind the DB sound and themes). We have only rehearsed as a 4-piece since the start of October, but it’s sounding great and we feel enthused and galvanised. Initially we discussed a second guitarist or keyboard player for live, but we quickly found that the musical and personal synergy between us 4 is very powerful and cohesive and it sounds big. We simply have a backing track for the synth parts and drum loops, which makes it a much more manageable and self-sufficient unit.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Ben: J.I. & I knew what the sound was going to be from the very start. We just needed a name that really conveyed it. And, honestly, the name really did come from the ether. We were writing down the kind of words and imagery that suited the band’s sound, to see how they appeared together, and suddenly, it was just there, staring from the page – “Diamond Black”.
It works – DB is dark rock with sparkling melody. It’s heartbreak tinged with hope. It’s isolation imbued with inspiration. Lust laced with loneliness. J.I. said once to me “We are writing this music for all the black diamonds out there… those who are still shining in the darkness.” And even though we have only released one song, “Sorrow”, we have already received numerous mails from the fans about how much the words and music have moved them, inspired them and even helped them through hard times in their lives. That’s amazing. That’s one of the main reasons we do this. Because that’s what others’ music has done for US.
In the first song we wrote, “Ghost in the Glass”, it naturally found its way into the lyric – “I’ll go far below into the diamond black” – but I’ll let you find your own meanings in this.
What are your influences?
The Cult, Cold, Sevendust, Katatonia, Manic Street Preachers, AFI, Killing Joke, Judas Priest, Therapy?, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Killswitch Engage, The Cure, Boysetsfire, Linkin Park, Strung Out, The Birthday Massacre, NIN, Curve, Marilyn Manson, Back To The Future and The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Ben: We are dark, hard rock with melody, meaning and mystique. The music can be powerful and muscular, whilst the lyrics and themes are often nuanced and fragile. Big rock riffs, stirring electronica, cinematic choruses and an emotive vocal that ranges from a brooding whisper to a venomous scream. There are ‘80s rock and electro vibes, there are 90s industrial & metal flavours; there is contemporary darkness – all tied together with a cohesive melancholia.
J.I. has a very unique voice, with many expressive colours and I’m thrilled to hear him sing my lyrics, as he articulates them in a way I never could.
Bands are only truly unique when they are genuine, because the members are fusing their OWN honest, musical expression, which has been built across years of listening, writing, and playing into something completely new. DB is definitely one of those bands.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
We only write what we feel, so the lyrics are intensely personal, fiercely honest and cathartic. The words are born from such things as regret, crushing anxiety, emotional fragility, fear, desire, insecurity, addiction and hedonism. Sometimes the imagery is often very personal and specific but expressed in an oblique way, other times the themes are carried through metaphor, mythology or literary references (as A Murder of Crows cites Edgar Alan Poe, and If You Kill My Demons was inspired by Tennessee Williams). The lyrics are painstakingly conceived and I won’t rest until they convey the song in a way that I find to be genuine, unique and layered and to which others can relate. The goal is to write something intensely personal and REAL, whilst retaining an intrigue that allows people to find their own meaning.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Adam: Orchestrated a stage invasion where we all dived through the drum kit (and drummer!) during the last song, not realising there was a 6 foot drop at the back of the stage. Gave a new meaning to the term ‘Break a leg’!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Ben: Gibson guitars, favouring Les Pauls for recording and SGs for live. I’d like to get a few Firebirds, too. All my guitar heroes – Steve Clark, Glenn Tipson, Billy Duffy, Angus Young – have used Gibson. During the band’s lifespan, I have been using both Kemper and ENGL amps, Rotosound Strings, Dimarzio products and InTune Guitar Picks.
Vincent: Tama Drum, Sabian Cymbals, Promark, Evans, Audix, 64 Audio, Protection Racket.
Adam: Music Man Bongo. Sansamp Bass Driver Deluxe, Dr Freakenstein Dwarf Bass, Electro Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi, Line 6 Bass Floor POD (mainly for the compressor and shaping), BOSS ODB-3 Bass Overdrive and Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner. Running in to a vintage Trace Elliot GP12 SMX – it’s brutal!
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Adam: We have just released our debut single and music video for “Sorrow”, which you can check out on YouTube and all the usual online stores. I also have my own design studio – Flashbang Studio – who have designed all the artwork for the band, so I’m a busy boy!
Ben: We were lucky enough to have Piggy D from Rob Zombie and Mark from The Mission share the video on their social media!
What are your plans for the rest of 2017, into 2018?
Rest of 2017: keep writing, rehearsing and shoot another video, whilst continuing to promote the single/video and develop the fan-base. We will produce cool merchandise and physical packages for the “Sorrow” single. Jan/Feb will see us releasing another single or 2 and in March/April put out a longer release and start touring into the summer. However, we can’t confirm any of this yet as it depends on other factors!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting?
And which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Ben: Strange as Angels, Norman Pangle from Murder FM’s new band. That said, we would probably have to rotate main support, as Norman has a hell of a following!
From previous Band of the Day Hollowstar: If you could add one extra member to your band, from all of the musicians in the world (dead or alive), who would it be?
Adam: Lemmy, coz he’s a unique, amazing, one-of-a-kind icon, but as I’m the bassist in the band, if we added him, I’d be out of a job! So I’ll say Jim Morrison instead!
From another BotD, Crevassian: What is the strongest opening three tracks of any LP by any band you admire, and why?
Ben: Tough – and very good – question! There are many bands that spring to mind for this – Boysetsfire, AC/DC, Therapy?, The Cure to name a few… but the one that’s resonating right now is Cold’s 13 Ways to Bleed Onstage. The brooding tone is set perfectly by the opener, and the following 2 songs develop and deepen this in a manner that feels visceral… and yet effortless.
And from R.I.P: What artist influences your music that most people wouldn’t guess?
Adam: Ian Livingstone Books and James Bond films.
Ben: Nik Kershaw – I love his melodic key modulations, which are often half way through a verse – or even a line! This gives him such a unique and intriguing sound. I would love to write a song with him one day.
“Sorrow” is out now