With a mix sensible pop harmonies and driving feelgood guitars, Baltimore alt-rockers Diamond have quietly been building a strong following online with two free digital releases; ‘DMND’ EP and ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’.
Having written songs by sending material back and forth between Baltimore, Chicago, and Richmond and with the bands sunny upbeat style, Diamond is somewhat of a departure for some of its members; drummer Brendan Yates and guitarist Sam Trapkin are part of Hardcore band Trapped Under Ice, and bassist David Wood is the vocalist for Down to Nothing.
Nevertheless the 90’s-influenced band are heavily involved in the day-to-day business of the band having strong DIY beliefs. From marketing the free releases to the all design aspects of the band, Diamond are taking full control, a trait which is becoming more common place in today’s music industry.
Last week the quartet announced plans to release ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’ through Black Numbers.
We recently caught up with guitarist Sam Trapkin to discuss ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’, releasing material for free Bandcamp, the importance of DIY, their influences and more.
Already Heard: Hi Sam You’ve recently announced plans to release ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’ on vinyl. What can you tell us about it?
Sam Trapkin: We released it ourselves as a free digital download last winter and are just now releasing on vinyl. It has roughly 6 and a half songs, It was recorded by Paul Leavitt in Baltimore, and there’s a dog wearing sunglasses on the cover of it.
AH: In comparison to your first release, how has the band grown on the new record?
Sam: ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’ has a lot more going on than our first EP. I think it’s a little more multi-dimensional. We thought more about how we played it and sang it too, rather than just perform some songs we wrote.
AH: For those who are unfamiliar with Diamond. How would you describe your sound?
Sam: Some of our bigger influences are Jimmy Eat World, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Weezer. Maybe a little Beach Boys/Beatles thrown in there. I guess you could call it Alternative Rock. But it’s pretty poppy sometimes too.
AH: In the past you’ve released material for free. How influential has this idea been towards Diamond’s growth?
Sam: We’d much rather people check out our band than make a few dollars off iTunes. It kind of just seems like a no brainer. I don’t know why bands just start and think it’s a good idea to start selling their music. No one wants to buy music from a band they’ve never heard of.
AH: Why do you think services like Bandcamp are becoming more commonly used by bands?
Sam: That just kind of seems like the standard right now. It’s kind of a mess though. It’s not like people just use Bandcamp. They usually have it linked up to Facebook. But I wouldn’t say there’s like ONE site that people go to. We use it because it makes it easy for people to download for free.
AH: How important are your DIY beliefs to Diamond’s success?
Sam: I’m not sure what kind of “success” we’ve really experienced yet but we definitely like to be involved in every aspect of the band. It’s not enough for a band to just have good music if everything else sucks. We want people to get a full “Diamond experience” no matter what they see or hear, because we’re the ones that made it. It’s not really DIY for the sake of DIY. We just don’t want our band to suck you know?
AH: By having so much input into all aspects of the band (design, promotion etc). Do you think fans respect you more for it?
Sam: Who knows. I mean, I don’t see any reason why someone wouldn’t appreciate a band being involved in more than just their music. It’s not like bands just make CD’s anymore. Now it’s like people can be as engaged with a band as they want to be. So if you have some butthole making your videos and making your tweets and marketing you, it doesn’t matter if your music is good. Because people don’t even get that far if everything else is bad.
AH: Away from Diamond some of you are involved in hardcore bands (Trapped Under Ice/Down to Nothing). How have fans of those bands responded to Diamond’s sound and style?
Sam: Well, our singer actually isn’t involved in any hardcore bands. But I’d say it’s been generally pretty positive. We obviously don’t sound like a hardcore band by any means, but there are lots of people that listen to hardcore along with other kinds of music too. So if they like it too that’s cool. I’ve never heard anyone say anything mean. Maybe they do in private. That’s fine.
AH: With such a different sound compared to those bands, how did the band come together and what musical influences brought you together?
Sam: We all grew up loving lots of the same kind of bands. And there aren’t a lot of newer rock bands that we really liked that much. So we just wanted to start a band that sounded like what we wanted. Bands like Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, QOTSA, Silverchair, Nirvana, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins etc. We kind of just wanted to take that and do our own thing.
AH: With the vinyl release can we expect to see Diamond out on the road?
Sam: Yes!!! We’ll have a few shows this summer but we’re looking to go out forreal in the fall time. Can’t wait!
‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’ by Diamond is released on vinyl on June 12th through Black Numbers and is available now digitally on Bandcamp.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)