Exclusive: Low vs Diamond Pemberton InterviewPhotos by Alex Ramon
So we’re back on the Pemberton train and going full speed with Low vs Diamond. You might not have heard about this band, or maybe you have, but trust me when I say this, they are the NEXT BIG THING. That is to say if they don’t crash and burn and bite each others heads off, which I highly doubt will happen. But let’s take a look at the bigger picture for a second. There are so many bands out there that have great success off their first album, and then you just don’t hear about them anymore. Why is that the case you ask? Well I just can’t tell you because every band I’ve been in hasn’t had success, but what I think happens (with an emphasis on the “I think” part) is that they just aren’t friends to begin with. Many bands form on the basis of either a hobby between friends or getting rich and famous, or even both for that matter. Those, in my opinion (because I don’t want to upset anyone…), whose sole purpose is to make it big will crash and burn, while those who are friends to begin with have that core group that will last and continue to make great music. Low vs Diamond falls into the later category, and that is why I think they will soon be a household name.
Now who is Low vs Diamond? This Los Angeles based 5 piece consists of Lucas Field on vocals and guitar, Howie Diamond (afro and all) on drums, Tad Moore on keyboards, Anthony Policino on guitar, and Jon Pancoast on bass. What’s interesting about this band is that they’re from all over America. So when you classify them as an American band, they actually are. Lucas comes from the beautiful Seattle (3 hour drive away from my beloved Vancouver), Howie comes from the Windy City known as Chicago, Tad Moore comes from San Francisco, while Anthony and Jon come from Atlantic City. In the LVD bio, they are described as a “melting pot of musicians” but since we’re in Canada, I rather call them a “musical mosaic” (Thank you history major, you are finally of use to me!).
I actually got to have a nice sit down interview with the one and only Howie Diamond, drummer extraordinaire. Their publicist called me and we arranged a time to meet and talk, and she asked the toughest question. “How are we going to recognize you?” Well that was simple. My response, “I’m Asian… and I’m wearing a black beater…” And how was I going to recognize them? Well that was also simple. Her response, “Howie’s got an afro…” Done and done!
So I sat down and asked Howie the toughest questions I could think of. I grilled him until he was sweating bullets and finally confessed as to why they all settled in L.A. “After College, we wanted to take it to the next level. We weren’t Low vs Diamond yet. We all decided to try to do this for real, and we decided between New York and L.A. and we picked L.A. because of the weather and because it was cheaper and because of the women.”
Well put Howie. He was, however, speaking for himself, and I’m glad he was honest with me. If I were in a great band, hell yeah I would relocate to Hollywood. Why not try and live the lifestyle of a rock star? But with all the joking aside, L.A. is a place the sucks people in and spits them out after they’re all coked up and worn out. The boys in Low vs Diamond must have had their fair share of this lifestyle for sure, but what has become of it? “We’ve gotten past all that,” says Howie. “We moved to LA when we were 22 and now most of us are in our late 20’s, and now we’re just taking it with a grain of salt and we are who we are.”
Along the same lines, for every band that gains that sought after success, there are always those who criticize. The defining point of a successful band and one that fails is how they deal with the haters in the world. Now let’s be honest, we all have this one band, or possibly more, that you absolutely despise and would rather choke on a walnut and drown at the same time before buying their album. “If we were 22 or 23, we would be freaking out some more,” Howie reflects, “but it took us 9 years to put out this record, we couldn’t have done a better job. We don’t care what other people think. We’ve done the best job we could.”
A lot of North American bands start out in Europe and gain the much needed attention there before they even think about returning back home. It seems like a proven formula. If you want to start a musical career, head over to the UK, gain a big fan base, and then return back to North America to start all over again, but this time with some money in the bank. For crying out loud, even the Backstreet Boys did this! So if those teen heart-throbs did it, why did Low vs Diamond follow this same path? Howie’s response. “Well Marrakesh was the first to be interested.”
Well that answers that question. But in all seriousness, Howie still believes they need some more work when it comes to the UK. “We’re going to go back there in October, and now that our record is out, it will be the true test to see if the UK people love us or not.” After watching their set, I don’t think it’ll be a problem what so ever.
For those of you who don’t know Marrakesh Records, previously known as Lizard King, is a UK based Indie record label that was the first to sign The Killers. Now with that in mind, it sure did launch The Killers career, so you can expect big things from LVD. It might not have any correlation, but for the sake of a flowing article, let’s just say it does. The signing on Marrakesh probably didn’t hurt their chances of signing with another major label in North America. And that is just what happened when LVD signed with Epic. We’ve all heard these horror stories about record labels trying to control the artistry of bands, vetoing which song would be on the album and utterly controlling their image. “That hasn’t happened to us at all,” reveals Howie. “They honestly let us do whatever we want and the suggestions they gave us, actually helped us.”
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Rage Against The Machine is on that label as well, and to censor them would be an outcry. Howie agreed and further stated that “creatively we know that we are coming up with better things then they are.” It sure does make the label’s job a lot easier when the band is making their own music, along with their own art work and merchandise.
But let’s take a step back here for a moment. Let’s take away all the record label success and focus on the beginning of LVD, or any band for that matter. With this little known thing called the internet, many bands out there are getting the exposure they really need. For LVD, it was a huge part of their growing success. They were praised by iTunes as a band to watch out for in 2008, so you can only imagine how many LVD songs are in all the iPod’s around the world (in my case, it’s in my Zune). Howie agrees with me and expressed his fondness for the internet. “I do know the internet has helped. It’s the new medium. We got into myspace right when we started and we even had a friendster page! That’s where everyone finds new music.”
That statement right there can sum up our entire culture. All these big name acts can whine all they want about how the internet is killing record sales, but you also have to look at it from the struggling indie bands point of view. They aren’t getting the exposure they need and the internet can be, and is proven with LVD, to be a great asset. It’s launching them into a whole new world, where they can finally play music as a full-time gig.
Of course indie bands have a lot of trials and tribulations to get through. Not only do they have to deal with the criticism of other people, but they also have to go through the lack of family support. For Howie and the rest of LVD, family support wasn’t always there. “They became supportive about 3 months ago,” says Diamond, “I told them we were going to be on David Letterman, they were like, son it was all worth it!”
I guess dropping the late night show bomb really does help, so a word of advice to all you aspiring indie bands out there, get on a late night show and your family will love you. “You just have to believe in what you’re doing,” Howie expresses. “There are so many bands out there that are doing it nowadays. I would like to say that talent rises to the top, but to be honest, you just have to be lucky and be in the right place at the right time.”
With all of that said, make sure you do check out Low vs Diamond. They are genuinely nice people, who are not only talented musicians, but great performers. Check out the contest page for details about winning a signed copy of their self-titled debut disc.