Canada boasts some of the most phenomenal artists and rock bands ever to put pen to paper when it comes to songwriting, as well as hit after hit. Sum 41, Finger Eleven, Theory Of A Deadman and Nickelback (just naming a few) all hail from the Great White North. Adding their name to the Canadian roster of rock, Diemonds, a female-fronted hard rock band, are making their mark on the world and setting it on fire (with a blunt and a bottle). “Guitar Rippin” & Whiskey Sippin” C.C. Diemond, “Rockin’ Bass & Given’ Chase” Tommy Cee, “Drummin’ Thunder & Evil Plunder” Aiden Tranquada, “Sweet Squealin’ & High Heelin’ Priya Panda and “Flyin’ Vees & Smokin’ Trees” Daniel DeKay took a break from recording to pontificate on Canada and life “Diemonds” style.
“You should come to Canada because, oh man, you’re missing out,” states DeKay, trying not to break into laughter. “It’s awesome. We’ve got igloos and snow and really, really good beer and hockey, but no hockey this year. NHL is a huge part of our culture here and everyone’s really bummed out that there’s no hockey this year.”
“Sports and music here, it keeps me busy and it keeps me sane,” interjects Panda. “The sports keep me sane and music keeps me crazy.” Panda continues, “The band formed in 2006. And it really took off when I met C.C. on a tour bus in New York City. And we got to talking about music. He’s actually on tour with Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age. He was roadie-ing for Death From Above in 1979. I was on the tour bus actually partly partying and ended up meeting him. We got talking about hard rock and metal from Toronto and we were surprised we hadn’t met each other before. I was like, ‘You should totally join my band Diemonds when you get home. I’m looking for a guitar player that I can talk to about Ratt and Poison and Motley Crüe and all that stuff that I like.’ But back then it was hard to find people who liked it too. I think that’s coming back. That’s when the band really got solid and we recorded our first record, In the Rough. It came out in 2009 and we’ve been going since then.”
Diemonds are known pretty well throughout the club scene in Toronto, and even though they’re just a stone’s throw away from New York, it just sounds so far away when you think of it as the United States, and how hard it is to get in. “When we come to the U.S. it is not that easy to get in,” explains Panda. “Your country is extremely difficult to get into as a Canadian musician. It’s pretty expensive and quite a process. Like when we applied for our visa; because we are an independent band or especially we weren’t as an independent band, we were doing all the paperwork ourselves, as well as all the booking. So we were applying for all the paperwork, getting all of the contracts and stuff signed for the border approval for the visas. And it was quite a lot of work first. We kind of learned as we went.”
As a band, having the opportunity to play both north and south of the border it’s really cool for us.
“As a band, having the opportunity to play both north and south of the border it’s really cool for us,” says DeKay. “To play in our own country, of course, Canada, and the reception’s awesome here….but having the chance to go down into America and play for such a large market with so much more population and a lot more history for the type of bands that we’re into. We’re into a lot of American rock bands, and for us to get to go and play in their hometowns and for members of these old bands that we used to listen to, to come out and see us play and get to meet fans who were there for the local shows in that heyday, it’s really cool. You really can’t compare anything else. There’s not a lot of that going on in Canada. In Canada a lot of the bands that we like from Canada were actually from Toronto, so we’re a little separated and detached from it a bit because we see them almost every other weekend — they’re at the same shows as us. So it’s a way bigger deal when we’re playing somewhere in the U.S. and some member of one of our favorite cult bands that no one else in the world has ever heard of comes out to see us play. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Canadian fans already know the music and stage antics of Diemonds, but U.S. audiences have yet to experience rock via the “bad pack”. “I think with Diemonds, what you see is what you get,” says Panda with a laugh. “Nobody’s wearing a costume or anything like that. We don’t have a stylist or whatever. Our hair is our hair. The way we sound, the way we look, and who we are is kind of all the same thing. Obviously our back patches, we sewed them on all ourselves, but we just feel that we’re part of a gang. We’ve never really talked about it so much since we are these people.”
“It’s really interesting,” interjects DeKay with a chuckle, “people ask about the image of the band and the look, and how we came up with it. It always stumps all of us. There could be five of us doing the interview together and we all just kind of go quiet because this is not really designing it or how did we come up with it. It’s just us. It’s what represents what we all listen to on our own, and what we listen to as a group musically, and the magazines we read growing up, and the posters we had on our walls and stuff, it’s just what we are and what we’ve always been. It was really easy because we’re the band. We could just be ourselves.”
Having gained local recognition and sponsorship from heavyweights like Jagermeister and Pabst Blue Ribbon for their straightforward and pompous live performances, Diemonds have opened for hard rock heavyweights like Slash, LA Guns, Steel Panther, Doro, Michael Monroe, Teenage Head, and many more. They’ve had headlining spots at the Halifax Pop Explosion, CMW and North by Northeast. Diemonds sound must be widely accepted for them to open for such notable names, or no one would give them a second look. They have what it takes to walk on to the stages they’ve opened and roll with it. “I think we all come from the punk rock and metal world,” explains Panda, “and I think for all of us the most defining thing was going to the local shows in our own city and then that just growing and growing and growing. But we all supported our local rock scene, and I think that that’s come full circle and our local rock scene has come to support us. So that’s where we all got our roots in music. I think D.K. will definitely say he probably listens to the heaviest music in the band, like metal. We all listen to glam, like 80s glam. We all like Ratt, Motley Crüe, KISS, we all like Aerosmith, Guns ’N’ Roses. C.C. and Tom are definitely from a hardcore and punk background as well.”
“We just put out a new record,” continues Panda with enthusiasm. “It’s called The Bad Pack. It actually just came out in October on Underground Operations in Canada. And you can get it [worldwide visually]. It also came out on vinyl and cassette tapes. And you can get all those formats now.”
“We just finished a lot of touring coast to coast, Canada and the USA,” adds DeKay. “Our record is coming out in Japan in January. So hopefully we’ll get over to Japan for the first time. That would be super cool. We’d love to hit Europe soon.”
“We’d love to go back to India as well,” says Panda. “We’d love to go back. We toured there in 2009. It’s so different. The reason being is that, first of all, the population is massive. The city of Bombay has the population of Canada, so it’s mind-blowing. But the scale of the shows were huge. We played the northeast of India, which is kind of bordering Tibet and Nepal. And we were the first female-fronted act to ever play there, so I’m not sure that they were necessarily used to seeing a strong female. So that was interesting to read the reaction. Also the area we played was highly politically charged. There were tons of armed guards everywhere. I jumped into the pit and I kind of jumped out after an AK-47 slammed into my back. I just thought, ‘This is probably not a good idea right now.’ It was just a different vibe altogether. I was pretty sure there was only one girl at our show that I saw. One in Shillong, which was one of the biggest shows we played. We played a festival called City Rocks. It’s different. We’d love to go back. Any band that goes there now is forging a path for rock and roll in India, and they’re forging touring in India, which isn’t that common as of yet. And we totally want to do it again.”
It has been said, though not sure by whom, but it has been said — Diemonds keep one boot in the gutter — and the other in your teeth. With The Bad Pack they do something else, too: they take a huge step forward.