Napier grunge band The Diamond Dead started 2019 with a bang... fighting a culture of self-obsession with new single No Revolution over intense hard rock riffs.
Radio 13 writer Reece Skelley talks to lead vocalist Tyley Burkin about the band’s slight reinvention and what to expect from their forthcoming EP Becoming, scheduled for release in early 2019.
Reece: Let’s start with the history of the band, of The Diamond Dead. Who else is in the band?
Tyley: There’s Liv Strawbridge, our drummer. Tom Mohi is the bassist, he’s our third bassist. And Kane Riley is on guitar.
Reece: I understand there was a rebranding of sorts?
Tyley: Pretty much, yeah. We had been called Diamond Doll for probably about six or seven years, and um, we just decided to rename it, sort of revamp ourselves a little bit this year. For one thing, we keep getting billed as the Diamond DOLLS, which was a little awkward. And there was a lot of other stuff that came up on Google or YouTube if you put that phrase in, so we thought we’d try something a little different. With the alliteration we didn’t have to change our branding too much.
Reece: (laughs) Just enough of a fresh start.
Tyley: (laughs) Yeah, just enough.
Reece: And it does feel like a fresh start with the new single too, I’ve been listening to your previous work (the Plus None EP) and the new song feels a little less grimy, a little cleaner in a sense?
Tyley: Yeah, possibly. We were definitely going for a slightly different sound but we were pretty non-specific about it (laughs).
Reece: Have there been any challenges coming up as a band? I mean you guys have been together for quite a while, did it a take a while for people to vibe with your sound as well? Or was it relatively smooth sailing?
Tyley: It’s been relatively smooth sailing, we had a spot where we were going to call it quits, not due to anything interpersonal but my own mental health. I got my s**t together and we ended up picking it back up. As for people vibing with the sound... enough people seem to dig it. It’s a bit of a throwback to the late ‘80s/early ‘90s grunge and thrash and there seem to be a lot of people that still identify with it. I think we all recognise it’s not a sound that will get mainstream popularity but we’re happy with what we’re doing.
Reece: What would you say makes this upcoming EP different from your previous work? I guess lyrically it’s a bit more… political, maybe?
Tyley: Maybe, yeah. I don’t like to get too specific with lyrics, I like them to still be… a bit open to interpretation.
But the three songs we’ve chosen for the EP, we are gonna do videos for each as well. Which is… I mean we’ve done a couple videos before but not where we’ve been in them so much. And all three songs are sort related so it’s kind of like a journey, three separate chapters of the same story.
Reece: Awesome. Anything you’d like to make about your style or possible influences? Just a brief profile of what people can expect.
Tyley: Liv and Kane, especially Liv, I know there’s a lot of Rage Against the Machine influence in her drumming style and that kind of thing. And then Kane, Tom and I all listened to a lot of different kinds of punk growing up. So there’s a bit of that, and then it… just kind of comes out a little heavier than punk, I guess. And it’s probably just down to everyone liking to down-tune their guitars (laughs).
Reece: I’ve definitely seen a couple comparisons to Hole or Devilskin in the comments.
Tyley: Yeah, I’m a huge Courtney Love fan. I listened to Hole a lot growing up so that’s definitely in there.
Reece: I guess we’ll wrap up with what are your goals and ambitions for the upcoming year?
Tyley: We’d like to release this EP, we’ve got two more videos to shoot and release which we all do ourselves... just in-house, and hopefully we can get to Australia this year to do some touring, which would be nice.