Sometimes inspiration comes from obvious places. Other times, it takes a little bit of time to find your muse. The four fellows in Diamond might have a lot of time invested in breakdowns and distortion – several of the members also reside in notable hardcore bands like Trapped Under Ice and Down to Nothing – but for Sam Trapkin and company, the choice to come together under this flag to play this type of music was quite simple.
“We started Diamond because there weren’t a lot of newer bands playing that style of music. That’s not to say we don’t draw influence from a lot of different places,” says Trapkin. Noting that the collective members of Diamond – guitarist Trapkin, vocalist/guitarist Justin Gilman, bassist David Wood and drummer Brendan Yates – are fans of anything from The Bee Gees to The Beach Boys, the end result somehow morphs with the band’s different backgrounds to create the often gorgeous-sounding Don’t Lose Your Cool.
“I guess Diamond is what you get when you smash it all together.”
Forming in some ways back in 2009, Diamond grew from a mutual love for bands like Foo Fighters, Silverchair and Weezer, as Trapkin and Gilman turned joking about a band into something more when Trapkin suggested the idea to the other two members. “It was kind of like, ‘Hey, so I have this friend Justin,’” Trapkin jokes. “None of us were super into most modern rock music. So we wanted to do a band that sounded like what we liked, music we’d want to listen to. Instead of writing songs about our ‘whiskey hangover.’”
Diamond benefited from being able to record Don’t Lose Your Cool in Baltimore with Paul Leavitt, making it easier to go home at night instead of staying in a hotel or other accommodations. “Paul is a very mellow guy. He doesn’t talk very much, and when he does, it’s usually something great,” says Trapkin. “We’d go back to my apartment every night and make sure we had everything figured out for the next day, like harmonies or leads.” This time they drew from bands as broad as Queens of the Stone Age and Everclear to Foo Fighters and Radiohead. According to Trapkin, the writing process for the sunny melodies and smooth song structures is a welcome change from the usual writing for hardcore bands that several of Diamond’s members are used to.
“I love writing for Diamond,” says Trapkin. “Writing based around melody versus something a little more rhythmic is a lot different. You get so used to focusing on riffs. With Diamond it’s obviously way more about the progressions and melodies. Playing live is a lot different too. There’s a lot more to think about than just bouncing around and headbanging for the whole set. Singing harmonies, clean guitar, distorted guitar, playing those little single string parts, it’s a mess. It probably doesn’t sound like a mess, well hopefully it doesn’t, just for me mentally sometimes.”
But with a different sound and mindset, the messages nestled inside Don’t Lose Your Cool are arguably of a different breed than what a hardcore band might talk about on a record. “I think a re-occurring theme for this record is not being able to give yourself to someone. That’s something that is touched on in a few different songs, and most of us have dealt with in our personal relationships,” says Trapkin. “”Keep Dreamin'” and “Fly Solo” speak to that a little bit. Even if you think someone is great, and you can’t think of any good reason why not, you just can’t force yourself to feel anything.”
One true curveball on a reasonably consistent EP is the acapella title track, written and sung by the band originally with the intention of killing time while waiting for Leavitt to arrive at the studio one day. “We were just posted up on the stoop for an hour or so waiting,” says Trapkin. “After exhausting all local food and coffee options, there was nothing left to do but write an a capella song you know? So we wrote most of that on his stoop. We were all sitting there singing it together and I think people were walking by thinking we were homeless or something.”
With a new EP in hand, Diamond’s touring plans are still up in the air for next year, but that hasn’t stopped the band from taking part in a few shows before the year ends. They have already put a few shows on their calendar for the holiday season, supporting Four Year Strong, Set Your Goals, Balance and Composure and Transit on the It’s a Wonderful Giglife Holiday shows. It is a prime opportunity to not only reach new fans on perhaps the biggest bills they’ve ever played, but to jam new tunes live. “We’ve toured with or played with all of those bands before except for Transit, so it’s going to be a real treat to see and hang out with everyone,” says Trapkin. “Plus it’s going to be the holidays, which is bound to create a truly joyous and cheerful atmosphere. I see some serious potential for some collaborative Christmas a capella too. Happy holidays y’all!”