Your Lore Chapter 3: Dave Diamond
Your Lore Chapter 3: Dave Diamond
The official release of Conspire To Smile is January 15th, 2019. More to come on that soon. As part of the Conspire To Smile celebration we booked a run of shows that are designed as part record release party and part Conspire To Smile grassroots community in action. “Reid and Folks” will be in Arcada CA (1/25) , San Francisco (1/26), Boston ( 3/22) & Brooklyn (3/23). The Folks for this run are grounded by AOD’s rhythm section Dave Diamond and John Leccese. The co-conspirators and their personal accomplishments speak for themselves:
Dave Diamond - Drums(AOD, Donna Jean Godchaux Band, Zen Tricksters)
John Leccese – Bass (AOD & Percy Hill)
Scott Metzger - Guitar ( Joe Russo's Almost Dead, WOLF!, RANA, Amfibian )
Dan Lebowitz aka LEBO (ALO & Phil Lesh and Friends)
Danny Eisenberg (Ryan Adams, The Mother Hips)
I thought it would be cool to tell each of “The Folks” individual stories through a series of interviews leading up to the gigs by way of celebrating each of these “11s” and heightening the collective Lore.
Dave Diamond – One Cool Cat
Dave Diamond or Double D as I like to call him is a slow burn. He is cat-like literally and metaphorically. Dave has certain quiet self-confidence and slinking charisma. When I’m with him I get the sense that I’ve been teleported back in time to the 1950’s jazz scene. He enters a room and without speaking a word I feel cooler, hipper. My brain just sorta says “Wow Reinhold that’s a real bangin’ musician and he’s been hangin with all the other cool cats daddio”. Metaphorically Dave is cat-like in that he assesses as scene before he speaks, he doesn’t talk that much but when he does it counts. As you’ll see in the interview below he has a sixth sense in how he approaches music. All this cat shit aside Dave is also part dog in that he is extremely lovable. The dude doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s one of the best musicians I know and has zero ego. Because he wouldn’t say it I will, Conspire To Smile would not have happened without Dave. He produced the record but it was much more than that he plays on every song, comped every part, studied the mixes and more or less willed it to life. Over recent years Dave has come to be one of my closest friends and confidants. With that said…
Please Welcome Dave Diamond On The Lead Rock Drums
Reid: When and what drove your musical awakening -when you were like kablam “I have to do this”?
Dave : Music was always being played at my house growing up. My two older brothers played music in their rooms and on the weekends and my mom cranked the musicals ala Man of Lamancha, West Side Story. But when she played Jesus Christ Superstar I took notice. I thought man who's that singer? (Ian Gillian) Then I discovered The Monkees and The Beatles on my own. After Isaw A Hard Days Night I went into my room and I was kind of tweaked out , like overwhelmed. I didn’t know what had come over me at the time but looking back I think that’s when I figured out that music is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was 8 or 9. But since I was 4 or 5 I always said I wanted to be a magician when i grew up and my step dad would laugh all the time. He knew I meant musician…. I guess I just always knew somehow.
Reid: You’re a multi-instrumentalist and singer songwriter. What instruments do you play and how did you learn them all?
Dave: I play drums, percussion and guitar, bass guitar and some keyboards. My mom played guitar when I was little. I would sit at her feet and watch her play and I remember being in awe. There was always a piano in the house (which I took some lessons on) but got bored quickly. I didn't want to learn and read the wig wam song. I wanted to play Beatle songs and sing them. So, I took the Beatles complete book and had my neighbor help me write down the notes for the major/minor chords and off I went. I also started banging on the drums at 4. My brother had a crappy little drum kit with the paper-thin drum heads. I spent a ton of time trashing that poor old kit and more times than not, breaking those tissue paper thin drum heads. My mom and step dad saw that I was super into it and started slowly getting me a kit of my own, piece by piece. They couldn't afford it but they made it happen. Around that time, I burned my arm pretty bad and the doctor heard I played the drums and urged my folks to encourage me to keep playing to help heal. It wasn’t funny at the time but looking back it’s got a certain cosmic humor to it. It definitely was a turning point in in my campaign for a full drum kit and it fueled my commitment to the drums. Besides that ratty old drum kit my brothers ahd they also played guitar and bass. I would always play their axes. Much like the drum kit they would get pissed. But I couldn't help myself.
Reid: Did you take lessons or study the instruments you play or just figure them out?
Dave: I started lessons on drums at 9 and guitar when I was 11. I would sit in my basement and play along to all sorts of music by ear on drums, guitar and piano. All my friends were taking guitar lessons and at some point I decided to get serious and joined them in learning sophisticated chords and some understanding of what I was actually doing. We all had this one teacher that would teach us anything we wanted to learn. It was incredibly helpful and eye opening to have a group of buddies who were in it with me and a teacher who got us. Me and my buddies had a band when we were 8 or 9 and played all the way through college. We could switch up the instruments and that’s how I learned the most. Good old trial by fire. Basically, we were just going for it, sucking and then slowly but gradually not sucking…or at least not as much!
Reid: Resonance man aside drums are your “weapon of choice” how did that come to be? And why do you think you gravitated towards drums?
Dave: Good question. I think drums came to me. They just sparkled the brightest. My grandfather was a touring flamenco guitarist on my mother’s side. My dad’s family all played piano. As I mentioned earlier my brothers were mainly into guitar and bass so I suppose the universe said “can someone please keep a damn beat?!?. I remember staring at drum sets when I was a kid. The drummers in the neighborhood had these cool kits that looked all shiny and tricked out. To me Ringo looked way cool drumming and the girls seemed to love it so… The short of it is I couldn’t stop banging on things. I think it really was a nature vs nurture thing. As a proof point a lot of people focus on the guitar or vocals when they listen to music and often feel the drums in a recessive way rather than truly hearing them. But I was always trained on the drums when I listened to a song. The first time I heard Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich my head exploded. Then layer in John Bonham, Bill Bruford and Billy Cobham and you have the Kablam moment you asked about. I think about music through lens of drumming. I love to groove and I’m hyper sensitive as to how the feel is working. I’m always reading the energy in the room and trying to asses if the groove is translating with the band and to the audience. I want to make sure they’re all relating to it. It’s funny it comes out in my guitar playing as well. I have to watch to not over strum and to remind myself I’m playing guitar not drums.
Reid: I know you’ve played with a gazillion bands and a trillion musicians who are a few that people might know and what’s 1 or 2 performances that stand out as epic?
Dave: Epic would be a night of too many stars at the wetlands. Jason Crosby booked a solo show at the Wetlands in at the late 90’s and as we were sound checking his phone was blowing up. It started with Oteil Burbridge and Derek Trucks. Then Stanley Jordan, Melvin Sparks, and Eric Krasno. The core of the band was Lo Faber from God Street Wine and all of our buddies including Jeff Mattson who now plays in The Dark Star Orchestra. That’s one night that is burned into my brain. The other that jumps out is when I was touring with Donna Jean Gochaux and The Zen Tricksters. We were playing the second to last night at the old Sweetwater in Mill Valley. Bob Weir was set to sit in for a tune or two. He showed up and wound up playing an entire set with us. That was… epic. That place was a hot sweaty mess.
Reid: Do you have a preference for being a band leader or a drummer or do you like the Clark Kent double life?
Dave: Sometimes being the band leader is a pain in the ass. If something goes wrong, someone is unhappy, blah blah it falls on you. But that being said I love it. I get caught up in the adrenaline of it. So Clark Kent all the way, I like both.
Authors Note: Check out The Dave Diamond Band HERE
Reid: What are a few musicians - good bad or ugly your fans would be surprised you like?
Dave: Man I have a LOT of guilty pleasures: Burt Bacharach, The Producers (80s pop band), The Cure, The Smiths for those cool guitar tones. The Wiggles, The Imagination Movers. It should be noted for the court that I have an 8 yr old. Huey Lewis, Hall and Oates. Lamb of God, Metallica, Michael Jackson, Iron Maiden, The Roots, Digable Planets, Squarepusher, The Clash, Fishbone and some if not all of that sugary sappy 70s stuff. I’m sure I’m missing a ton but I’m pretty sure that list puts me in the guilty until proven innocent camp so I’ll leave it at that.
Reid: What’s it like going into your kids school and behind like “ ah yeah I’m a musician/rock star”?
Dave: If all else fails I have that! My kid is so darn proud of me and tells everyone I’m a Rockstar. And when she says it for a minute, I feel like one. When I get to come to her class and play some songs on the guitar…cloud nine! What’s funny is I sweat more in that setting than on any stage. I’m not sure why that is. I think because kids will let you know you suck cause they have not developed a filter yet. So far I've been a hit. #exhale
Reid: You produced Conspire To Smile and you played on every track. Have you ever produced some ones record other than your own?
Dave: I've co-produced a ton and produced some records I probably should have gotten a producer credit for but often there is some form of politics at play that prevents it. No biggie that’s part of the drill.
Reid: What do you make of the whole process?
Dave: I Love it. It’s like musical magic putting the puzzle together and watching and hoping things fall into place. I guess my 4-year-old self was right in regard to wanting to be a magician.
Reid: Coolest aha moment(s) as a producer?
Dave: When you're not forcing something to happen and it just takes shape organically. As an example, on the Conspire record I laid drums down for Amplified Messiah and Andy Herrick laid down parts as well. I noticed we were kind of playing the same things in some places which is not surprising since he more or less wrote the drum parts. The aha was when we subtracted bits of his kit, bits of mine and used some fills of his against what was doing. That was effortless and awesome. That tune played itself. Certifiable David Copperfield magic!
Reid: Biggest rub?
Dave: Getting things done on time is the big one. There were a few “I might need put a sedative in your coffee” interpersonal moments but no one is perfect and there was nothing atrocious, just garden variety chafe. Stuff being out of tune crushed me. Most everyone flew tracks in from afar and we mixed them in New York. A few times I got the email with tracks and wanted to write back - hey man thanks a ton for the tracks, tune your f-ing guitar next time (you included Reinhold). Thank goodness for great engineers who know how to pull an in-tune rabbit out of an out of tune duck. That’s some serious Buck Rogers 21st century gear and technique.
Note From the interviewer – sorry brah. I’d like to claim idiot savant but gotta go with plain ole regular idiot.
Reid: Can you confirm or deny that you are Neil Diamond’s Son?
Dave: Funny you should ask that. I know you have fun with that but.. before my mom passed, she told me of a story. It turns out on my dad’s side of the family there is a cousin or second cousin named Neil… #truth