Among the numerous young thrash metal startups, Diamond Plate has managed to capture my attention most, with the perfect balance of sheer aggression and melody that they have included on their Earache Records debut, Generation Why?. With the band being of an average of less than 20, this is certainly an achievement to boast about. We talk to guitarist Konrad to learn more…
HMT: Greetings Diamond Plate. The band last year released its debut full length album, Generation Why? under Earache Records, 7 years after the band’s formation. Were there any particular reasons behind this long gap between the band’s formation and album release?
The band starting forming in 2004, and our lineup and sound weren’t really solidified until 2007, when we were all about 14/15 years old. The reason there is a long gap between our formation and our debut album is because our young age held us back for a long time. We couldn’t tour because we were still in high school. We got signed to Earache only a few months after graduating from school. We wanted to wait for a good record deal, and also wanted time to work on our playing and songwriting to make ‘Generation Why?’ the best debut album that we could.
The band released its first recorded material in 2008 in the form of the Mountains of Madness EP, after the departure of guitarist Johnson. Between then and the recording of Genration Why?, were there plans to get another guitarist to join the band?
We always wanted to add another guitar player to our lineup, but because we never found a player that had enough chemistry with us, we were forced to be a three-piece for a few years. It was not until Mario came along that we found someone that fit perfectly with us, and was a fantastic guitar player on top of that.
For the recording of Generation Why?, the band has included new guitarist Mario. What was it that made the band decide to have another member join the band, and how did this collaboration come about?
I’ve always written our music with two guitar parts in mind. We knew that we had to play all of the music from ‘Generation Why?’ on tour, and we needed to fill our sound up with another guitar player live. Without a second guitar player, the songs would sound empty compared to the record. Mario was a fan of ours since the ‘Mountains of Madness’ EP, and we had been friends with him for that long as well. He was always asking us if he could join the band as a second guitar player, and after “Generation Why?” was written we finally said yes, haha.
How has his inclusion in the affected the songwriting and recording process of Generation Why?
“Generation Why?” was written before Mario joined the band, and he was not able to be in the studio with us for the recording process unfortunately. However, we have been writing constantly for our second album already, and his ideas and inclusion in the songs will make a much bigger impact on the next album. We’re all really excited to be finally writing with him, and the new demos are definitely pushing our sound forward.
On top of the speed-fest that the band has come to be known for, there are also slower moments on the album, such as on Tomb with a View. Was this “transformation” of sorts a conscious decision when writing the songs on the album? What was the reason behind the introduction of different elements in the band’s music?
We all felt that we needed to push ourselves are songwriters. A good album is an album with variety, and we wanted to make sure we added that to “Generation Why?” instead of having every song just sound the same. My influences reach far beyond thrash and even metal, and I want to slowly add those influences into my playing.
Feedback on Generation Why? has been pretty mixed, with some proclaiming this to be one of the band’s finest works, while others dissatisfied with the evolution of the band’s sound, claiming that the band has lost some of its previous intensity. How does the band feel about such mixed reaction?
As artists, we make the music we want to make, regardless of what reactions may be to it. Seeing and hearing both positive and negative reactions to the album is better than getting no reaction at all.
When listening to the album, the main body of Empire Tomorrow could have been a perfect end to the album, and it was certainly surprising to hear some sort of a hidden track after a few seconds of silence. Were there any reasons behind this?
I’m a huge fan of hidden tracks; I think they add a bit of depth to the album. The clean guitar was done in one take, and the solo was improvised in the studio with only one take as well. We all thought it had a great vibe and decided to close the album with it. In the intro of the album (‘Entertainment Today’) you hear a television set turn on, followed by the madness of news and channels. In the hidden track you hear the television set turn off, ending the album.
Generation Why? also includes re-recorded versions of older tracks of the band, such as Relativity, Casualty of War and At the Mountains of Madness. What was the reason behind this?
Those older tracks were originally recorded when we were just 16 years old. We felt that the songs were really strong, but our playing and the production on them did not give a good representation of the band. Re-recorded, the songs finally sound the way we always wanted them to.
Generation Why? was produced by Neil Kernon, who has also worked with numerous other extreme metal bands. What was the experience like working with him?
Neil is an amazing producer, and without him ‘Generation Why?’ would not have turned out the way it did. He was a huge guiding force for us; with him we were really able to play our best and be the most creative we’ve ever been. His knowledge made him almost guru-like to us. The tones that he helped us achieve on the album are crushing, and we’re definitely looking forward to pushing more limits of heaviness on the next album with him. The most important thing he taught us was to enjoy the entire process of creating the album one step at a time.
Right from the start, the band’s lyrical themes has already dealt mainly with social issues and injustice. How did the interest in such issues come about, and why use music to push the band’s message instead of other medium?
Music is one of the most powerful forces in the world. As musicians, it is our art to channel that force into something that holds meaning for others. By writing about the reality around us, we’re able to make a connection with people. Our music is meant to entertain, and our lyrics are meant to connect. As we grow as songwriters and musicians, it is our goal to connect with as many people as possible. Music is the only medium that affects people physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
The average age of the members when the band was formed back in 2004 was about 12 to 13 years old. Would it be possible to give us and our readers some background on the band members’ musical histories?
I started to take guitar lessons when I was 11 years old. After a few years I quit taking lessons, and began studying guitar on my own. After joining Diamond Plate, my main focus has been playing in a band and writing songs, but I’m just recently getting back into studying theory and working on my technique again.
I grew up being the only member of my family to play a musical instrument, but my dad had a huge CD and record collection that introduced me to all kinds of music at a young age. As a little kid I was obsessed with Joe Satriani. I then grew up on bands like Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, and that slowly turned into Metallica and discovering other thrash bands like Testament, Exodus, Vio-lence, Pantera, etc. From metal, my influences grew to all genres. Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains, Death and Cynic, jazz like John Coltrane and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and everything in between influence me to push myself as a musician.
How would you say the band has grown, as individual musicians and as a band over the years?
We’ve all made tremendous improvements in our playing and songwriting since we started as little kids. We aimed to be the tightest band that we could be, and so far we’ve done a good job of sticking to that goal. We practice and play our instruments constantly, and the way we’ve evolved has been really natural I think. At the end of the day, we’re just young guys that love playing the heaviest music we can. We don’t think about growing and changing, it just happens. We’ve pushed our sound in small steps, and we’ll continue to do so on every album after “Generation Why?”
With the album finally released, what are the near-future plans of the band?
We plan to tour constantly and bring our live show to as many fans as possible. In 2012, we have a full year of touring in North America, with big plans to head to the UK and Europe. We’re hoping those plans eventually extend to Japan, Australia, and the rest of the world. Our live show is where you truly feel the most energy from our songs.
We have come to the end of the interview, thank you for taking the time off to answer our questions!
Thanks for a killer interview as well, glad you enjoyed the debut album! For those of you that haven’t heard “Generation Why?” yet, don’t take my word for it – go use your ears and check it out for yourselves!
Album Review: Diamond Plate – Generation Why?