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INTERVIEW: PRIYA PANDA of Diemonds – September 2015

| 3 September 2015 | Reply

Rockers Diemonds are unleashing a new disc full of straight on rockers on the world later this week and we were able to pin down lead singer Priya Panda, while she was traversing Canada on a promotional tour to discuss the disc, several tracks, and the bands use of social media.  After wrapping our heads and ears around the disc and reviewing it last week, we were definitely excited to get a little background on the band, the disc, the tracks, and hopefully news of a US tour…


Toddstar: Priya, thank you so much for taking time out for us.

Priya: Of course.

Toddstar: You guys have a new album.

Priya: Yeah, a new album.

Toddstar: Never Wanna Die, it actually comes out this Friday (Sept 4 2015). What can you tell us about this project?

Priya: This is the best record we, as a band, have ever made. We’re really excited about it and I think the songs are going to be awesome for all kinds of people who like heavy music, hard rock, rock and roll, something for everybody.

Toddstar: What is it about this album? It’s so funny, you hear everybody say this is our best one so far and this is your third album. What kind of things did you pull from the first couple albums to swirl into this and build on?

Priya: I think that one thing that has been kind of consistent to all three of the records is our attitude and our sense on the world. I don’t think that’s changed very much, we’ve always seen ourselves like outsiders looking in on what’s happening, so that’s been the constant throughout the three, but what’s different is that we’ve grown up, we’ve played tons of live shows and we know exactly what we want it to sound like, and I think that shines on this record. We found our own voice musically.

Toddstar: I’d agree with that. The thing that really struck me was the visual of the album cover as opposed to the music. The music is, I don’t want to say it’s not heavy, but it’s more mainstream rock and roll, whereas that album cover just gives you a very heavy visual. Is this something you feel works in your favor?

Priya: We just thought the album cover was super cool and it matches the lyrical subject matter of our record and the title. We went through a lot of heavy stuff over the last year and a bit so I think that reflected in our art, in this record. This record just kind of speaks to all of the ups and downs we’ve had over the last little while and so, does the album cover work to sell our music or vice versa? I’m not sure yet, it’s not out yet, but we just liked it because it looks cool and we kind of softened it around the edges by the color scheme.

Toddstar: Looking back at the album, any songs on there that really came to you guys easy from the get, meaning the lyrics, the music, it just fell together?

Priya: Yeah, I think for that one, “Better Off Dead” would be the one that just kind of came together so naturally because of what the song is about. It was about this guy who is kind of just hovering around us, he was a bit of a stalker especially when it came to me. I was just in an angry place, to the point where it’s like what should I do here, should I get someone to beat him up, should I call the police, what should we do here? I’m like well I write songs, I’m a songwriter, and I’m going to write a song about it. It wasn’t even like that, it was actually really natural, and it just came out of me. I have to write something down before I kill this guy.


Toddstar: It definitely comes across in the music; I thought this has a little bit more of a tempo and definitely more aggressive lyrics than most of the disc.

Priya: Yeah, so for all of the songs on the record, we’ve kind of drawn on experiences that happened to us or were seen around us, so that one’s not an exception.

Toddstar: On the flip side of the coin, were there any songs that just fought you guys tooth and nail, you couldn’t get them finished?

Priya: I don’t know if there were any songs like that, because on the record, we weren’t rushing ourselves and we didn’t give ourselves any crazy deadlines or anything like that, so it wasn’t like that, but I think the one that came together later on and ended up being one of the strongest songs on the album would be “Ain’t That Kind Of Girl” just because it was a little bit different of a style for us in terms of the vocal delivery, in terms of the riff and all that kind of stuff, so yeah we worked on that one a little bit more.

Toddstar: I agree with that. That’s one of those songs that I thought there were cool drum fills, but the verse / chant where you took over the vocals on that and the lyrics just really made that song step out a little bit from the shadows.

Priya: Thanks. A lot of people are like yeah, you guys put a rap song on your record, I’m like it’s not a rap song; it’s kind of like an Axl Rose rap song. That’s kind of what I was channeling when I was doing it, like there’s more coming.

 Toddstar: What are the touring plans that you have on this project now, what are you guys doing as far as that goes, especially here in the U.S.?

Priya: As far as the U.S., we’re actually thinking of getting down as early as December, and then we’re going to have a full coast-to-coast tour in the early part of the next year, but right now, for example, I’m talking to you on a boat in the middle of a lake in Port Severn, Ontario because of our tour right now. We’re going to be playing in Barrie, Ontario tonight. We just finished ten days. We drove thirty-four hours and arrived last night at midnight. That’s why I didn’t have reception for so long. We were in the middle of the crazy country, one lane country highways. That’s kind of how you travel across Canada. As crazy as that is, we have one highway that goes all the way across the country. So that’s what we’re doing right now. We’ve already been to the east coast supporting our record because it came out a little bit earlier here in Canada and now we’ve done the west coast and we’re going to be coming through the states and then back through Canada in the early part of next year. And then we actually have a Japanese tour in November, a couple dates for our label, they have a festival that they’re throwing and we’re their headliner and we’re really excited about that.

Toddstar: Speaking of touring, are there any bands out there that you would just love to tour with?

Priya: Yeah, there are a few bands out there that we would love to tour with. I like a band called, I’m sure you might have heard of them, Halestorm, and then I like Buckcherry. I would love to tour with them. There’s a band that we are friends with and dig so much from Atlanta, Georgia called The Biters. We’d love to play with them. We’d just love to get on the European festival circuit too. That’s always aspired towards, and now that we have, our label in Austria, we have a connection to getting out there, so we’re really excited.

Toddstar: Thirty years ago, bands had to go out and make a name on the road. They didn’t have the benefits of social media. How do you feel that social media, especially the Facebook and Twitter pages you guys have, have helped you guys promote not only your projects, but tours and merch and things like that?


Priya: I think that for an independent band like us, it’s helpful, but at the same time, because there is social media, I think some bands don’t really ever tour, they are solely on the internet, so then there can be a lot more bands out there and I think back in the day when they weren’t dealing with things like social media, there were a lot less bands out there to begin with. Now everyone is in a band which is cool. People make music, so it goes both ways. It’s both helpful and a hindrance because you can go online and check out a band and decide that you don’t like them and they might not have updated their Facebook page that year, and does it matter? I mean, that shouldn’t be a determinate of whether you go watch a band live or buy their record, but at this point, it is. It’s not just the music alone that usually does the talking. There’s a whole bunch of pieces in that puzzle now that there’s all these different variables.

Toddstar: What cracks me up is checking out bands and seeing how many of them have an actual website anymore; they’ll just have a Facebook and Twitter.

Priya: Yeah, I mean the reality is our Facebook and Twitter probably get more hits than our website. I’m not sure, I don’t track them, but I imagine just by the way that I use the internet, that that might be the case. You know?

Toddstar: Back to the album, how much realism is behind the song “Secret?” That song took me back to the Aerosmith track “Janie’s Got a Gun.”

Priya: That song was co-written with a buddy of ours. It was actually based a little bit on something that he was going through with a relationship and then he kind of had a bare bones storyline and I definitely expanded to it and then kind of made it all to my own voice in the end, so it’s pretty real. It’s a real thing. I think it speaks to everyone who had a struggle and had to keep things from people who were very close to them.

Toddstar: Looking over the track list for the new disc, are there any songs in there that you think will always be part of a Diemonds show from here until the end of time?

Priya: Yeah, I think we definitely wrote some of the best material we’ve written so far, so I think we’ve written a lot of songs that we’re super attached to. I think we’ll be playing “Over It” in ten years, I think we’ll be playing “Ain’t That Kind Of Girl” in ten years and if it’s up to me, I want to play “Forever Unchained” too, because I love singing it. I like the energy of that song and I like playing it live.

Toddstar: I like the fact that it has a very solid riff underneath, a modern sound giving it a cool throwback, yet modern twist.

Priya: Thanks.

Toddstar: Looking back, again, this is the third disk. If you had to do anything different on this album, just based on what you know now that it’s finished, is there anything you’d like to change, looking back?

Priya: That’s a funny question because we’re just sitting with it now in a way, you know? I don’t know, I liked working with Eric Ratz and I liked the learning experience and him pushing us out of our comfort zone, so it’s kind of like a road map of where we were at that particular moment in time, so I like it the way it is. I’m ready to present it to the world and that’s why it’s happening, so I like it. I don’t want to change much about it.

Toddstar: Very good. You guys already have a built-in fan base, but if you could go through and pick a crowd, what fan base do you think would most appeal to Diemonds? Would it be the heavier stuff or, like you said, the European festival type crowd?


Priya: I think we would appeal to a lot more people than we ever would have in the past with our last record, so I think we have a great opportunity with the European festivals, with something like Warped Tour, with something like Mayhem Fest, any of the big touring festivals, I think we could find a home just because our record kind of speaks to all kinds of rock and rollers. I think we’re in a good place right now to open the door to all kinds of fans.

Toddstar: I agree. Priya, I appreciate you taking time out, and it’s so nice to see a young band coming up, I mean again, it’s your third album, but you guys are still coming up, and to have a front woman who can actually sing, she’s not relying on looks or premise or anything else, she can actually sing, and you can tell that you enjoy what you do.

Priya: I love it man. Thank you so much for calling us and giving us a little bit of your time.

Toddstar: We love the album and we can’t wait to get you here in Detroit.

Priya: All right, soon enough!

Toddstar: All right Priya, we’ll talk to you soon.

Priya: Okay, thanks Todd.







Photo credit: Nikki Ormerod

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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