As the old saying goes, if you want something done right, get a group of your talented friends together and produce it yourself. Ok, well, that’s how the Dave Diamond version goes. “I’m sure if a label was putting it out they would have cut the record in half,” Diamond confides to Elmore about his upcoming release, Trois. The record, which he’s releasing with his latest project, the Dave Diamond Band, marks the multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter’s 26th album. So let’s just say, the man knows what he’s doing. Especially since he’s spent decades in the industry as a pioneer for the jam band scene in the early ‘90s, and has since developed a personal style of music that spans countless decades and genres. In fact, Diamond may be one of the hardest working musicians on the scene today, currently playing with a staggering six bands– Assembly of Dust, Bad Pony, Sailing Shoes, Blow Up Hollywood, Alan Semerdjian, and Jam Stampede— in addition to his own.
Today, Elmore is debuting the exclusive stream of Trois, an impressive album that flows from the first the last, despite a truly freewheeling turn between the breezy leaning of jam-based rock to rockabilly, blues and beyond. “Let’s get a James Brown groove for this one. Or a Jamiroquai feel for this one. Oh wait, how about a drum groove like Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”?” Diamond shares, taking us through his multitude of influences. ““Cali Turnaround” is my nod to Rockpile/Dave Edmunds and “Tear it Down” is a straight up country-esque ballad for sure. But let’s not stop there, let’s drop tune the guitar a la Joni Mitchell meets Bruce Hornsby at a Mumford and Sons luncheon for “Let It Go,” then take a drum groove recorded on my iPhone, cut it up and add a lot of overdub drums parts to it with a Brazilian carnival feel… And lastly there is “Queen of Sorrow,” which might borrow from the Grateful Dead feel of “Sugaree.” Can’t help that. Somehow I always go back to a bit of a retro thing. Not retro in an Amy Winehouse way, but something along the way of 1975 meets 2016. If that makes any sense at all.” Give Trois a spin, and it will all make perfect sense, Diamond digesting the constant swirl of influence in his musical brain, and creating something that is, without a doubt, uniquely his own.
Head to Diamond’s website here to check out his upcoming tour dates and pick up a copy of Trois, which you can stream below. Then make sure to keep reading below to check out our full interview with Diamond, in which he takes us through his remarkable career, shares the stories of his favorites collaborations and breaks down the making of Trois.
Elmore Magazine: Throughout your career, you’ve worked both as a solo artist and with a laundry list of talented musicians. Can you tell us a bit about your latest project—the Dave Diamond Band?
Dave Diamond: The Dave Diamond Band started taking shape in 2009 with a bit of a rotating cast, but the mainstays have been my musical partner since 1992 Victoria Faiella, drummer Adam Polatov who’s been with me since Revenge of the Slowpoke was released, and Ray Hauck on percussion. I started the band after Donna Jean & The Tricksters disbanded. That was a great band with Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay (Grateful Dead) and veteran jam band the Zen Tricksters. I had all this music I wanted to record after we broke up. So I went into the studio and cut most of the basic tracks myself and had a lot of my musical friends come in and do their thing overdubbing. Very much in the same way I recorded Trois. But I was lucky enough to do a few tracks with a band setting with me laying down the drums in real time on Trois. In the end, nothing beats a band playing live in a room all together.
EM: How did you bring the current line-up together?
The current line up again has Victoria Faiella, Adam Polatov and Ray Hauck. But in addition we have Tom San Filippo on guitar and vocals. I’ve known Tommy since we were in second grade together. We had been in bands since we were nine years old. We had a band called the Mighty Underdogs that was touring in the ‘90s and making some head way in the jam band scene before that music was even called jam band music. Along the way that band disbanded and morphed into something else entirely different, and eventually I departed and joined the Zen Tricksters. Craig Privett joins us on bass. Craig is a beast on the bass and comes to the music totally prepared. I call him the glue of the band. Lastly Mike DiMeo on keyboards has been doing the majority of the shows as of late. Mike always plays something surprising me. In a very good way. Craig and Mike bring such an appreciation to the music that I am truly humbled that they want to play my music.
EM: How has it been recording and playing with this new group of musicians?
DD: It’s been a true joy making music with these amazing musicians. I’ll just say this. I am so very grateful that these folks want to play this music. We all have our side projects that we tour with, but the fact that everyone carves out sometime to make this happen is very humbling for me. I plan to get into the studio this summer and track some new tunes with this line up. We have been playing some of the new tunes that are not on Trois live already. Like I said before, nothing like a live band in the studio. Though for the recording of Trois I laid down most of the basic tracks myself. Mostly it goes like this. Acoustic to a click track. Then add some vocals. Then I add some drums and bass guitar. And then I very nicely ask my friends like Jason Crosby (who has been playing with everyone now since he’s moved out west like Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, and then you can throw in a list of who’s who. I mean the other day I saw that he was indeed playing with the Who in L.A.) to play some keys. Be it electric piano or Hammond B3. And Mark Newman is the ace. He brings his slide work in and works magic, be it on the dobro or electric guitar. I play drums in a Little Feat Tribute band with Mark, and he absolutely slays the Lowell George parts. Rob Baracco played some piano and organ parts on the other half of the record that Jason didn’t play on. Rob has played with Phil Lesh and the Dead and is a veteran Zen Trickster and mutha of a piano player. There’s a theme with the keyboard players here if you follow. Jeff Mattson another Zen Trickster and current Dark Star Orchestra member came in and laid down some guitar work that was downright perfect for the tunes he played. He and I are pretty simpatico with the music that we love. So it was like, can you think with his kind of feel, but before I even said that he already played it like that. Billy Titus and Teddy Kumpel can record guitar parts that are perfection without me saying a word. I had a friend of mine, Jessie Wagner (Lenny Kravitz, Duran Duran, Kid Rock), come in and record some background vocals, and basically I’ll give her the tune and she’ll just come up with stacked harmonies from heaven. Her husband Matt played a gorgeous flute track on a tune. Victoria sang on all the rest of the tunes that Jessie did not sing on. She and I have been singing together for years. So the blend fits like an old comfortable shoe. Jessie and Victoria sang together on “Queen of Sorrow,” and it was an awesome day in the studio! On some of the tracks though I was able to assemble Jason with his brother Chris Crosby on bass and Bill Titus on the guitar and me on drums, and we played to my scratch guitar and vocal and got a somewhat live band feel for a few tunes. Came out pretty funky and grooving. Lastly, Tom San Filippo sent in a track via email of a perfectly executed 12 string guitar part with a melody he came up with for “All Good Things.” It was another example- “hey, can you come up with something for this?”- and he did, and it was perfect!
EM: What makes you most excited about releasing Trois?
DD: Getting the music out there! I have so much music recorded at home and living on a hard drive, but what good is that in the end? Writing and recording new music is like putting a puzzle together. When it all comes together piece by piece and you hear it back it’s such a magical feeling. Gives me goosebumps. Always had and always will.
EM: How is Trois different from your past work?
DD: I would say if you or I looked at my past work, it’s not too far off the same path I’ve gone down actually. There are few releases under the Pozzy Ghuru name that are of the same mindset. But maybe a few more tunes that jam there. My first Dave Diamond release was a pure pop effort. Meaning not pop of today, but pop in the sense of let’s record something that might be shorter songs and less jams.
EM: Can you tell us about some of your influences for the album?
DD: Tricky one. I could narrow it down to this. I can say when I was writing some tunes it would be let’s get a James Brown groove for this one. Or a Jamiroquai feel for this one. Oh wait, how about a drum groove like Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”? “Cali Turnaround” is my nod to Rockpile/Dave Edmunds and “Tear it Down” is a straight up country-esque ballad for sure. But let’s not stop there, let’s drop tune the guitar a la Joni Mitchell meets Bruce Hornsby at a Mumford and Sons luncheon for “Let It Go,” then take a drum groove recorded on my iPhone, cut it up and add a lot of overdub drums parts to it with a Brazilian carnival feel, and try not to put too much other stuff leaving it bare a la Talking Heads for “Breaking Hearts.” I added a track with a flute solo, because I heard singer songwriter Michael Kiwanuka and said, “hey man, he has flute on a track and it sounds cool as hell. Let’s do that.” That is some straight up ‘70s vibe there. At least to me it is. And lastly there is “Queen of Sorrow,” which might borrow from the Grateful Dead feel of “Sugaree.” Can’t help that. Somehow I always go back to a bit of a retro thing. Not retro in an Amy Winehouse way, but something along the way of 1975 meets 2016. If that makes any sense at all.
EM: What makes you want to continue to explore these different styles rather than focus on one specifically?
DD: I love music. I love all types of music. If you took a peek at my collection of music that I like to listen to, you would say, huh? So I don’t think I could narrow it down unless forced to. Which might not be a bad thing! I can’t explain it. I could have easily edited down Trois, and I’m sure if a label was putting it out they would have cut the record in half, I’m sure of it. The fact that I love to listen the Beatles, Fishbone, Gram Parsons, The Grateful Dead, Miles Davis, Pat Matheny, Sly Stone, Nick Drake, Death Cab For Cutie, Lamb of God, The Clash, Todd Rundgren, Parliament/Funkadelic, Local Natives, Allman Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris, Squarepusher, Bob Marley, Los Lobos, Joni Mitchell, James Brown and Tom Waits to name a very few (there’s much more believe me) is a bit of a problem. As one could see. I have a friend who’s is a singer/songwriter and they stopped listening to music altogether cause they felt it was compromising their writing. Maybe I should do the same! …Nah!!
EM: As well as drummer and vocalist, you also play the role of producer. What has your experience been producing your own work? Do you feel like it allows you more creative freedom?
DD: Producing my own work is a constant struggle in the sense is you have to know when to say when. With pro tools you can edit to your hearts content and get everything perfect. Which usually happens. But all the music I grew up listening to was far from perfect. The mistakes are what gives it its character. As far as creative freedom, hell yeah! But again, I have worked with producers and it is actually fun and inspiring until we butt heads! But most of the stuff is usually co-produced with my engineer. All the engineers I have worked with are great producers in their own write. But it’s nice to have a sounding board to bounce off of. Like “Hey what did you think of that take?” Normally an engineer would just look at you and say “you’re asking me?” But the people I work with aren’t like that at all. They want to be involved. And for Trois Chris Laybourne was great for that!
EM: You are heading out on tour this summer; can you tell us what tracks are you’re especially looking forward to performing? What can fans expect from a live show?
DD: I am heading out on tour with many different bands this summer. I’ll be playing drums with Assembly of Dust and a new band called Bad Pony. I will be doing a tour with three singer songwriter friends of mine in July. We will all take turns singing in the round sans a full band. So that’s always a challenge. Love that actually. Let the song speak for itself. As far as The Dave Diamond Band we have dates throughout the summer. We love playing the funky tracks from Trois and older ones as well. I always say give us a room full of people and we will have their collective heads grooving up and down and having a good time. I promise you that!!