Los Angeles based rock quartet The Diamond Light is one of the most polished, exciting, and talented bands in the scene. Combining epic classic rock riffs of old with fresh and gritty rock of today, the band delivers a unique sound that warrants no comparison. The Diamond Light- Griffin Young (vocals/guitar), Brian Stanley (guitar/bass/vocals), Trevor Menear (guitar/keys), and Ian Ochs (drums)- recently wrapped up a residency at Hollywood’s hippest whiskey bar Harvard & Stone. Each night the set list was different and the crowd grew larger, both increasing in intensity until the final night when there was a line of fans out the door and around the corner waiting to hear the band. I got the chance to ask Young a slew of questions and the kind, humble musician happily opened up about performing live, writing music, and the band’s absolutely dazzling debut full length album.
Your self-titled full length album is wholeheartedly brilliant. What was your goal for the record?
Thank you so much, glad you enjoy it! We went into this record with about twenty-four songs written and our main goal was to translate them in a very live, honest way. The songs themselves were raw and we wanted to portray them in the way they sounded as we were writing them.
Your recording process- in a family room in Laurel Canyon- was pretty unorthodox. What were the good things about the process? What was the biggest challenge?
In the standards of about ten years ago, I think our approach would have been pretty unorthodox. We're starting to see a lot more bands take matters into their own hands now and that's very exciting. For us, it was a no brainer. This was the house all the songs were written and rehearsed in and it has such a relaxed vibe to it. Sure we sacrificed some of the 'big-studio-sound' by recording it ourselves in a giant living room, but that's not what these songs needed. It was such an experience not being on someone else's clock. If we weren't getting a take or just not feeling right, we'd step outside and crack some jokes then take another stab at it. Bands become slaves to the clock sometimes and then that hurried, rushed feeling translates to the listener. The only 'struggle' we would run into was microphone bleed. Sometimes the drum mics would pick up guitar frequency and vice versa. But that was the sound we were going for. I love on old Led Zeppelin records when you hear Bonham's kick pedal squeaking or a door shutting in the background. In today's recording techniques that stuff is so taboo but we love little things like that. It adds character.
Are there any songs on the album that you were initially wary about releasing, perhaps because they pushed you in a different musical direction or you weren't sure how people would react?
One thing we love about making music together is that there really isn't a 'mold' that we write in. If a song is fun and sounds good to us, then it's in the running. If anything, we got excited when a new sound would emerge. We like being pushed into new directions. We wouldn't really say, "I wonder if people will get this?" As long as we were happy and proud, we were confident that it would translate. There's a little bit of everything on the record but a common thread that ties them all together.
It's tough to choose just one, but I think my favorite song is "Hitman". What are the origins of the song? How has it changed over time?
"Hitman" started with the refrain. For me, I was pretty intrigued by this character that decides he's gonna fight back for what he seemed to gamble away. Once we all started jamming on it, the song just wrote itself in a matter of ten or so minutes. Those are our favorite kind of songs!
Your live show is really incredible. When you write music do you do it with the live performance in mind, or is the translation to stage something you figure out later?
It's always the four of us writing the song structure, whether someone comes in with an idea or the song materializes from a jam. So we always have the live show in mind. It's pretty important for us to be able to pull the song off at a show without having a bunch of guest musicians coming up. Though, that can be fun too!
What's the most difficult song to play live?
The song "Never Enough" is probably the most musically layered song on the record. Trevor is playing a bunch of really great upright piano and organ parts. We also wrote the song in a pretty high vocal register to get a lot of emotion into the tune. It takes on a whole new life now when we play it live, but it definitely took some thought to keep the song sounding rich and full for shows.
What's the strangest thing to inspire a song?
"Mass Grave" is definitely a weirdly inspired song. It comes from a very sub-conscious place, lyrically. While it's fun to write full stories, I like to dig deep and let the pen just flow sometimes and that's definitely what happened with "Mass Grave".
What's on tap for the rest of 2012 and into 2013?
Next on the agenda is playing, playing, PLAYING. Just playing as much as we can and spreading the word about our band. There will be music videos and other fun extras but reaching a new and larger audience is very important for us in the coming months/year.
If you could have anyone in the world as the #1 fan of The Diamond Light, who would it be and why?
Uncle Neil! Neil Young is a large influence on us and if we could just get him to hear our record, that would be enough for us to all die happy men. He's one of the original punk rockers in the way he carries himself and his music. For him it's all about how to translate songs and stories in the most honest way- right from the source. That has become somewhat of a mantra for us. It's too easy to fake it. Staying true is the most important part of this whole thing.