Priya Panda – Diemonds


Interview by Tony Cannella

I suspect that in a few months I suspect that Diemonds will need no introduction. For now however let’s present the members of this amazing band: Priya Panda (vocals), C.C. Diemond & Daniel Dekay (guitars), Adam Zlotnik (bass) and Aiden Tranquada (drums) comprise this hard rock outfit from Toronto. After releasing an EP (“In The Rough”) and a full-length (“The Bad Pack”), the band found themselves with a well-deserved record deal with Napalm Records and have released their Napalm debut, entitled “Never Wanna Die”. In my opinion this is THE hard rock album of 2015. It is loaded with great hooks, melodies and head banging anthems. Recently it was a pleasure to speak to lead vocalist Priya and discuss all things Diemonds.

First of all, thank you for doing this. I love the record “Never Wanna Die”.

Thank you.

It just recently came out here in the States. What can fans look forward to when they buy the album?

We made a record that we’re really proud of and we want as many people as possible to hear. They can expect big riffs, big hooks and some great vocal melodies that they can sing along to and bang their heads to.

Have you read many reviews for the record and are you happy with how it has been received so far?

Yeah, we’ve been getting lots of feedback coming in just from our fan base that we’ve built over the years, they’re super pleased with the direction we’ve taken – so are we, to be honest. The reviews have been great in comparison to our last record. I think there is a lot more for all kinds of music fans, not just fans of hard rock, glam or sleaze which is where our roots lie.

One of the songs on “Never Wanna Die” that stood out for me was “Secrets”. Lyrically, what is that one about?

That song is basically like a diary entry exposing my soul to the world. I think a lot of people – especially a lot of girls – can really relate to burying certain things inside you that you can’t tell anyone, you can’t even tell your family, you can’t tell your friends, you can’t tell your boyfriend, you’re going to take it to the grave. I think every person has something like that. I think women kind of carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. That’s kind of what that song is about.

Another favorite of mine is “Over It”. What can you say about that one?

That was a song that I wrote just to inspire people to make a change that they’ve been wanting to make for so long, but they just need a nudge, they’re just stuck in a hamster wheel, they’ve been spinning round-and-round and they just can’t seem to break out of it. I hope this is the kind of song that inspires them to make whatever changes that they need to make to make their lives livable for them, happier for them, more where they want to be in life. It was rock music that did that for me and so that’s what I wanted to put back into the universe.

The new record is called “Never Wanna Die”. Is there a special significance to the album title?

It has kind of a double meaning. Primarily it’s dedicated to three of our really close friends all of whom had played in the original line-up of Diemonds. They all kind of passed away over the last year-and-a-half which is extremely difficult for us. We never really recorded especially without Alan Riches who played drums on our original EP and then played guitar on “The Bad Pack”. It was a really crazy big blow for the band and it’s not something that we’re ever really going to get over. What’s helped us to kind of heal and just move on and continue playing and performing songs that we wrote with guys that we loved and we’ve known for so many years is writing more music and dedicating it to them.

You did a lyric video for the song “Over It” which is really cool. Do you plan on doing a regular video for any of the songs for the new album?

Yeah, we’re actually in the process of scheduling that. We were doing that this morning. We’re probably gonna do it in the next couple of weeks while we’re home before we start playing some more shows again. So it will probably be in the next week or two that we’re going to film a video for “Never Wanna Die”.

You do have plans to go on the road, then. Can you reveal what those plans are?

Well we’re actually on the road now. We’ve been on the road for a while. We’ve done Canada’s east coast, we’ve just done Canada’s west coast and we’re just heading back into our home province now. We did a show last night and we’ve got our CD release party coming up on Saturday (September 5th) for the worldwide release. We’re so excited for that because that is kind of like the culmination of all our hard work over the last little while, we get to kind of celebrate with a show in our home town. Also we are going to Japan in November which we’re extremely stoked about. When you start a band, your like, “oh man, it would be awesome to go to Japan, it would be awesome to go to Europe”. Now those things are coming to fruition for us, it’s kind of surreal. We’ve worked really hard for it but the fact that you put your mind to something and see it for yourself that it can come true. It’s a crazy concept to swallow. That’s where we’re at. For the United States we’re looking at early December and we’re going to hit Ontario again at the end of December before Christmas.

How do you feel the band has progressed with your new album “Never Wanna Die” in comparison to your previous one “The Bad Pack”?

I definitely think that we’ve all improved as musicians from touring so much. We’ve probably played around 300 live shows in support of “The Bad Pack”. During that time we were also performing songs that have ended up on Never Wanna Die” plus we were performing songs that didn’t end up on “Never Wanna Die”, so that was kind of a learning process for us; writing and writing and discarding songs and updating songs as we were on the road. I think that the album kind of captures our live essence because some of the songs that we’re performing such as “Never Wanna Die” or “Meet Your Maker” they never really changed from our original version to the final output. Some of them we worked on quite a lot. We just had the opportunity to work with a producer – we worked with Eric Ratz – he’s Canadian and he’s been very successful with a lot of bands that we’ve looked up to, he’s really made their careers and they’re our buddies, we really wanted to work with Eric. He kind of helped us to grow out of our youthful sound into our more developed sound that we were able to draw our live show aspect to the record. We’ve always wanted to do it. I don’t think we were ready. Everything happens when you’re ready. I think we’re ready to work with a producer, we’re ready to go to Japan, we’re ready to go to Europe, we’re ready to be on Napalm Records and that’s how it all came together at once.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did Diemonds first get together and how long have you been together?

The original concept of the band was started by me. It was originally with me and my two best girlfriends. My friend Carly played drums and my friend Meghan played lead guitar and my friend Gabe Knox was the bass player. He actually joined when the band became more legit when we were playing out and whatnot, Gabe continued on with the band. I met C.C. (Diemond) on a tour bus in New York City in front of Madison Square Garden. He was working for a band called Death From Above and they were on tour with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails. I was actually interning at MTV and I was on the bus working. We ran into each other we were like, “Oh you’re from Toronto. That’s crazy!”. We started talking about all the bands we like: Ratt, Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses. We were younger so there wasn’t very many people into those bands, so it was really surprising we met each other. When C.C. came back from touring – we didn’t reconnect in the city for over a year – but I was still kind of working on Diemonds and he was looking for a band, so it actually worked out. We’ve kind of had different incarnations over the years. We’ve actually lost a good number of our past members now. But yeah, it’s all been a big family and the line-up we have now, we’re solid, we’re best friends. We play live all the time and we kind of live and die for Diemonds. It’s exactly what we’ve been working towards the whole time.

You mentioned that you are into Ratt, Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses. Who are some other bands that have influence Diemonds over the years?

Well, I’m sure the guys would have their own take on this but for me I like melodic hard rock like Aerosmith, I like Guns N’ Roses, my favorite artist ever is Paul McCartney. I really like poppy melodies. (Daniel) Dekay would probably say he likes Megadeth, Metallica and underground thrash bands. C.C. comes from a background of hardcore and actually Adam (Zlotnik) comes from a background of thrash too, he used to play in a band called Fatality for a long time. Aiden (Tranquada) is the most all across the map which is fantastic because he’s the drummer. He really likes all kinds of hip hop, hard rock, classic rock and I think you can hear that in his style.

We’ve come to the end of the interview Priya. Thank you for taking the time and I look forward to seeing the band on the road. “Never Wanna Die” is a great record which I think everybody should check out. Do you have anything you would like to say to our readers to wrap this up?

Get “Never Wanna Die” and crank it out your car stereo man. Put it on at your house parties and bonfire’s and in your dorm rooms and at work. That’s what it’s all about. Rock and roll is for sharing.

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