Diamond Rings :: Multi-Faceted, Free Dimensional
First, a few impressions after catching Diamond Rings live at the San Diego House of Blues last month. The singer (aka John O’Regan) is tall, thin and gorgeous. With a flair for androgyny, the platinum-haired pop punkster’s moves on stage are both sleek and spontaneous. His quirky style is sure to create smiles of acceptance and his surprising, sexy baritone voice exudes a romantic playfulness. Vocally, he’s the love child of David Bryne of The Talking Heads and Iggy Pop.
"Free Dimensional," his second album released last month, contains songs that carry a strong message of individuality, and look forward to when sexual labels are extinct. In short, Diamond Rings doesn’t define himself by his sexuality. Taking his cue from a wide palette of musical influences, his blend can slam down a solid hard groove or pack a bouncy pop punch. This combination is both fresh and lyrically sound.
EDGE: I found your voice on ’Free Dimensional’ intriguing. Do you surprise audiences with your deep voice?
Diamond Rings: Ummm, I don’t know. I don’t know. It’d be nice if I do. It’s the only voice I have, so you know, at the end of the day, I just hope that they enjoy it.
EDGE: Where is your home base when you’re not touring and on the road?
Diamond Rings: I live on the west side of Toronto [Canada].
EDGE: In the release for your album, it reads, ’that a good heart and working ears are the tools required.’ So, I wanted to talk with you about a couple of songs on ’Free Dimensional.’ For the song ’All the Time’ your vocals reminded me of David Bryne and the song has a real positive ’pop’ vibe. One of the lyrics you wrote for that is ’we don’t need a label or antiquated fable to define what we’re unable to describe anyway...’ What did those lyrics mean to you personally when you wrote them?
Diamond Rings: Yeah, I think that song especially is about finding love and finding a connection with someone. It isn’t based on some of the restrictions that people normally put on themselves. Gender, sexuality or identity... it’s just expressing a positive feeling above all else. It really doesn’t matter who you love as long as the way that you feel is true.
Visions of leather jackets
EDGE: One of my favorite songs, if not my favorite right now is ’Runaway Love.’ Here you remind me of Iggy Pop with your voice.
Diamond Rings: Oh! Cool.
EDGE: I got a vision of leather jackets, the essence of punk music like early Blondie records and it really works. I really enjoyed that.
Diamond Rings: Hey, you gotta rock out every once in awhile.
EDGE: What are some of your thoughts on having producer Damian Taylor [Björk, Robyn, The Prodigy] work with you on this album?
Diamond Rings: I think I’ve been really lucky and fortunate to work with a great co-producer like Damian. He added, I think an immeasurable amount to all these songs. They all began as sketches or ideas back in my bedroom in Toronto. He took the vocals and fleshed out the arrangements. I was just real blessed and he gave me a lot of confidence really. He pushed all the ideas as far as he could.
EDGE: Were all of your songs ones that you personally chose to put on the album?
Diamond Rings: Yeah, to have the support of the label to not only let me work with the co-producer that I wanted but also let me pick the songs that I wanted and let me put them in the order that I wanted. I’ll always cherish that and it just made the record what I wanted it to be. It’s all you can really ask for... as an artist or musician to have control over the work that you’re putting out into the world.
EDGE: Definitely. ’Free Dimensional’ takes you somewhat from futuristically cold to warm, personal and fun in the progression of the album. It uses various musical genres correctly without being a ’rip-off.’ It’s musically refreshing with the unique adaptations of those styles of new wave, punk and pop.
Diamond Rings: Yeah, I think this album above all else, is about representing all of the different sides of my own personality. As a person and as an artist, I think I have a lot of different tastes and a lot of different influences. That’s where the record title comes from. Having different sonic dimensions and emotional dimensions and being free to alternate between those worlds as I want.
EDGE: I’m curious as to how your moniker for yourself "Diamond Rings" came to life?
Diamond Rings: It began with that ’multi-personality’ and sort of that idea that people can be different things at many different times. Diamonds as an object are multi-faceted and shining. But they also come from coal and formed over time underground. I think that speaks in a lot of ways to how I do my own process.
EDGE: That’s cool. The multi-faceted aspect and the way it sparkles when it hits a light. What are some of your influences for your stage persona? I’ve seen photos and videos of you and sometimes your look comes off as a cross between Leonardo DiCaprio and Wendy O. of The Plasmatics.
Diamond Rings: (Laughter) Oh yeah, that’s cool. There’s some ’Basketball Diaries’ influence I’m sure. I can see some of that. I can’t say how much I try to stay open to everything when I’m looking for inspiration. It’s just about finding things that peak my interest or strike me in an interesting way and trying to make it my own.
EDGE: What have been your impressions of your current tour so far?
Diamond Rings: I am always excited and grateful when I get the opportunity to perform. To imagine that I could make something in my bedroom or express some kind of a feeling that to me is real and unique. To imagine that people in San Diego for example, care enough to spend their money and come out and see me perform on stage for them, that’s a real blessing. I know what it’s like to show up and play shows to no one. I’ve done that a lot. So, to get some attention for what I do is really great.
EDGE: Thanks so much John.
Diamond Rings: Super cool, see ya.
Upcoming tour dates for Diamond Rings are SAT, NOV 10, Harlow’s, Sacramento, CA / WED, NOV 14, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR / THU, NOV 15, The Crocodile, Seattle, WA / FRI, NOV 16, Legends, Victoria, BC / SAT, NOV 17, Fortune Sound Club, Victoria, BC.
For further dates and more information, visit Diamond Rings website.
Watch Diamond Rings sing "Runaway Love":