Interview With: Tad Moore of Low vs. Diamond

Previously posted on PopWreckoning.com on 8/6/2008:

Tad Moore, keyboardist for quickly rising rock group Low vs. Diamond took some time out of their busy schedule to talk a little about their group and new self-titled, debut album.

Bethany, Popwreckoning: Can I get you to state your name and instrument in the band?
Low vs. Diamond, Tad Moore: My name is Tad Moore and I play piano and guitar.
PW: So you met Lucas and Howie while you guys were at the University of Colorado. Is that right?
TM: Yeah, we did and we started jamming out there.
PW: So you started as a jam band. How did you develop from that into your current indie rock style?
TM: I think we were jamming, but we weren’t necessarily bro-ing and beer and all that, so I think that got us a lot more into song structure, which led to where we didn’t need those kinds of songs anymore.

PW: What were you guys doing before you started playing as a band?
TM: We were students. I mean, we all played instruments before, our respective instruments. But yeah, we were all students at the university. I think Luke was in Journalism, Howie was in Business and I was in Humanities.
PW: Then you guys moved to LA and you met up with Anthony and Jonny?
TM: Yep. We met them through our producer of some time. Howie, Lucas and I played in two other bands in LA before we knew Anthony and Jon through our producer and then that was Low vs. Diamond.
PW: How did you guys come up with the name Low vs. Diamond?
TM: Well, our second band, another friend of ours from Colorado came down with us, he had a girlfriend named Leila — I shouldn’t use her name — that sounded like Low and she would always fight with Howie Diamond and she was sort of like a Yoko persona. So she sort of took him out of the band and he was doing his own thing with her. So yeah, we just sort of said Low vs. Diamond. We wanted a name that sounded like there was a war on and show what our band came out of.
PW: What were some of the other names you guys were toying with? You went through a few others, didn’t you?
TM: In our previous bands? One was called Shadows, that’s the hardest band, but we were playing as 1984. We used to be the band written out as 1984 and I was never fond of that one.
PW: Not really a fan of George Orwell?
TM: No, I’m not really an avid reader. I’ve only read Animal Farm and 1984 in the third grade, but not much more. Our former guitar player came up with the name. It wasn’t really Orwellian. He just thought that it sounded cool.
PW: I’ve read that you guys are really into the “big moment” of a song. How do you guys keep those diverse enough so that the moments stay big and they don’t get repetitive?
TM: I think it’s mainly strong structure. Laying back and not just blowing up. Not just climaxing all the time and giving some in between time so it is a “big moment” and not just heavy rock the whole time, I guess.
PW: So kind of like what you did on “Actions Are Actions?” You kind of started off with piano, then it built up and then you cooled down so it was just piano and vocals.
TM: Yeah, exactly like that with the piano and vocals.
PW: Dominic Hardesty of the UK imprint Marrakesh originally signed you all?
TM: Yep, he was the first to talk to us. We met through a lawyer who also did stuff for the Killers and mentioned us to him. Dom showed up in England and we did a showcase for him and he was like, “You guys got a deal.”
PW: Now, you guys have actually been compared to the Killers. How do you feel about that comparison? Do you feel like there’s any pressure to prove you’re different because the guy who signed the Killers also signed you?
TM: I understand why people would compare the Killers with us. I think they’re a great band. I wouldn’t necessarily say we were influenced by them, but if people say we are, it doesn’t really bother me that much. We don’t need to shy away and show that our style is different from them really. I mean it’s music, people can decide that for themselves.
PW: Who would win between like a battle of the synthesizers? You or Brandon Flowers?
TM: Who would win? I’m just going to be nice and say Brandon would. He’s more experienced than me.
PW: Maybe in a few years you can take him on?
TM: He’s older than me. He’s got a year on me, I think. Or he’s a few years older. I don’t know.
PW: Are there any other bands that you would have preferred to be compared to than the Killers?
TM: I don’t really know. It’s hard for me to do that. I used to better at it. Lucas writes the songs and he looks at a lot of Serge Gainsbourg and stuff like that. There’s not a lot of bands that we necessarily sound like, but there’s definitely a lot of bands that use keyboard and guitar. Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any. There’s a lot of new bands I like.
I don’t think there’s necessarily any that we’d want to say we’re one in the same. I’d like to say Radiohead, but I don’t think we’re anything like them.
PW: Yeah, Radiohead’s kind of in their own category.
TM: Exactly. There’s only one Radiohead.
PW: Even though you guys are from the US, you signed in the UK first. Why did you decide to go after the UK first? How was the UK’s reception?
TM: The UK went after us first. At the time we loved the Strokes and we knew that the UK was a good place to start off as a band, at least it was in the early 2000s. So, yeah, it happened. Dom presented a great deal for us, so it was exciting. We signed and Dom’s a great guy. We trusted him. We just went for it and a few months later we were signed just like that.
PW: Has the UK’s reception of you all been different than the US’s?
TM: We went over there about a year and a half ago. They kind of have more of a teen-oriented thing. Bands like the Horrors and stuff like that. So, our reception was kind of lukewarm.
I mean, fans that actually did hear about us, it was great. We had trouble with the “NME” and getting in the “NME” and stuff like. It was more of a tastemaker. We didn’t have our album done yet and we just had an EP, a limited release EP. So, we still have some work to do over there, but we’ll be back there at the end of the year.
PW: How has being labeled by iTunes and a couple other things as the “Next Big Thing” affected your outlook on the band and your whole process of touring and writing?
TM: I’m really excited for it. The “Next Big Thing” on iTunes is a program that I think is really great and exciting.
PW: This was your debut album and it just came out like a week and a half ago.
TM: Yeah, on the 22nd (of July) it came out.
PW: What songs are you most proud of and really excited to have people hear finally?
TM: I wrote some of the lyrics to “Cinema Tonight” and a few others here and there, but my favorite song on the album is “Don’t Forget Sister.” Brandon Murphy was a friend of ours and he wrote the lyrics. I think it has some of the best imagery and is just really good.
We’re excited to get “Sister” out on the radio. I think it’s just a great rock song. I mean, it’s also one of the ones I’m most excited to play.
PW: Yeah, “Sister.” I really liked that song on the album. I really enjoyed what happened lyrically. So that was written by somebody not in the band?
TM: It’s Lucas’ best friend and they wrote it together. They’ll help each other out on the lyrics.
PW: A lot of the songs tell a little story. Were they inspired by any real-life things? Is “Annie” a real person?
TM: Annie is Lucas’ fiancé. There’s about a month before the wedding. Annie had this really tough year and that was written two years ago. It was just him sort of wanting to be there for Annie with the support of 26 year old band.
PW: On “I’ll Be,” I’ve listened to that a couple of times and I get a different feel each time I listen to it for the emotion being expressed. What were you guys going for on that song?
TM: That’s a good point, I think. Lucas wrote that one. It’s just about being really inspired by some one. I think that and there’s big bursts in it and we just wanted to go cosmic. “I’ll Be,” Luke wrote it so I think he can probably explain it better. I think he was really excited to get it in and it was one of the first songs he wrote as Low vs. Diamond. So yeah, he was very emotionally inspired by a lot of things going on at the time and I think “I’ll Be” just sort of came out of that.
PW: Can you name one song that your band didn’t write, but you wish you could say you had?
TM: There’s a million. Off the top of my head, “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James.
PW: I don’t know if I’ve heard that one. I’ll have to look it up.
TM: Or “Tops” by the Rolling Stones. That’s one I wish we had written.
PW: Just for fun, what’s the song that you’re most embarrassed to admit is on your mp3 player?
TM: The song I’m most embarrassed to own? Oh, there’s a lot of those, too. There’s a lot stuff by U2 that I shouldn’t really love. The old U2, the hipper U2, I’m into a lot of that stuff, but the newer U2 songs I actually love as well. I just don’t admit it so much. Let’s say “Walk On.”
PW: That’s alright. There’s a lot of U2 fans out there. That’s not that embarrassing.
TM: Yeah, it gets worse.
PW: Well that’s all I have. Thanks for talking with me.

Band Info: website | myspace

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How to love the Killers…

In my feature writing class, we’ve been writing a lot of how to articles. I don’t know if I’m really a fan of writing these, but I am a fan of this photo how to story featuring my beloved Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Killers.

The story is called, “How to Buy a Tux” and it was featured in GQ. Check it out here.

I’m a big fan of this story and of Flowers in the casual tux: Absolutely adorable. Although, the T-shirt alone is $295, so I don’t know what average guy is going to be replicating this look.

I’m also a fan of the photography for the story. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m really getting into photography. I just like the clean looks of these photos and I like the idea of telling a “how to” more through photos than through the print. I could get into doing stories like that, especially if Flowers was involved.

Killers just having fun.

Continuing my trend of obsessing over the awesomeness that is The Killers, not only do I love their original material, but I love when they cover songs.

Recently, they covered Cyndi Lauper‘s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” for the Yellow Bird Project at the Little Noise Sessions at Union Chapel.

Looks like too much fun. I can’t wait to see them in January.

I also want to note that Brandon Flowers is not wearing his hideous feathered jacket. This one in the video is more to my taste, but I still personally prefer his Hot Fuss days in the hot pink leather jacket:

And because I’m in the sharing mood, some of my other favorite Killers covers:

“Romeo and Juliet” by the Dire Straits, recorded for the live acoustic Abbey Road Sessions. Flowers was recovering from bronchitis that day, but I think he still sounds great. In fact, I think it adds an extra flair to the cover.

This cover of Joy Division‘s “Shadowplay” was used in the soundtrack to Control, the documentary about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis‘ tragic life.

One of their first covers was of one of the band’s influences, Morrissey and his song “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself,” and while this is not an official music video, it uses pics of the band and their audio.

I have a few other Killers covers like The Beatles‘ “Helter Skelter,” David Bowie‘s “Moonage Daydream,” Kenny Rogers‘ “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” etc. They love to do covers and I love to hear them, so just because I didn’t post more videos, make sure you don’t stop here and I encourage you to search out more of their covers.

The Cool List

Alright dear readers, I have some shocking news. Regretfully, “NME” the popular UK news site and music magazine has left me off of their “cool list” yet again. I don’t know what they were thinking. Instead, the declared Alice Glass of Crystal Castles as the coolest person of the year. Oh well, I guess I admit I love the electronica stylings of that group. I’m also pretty amused that she barely wanted to give “NME” the time of day when they tried to ask her if she was thrilled by this “honor.” That’s actually pretty cool.

I was pleased to see Gruff Rhys added to the list at number 44, not because I’m a huge fan, but because my beloved label, Saddle Creek has a a connection. I’m glad Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem made the list as well. These Jersey boys are finally getting some much deserved attention. I hope to catch their set Dec. 10. Also a big shout out to Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. I loved listening to “Oxford Comma” while doing editing homework and I think a lot of people would have been shocked if he hadn’t been on the list. I’m also not surprised that the other big buzz band from the year, MGMT had a member on the list, too.

While I love people like Muse‘s Matt Bellamy and Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O, I was a bit shocked that they were still on the list despite a rather dormant year. They weren’t the only sleeper stars to make the list. I suppose when you are that cool, you don’t need to do anything to still be considered the coolest.

Now, I know you can already guess that I was thrilled to see Brandon Flowers himself actually make the list. Granted, I would have liked to see all The Killers on this list because I really think they are all that and a bag of chips.

My biggest disappointment: Scarlett Johansson. I’m sorry that I don’t worship the blonde, big breasted actress turned singer, but I don’t see the talent and I’m not swayed by her looks because I don’t swing that way. Her Tom Waits cover album was a huge waste of an album and I’m sad I even bothered to listen to it. Please get her off this list.

Something that really surprised me was that The Smiths / The Cribs / Modest Mouse member Johnny Marr was on the list as a new entry. This guy has been in music for so long that I can’t believe that this is the first time he would have been on the list. I guess singers like his bandmate in The Smiths, Morrissey, are usually the candidates to make the list, but still. It was about time he got on the list.

So what do you think? Anybody you shocked to see on the list or glad they made the cut?

Check out the list in full here.

The Killers – “Human”

I listen to a lot of music and so it is easy for me into a band one day and ready to toss their album out with the trash the next. However, there is one band I have been a consistently loyal listener to and that I will likely defend to my dying day. That band is the Killers.

It seems like fans of this band are usually very divided. There are the hardcore fans of Hot Fuss, which featured synth heavy tracks and ambiguous Morrissey-like lyrics for all those nostalgic fans of the 80s. Then there was anthemic Sam’s Town that played like a Bruce Springsteen album.

I loved both and thought they both highlighted different strengths of the band. As the bass player once pointed out, Hot Fuss was the glitz and glamour that one might see on a first time visit to Vegas. At times, you get so caught up in the lights, you miss the grit and dark undercurrents. Sam’s Town looked at the people and told their individual stories. It wasn’t as glammed up as the debut album, but the wholesomeness was more true to the people who had stories to share.

Often overlooked is the band’s b-side album, which features a Stuart Priceremix of their radio hit “Mr. Brightside.” I feel any band who can release something where even the afterthought songs are good is band worth taking note of, ergo, my continued love.

Stuart Price or the Thin White Duke is currently producing the band’s third studio album Day & Age, which is expected to hit stores November 25. That’s pretty far away for a fan as impatient as I am, so fortunately, I got to hear the first single “Human” this week.

“Human” has me falling off my chair excited for this new album. It is apparent that Stuart Price was involved because “Human” has some similar elements as his “Mr. Brightside” remix. In fact, the song almost already sounds like a remix.

Another expected Day & Age song “Neon Tiger”:

At first listen, I was disappointed because as much as I love the dance sound of the Killers, I also think they have some of the best musicians you’ll find in modern rock, especially if you listen to drummer Ronnie Vannucci. However, when programmed beats are used as they are on “Human,” it can be hard to pick out the real drummer.

Some might argue this takes away from the soul of a song and I usually am inclined to agree, but in this case, I think it instead allows singer Brandon Flowers to stand out on his own. With each album this guy has been improving. His vocals made me cry on the acoustic version of “Sam’s Town.” Now while I’m not in tears from “Human,” I’m still very impressed by Flowers’ passion.

I knew this song was brilliant when I heard, “Close your eyes. Clear your heart. Cut the cord,” which is not only beautiful and alliterative, but “cord” can also be heard as “chord.” Brilliant! 

So, while I don’t know if “are we human or are we dancers,” I do know this song is great and I can only imagine how much bigger and more evolved this album will be from their previous releases.

Huzza for new Killers!

[odeo http://odeo.com/episodes/23389848-The-Killers-www-soundfiends-com-Human-New-Single-Prod-Stuart-Price-320KBPS]