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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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iTunes Early Release of Low Vs. Diamond Debut Album

Previously published on PopWreckoning.com on 7/14/2008:

Low vs. Diamond is more than just a Los Angeles band, but an American band. All of the members hail from cities ranging from west coast to east coast. From Washington (vocalist/guitarist-Lucas Field) to New Jersey (lead guitarist-Anthony Polcino and bassist-Jon Pancoast).

With musical influences like U2 and the Strokes that are as diverse as their hometown backgrounds, Low vs. Diamond are clearly channeling those that passed before them. However, despite these influences Low vs. Diamond remain unique with their intimacy achieved by their extra attention to detailed songwriting giving them a complexity matching the song styling of Serge Gainsbourg, Burt Bacharach and even Broadway. Lyrically, Lucas weaves in themes dealing with family (such as “Actions Are Actions” and “Don’t Forget Sister”,) and stories about saying farewell to love (“Heart Attack” and “Wasted).”

Kevin Bronson from The Los Angeles Times explains it best, writing that the band “stands precipitously between overwrought melancholy and chimey hopefulness, avoiding both excesses, the band’s music plays to an optimism that stops short of outright glee.”

As a favorite iTunes act of 2008, iTunes has chosen them as part of their “Next Big Thing” program and is offering the band’s upcoming self-titled album for purchase before its release this summer. An uncompromising powerful record full of cinematic tracks, LOW VS. DIAMOND is now available for purchase on iTunes. A band The Sun, NME, The Los Angeles Times, Paste Magazine and Time Out London all praised as a band to watch in 2008. With a stop at the Pemberton Festival in Vancouver, Canada this July, you can catch the band on tour throughout the rest of the year.

Low Vs. Diamond: website | myspace
Audio:Heart Attack

Sounding Off on DNC

Music and politics have undeniably become intertwined in this year’s race. Sure, musicians have always been writing politically charged lyrics, but this election has seen an increased emphasis on music. As the Democratic National Convention has ended and the next convention is about to begin, I want to look at the role music has played in Barack Obama‘s candidacy.

Campaign Songs
These are the songs chosen for the candidates to walk out to their audiences before big speeches. They are meant to be inspirational and act as a reflection on the candidate. Obama’s campaign has gone through the use of several songs. Sometimes he went in the direction that reflected his ethnic heritage and used more Motown and r&b songs. Aretha Franklin‘s “Think” was an earlier, popular choice. The choice was good because its a song by an American legend. It was meant to make people think about the country’s situation and what he was offering America, but the lyrics about a straying lover didn’t send the best message.

Not surprisingly, other songs were quickly used. For about a year of the campaign, Obama used “The City of Blinding Lights” by U2. I’m not personally a fan because I think the guys in U2, or at least Bono, are a wee bit arrogant. Plus, the band isn’t even American. Not the most patriotic pick.

My favorite song of his campaign would have to have been Stevie Wonder‘s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” because it emphasizes Obama’s message of being here to serve the people. The lyrics, “You’ve got my future in your hands,” also rings true for Obama’s campaign.

Viral Videos
This is important to mention because Obama has a huge following among tech savvy youth. The result has been a lot of free marketing for him. First there was the success of the girl with a little crush:

More recently and my personal favorite was the Barack Roll:

Aside from being hilarious, an integral part of each video were the catchy and ridiculous songs used in them.

Musician’s Friend
Musicians love Obama. They are speaking out for him and playing rally shows. I attended a rally here in Omaha that was headlined by the city’s very own Bright Eyes

Check out this article here that talks how an entire label’s roster is showing their support. Not only are bands like NoFX putting on performances at the DNC, but they also are scheduled to do shows in Minneapolis to draw people to their shows and away from the Republican National Convention. This is a rather interesting tactic.

I just came across this rather interesting article in the Kansas City Star that talks about a Denver band called the Flobots. They’re leading marches to show their support and they played a show every night of the convention.

More recently, it is being rumored that the living members of rock legend The Grateful Dead are reuniting to show their support. Interesting indeed.

Rock the Vote
Rock the Vote is a program started to “engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country.” Not a bad mission and not a bad program as they combine music and politics.

Kansas City is hosting a free rock the vote show September 7 with some political speeches from all parties mixed with performances by The Wombats, Carolina Liar and Ludo. The goal is just to get people registered to vote and excited about politics.

I fully intend to return to Kansas City for the show. Plus, rumor has it that Obama may even put in an appearance. Although, this was also a rumor for Lollapalooza and he was a no-show, so we’ll see.