Diamond Plate’s first release was the Thrash Clash Vol. 2 split with Oppression, which had Konrad Kupiec on guitar and Jim Nicademus on drums. One of their most popular songs, “At The Mountains Of Madness” was on that split and later included on Generation Why? a few years later. The band is currently signed to Earache Records/Century Media, and will be appearing with Death Angel, 3 Inches Of Blood, Battlecross, Revocation and Generation Kill at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room on Oct. 29.
The group recently released their sophomore album, Pulse. It’s essentially a new band with their new lead singer, Matt Ares. There was a darker and more serious vibe to the writing of this album with longtime fans noticing a more mature sound. The art of picking out the tracklisting and how to pick the order of the songs was compared to putting random puzzle pieces together to form a work of art.
The band now works differently than in years past, introducing jamming into their live sets as an important component of their songwriting and performances. In the interview below, Kupiec, Nicademus and Ares, as well as radio host Neil Wonnell, discuss the group’s songs, advice for young musicians, and more.
Konrad and Jim, you guys have Matt Ares singing for you now. Where did you make his acquaintance and how long did it take you and Jim to decide that he should be your singer?
Konrad Kupiec: We had met him actually through our old touring guitar player, Mario [Cianci]. We got in the same room with Matt and we had chemistry right off the bat. I think we all knew right away that he was the guy.
Jim Nicademus: As soon as he started improvising vocals over a song that he had just learned as we were just playing, we knew it was the perfect fit.
KK: He stepped up to the mic and had more balls than anyone we have ever jammed with. It was really cool; it was like magic.
Neil Wonnell: I believe they played [Chicago venue] The Fallout in March, and it was just like he said, when they hit the stage, Matt had started singing. He just fit right in. It looked like he had been there forever.
KK: The show at The Fallout was a killer show. It got the Chicago crowd introduced to Matt for the first time. We got to get to know him as a person. We all love him (laughs) so we are glad that he is here.
Matt, what bands have you been acquainted with in the past, and can you speak about their musical styles? Matt Ares: Diamond Plate has to be the first professional band that I played with in the past two years. I was in and out of local bands in the Miami bar scene. I was in a blues rock band for a few months. I played in a jazz band for a few months. I just want to play, that’s all it comes down to. As long as I can play bass and can sing and have freedom, creatively speaking, anyway. Mostly blues improvisational, that type of thing.
You recorded this album with three members. Can you explain your approach for songwriting on this new album?
KK: We played what we felt, even more so in the past, now with Matt in the band. What the three of us have chemistry wise influenced how the songs came out. It was in the most natural way possible. That’s what you hear on the record.
MA: Every member has something to say. We each have our own instruments to say it with. Together it really works with our personality. We are super happy and stoked to grow. From here, we are obviously super young and we have a lot to grow, learn and discover about ourselves and about music in general.
What changes have you seen to their approach, Neil?
NW: The new music has definitely taken on a new approach. It’s a little darker.
The change in the style of music, is that something planned or did it just happen that way? MA: Most of the stuff was written in the jam setting. It’s not like we had any preconceived idea, most of the time, at least. We got into the room and whatever happened happened, and some things stuck.
You made a brilliant cover of Napalm Death’s “You Suffer” on this album. What did you guys say to yourselves before you went in to record this track? [Mutual laughter amongst the group.]
JN: I don’t know. It seemed fitting. We are on Earache Records. Napalm Death was an Earache band at one point.
KK: It was an exercise in putting all the energy you can into one chord, or one noise. We went into the mindset of, “How can we make the most fucked up noise we can in six seconds and get into the essence of what it originally meant?” We recorded it in one take. It was like, “That’s it.”
Can you explain what went into your cover of Whiplash’s “Power Thrashing Death?” KK: Power and pain. Whiplash is one of the most underrated bands in thrash metal. We wanted a cover that would sum up the aspect of live energy in which that song is about, so we made it our own.
MA: We went in and said, “How would we have written this song if we had the list that they had back in the day?” We arranged it how we would have done it. That’s the process, and it took about 10 minutes.
What can you say about the recording of “Oi?” [Mutual laughter.]
KK: We literally wrote that in the studio. We had Jim kill it on drums. It took about a day and half or two days to record the entire album’s drum tracks. We had a few hours left over.
MA: We actually had about half a day left over in the studio. We were like, “What are we going to do?” We wanted to write a song real quick, and we wrote that.
KK: It was just a fun punk song. We have all been into more punk music and old school hardcore ideals and the energy behind it. It was a fun, spur-of-the-moment-type thing.
JN: Vocally, we just got Matt really drunk and he blurted out a bunch of stuff.
MA: It was time to go so we improvised from there.
KK: It was just spontaneous, fun shit. People shouldn’t take it too seriously.
MA: Some lines were, “This morning I had money, but now me wallet’s empty. My wife just fucking left me. She’s a fucking bitch.”
In your song “Dance With Reality,” one of the lyrics is “One step forward, two steps back.” Is this a reference to something? KK: I would say every word, every lyric, is a reference to something, but we wouldn’t want to give that away. Personally for me, I don’t know what an artist is singing about or saying in a song. It’s up to the listener to interpret that. To me, that’s the most magical and coolest part about music.
MA: The bottom line is that it comes down to experience. We are 100 percent behind every line and every word that was put down on this record. It definitely means something to us, but what does it mean to you? What does it mean to the listener? It’ll mean something to somebody.
What was is it like picking out the tracklistings for your album? KK: There is an insane amount of time putting all the puzzle pieces together and making it flow. There is a considerable amount of work from the beginning process to the end result. The end result is that final tracklisting. The more you listen to it, the harder it is to make a final decision on everything. You end up forgetting what it sounds like the first couple of times you listen to it. Once we did nail the final tracklisting, we did the right thing. It went back to the beginning where we did what we felt was right. We went through the whole thing until the record was done. That way, the listener has an experience when the listener hears the album in its entirety as opposed to, “That’s a good song,” “Oh, that’s a cool song.” The album as a whole is our statement. No one song sums up the band; it’s the album as a whole that is the statement in and of itself.
You are going on tour with Death Angel, 3 Inches Of Blood, etc. What type of things are you going to be doing for your shows this time around that is different than when you were on tour with Overkill last year? KK: Well, Matt’s in the band now. Essentially we are a different band now. What people are going to pick up on is just how excited we are. Matt has been a breath of fresh air. On tour, it’s going to be that same type of vibe.
JN: The thing we never did on stage was improvise or do any type of jamming, and that is like, all we do now, so you guys can expect that.
KK: I am looking forward to that stuff the most. Our goal is to do a different jam every night specific to each city. That will be fun. I can’t wait.
What kind of misconceptions do you see young artists have about becoming a professional musician? MA: They don’t have to practice to get there. They don’t have to put in work. Everything is just going to land on your lap. The fact that advice we gave to play the fucking music and the rest will come.
KK: The whole illusion of rock star shit. That is not what it’s about at all. It involves an insane amount of hard work. I don’t think people realize that. You need to literally live and breathe this 24/7 to make any kind of waves. I think with the young generation—the Facebook generation, the social media generation—anyone can start a band and record in their basement for the price of Pro Tools. Everyone can be on Facebook and make professional looking web pages, YouTube videos… People focus on the industry part of it, and not what made every band back in the day start—just jamming and having fun with your friends.
Diamond Plate will play at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room on Oct. 29. Pulse is available now. For more information, go to diamondplateband.com.