…The term was coined and first used by The Sevenate one of the leading bands of the scene. During a 2007 interview with SNAP Downtown, frontman Eloha, cleverly evading the difficult question “What kind of music does the band play?” and avoiding being pigeon-holed into a ready-made sub-genre that doesn’t truly reflect the band’s sound. “I guess I was inspired by my rhinestone covered Les Paul” he reveals, “I also thought it out a bit and my songs are created by decades of playing show after show, year after year and under incredible amounts of pressure the result is music that is rare and beautiful, and it has many facets of influences… It’s hard and yet it’s sorta shiny and brilliant…Get it? Diamond Rock”.
There is something really great happening in Toronto right now. a few bands with one thing in common: They shine! Like diamonds, they have polished their songwriting, their message, their performance to the point where their greatness is so obvious, its stands out and screams to be heard. They are not necessarily from the same record bin, they vary in sound and style but they all have that quality of the diamond: It’s the hardest and most resilient Rock on Earth and it can be polished to the most brilliant shine! and “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!”
In the late 90’s I stumbled upon a band at El Mocambo; they were called Kai and the War Milk Boyz and the Kai in question, a bleached blonde, part-Japanese part Bowie clone, did a strip tease during a guitar solo and showed the qualities of a great showman. Kai & The War Milk Boyz eventually morphed into Universal Love Attack whose first CD was full of memorable hooks and melodies, great lyrics, and a futuristic sound greatly influenced by the J-Rock (Japanese Rock) scene: Hyper-visual bands like X-Japan, Malice Mizer, looking like Animé dolls more than humans… That first U.L.A. album was so well written, such an accomplished work of art, so ahead of its time that, of course, very few people got it. They were a band you either loved passionately or hated. They were definitely onto making a mark for themselves and had begun the long and difficult process of building an audience: Shows in shitty venues with shitty sound and shitty audiences who don’t know how to give back (Hello Toronto!) and needless to say: No money as well. It’s backbreaking work, when you’re a performer like Kai is. More importantly, it’s extremely hard to keep a band together through those difficult years. Most musicians have a limited amount of self-motivation and enthusiasm. When the work is as unrewarding as “paying your dues in clubs” can be, it is also heartbreaking work. You put a ton of energy and resources behind a project that doesn’t even begin to give back for years sometimes, many, many years… so bands eventually break-up before their big break ever happens.
Toronto audiences, especially club audiences, have a reputation in other parts of Canada for being passive. I’ve heard them described as “frozen”, “static”, “low energy”, “not loud”, “boring/bored”, “stuck-up”, “elitist”, etc… in other words: unenthusiastic.
unfortunately, it is well deserved for the most part. Punters at clubs act as though the band is a jukebox and the music is there as the soundtrack for their night of making loud & empty conversation over the music trying to pick up “chicks” or “boys” and usually going home alone, because T.O.’s reputation for being stiff extends also to the dating scene. You hear stories about how hot Quebec women are, not so Toronto’s… Is it the warm Latin blood of the French that make them such party animals? Is it the Anglo’s stiff upper lip that is at cause here?
I think it’s the architecture and city planning: Toronto is all spread out over such vast surfaces that everything is far, making it extremely difficult to build communities and a community “feel”. There are now some isolated pockets where the immigrants have conglomerated and aggregated into neighborhoods that have the beginings of a community feel. Little Italy and College Street, Queen West, Ossington, Queen east, The Annex & Bloor West, Kensington Market and its hippies and artists… There is something happening here in Toronto the good but it’s all fragmented into little satellite scenes: Each has its venues, its bands, its crowds and the strange thing is that they don’t seem to mix. A few bands are the talk of Kensington, others are known at the Drake on Queen west but their respective crowds have never heard of the other. Toronto’s sprawling surface is five to six times as large as Montreal. You need a car, which isolates you even more, or you need hours of public transport to get where the action is. And the action is spread all over the place… Toronto the fragmented.
But hey this is not the point of this blog. The point of it is that as a journalist and longtime Canadian scenester, I have stumbled upon incredible talents over the years. Some artists who are worthy of adoration and fanaticism just as much as any of the great American or English superstars, but we treat our artists like they are lesser than, because they come from here. If the same artist was starting their career in the USA, the industry would find them and invest in them, making them stars. Why is it that we can admit that we LOVE so and so from another country but can only admit to “liking” a local band. Say what we may about them but the Americans have the guts to stand behind their artists and bet on them. Canadians on the other hand have this complex of inferiority that is infuriating. If we had backed Universal Love Attack when they first showed signs of greatness, they would be at the forefront of a movement that would include dozens of American clones. At one point we had Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rock Stars.
A band with an hyperactive frontman who did absolutely EVERYTHING right when it comes to promoting his band and making a name for himself throughout the late 90’s and early 00’s yet they never had the impact they were aiming for despite being one of the finest Glam bands on the planet at the time… and it goes deeper than that…The band had a guitarist named Ky Anto, originally from Montreal, where he was the leader and songwriter for Sassy Scarlet. Another band that we completely ignored when, in my opinion they were one of the greatest Glam bands of all time!
Ky Anto is a songwriter of the calibre of David Bowie, and T-Rex’s Marc Bolan. Some of his songs are such great glam that were they released on “Electric Warrior” they would have been hits which we would still remember and sing, on the same level as Get It On!
YES I DARED! I compared an unknown Canadian artist with a British legend! See that’s what you will find on this web page. No false modesty; no inferiority complex, and certainly no apologies!
We all know that some of the most talented artists never see success during their entire life. Some are recognized after death, and some we will never hear.
Many artists pass away with drawers full of paintings and cassettes full of songs that will never see the day. Why can’t we be completely fanatical and proud of our local artists just as much as we allow ourselves to be for U2 or Tool, or Marilyn Manson or any other great band. All of these bands were local club bands at one point and someone decided to back them, to follow them proudly! This webpage will be very vocal about what is happening in Canada right now, In Toronto more specially, to quote Paul Stanley of Kiss: This place will “Shout it out loud!”
With the advent of digital recording technology and the spread of recording techniques to one and all. Gone are the days of exclusive studios with un-affordable prices for the common man. Anyone has access to recording nowadays, blah, blah, blah we’ve heard it before, but what does this translate into in terms of product? You get 2 major phenomena, 1: A ton of very shitty recordings of very crappy songs. 2: You get extremely inexperienced, shitty bands with demos that are deceptively good, but when you go see them live you realize they were helped by someone behind the computer who fixed everything digitally but the band is really still a mediocre affair live… Oh then there’s the third and a bit more rare option: The recording is great and the band is really not bad at all live. Now, are they original? Do they have something unique to offer? And can they do it again?
Finally the 4th and very rare option: The band is sharp, crisp, shiny, solid tight and hard as rock can be!!! They are called Diamonds!
Warning: This is not a Glam rock page! Diamond Rock is a concept that is much larger in scope!