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Interview With Louis Tentsos of Diamond Weapon

You plan to release your second album, All Heart, No Sleeve, on November 10th. How do you think this record compares to your debut album, All I Wanted Was The Other Side, and your latest EP, Eyes?

LT: Sonically, I think it’s a little bit of a departure from our previous efforts as we’re trying to establish our own sound and our own little niche in the post-hardcore genre. I think the songs themselves, as well as the songwriting behind them, are a little bit more mature and – dare I say – adultish?

Full black and white band press photo for Canadian post-hardcore band Diamond Weapon.

Was there anything you did differently from those last couple of releases on this new record? Rather it was different methods of writing, or anything to change up the process in any way? How was the overall writing process for the new album?

LT: For starters, we had a new member in the band for this album, so while our writing style didn’t necessarily change from before where a band member will bring in ideas or riffs and we all work on them together, getting a fresh perspective from a new member certainly opened a different world. On top of that, we decided to self-produce this album, which was important to us as every sonic decision on the record would be made by someone who had a hand in writing the music. As a result, the album is a bit more on the lo-fi side and a little less “professional” sounding, but I think our style plays into that.

Sonically, most bands have a direction they want an album to take. Did you think that you got what you wanted with this record?

LT: I do. Everything that we wanted pronounced on this album; the aggression, the dynamic shifts, the chaos – I think they all come through very clearly. It certainly took some time. I remember saying to the band when we filmed the music video for “Heaven in the Cold Clouds” because we had to listen to that song 40 times that day, by that point I had listened to the song already about 100 times during the editing and mixing phase, so an additional 40 times didn’t affect me that much [Laughs].

I should also mention that Scott Middleton mastered the album, and he most definitely got what we were going for and did an amazing job, so the album wouldn’t be what it is without him.

I had the privilege of listening to the new album, I love that it leans into a heavier side of your sound than your previous EP. There are more harsh growls mixed into the fold, behind the very La Dispute-esque whiny, emotionally charged singing. It adds a new depth to your sound. Was this something that came naturally in the writing and recording process?

LT: Oh, absolutely. A lot of the harsh vocals on the record are done by Stephen, who admittedly is way better at them than I am. So, just having his vocal style as an added dimension to the band opened up a whole new set of ideas of how to play our vocals off each other during the songwriting process, and really got our creative juices flowing.

Where does the album’s title All Heart, No Sleeve come from? How does it represent the album’s eight songs as a whole?

LT: It almost started as a joke. When trying to think of a name for the record, and trying to summarize how emotionally charged the songs are, someone – I think it was Marco – suggested “All Heart.” Then Stephen suggested “All Heart, No Sleeve” as a play on the “heart on your sleeve” idiom, but he also liked it because Stephen rarely ever wears shirts with sleeves, and chops off the sleeves of any new shirt he gets. So, it was a sort of easter egg reference to himself. At first, we were like, “That’s dumb,” and then after thinking on it for a couple of days, we were all like, “That’s brilliant,” and went with it.

Track six, “Who Survives the End of the World,” is an absolutely haunting track. Could you elaborate in further detail on who thought of this powerful track and its deeper meaning?

LT: “Who Survives” was meant to be an introduction to “Only the Cowards,” which I wrote at the height of the pandemic, so I was spending a lot of time alone. It’s about someone who turned his back on the friendships and relationships that he had, but after being alone for a while realizes that maybe some of those relationships that may have ended badly were still probably better than being alone. While I don’t think that’s universally true in real life – there are certainly some relationships that are so toxic that being alone is probably significantly better – I still think many people feel that way sometimes where they are experiencing loneliness. So, “Who Survives” was supposed to be the intro to that and represent the other side of that story – the abandoned friend, the lost love. The person who says, “Maybe we didn’t have a future together, but I still hope for a good future for you.”

The album was a long time in the making, as many of the songs were said to have been written mid-pandemic, touching on powerful issues that were amplified by the lockdowns, such as loneliness, heartbreak, and social and planetary justice. Were these songs that just didn’t get off the writing table for the Eyes EP, or at the time, you just weren’t ready to release a full length?

LT: I’d probably lean towards the latter. We recorded Eyes in September and October 2020, and I think at that time we just wanted to get something out there as we didn’t know what the world was going to look like in the new year in terms of COVID numbers going up and further lockdowns coming – which both ended up happening. So, at the time we just had the four songs and two interludes ready to go, so we recorded them all and put them out there. For this record, we took much time with it – all the songs were written between January 2021 and December 2022. So that’s two full years of writing songs, rehearsing them, and trying them in front of audiences. It was far more deliberate and methodical than Eyes was because Eyes was really a product of its environment – where we didn’t know if recording studios were going to be open tomorrow, so let’s record an EP today.

Stephen Maclean joined the band in late 2021 after you released your last EP. How much did he bring to the table in regard to writing this new record? Was there anything new that he brought into the studio that was a bold, fresh new idea for the band?

LT: Aside from the vocal style that I already mentioned, Stephen has a different lead guitar style – both in terms of performing and writing. Nick was big into noodling and playing with feeling – even in the studio – he would riff and improvise until he came out with something he liked. Stephen is a lot more deliberate – where he will meticulously plan out all his guitar parts to play them over and over again with accuracy. And Stephen also has a different writing style – for example, “Dorothy” on the new record is largely written by him, and that’s why he performed the lead vocals on it. But yeah – every song on this album has his fingerprints all over it!

Music can surely be an emotional catharsis, and how these songs are delivered and the song’s subject matter is so immense. Do you credit anyone for the styles you write and perform in?

LT: Yes! My friend Rob actually had a huge hand in it. When we were first starting Diamond Weapon in 2016, I actually had no desire to be the lead singer. I was happy and content just being the guitarist for the band. But we couldn’t really find a lead singer we liked, so in the end I just decided to do it myself. And in the early days, I was really trying to almost emulate the Geoff Rickleys and the Cedric Bixlers of the world, with a super metaphorical and abstract lyrical style. But every time I tried, it just came off as cheesy. And I was talking to my friend Rob at a party, and he was like was like “dude – you’re a storyteller. You tell stories in person all the time and you’re good at it. Don’t worry about the frilly language and just tell stories.” And it just kind of stuck – I really kind of made it my own and am much more comfortable doing that and writing lyrics and being happy with them this way.

Do you have any songs, that you are most proud of off the forthcoming record?

LT: For me, I think “A Harsh Lesson in Vulnerability” is the one that I’m most proud of, as it touches on many things. The song is about a couple who struggles with the cost of living in modern society – where they have good jobs but still can’t make ends meet because of how expensive everything is. So, the one partner takes a job overseas for 6 months because they know they’ll make a ton of money and their life will be the better for it – but it also means being away from the person they love most for 6 months. And it’s about trying to balance those two correlations – that this is the right course of action, and it hurts so much. So, it touches on personal themes like loneliness and heartbreak, but also larger societal themes about capitalism and the cost of living.

What’s something you want listeners of the new album to take away from it?

LT: When you feel lonely, you are never truly alone. Many of us go through it all the time, so in our shared experiences, you are united with us. It is our hope that through our music, you feel a little less lonely.

Continuing to be a pretty DIY band at heart, how much of the behind-the-scenes is you self-releasing your music, booking studio time, and booking shows and tours?

LT: Oh yes – sometimes it feels like being in a DIY band is almost a full-time job in of itself [Laughs]. It does help to outsource stuff when we can because it frees up so much time. Like, we had Scott do the mastering on the record, and we hired Looters PR to take care of the promotional stuff. But everything else you mentioned – booking studio time, booking tours, working with companies to press and create our merch, distributing music – we do all that stuff on our end. So, I hope when people listen to and enjoy the record, they also appreciate the effort that went it making it happen!

I can take it that you guys will have more touring plans for this record, than your last EP considering touring is a much more viable option than it was when you released, Eyes?

LT: Yes, exactly! We’ll be doing an Ontario run right off the bat with the release of the new album this November, and maybe a bit of a wider tour of Canada in the springtime of 2024, once the snow has melted and it’s a little bit safer to drive around.

Last question for today, what are your initial plans for the remainder of 2023, going into 2024 even? If you’re allowed to talk about them, of course.

LT: We’ve talked about potentially releasing an all-covers EP in 2024 – especially since for Jason’s birthday this past year, we had plans on doing an all-covers set, but that show ended up falling through. So, since we worked on those songs so much, we might record and release them as something else entirely – so, we’ll see what happens!

Thanks for taking the time to talk about the album and hopefully we will see you next year in Winnipeg. Before you go, is there anything you would like to add I may’ve not touched upon that you want people to know?

LT: Yeah, we generally like it when people come and talk to us and say “hi” at shows! We are kind of shy and weird about it, but at the same time we really do appreciate it, so swing by one of our shows, and say “hi” afterwards!


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