Interview With Diamond Weapon's Louis Tentsos
Toronto-based post-hardcore band Diamond Weapon is gearing up to release their new six-song EP, Eyes, on June 11th, following up their 2018 album All I Wanted Was The Other Side. The dynamic quartet wears their influences on their sleeves and is ready to release some fresh gut-punching music into the world. I spoke with lead vocalist and guitarist Louis Tentsos over Zoom, covering the inspiration behind some of their music, what drives Louis, and some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into maintaining a band in the current era. It was a great discussion and I really enjoyed talking to Louis. Make sure to check out this new band, and stream Eyes on June 11th!
How would you pitch Diamond Weapon to someone who hadn’t heard your band?
I would pitch them something unconventional, kinda like a throw-back post-hardcore band to the late ’90s, the At the Drive-in, Glassjaw, Refused era and just a throw-back, weird and crazy, post-hardcore sound. I don’t know how many people you win in the mainstream with that sort of pitch, but it’s an accurate sales pitch.
What song off the new EP, Eyes, are you most proud of?
I think the record is still so new, I can't decide. We still want to play shows with it, we can't because of lockdowns. The one thing I will say, if I had to pick one now, it would be our newest single, "The House At 65th Street," which we're actually going to film a music video for right away. That song is about a time in my life and a relationship I had that didn't end well and really messed me up for a while. And I think that song helped me work through a lot of the emotions and a lot of the negative things I was going through and not dealing with at the time. I was sort of like, "Let's buckle down and finish this song," and I realized that those feelings were ingrained in my psyche right now holding onto those feelings was not a good thing, so by working on that song, I think worked through a lot of those things.
I love how music can give that emotional catharsis when you really need it.
Absolutely. I remember when we first played that song live, my brother's partner said, "That song is so relatable!" and I was like, "Okay, I thought it was just me." But apparently, even if it's not the same situation, people have gone through similar heartbreaks. You can help people guide through their experiences with yours and let them know, "Hey, you aren't alone, I went through this too, and I wrote a song about it." That is an excellent feeling. I feel like I'm helping people and contributing to society in a meaningful way with that.
The song that immediately jumped out to me from you guys is, "Revenge Is a Dish, Not A Concept." What can you tell me about how that song came together?
I was watching a compilation video on Youtube about two years ago. It was "Crazy Courtroom Drama Caught On Tape," or something to that effect. And the one that stuck with me the most was a story about a father whose daughter was murdered, and the murderer was found guilty, and at the sentencing hearing, the father was invited to give a victim impact statement. So he went up and started speaking, and then he saw and heard the murderer laughing at him. He got so angry that he tried to jump over the table and choke him, before all the bailiffs pulled him off. And all the comments on that video were like, "Oh, I wish they were slower at responding" or "Oh, I get why he did that." It was another illustration to me how thin the line is between civilization and anarchy and lawlessness. We all experience this, and we are all just a thin line away from crossing over like this father did. And there's an understanding of, "Oh, you're human, so you're capable of this." I read all those comments, and I was like, we are not as civilized as we think we are. The story of the song itself is fictional, it's not that story. I wanted to create a different scenario where it's like, what can drive a good person to do something evil? Take someone else's life in their own hands and feel vindicated in doing so? If you're not getting justice from the state, you have the temptation there to retrieve yourself. That song is a commentary on society, just that we're not as civilized as we think if one thing can put us over that threshold.
If you guys had a dream tour to take Diamond Weapon on, now that restrictions are starting to ease up, what would it look like?
I would say definitely At The Drive-In. I really enjoyed their last album in 2017. I don't know if they have any plans to tour again, but I remember listening to Relationship of Command and being like, "This is my favourite album of all time!" So being able to tour with them, to learn from them, would be great. I would love to tour with Thrice as well, and I know Thrice is really cool with bringing bands of various genres on tour with them. I would love -I mean A, everything Dustin Kensrue touches is gold, and B, I think we would do really well in a tour with them.
Alright, the whole band gets to be in a movie scene. What movie are you choosing and why?
The first thing that came to mind, and it would be hilarious if it happened to the band, the movie The Sandlot, where they all eat the tobacco, and then they go onto the Tilt-A-Whirl, and they're all vomiting all over themselves. I think if you put our band in that scene, it would be even funnier. I feel like, any scene in any movie, I'd choose that one because it'd be so funny. And that's not even mentioning I would most likely be one of the people vomiting on this ride.
What’s next for the band after the release of Eyes?
The unfortunate thing with COVID hitting is what we did. We were literally in the process of booking our first cross-Canada tour, the first time outside of Ontario. We were gonna do Ontario, Quebec, and some of the east coast in May of last year. That ended up being nixed. The reality is, I think with bigger bands, tours are gonna open. With the vaccine rate, I'm optimistic it's gonna happen, but that's gonna be for larger artists. I think there will also be a lot of local shows as well. But as far as small bands touring, I don't know if that's going to happen right away because I think there's gonna be a very heavy focus on drawing a crowd, so if you're an independent, smaller touring band, I think it's gonna take a while. I think it's gonna be early next year when there's more of a shift of returning to normal. So right now, we have our EP coming out on June 11th, and we want to do a live stream at some point to celebrate the record. I think we will return to gigs in probably September or October, probably small and local. But that's okay. As long as we can tour this EP at some point, that'd be great. And after that, it's just working on the next album. We've been locked down for so long, we've been writing new music, so we pretty much have a whole new album partially written. So it's just a matter of refining it, getting everything down, and getting the money, the studio, and recording it. So lots on the docket, but I think it will be slow-moving at first.
Is the next release going to be another EP or a full-length?
We'd like to do a full album again next, as a follow-up to our 2018 album. So we'll probably apply for all the grants and all the stuff that's available, even though they tend to go to the artists that don't need it anyway [Laughs]. There's always workarounds though. I've done audio engineering courses and stuff like that, so if we're desperate, I could always track the album and ship it off to be mixed and that sort of thing. Again, in the age of COVID, with not much money coming in, I think it's gonna cause a lot of artists to be creative. I think that was already the case before, I remember Wade from Alexisonfire saying once that when they first started, all you had to do was be in a band, and that was it, and you hired people to do everything else.
Now, just because everything is so diluted and there's less money coming in because everybody's streaming, no one's buying anything anymore. It's taking a lot of bands to task to be like, okay, you're in the band, but you're also the audio engineer, and another member is in charge of marketing, and another member is in charge of tour dates, so there's a lot of multifaceted roles in bands, and I think that's going to be exacerbated even further after COVID. I think that was the one thing with the lockdown. It was the opportunity to just build your skill set so, I chose to focus on audio engineering to be able to take this time, the time I don't have hockey twice a week, I work 9-5 normally, but I'm home so, I don't have to travel there and back. Using the extra time instead to learn new skills that you can use to help make the band better. I think a lot of bands have probably done that, I hope. The less lazy ones, anyway, which isn't a lot of us [Laughs]. So I think it's gonna change the work moving forward.
What inspires you?
I think it's just going back to the first point. There's just a cathartic, empowering feel to making music, just creating something that other people enjoy and can impact other people's lives. Whether it's good or bad, it's that I made this, and you're listening to this. We had our first negative review of this EP come up on my Google Alerts the other day, and I wasn't mad at it! For one, for a negative review, they said some good things as well. But it's also that you can put some music into the ether, and someone can say, "I hate this." It's like yeah, I made something, and they don't like it! That's so cool. I think that's what it is. Music is just this creative energy. I've made this analogy before. I play beer league hockey. I'm 38 years old, I'm not making the NHL. You spend hundreds of dollars per season, and it's very expensive, but I do it because it's fun. With the band, it's just so much fun that it doesn't matter that it costs money and whatnot. It's like, this is my outlet in order to accomplish these things, work through feelings, to create something, and the best part is performing, to have an audience out there, and being able to interact with them in person. The day can't come soon enough. That's the thing that keeps me going. There might be a day where the tours stop, or the shows stop, but I don't know if I'll ever stop making music.
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