Literally, Diamonds Hadder’s debut album “Beyond The Breakers” came out of nowhere. From the first spin a veil of mystery covers the band’s identity, since only a few information is available, which is a rare thing nowadays, where social media and Facebook is king. The only visual of the band out there is the video they shot for Rainbow’s “Stargazer”, but first of all the singer is wearing a mask in the video and the rest of the lot are not in the band anymore, at least according to what the mastermind of Diamonds Hadder, John Evermore told Yiannis Dolas on his first interview ever.
When the Zoom meeting begun and John’s window opened I was waiting to see the masked singer, but instead there was mr.Evermore wearing an old Fates Warning t-shirt, and a Queensrÿche poster was over the piano. For an hour and a half the story of John Evermore, Diamonds Hadder and how all that came about unfolded in front of my eyes. It’s a classic metal tale of how tragic events may bring redemption and salvation through music. And all that through a premonition that became reality and a dream that proved prophetic.
Let’s begin with the fact that Diamonds Hadder is a solo project at the moment, although they did started out as a band… “Back in 2019, I was in a bad place in my life”, says John. “You can say that I almost died to some degree, like I did a kind of reset. And I had a dream one night and it was about Mr. Evermore. And I wrote it down. It was a poem. I wrote it in a house that I had and burned down later that year. I saw a dream that kind of woke me up. I felt like there was something I had to do. So, that year I started to write Diamonds Hadder songs. I wrote down the poem of Mr. Evermore, I did “Evermore”, “Master of Illusion”, and a version of “The Ballad Of The Dead Rabbit”. Into that year, that month, the house burned down right away after I had the dream. Soon, my whole life went to shit. The house, where I was living for 10 years, burned down, my relationship and everything…
I know this going to sound strange, but I lived in Malibu, up in the hills. It wasn’t like a crazy house, just a cabin up in the woods and one day I was driving there before the fire and I saw like a cloud, which was like a wolf in the sky. And I kind of had like a premonition of a fire, or something. That was before the fire. And that was around the time I had the dream and all that stuff. So the house burns down, everything goes to shit. I leave, I get into the city. I haven’t lived in the city in Los Angeles in ten years. So, wake up in the city with the Diamonds Hadder songs and I’m like, “okay, this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m supposed to do”.
However, before the band and the album came to life, John got in touch with another band, Tor, and got pretty excited about their style and existing material and joined them as the lead singer.
“I met this amazing band, Tor, and they were looking for a singer. They’re on the “Stargazer” video. Doug Weiand on guitar is a great virtuoso and we also got one of the greatest rock drummers in L.A., Joey Mancaruso. So, I joined them. We’re doing all the songs that were amazing. They’re like full on Rainbow… I didn’t have to do anything. I was really happy whereas in Diamonds Hadder I had to do everything; play all the guitars, bass, drums. I got to score everything. So, I took a year and three months to do a record with them. We wrote 17 songs, narrowed it down to make a real record and then go out on tour. We were about to release the first single, -at the time I’m zoned out in a loft like a crazy person; I’m writing vocals, the orchestrations, I am wearing masks around my loft, I’m seeing visions of Diamonds Hadder, I’m writing a book in the middle of all this. So, we’re about to release the record… And we broke up!”
“The reason was that two of the band members really were into me being like anything that I wanted to be. They wanted a more traditional all wearing black photoshoot, or whatever they wanted, you know? We had a big meeting, no yelling, these are like brothers, we’are all like friends, so we had a talk and told them that I really wished they would support me to go through what I have to go through, this mask, or whatever I wanted to do. And it’s not going to be everything. And it’s not out of the realm of heavy metal. It’s not like I’m inventing something. It’s just I’m an artsy guy. I’m getting ideas, let me be me. I pleaded… two of them said yes, two of them said no. They just wouldn’t allow it. So the band actually kind of broke apart”.
Despite the turmoil in the band they decided to let some steam off doing “Stargazer” and leave the record sit. They did the video and John spent two months video editing while in the meantime the discussion about the record proved fruitless.
“One night, I got home, I put “City Of Fire” on and I mute the guitars, the drums and the bass, and it sounds really beautiful. It sounds great with this huge orchestration, because I have keyboards everywhere and harmonies, and I’m sitting there going, “maybe I should release my work that I did for a year, like an orchestration record because it’s really beautiful harmonies all through the whole thing with the keys. It was stunning”. So, I picked up my guitar and I was like, okay, well, what if I entertain the idea of not listening to the music and rewriting what’s underneath? And that’s what I did”.
Starting off with “City of Fire” John re-recorded all the songs. It took him about a month and a half for each of the songs and then the album started shaping up.
“It’s my whole life. It really is the resurrection of me dying, coming back to life, feeling like, rejuvenated, to get back in touch with who I am or what I wanted to create and understand what “Evermore” was, what “Diamonds Hadder” is, what is all this fucking shit”.
“Master Of Illusion” proves prophetic for him, as it revealed his identity and saved him. “I’m Johnny. I’m telling Johnny, “you got to wake up. You’ve got to kill yourself”. The song was kind of about a magician and an apprentice. And the apprentice is asleep. He doesn’t know he’s asleep. He thinks he’s in life, but later he learns that he’s actually on the table and he’s asleep. He was put under a spell. And the whispering in the song is saying to him: “Johnny, you got to wake up. This isn’t real. You have to kill yourself”. He has to kill himself to kind of snap out of the spell. Now that I listen back to it, I can see where I was going after “Evermore”. That’s me. I mean, I became John Evermore at that time. That was right when that happened”.
Taking a look at the tracklist you realize that the album has only 7 songs, and that’s why because some of them are very long. I am always curious about how someone writes songs, especially those that go beyond the 10-minute mark.
“(Writing songs) is a bit strange process. When I’m writing a song, I kind of like freestyle. Lyrics happen usually when I’m in a car, or I’m at a being in the strangest place and there’s something just fucking comes out and I write it down. Then, when I have these brainstorming, like writing ideas with the guitar. A riff is important. Guitar usually spawns things. So, sometimes I’ll do riffs on drums and I’ll sing to them and I’ll grab my lyrics. I always see vocals, the way they flow through a song like a thread. Every word is connected to the one before and the one after. If you start fucking with that and breaking it then the song just gets lost, right? So, when I’m writing a song, if it goes longer, but I feel the threat is there, I keep it for the most part. On “Long Is The Road” I made a conscious effort to not continue the thread. I was like, “it’s a cool song. It’s got a good course. I’m going to just dip out of this one”. But, on a song like “Evermore”, I remember many times it got to the spot where I was like, “should I fucking end the song”?
What’s also a big surprise is the band’s absence from social media, especially Facebook… “I’m not controlled by Facebook. I’m not controlled by anything else”, he claims. “My website is my house, my temple that I built. I want people to know. They want to know where is Diamonds Hadder? That’s very easy: go to diamondshadder.com. That’s where I live. I don’t get as many eyeballs on me, because people don’t even go to websites as much anymore. But, I know that that’s my home. I can design it how I want. I can do the visuals, how I want. I wasn’t on Instagram for a while, as well, I only started my page recently, when the record came out, because I felt it’s important that people have at least some kind of thing on me because they’re all floating around there. I don’t mind. It’s a good marketing tool, but, I believe that the website is more important to me”.
The sure thing is that his activity on YouTube is not poor, since you can find a lot of material there, only that it’s not music, but narrations which may end up on a next album, or not? “It’s got to be a book first, I think because it’s only 16 stories right now. I could probably make a record with 16 stories, so I’m not sure it might… I have ideas of doing something really special, almost like “Phantom of the Opera” with Diamonds Hadder, a really operatic wild record that would have a story to it and then completing the book with another 16 stories… I might want to take it out on the road with a narration and operatic stuff, setting the scene like a real Broadway kind of thing. I don’t think anyone had done a heavy metal “Phantom of the Opera” kind of thing. I would love to do that. It’s my dream to get that done if I could do it.
So, it appears that playing live is in the agenda for John and Diamonds Hadder, but at the moment there is no band… “I’m always very like priority driven”, says John. “So, the record was a huge priority. It finished… After the record was done, it actually took a while to get it all digitally released. Next, it’s the video, which is so important right now because I haven’t done any press, like paying to do marketing, or anything about the record yet because it just came out like two weeks or three weeks ago (Ed, the interview took place in August 5th). I feel the video for “Long Is The Road” is so important, because it’s where I finally show who the fuck I am… I’m going to do a bad-ass video. It looks really cool. I’m already about halfway done with this, it looks really cinematic and wild.
So, I can’t put a band together right now. I can’t break away from making the video right now because it’s an important piece of releasing this record, because it’ll live on forever and it’s the staple of what this record is. So, I’m thinking maybe winter and towards the end of the year I’ll switch gears in my mind and start having some new auditions… I want to have the band fully together. I want to fucking go play this record. I mean, I love the stage. With Tor we rehearse three times a week, I wasn’t doing keyboards or guitars in the live I was a singer. I’m a singer, so I love playing live. So, I really want to assemble a band and be able to tour!”
Listening to the album it’s 1005 sure that classic metallers will love it. What also made a huge impression on me was that nobody else had discovered John Evermore to do an interview. That seemed weird, but I am positive that Diamonds Hadder will make some noise in this side of the pond…
“I’m in L.A, in the center of music. I’m in the center here, and I look around to the metal bands all around me here in L.A., and I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m looking around me and I go: “why anyone isn’t making this fucking music like this? Doesn’t anyone remember what is in our souls from years ago?” I feel like it’s a strange record that I made in this time. And I sense it when I play it for people. Some people just don’t like it. But, I love it. I remember what it was when I was a kid and I heard fucking records, man. I fucking never forget it, man. It’s still in my blood, you know?”
But still, he has some hope for Europe: “I know there’s a huge world out there and they love heavy metal. Maybe not so much here in the States, but from what I can see especially traditional metal, I can see it on online, but not here. And I was thinking to myself, “make this record, it could mean something over there”, I don’t get much love here because of the style of music. So, I’m but I’m so isolated. But I was determined to do this record. I hope it does something over there”.