Thursday was a brilliantly crisp yet foggy morning, perfect for sitting outside of Ugly Mugs with a piping cup of coffee and chatting with Cali band Diamond Carter. They wandered into Nashville a little under a year ago after forefront man Tyler Tuohy decided it was time to get out of town. Sax player Cameron Black, drummer Trevor Hunnicutt and bassist Josh Cropper, having collided when they were each swirling through life’s madness inside of LA’s Silverlake Overpass speakeasy, decided to follow Tuohy across state lines. “I told each one of them, just give me five years and you’ll come out with the greatest stories, memories and experiences of your life,” recanted Tuohy.
They refuse to give pardon or surrender to anyone who would get in the way of following after their dreams. They’ve succeeded in planting their colorful flag in new territory by refusing to waste any time getting noticed in Nashville, and as Tuohy explained, “We didn’t want to be ‘that one guy sitting in the corner by himself.’ Lightning ushered us into the scene, for sure.”
Full of love for supporters, the guys have kept it positive even as they fight through the daily struggles of their living/work relationships. As dirty dishes pile up in the sink at home tensions grow but never cross over into the sacred places of songwriting, and they certainly have no chance of echoing through the soundproof walls of the studio. “It’s a brotherhood. We only really fight about food and dishes,” Black laughed.
The guys have found refreshment in Nashville’s “more community based” music industry than that of LA. Tuohy and Black both grew up in Orange County originally, never meeting until the cards aligned later in life, and they brought very different styles and talents to the same foundation where, in their musicianship, they found commonality.
They’ve recently been celebrating their new residency at 12th and Porter, where you can find them on the second Thursday of every month. Their upcoming performance (Nov. 13th) will be on a Wed., a tribute to Elliott Smith and his passing ten years ago.
True to the band’s nature, their previous 14-track Pink Balloon is a shadow of trippy experiences and Motown and sixties influences. Originally written for acoustic performances, the album had to be redesigned by Tuohy to work for a full band. Even in naming the title, Tuohy draws from his past with heavy drugs and the smuggling of Heroine through balloons, pink being his favorite.
All of the guys have felt the recent itching to hit the road again. Their future plans include touring fulltime and only coming back to Nashville when it’s time to record. Their upcoming Flowers of Evil resonates a heavier disco feel and will be something different for a new record because it will be the first that was originally written for a full band.
By, Kaitlyn Crocker
Diamond Carter is a music project based in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Carter was born in 1990 in Southern California, where he was drawn to the 60’s revivalist groups that were sprouting out of Orange County. He began playing the guitar when he was thirteen, and music soon became the most important thing in his life.
Diamond started and played in several local bands throughout high school, all inspired by the sound of the 60s. Mod, Mo-town, and surf rock became his primary musical focus. After scraping by the last year of high school, Diamond and a couple close friends bought an old van from a “dead head”, who, once learning of the boys intentions, drastically lowered the price and offered to continue paying for the satellite radio as long as the boys promised they’d only keep it on the Grateful Dead station. They kept this promise, as they drove through the states playing several house parties, and dive bars getting paid in food, liquor, and the occasional bag of mushrooms and a place to stay. They’d perform on the street by day to get gas money to get to the next town, and leave immediately after each gig because they had no place to spend the night. During these drives, Diamond became fascinated with the Dead’s approach on folk and country music and began to start writing a catalogue of acoustic songs. One of the boys got arrested, and Diamond and the remaining member temporarily planted themselves in Santa Cruz,where they lived in a 100 square foot lockout space in an old warehouse by the train tracks. During this time, Diamond developed a deep love for Santa Cruz, and it’s weirdness. He spent his nights indulging with the crusties and singing the blues with the old timers on the avenue. The good times slowed down as his new friends began getting picked up by the cops, or moving on to a new town.
He decided to change his scene once again, and moved to Los Angeles where he played solo at house parties and lounges until he captured the eye of a music manager, who decided to represent the project. This gave birth to the identity of Diamond Carter. The origin of the name can be found in the lyric of Mark Levine’s 1968 album ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’. The name was taken from the lyric “Diamond Carter was a writer, and a singer too. A far-out author of some far-out tunes.” Mr. Carter felt this line spoke of the new identity he was to assume as a writer and performer. Diamond put together a band and began playing through Los Angeles, most notably at the silver lake speak easy “The Overpass.” The debauchery that ensued at these shows, complimented by the band’s groove, gained them a bit of buzz in the local scene, before re-locating as a collective to Nashville.
Diamond Carter’s music spans from the acoustic singer songwriter vibe of songs like “Clarksdale”, a tale of the devil, to the more indie pop sound of songs like “Beg” or “Let Yourself be loved”. He attributes his major musical influences to artists like Sam Cooke, the Louvin Brothers, Conor Oberst, and Lou Reed. In the spirit of these inspirational artists, Mr. Carter writes about things that he knows, mainly booze, mind-altering substances, and torturous women. Diamond Carter includes Drummer Trevor Hunnicut, Michael Gigante as Producer/Keys, Tenor Saxophonist Cameron Black, and background vocalists Jordan Rogers, Janay Byrd, and Jennifer Roberts . Diamond also enlists help from several other instrumentalists when the song calls for it. The band will continue to be rooted in its classic foundations while constantly pushing forward and absorbing the strange world that surrounds.