An Interview with The Black Diamond Express.

A charismatic bunch that manage to bring together rock ‘n’ roll grit and bourbon-soaked blues in one of the most hell-bound bands you ever laid your widened eyes on…

DESCRIBE YOUR MUSICAL STYLE IN THREE WORDS.

Rock and roll!

YOUR BEST AND WORST GIGS?

Short answer: The International Bar (by the Meadows, in Edinburgh).

Long answer: Our best and worst gig occurred one night at the International Bar a few years back. We had a weekly acoustic residency there. Our audience usually consisted of men hardened by age, work and years of daily drinking. On this particular night, we were playing by the large windows opposite the door, when a young couple entered and took a table nearby. They made no attempt to buy a drink but continued their heated discussion in a foreign language.
The barman came over and asked them to leave and when the boy resisted the barman took him by the collar and made to lift him from his seat, then (rather over-dramatically) spin him in a 360 degree motion so as to send him out the door to his right. The young man was stronger than first impressions would warrant and was able to apply enough counter-motion to push the barman off-balance, sending the pair careering headlong out of the door. A scuffle ensued and soon enough, the barman returned just as the girl left.

Moments later (we´re still playing all the while), the boy returns and appears at the window to my right. His face is pressed in rage against the glass, his breath and saliva smearing all over the place. He bangs his fist on the window, again and again, saying “Come on you pussies… You´re all pussies! Aaaarrrgh!”. Still we play on.Suddenly there is an almighty sound (as if someone has just smashed his fist through a massive window) and as the boys fist comes crashing through, shards of broken glass come raining down over us and onto the wooden floor of the bar room like tipsy skaters on a lake. Eventually we finished the song and when questioned later by police, we had to confess, what with all the playing we´d been doing, we hadn´t seen a thing.

TELL US A FUNNY BLACK DIAMOND EXPRESS STORY.

See answers 2 & 4.

BEST AND WORST DECRIPTION OF YOUR BAND SO FAR?

We recently played a gig at Joseph Pearce´s in Edinburgh, where a rather drunken middle-aged man came in and started dancing like some sort of demented octopus. He was refused a drink at the bar, but allowed to stay (on account of his dancing, I can only assume). We later found out he´d played with some punk bands back in the day and that his name was Shaun. We thought he´d be great to have on film so we gave him a free ticket for our live recording at The Caves the following night. He spent the first half of the set rocking back and forth violently on the stage monitor, causing it to teeter on the brink of destruction. When I caught him after the show and asked him how he felt (after dancing barefoot to our music for two consecutive nights) he answered “I DON´T GIVE A F**K ABOUT THE BLACK DIAMOND EXPRESS!”. Not really a description but nevertheless this has to be one of the best and worst comments about our band so far! Thank you Shaun wherever you aren´t.

YOUR FAVOURITE TUNES & ALBUMS AT THE MOMENT?

Louis Armstrong “Louis Armstrong & Friends” – Fred Crosby´s solo on Lazy Bones.

The Louvin´Brothers “Satan Is Real” – close country harmonies on some heavily religious material and an album cover featuring a 20 foot Satan that was built by Charlie Louvin´s wife!

Rev. Charlie Jackson “Trouble In My Way” – Charlie Jackson was born in Mississippi in 1932, learned the blues from local players as a kid and then went on, like Blind Willie Johnson before him, to live his life in the service of the Lord. His Gospel recordings mix delta blues riffs with devotional lyrics and personal stories.

Wanda Jackson “Funnel of Love” – this recording was made in 1961 (while she was dating Elvis). Wanda is now well into her seventies and still rocks harder than two jack-rabbits in spring. She has just released her new album which features some guitar slinging and production from Jack White. John Carpenter´s “The Thing” – one of my all time favourite films. John Carpenter directs the film and writes the score and on this occasion finds the perfect balance between sound and vision. The soundtrack features masses of menacing minimalism and sets the tone for the film perfectly.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL BANDS?

The Horndog Brass Band, Miyagi, Super Adventure Club, Earl Grey & The Loose Leaves, The Wheel, Lewis Gibson, Lee Patterson, The Chans, Kearney´s Kat-Tet, The Banana Sessions, Missing Cat, Killer Shark Attack, William Dakota, Jane Street Infirmary, Revenge of Leith Swimming Pool Accident Society, We Were Promised Trams, Jenny & The Bets and Jack´s Rabbit´s Foot Minstrels… to name but a few.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BITS OF MUSICAL GEAR?

Mostly our instruments – Cameron´s John Raeburn Violin made in 1885, Steven´s Cherry Red Gibson 335 (dot), Jack´s 1956 Musima Archtop fitted with a handwound Bare Knuckle P-91 pickup, Tom´s Rosewood Suzuki Pureharp in D, and The Duke´s Pearl Focus Series drum kit. We used to have a matching set of Vintage Fender valve amps but they were lost to the Ambergris King over a bad hand of Texas Stud.

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WANTING TO EMULATE YOUR SOUND?

Don´t try to emulate. Steal, beg, borrow, lift, loan, launder… then innovate.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BLACK DIAMOND EXPRESS?

We recently recorded our debut album over two nights at The Caves. Both the shows were filmed with an audience (an amazing cavalcade of radges and gypsies) and will be independently released in the summer as a CD/DVD package. If you weren´t there you may want to check out Shaun´s dancing for yourselves. We´re also collaborating with Jack Nissan on writing a score for the song Live Free or Die. The new arrangement will be performed live with the Tinderbox Orchestra on Sunday 22nd May at Pilrig Steet Church, Edinburgh. Rehearsals are underway and it promises to be one of the most epic shows we´ve put on so far.

IF YOU COULD GIVE THE WORLD A MESSAGE, WHAT WOULD THAT MESSAGE BE?

Spend your last tenner on a book.

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Red Dog Music

Red Dog Music is the UK's friendliest musical instrument retailer with branches in Edinburgh, leeds and London and an awesome website at www.reddogmusic.co.uk.

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