Peering down from Alley Katz's second floor balcony into the audience pit, the less-than-stellar turnout of just under two dozen patrons comes across as exceptionally strange for the likes of the headlining band at Alley Katz last Saturday, Nov. 8, Low vs. Diamond -- especially considering that in just a few days, the LA-based quintet is scheduled to make multiple appearances on multiple late night shows. The band was also named by Rolling Stone one of six acts “defining rock and pop in 2008.” Despite such scant numbers at the Richmond show, Low vs. Diamond drummer Howie Diamond doesn't seem all that fazed. For him and the rest of the band -- vocalist and songwriter Lucas Fields, keyboardist Tad Moore, guitarist Anthony Polcino, and bassist Jon Pancoast -- such extremes of exposure are all part of the far more gradual growth that comes with the release of a debut album.
Taking a few minutes before their unexpectedly intimate performance, Diamond shared his thoughts and talked with Style about the heart-thumping anthems of their self-titled record, having to rid himself of his apartment and car, and how much he loves his miracle-working publicists.
Style: We really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.
Diamond: Oh, no problem. We love this stuff, man. It's part of being in a band, right? We hear stories about bands complaining about doing interviews and we're like, come on, this is part of the [experience].
Speaking of having to do interviews, what's the most over-asked questions you've gotten over the past few months?
It has to be by far “What does your band name mean? How did you get your band name?” So please, please don't ask that.
Don't worry. I won't.
[Incidentally, the band's name has something to do with an argument Diamond got into with another band member's girlfriend, who was called Low. Thus.]
But on the topic of the band name, do you think the other guys in the group are a little jealous that your last name is included in the act's calling card?
I don't know. I don't think they're jealous. I don't know. It's a good word (laughs). I'm just lucky enough to have that last name. If they had a cool last name it would probably be Low vs. Something Else.
So how's the tour you thus far? You enjoying it?
Yeah. This is our fourth tour so far [this year], and it's a lot different because on our last one we were opening up for Santogold, and we were like the first of three bands usually and we were playing really big places like House of Blues, Irving Plaza, The Wiltern and all these big venues, and that was cool being the opener and experiencing the bigger type venues, and now we're playing clubs where we're now the headliner. It's good to see both sides.
And you're going to be playing on TV soon with Jimmy Kimmel, is that right?
On Tuesday [Nov. 11] actually.
You looking forward to that?
Yeah definitely. We did Letterman and Leno already about three or four months ago over the summer.
What was that like?
It was amazing. Nerve wracking, but you know, it's a weird kind of experience, the late night scene. We're also doing Craig Ferguson on Monday [Nov. 10].
Seems like you're really making the rounds.
Oh yeah. It seems kind of early to me though.
I don't know. I guess nowadays they regularly have bands that no one's heard of. Cause we're just starting, you know, and I think maybe our publicist[s are] just really good. Well I don't think that they're good, I know that they're good. They've been kicking ass. And I say that because it just feels like they've been pulling off these miracles for us. And it's great because we're now establishing these great gigs. We're playing these late night shows and they love us and say, “Oh we can't wait for you guys to come back,” and it'll be good to do again once we're more established, but it's been a great experience either way.
Now the album came out earlier this year?
Yeah, it's crazy to think that the album's been out for only four months, because me and Luke and Tad have been doing this for like eight years. I mean Low vs. Diamond has only been a band for about two-and-a-half years but we've been in other bands doing it for eight years, and sometimes you get a little impatient, but then we have to remember that our first, full-length album has only been out for four months. Chill out. We gotta have that talk with ourselves.
What do you think has changed the most for the band since the album's release?
To be honest I feel like the record has been slowly doing its thing … it's been a gradual kind of release and that's what our manager and our publicists' whole strategy was, to let things happen gradually. Don't force anything. So every couple weeks we see something. We're starting to get more recognized, which is just a trip, whether it's through a press article or late night TV. Also the touring part since the album has come out has been huge… Since then we've been touring non-stop and next year we plan on touring 300 days out of the year. That's really the one thing that's really changed. From being in a studio everyday working on this record to being a nomad. I got rid of my apartment in LA, and my car. We're touring so much there's no reason for me, a) I can't afford it, b) even if I could afford it, it doesn't make any sense to pay rent and utilities and car insurance if I'm never going to be there.
What aspect of the debut really stands out to you?
You have this idea in your head of what you want your first record to be like, and in talking with other bands what it typically comes out to being isn't what you wanted. But with ours it's exactly what we wanted. It's a combination of Luke's songwriting and Luke's lyrics are really -- people can relate to them -- they're not far-fetched. He's talking about real-life situations and the music is just a combination of all the styles that we went through after college. It's just a combination of all our different influences. Luke has some catchy choruses that he wrote. It's stuff that we like. It's exactly what we wanted for a first record. It's anthemic and you can sing along to it. And it's also got this thing where you can hear some of the influences like Roxy Music and Bowie a little bit.
What kind of new things are already seeping into the mix?
Luke's been listening to a lot of Motown lately, and I think it's seeping its way in. I think that's a big one. We're trying to simplify a lot. We learn that as a band. At first you can try to overdo it. Luckily we were with producers who knew how to cut the fat. Now I think we're learning on our own, taking what we learned from them and learning [applying it to] space and patience. I feel like the next record could be in a completely different direction. But this first one was great.