If you’re up for something a bit different, something lively and danceable, then you can’t go wrong with Hot Diamond Aces. Francesca Rolle, Social Sheffield music writer, talks to three of the band members, Paul, James, and Alex on life as professional musicians and their upcoming Tramlines gig.
Francesca: What’s your favourite venue to play in Sheffield?
Hot Diamond Aces: We quite enjoy Hagglers Corner. We’ve played that a few times. It’s very fun, very chilled out, and it’s nice to have a little courtyard outside where you can get away from the music. We’d really like to play Leadmill as well.
F: What’s your dream venue or festival to headline?
HDA: To headline? Jazz Café, it’s just one of those places.
F: So what was the moment you feel like you went from being a group of musicians just jamming, to being a band?
HDA: Probably when we played that first gig and we didn’t tell anyone about it but suddenly there were loads of people in the crowd. It was at the Harley, supporting Smiling Ivy. Didn’t even know if we were any good, and then people started dancing and it was like ‘oh maybe we’re actually good’!
F: What annoying habits have you all got in the band?
HDA: Ah, Dan likes to play when people are trying to talk. We’ll play something and then we’ll stop playing so we can have a discussion, and Dan will noodle. It’s a guitarist thing. Definitely a guitarist thing. Everyone just seems really nice, which is quite unusual for a group of musicians.
F: What’s the best show you’ve ever played? And what’s the worst?
HDA: The best… No, let’s start with the worst. Oh The Green Room. The Green Room is nice, but where they put the band, there’s a half a meter gap where people are walking by. So if you’re playing, people are like ‘oh, excuse me, can I just get past?’ And there’s seven of us! It can be a bit squished.
F: And what’s the best?
HDA: The Peace Gardens. For the Tour de France they did a sort of mini Tramlines type thing, so they set up the same stage and everything. So that was really fun, we had a good time, it was really chilled out. It was really sunny, and there was like thousands of people there, and while most of them were sat down chilled out, you could tell that people were getting into it, people started dancing and stuff. It was really nice.
F: So have you got any advice for fellow bands?
HDA: Make sure the person who’s going to be putting you on or promoting you is reputable and isn’t basically going to screw you over. Especially when you’re starting out, people will take the piss a lot. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Don’t sacrifice the music for stage presence. The music has to come first before other things basically. Another important thing for a band, is to get members who don’t vote conservative.
F: So you’ve recorded your EP Turtle Knight and you’re recording a new EP at the moment, so where did you record and who did your artwork?
HDA: What we’ve done for those basically is we’ve recorded it all ourselves, so we have our own rehearsal space in a room in Stag Works near Brammal Lane. James and our drummer Ricardo are very much into recording, mixing and those kinds of aspects of music. We have a lot of equipment, and we have the space and the know-how. It’s harder than you think.
F: Okay, great, and who did your artwork?
HDA: Turtle Knight was by a lovely artist who you should check out, based down in London called Claire Laffar. She’s amazing, the whole cover was hand drawn, it’s really intricate and amazing and she did it by hand. Ladoza Sheffield who does loads of artwork, big murals and that kind of thing, he’s working on our upcoming EP.
F: Right, awesome. So, who writes the songs and what kind of themes are they about?
HDA: We’ll play stuff a lot before we maybe start thinking about changing it, so that we all know it kind of inside out, back to front, so that we can then go ‘oh actually, why don’t we try the intro then the chorus’ or these kind of things. And we record every practice, so we can listen back at home.
F: So, time for the hard question: what’s your outlook on the record industry today?
HDA: It mirrors the socioeconomic system we live in. The problem with music today is that because it’s so widely accessible, people treat it like a commodity rather than an actual piece of art. Which is a real shame basically, and it kills music. And it doesn’t just kill music, it kills the musicians and it kills the professionals that are actually trying to do it for a living, which is a shame.
F: How are you feeling about playing Tramlines?
HDA: Should be really good fun. We’ve got our set sorted and it’s a cracker. Should be good fun really, we’re looking forward to playing on a big stage, through a nice big sound system!
You can catch Hot Diamond Aces on the Main Stage on Saturday 25th July at 14:00
Photography by Sammi Sparke
With thanks to Trippets Bar for providing the interview venue.