Diemonds' Priya Panda
By Jay Oakley
So, I understand that you have band rehearsal tomorrow. Are you preparing for a tour or is this for you show at Dickens next week?
Yeah, we have a show at Dickens Pub in Calgary which is pretty much half way across the country for us. We're going down because we have been nominated for a JUNO Award which is really exciting. It's like the Canadian Grammy's so it's really exciting to be recognized by something so legit when we have been an underground band for so many years so we're rehearsing for it. We rehearse all the time whether or not we have shows but we're definitely rehearsing for this show because we want to kick ass when we get there.
When it came to getting the nomination for the Juno Awards, how did you find out about that?
We found out about it because we knew that they were doing a kind of press release, an announcement thing at a venue in town. So, we just went to hang out. It was super early in the morning so we went to have a couple of coffees and we were hanging out and to our surprise we were nominated. We just went down to hang out with some other bands and it was really, really exciting. We were stoked!
When it comes to bands being nominated by the Juno Awards, is that by your musical peers or fans? How exactly does that work?
I'm not totally sure about the nomination process but I do know that it is a panel of industry professionals and what not. Just like any other awards like the Grammy's and the Academy Awards and all that stuff. It's all, kind of, industry run and I guess there's some sort of voting process and what ever the voting criteria was, we made the cut and we're super excited about it.
It's been almost a year now since your new album, Never Wanna Die, came out. How's everything been going since that came out? How's the response and talk a bit about your album.
We're really proud about the way it turned out. The response has been great. I think a lot of our fans have grown with us over the years. They've seen us grow musically and thematically and I think that shows that they have been along for the ride. But, I still think that we're in the process of reaching a wider audience, a wider fan base and we still have intentions to tour the album and take it to a new market that we haven't yet to toured to with it. As always, we're still writing new music so we're, kind of, looking forward to the future and getting new music out there. With this album we sounded a lot more and closer to the noise we heard in our heads and that has motivated us to keep it going and put out something a lot sooner than we had between the last two records.
Do you have a rough idea of when you'd like to put out another album?
It would be great to put something out. Right now, we're kind of just messing around but it'd be great to have something out by the end of this upcoming year.
For people who are familiar with you a little bit and even people who are getting into not only you as an artist but your band Diemonds as well, you also have another band Hellfire Heart, formerly know as She Demons. I was fortunate to see you late last year when you were touring with the Misfits. Do you have any issues with bouncing the two bands off of each other?
Well, the other band (Hellfire Heart) is more of a side project and it doesn't really conflict because Diemonds has always taken priority for me because it's my baby. I built it from the ground up and it means a lot to me. That being said, if anything interesting arises in the Hellfire Heart world we'll take it as it comes, for sure.
Nice, I've always enjoyed what you've done with Diemonds and even though it's a small body of work but I thought your last album (The Bad Pack) all the way back to In The Rough was quite stellar. I really did enjoy what you did with Hellfire Heart and it was last October when you guys played in Baltimore.
Aww, thanks. Those were actually compositions that were put together by Jerry Only (Misfits' bassist, vocals.) He, kind of, wrote all those songs. The band was put together by him entirely and he had the idea of having an all-girl band that mixed the Ramones and the Ronettes and he picked out the right players and he'd been writing the music for a long time so it was something he'd always wanted to do and see come to life. So, it's cool to be a part of it.
Was the name (She Demons) at the time something he chose as well or was that you guys?
Yeah, pretty much everything that you saw about the band was his concept, his creation and comes from his mind. Like, the artwork and what not he worked in collaboration with an artist from LA, Richard Villa and he brought those ideas to life.
You were recently put in Revolver Magazine's 25 Hottest Chick in Hard Rock. How was that and how do you feel about it?
It's great. Definitely, another thing I wasn't expecting at all. It's nice to be recognized for, it says the hottest women in hard rock which is cool but I think it's more like the hardest working women in hard rock because it takes a lot to be recognized. Do you know what I mean? Everyone in there, I think, has paid their dues and I think it's a great group of hard working women who have put in a lot of time into music, making the world a louder place. So, it's cool to be listed with them.
I wanted to talk a little about you and your influences when it comes to music. Where you always singing? Did you always want to be a singer or did you have any other ideas when you got into music?
I was always into singing. I looked up to really cool front men and performers and entertainers when I was a kid. I really liked Neil Diamond and The Beatles and Michael Jackson, these are all household names and they're masters of their craft. Those are the kind of people that influenced me early on but when I started getting into high school and into heavier stuff it was Guns N' Roses and Aerosmith and I started liking the bluesier hard rock and classic rock and that's probably where I still sit. [laughs]
One thing I'd love for you to talk about, I've been fortunate to be able to talk to some people who could really talk about the artists we've lost this year. With you, I wanted to take it in a different direction because I hoped you'd talk about your former band mates Vassil (Mester,) Alan (Riches,) and Paul (Mancuso) and in positive ways what they meant to you as band members and influences in your life.
Actually, the anniversary of the loss of Vassil is coming up very shortly so it's totally on top of the mind right now and I've been thinking about him a lot lately. They were integral to our band. We had a big gap between The Bad Pack and Never Wanna Die which was partly because we lost all the people tat play on that album and over that time between those two records we lost our bass player and our guitar player that we'd known forever and played played on both our records (The Bad Pack, In The Rough) so it was really difficult for us to move on but their contribution has been been a big part of the Diemonds sound and especially the early Diemonds sound. The new record, Never Wanna Die, is dedicated to them and that's, kind of, where the title of the album came from and a lot of the subject matter. The lights and the darks, the highs and the lows and it's been traumatic. Losing a lot of friends really young and it, kind of, changes you.
With this year still being early what are your goals for this year? Where would you really like to see Diemonds go?
We would like to find ourselves opening for larger acts nationally in North America and hopefully getting us to Europe. That would be the goal, that has always been the goal and it's still the goal. [Laughs] Touring's what we love to do so we're always ready, willing and open to hit the road so if you've got any opportunities send them our way.