Since Halifax’s Bloody Diamonds formed in 2011, they’ve been honing a goth-tinged hard rock sound that has been winning over audiences mostly in the Maritimes and Ontario. In that time, the band has released an LP, They’ve Got Secrets, and a 7-inch, “Monsters”. Although the tireless Bloody Diamonds have developed a solid following on the east coast on the strength of those releases, the band is in the midst of bringing their music to new audiences across Canada and parts of the US. After numerous line-up changes, Bloody Diamonds, who often perform as a four-piece, have embarked on their longest tour yet as the core duo, Sara Elizabeth and Jake Seaward.
One of the several new cities Bloody Diamonds will hit is Vancouver. On Sunday, June 22, Bloody Diamonds will appear at the Railway Club alongside Vancouver bands Kicked off the Farm, Grizzly Bones, and Elizabeth. While on the road, Sara took time to answer a few questions from Vancouver Weekly about touring big, winning over new audiences, Halifax’s all-ages music scene, and the band’s visit to Jack White’s studio/performance space/vinyl-fetishist’s paradise, Third Man Records in Nashville.
Vancouver Weekly: Spanning 20,000 kms, this is your biggest tour yet. Did the idea that a big tour required a big band ever cross your minds?
Sara Elizabeth: Touring with a full band is ideal. It always has been. But once we started touring regularly, and the tours became longer, it became really hard to finance four people to leave their day jobs and come on tour year round. The duo set was born out of necessity and ended up working really well. It allows us to tour so much more than we’d be able to with the full band, and people seem to dig it just as much. So it’s really been a blessing in disguise. We’ll be touring again as the full band in the fall, but for this 3.5 month tour, we knew it would be more beneficial to go as the duo and hit a bunch of new markets without worrying about starving drummers and bass players. The duo set has allowed us to spread our live show throughout most of North America and create a base for when we return as the four-piece.
VW: Speaking of big, last year you played your first Halifax Pop Explosion. That must have been a huge opportunity for you, to play for new and long-time Bloody Diamonds fans. How was that experience?
SE: We were honoured to play Halifax Pop Explosion this past fall. It’s one of the best music festivals in Canada, in our opinion. Though we were super excited for the show, there were a bit of nerves too. You never know who’s going to be in the audience at festival showcases, so there’s a lot of pressure to really leave your mark. It was a really great week overall!
We don’t get nervous for many shows anymore. For the most part, once we start the first song all of that goes away. The focus is always putting on a good show and winning over the crowd. Sometimes it’s easier than others, but feeding off the audience’s energy is always what makes a good show a great show. The best feeling is having a crowd get more and more into the music as our set goes on. By the end of the show they’re screaming for an encore, and you know everyone had a really good time and will remember you.
VW: You once played three shows in one day, and the first two were all ages. Do you generally play a lot of all-ages shows? Are there a lot of opportunities for underage fans to go out and see live music in Halifax?
SE: Though we do specific all-ages shows once in a while, we do a lot of in-store performances at record stores which are all ages and are always a great time. There’s always a mix of people at record store shows, and it gives kids a chance to check out music in a really cool setting. I find there used to be a lot more all-ages shows in Halifax than there is now. They still exist but [are] not as frequent. Venues have kind of been disappearing for a while now in Halifax.
VW: Where’s the furthest Bloody Diamonds have played from Nova Scotia before this tour?
SE: Before this tour the furthest we’ve played was Windsor, Ontario. We’ve also been up to North Bay and Sudbury, but not past that. We’re really excited to finally get out west – we’ve been wanting to tour cross Canada for so long! Getting to tour the US for the first time has also been a crazy experience. The south is unreal.
VW: You guys played a show in Knoxville, TN at the beginning of this month. You’ve also openly spoken about your love of Jack White, specifically the Dead Weather. Did Bloody Diamonds get a chance to visit Third Man Records? Did you cut a record in the Third Man Record Booth?
SE: We had a day off after Knoxville and drove three hours out of our way to visit Third Man Records. It was possibly the coolest thing we’ve experienced on the tour so far. We’ve been looking forward to going to there for so long. Unfortunately, the record booth was out of order on the day we went, so we didn’t get to record anything. Seeing the Third Man stage though, where so many incredible musicians have played on, was a bit surreal. The Dead Weather are the band that really brought our vision of Bloody Diamonds together. They’ve always been a huge inspiration. It was definitely a “dream come true” moment.
VW: What are your writing habits on the road? Do you imagine you’ll be writing a lot on this tour and possibly working out some new material live? Or do you think you’ll just want to focus on the tunes you have, since they’re already going to be new to so many ears?
SE: We don’t write very often on tour. There’s never enough time. We’re lucky if we get to sleep a decent amount and have time to eat real food on tour, let alone anything else, haha. Half of the songs we’re playing on this tour are new, so we’ve just been working on developing those songs live.
VW: You said you don’t set out to write dark music – that dark music is just what comes out of you. In addition to the Dead Weather, you’re also big fans of groups like Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Skulls, and Black Sabbath. Where does your gravitation towards the mood that their music sets come from?
SE: I really can’t say how that came about, or why we gravitate towards a darker sound. For me, it’s just what has always felt natural and how we write best. From the beginning our songs have always had a bit of a dark twist to them. I think Band of Skulls is one of the best bands ever. Their music is incredible. So interesting, intense, heavy, and just good. We want to make music that’s interesting, and I guess putting a dark twist on it is how we attempt to do so.
Cover for Bloody Diamonds, Kicked off the Farm, Grizzly Bones, and Elizabeth at the Railway Club on June 22 is $8. Doors open at 7 PM. Music starts at 8 PM.