Diana Death is everything you expect old school Rock ‘n’ Roll to be. A seasoned musician that has been playing with bands since the 90s and has done it all, seen it all, and, most importantly, did it with absolute joy and passion for the genre. She is a guitar player and singer that has played in different genres and styles, but her current band, Razor Nights, is a great representation of what type of a musician she wants to be.
I had the opportunity of doing this interview with Diana and it was an absolute joy. We talked about different projects, her views as a musician, censorship and Razor Nights’ latest single, which is dedicated to those advocating for censorship, IDGAF. I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you for doing this, Diana. It’s a pleasure to have you here. First and foremost, how are you dealing with the virus situation in the last few months?
I’m taking it in stride each day, just getting the most enjoyment I can within the current Californian constraints.
How big was the impact of this situation on Razor Nights and your own individual projects this year?
Razor Nights had to cancel a bunch of gigs, including Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, a definite bummer. I was unable to perform with my Johnny Thunders tribute at all this year; Chinese Rocks had to cancel our April gig to commemorate his death, but then our rescheduled gig in July for his birthday was also cancelled. My DJ crew’s monthly residency hasn’t spun records since March. As of this interview in Sept 2020, we really don’t know when music venues will be open for gigs again.
For those readers that perhaps are not familiar with you and your career, what can you tell us about yourself?
I’m a lifelong underground rock musician playing gigs since i was 15. Been in twenty something bands throughout the years, all punk, new wave, garage rock, or metal related.
You sing, play guitar and keyboards and you also DJ. Out of those things, what was your first passion?
My first instrument was the keyboard, then violin, but my true musical love since age 12 is the electric guitar.
I have talked with other multi-instrumentalists and they tend to feel more inclination towards a certain instrument. Do you have a personal role as a musician?
Yes, I think of myself as a guitarist before anything else.
Which bands were your biggest influences when you were starting out?
I grew up in the 1980s and 90s, so heavy metal videos on MTV really inspired me to view electric guitar playing as an actual career and lifestyle. Then I got into the punk movement, which shaped my mental attitude.
Can you name five albums that you think are underrated?
It’s easier for me to narrow it down to artists:
Screamin’ Lord Sutch
The New Math
The lyrics came to me from frustration after being permanently banned from FB and Twitter while noticing the rise of cancel culture at large. I couldn’t believe no other bands were talking censorship, so I decided to do it myself.
Musically speaking, how was that song made?
IDGAF started as an exercise in trying to write an entire song based only on two chords. I chose F# and B.
What can you say about the making of the single’s music video?
Our buddy Dave Robles filmed us in front of an old building on 17th Street called Snowflake Baking, then added some live footage he shot of us at Til Two Club.
Is the band going to continue making these types of statements through your lyrics or is it a one-off situation?
Moonrunner said it best: “This song is like your Chatterbox”, referring to Johnny Thunders’ singular song off the NY Dolls’ second album. I don’t know if I’ll write another song in that vein, but if censorship gets even worse I may have to make a sequel.
What other plans do you have to promote this single in the coming months?
I’m sending the video link to online content creators who make freedom of speech a priority.
Are you guys working in new material as we speak?
Yes, we get together every week, and already have enough material for a second LP; we can’t wait to start recording again!
Can you walk us through the writing process of Razor Nights?
Moonrunner will show me some chords he had in mind, or sing the notes out loud to me. I’m always able to transcribe whatever he’s thinking onto my fretboard. I’ll move the chords around to different keys and build bridge parts, then he throws the words on top. Our rhythm section is always sharp enough to keep up while we hash out these ideas.
You are someone that has a lot of experience playing in bands. What makes Razor Nights different to the ones you played with before?
In all the other bands I’ve ever been in, either I was the main songwriter showing the rest of the band my songs, or I joined bands where someone else was the main songwriter. This is the first time I really feel it’s a collaborative effort.
I know for a fact that you and vocalist Moonrunner Gomez have a good relationship. What can you tell us about the way you work together?
We always keep a sense of humor, remembering that rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be fun. We just want rock ‘n’ roll to be exciting and fun again.
Of course, there’s also the factor that the two of you can sing. How do you work the vocal harmonies in that regard?
It’s pure serendipitous magic, the way we instinctively land on different notes that work well together. It’s never planned or discussed ahead of time, it just naturally happens.
You have Rick Blair on bass and Andrew on drums. How is the experience of working with that rhythm base?
Those guys actually go way back with Moonrunner to the 1990s/early 2000s, when they used to be in bands called Multiple Stab Wounds and Makeout Boys. Razor Nights is a musical family reunion, of sorts.
How do you think your experience playing in other bands has molded you as a musician?
I’ve learned how to be professional and reliable, especially after touring with El Vez. I’d have to learn dozens of songs in short periods of time, like rock n roll boot camp.
I know that you have very eclectic musical tastes. Do you think Razor Nights is a solid representation of you as a musician?
Yes, I love expressing myself on both rhythm and lead guitar, and using my voice in different ways.
As anyone that follows you on social media knows, you’re quite open on your political and social views. Do you think that perhaps can put some people off or you have come to accept that it comes with the territory?
The other guys in the band don’t explicitly identify as “punk”, but I wholeheartedly embrace the label. I consider it my job to push against the status quo and be so-called “offensive”, so if lames don’t like me, I’m doing my job correctly.
As someone with so much experience as a musician, you must have some interesting anecdotes. Do you have any that is worth telling?
The best gig I ever played was in Imperia, Italy in October 2015. The stage was impossibly small and I don’t even remember if there was a monitor, but that’s when i met the love of my life, Alessandro.
Playing in a band with other people can be a challenging task based on personalities clashes. What do you think is needed to make a band work?
Have common goals, similar skill levels, everybody keep their egos in check, and don’t have bandmates hooked on hard drugs.
Some more general questions. What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the music industry?
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.
What is the best advice you could give to someone starting out as a musician?
Have NO expectations! Then you won’t be disappointed when bands dissolve, recordings get shelved, tours get cancelled, and you don’t make any money.
What is your biggest achievement as a musician so far?
Creating and maintaining an entire persona called Diana Death since 1998.
What goals do you have in your career at the moment?
I just want one song that gets regular national radio airplay.
Thank you for doing this interview, Diana. It was a pleasure. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media?