Diaries of a Hero Interview
@ O2 Brixton Academy
17th November 2012
Interview Photos by Michelle Murphy
Great things happened on November the 17th 2012 as Motorhead and Anthrax played a sold-out show at the O2 Academy Brixton. It was an unforgettable night when we saw two legendary bands share the stage and make history together.
But to start such a great night, there was the opening band that no one seemed to have heard of before. Few hours before the show, we met up with Diaries of a Hero – the main support act to follow Anthrax and Motorhead on their UK/European tour.
While researching the band’s history before the interview, I noticed some familiar faces within the band members and it took a while to recall where I’ve spotted these guys before. I finally remember having a few (or more) drinks with them at “the Intrepid Fox” – one of the busiest rock/metal bars in Central London.
Even though it was a long time ago and none of us remember what really went on that night, its clear that these guys are fun and up for a party. Here’s their chance to party with rock’n’roll legends, so we asked them few questions about how it’s going so far.
Hey guys! First of all, congratulations on doing the UK / European tour as the main support act for Anthrax and Motorhead! Tell us how the tour came about and what was your first reaction when you heard the news that you’ve got it?
CARLO (vocals/guitar): I shat my pants! (Everyone laughs)
JOHN (guitar): I got absolutely wrecked with my manager.
CARLO: It was all pretty much down to our management, because they had a relationship with ‘’TKO Agency’’, that organizes this whole tour. They added us to the list of the possible opening bands and one day we just got this call saying we’ve got it. Even though there were other bands waiting for it as well, they ended up choosing us and we were just like: „Fuck yes!”
Tonight you’ll be playing at the legendary venue that is O2 Brixton Academy. Did you ever think that one day you’ll be sharing stage at Brixton with some of the biggest names in rock music history?
CARLO: We all actually live just around the area, so we’ve been passing Brixton Academy nearly every day. We see a lot of acts playing here all the time, but I never thought that we might end up performing here. I was thinking that we’ll be more likely to play at the Windmill venue down the road, which is a nice little place, but nothing compared to the Brixton Academy! (Everyone laughs)
Tell us how do you feel before tonight’s gig? Are you a bit nervous and excited?
JOHN: Well, there are going to be 5000 people watching tonight, as the show is sold out. This is going to be the biggest show we’ve done so far on this tour and I do feel a little bit stressed out.
So how do you deal with the stress? Do you have any pre-gig rituals that you practice before going on stage?
JOHN: Not really… I just panic. (Laughs)
MATT (bass): This is my ritual before the gig! (Points at the beer bottle that he’s holding).
CARLO: Well, I can’t drink before the show, because I have to sing, so I just do the normal warm-up stuff with guitar. Then I just wait for the show to start and try to enjoy it.
MATT: Here’s a thing I did today though… About 10 years ago I bought Judas Priest Live in London CD that was recorded at the Brixton Academy, so I just looked and it and thought to myself: „Yes!!! That’s where we’re playing today!”
You’ve been on this tour for a while now. So far, what has been the highlight of it?
JOHN: Probably playing shows in Glasgow and Cambridge.
CARLO: Yeah, Cambridge was awesome and I think we did really well at Bournemouth. I guess it’s just the crowd reaction at those shows that makes it more special. Sometimes you get a lot of kids in the front of the stage and they will start some crazy shit and it creates a really cool energy.
Have you guys had a chance to hang out with Lemmy yet?
CARLO: More with Phil (Campbell) and Mickey (Dee). We see Lemmy around, but we’re kind of taking it easy on him.
MATT: Lemmy kind of created this ‘mysterious aura’ around him and we always just feel that we better leave him for whatever he has to do. (Laughs)
CARLO: We were heading backstage after our sound check at the first gig in Wolverhampton and it was really dark there. We couldn’t see where we’re going and once we opened a stage curtain, we saw Lemmy just sitting there and smoking a cigarette. It was a bit of a „How the hell!?” moment, but Lemmy just looked at us and carried on smoking his cigarette.
We get to hang out with the other bands more because we all have the same catering. We have dinners with Anthrax every time, which has been really cool.
How are the guys from Anthrax and how they’ve been treating you?
CARLO: They’re really sweet guys. They were actually asking me yesterday what is there to do in Brixton. And I was like: „I don’t know, really… There’s a KFC down the road.” (Laughs)
But really, what else is here in Brixton? Even if I’ve been living here a long time, I still don’t know what’s going on here.
Right, let’s talk about your band! How did you guys come together and decided to make music as a band?
JOHN: We all went to LCCM (London Centre of Contemporary Music) college together. I remember that one day Carlo played some fast scales on guitar and I went: „Wow! What’s that?” So after that we went jamming and did some guitar harmonies together and thought we can actually make some good stuff with this. After that our drummer Leonard joined in and started playing punk rock. And later on Matt (bass guitar) joined.
MATT: We didn’t hang out together at college that much, but one night, out of the blue, I got this phone call from an unknown number and it was Carlo. He was completely pissed and mumbled something about hanging out and joining the band…
Matt is stopped in the middle of the sentence when suddenly the dressing room doors open and the fourth member of the band Leonard (drums) stumbles in the room. After we’re introduced and I’ve told him about that mysterious night out that no one remembers, he’s left quite confused and joins the conversation.
Moving on… So far you’ve released your first album Behind the Mask in 2011. For those who’ve never heard of your band – what kind of music is that and how would you define your style?
JOHN: I suppose it’s like Avenged Sevenfold with Bullet for my Valentine and stuff like that… It is metal, but it has got a lot of melody in it.
CARLO: Our music is very melodic. We’re actually half way through our second album and it’s a lot heavier than Behind the Mask, but I would define the style as melodic alternative metal.
As a band, who are you most influenced by? And would you say that Motorhead and Anthrax has had an influence on your music?
CARLO: Maybe not directly. Me and Matt were brought up in Italy, so we’ve been listening to a lot of European power metal, like Heavenly and Blind Guardian. John is more of and American thrash-metal guy and he loves stuff like Pantera. Leonard is punk as fuck and loves everything from NOFX to Mad Caddies.
MATT: Obviously, when we listen to music ourselves and come up with a specific playlist, songs like Ace Of Spades and Overkill are always on there. So we’ve been influenced by Motorhead, but maybe subconsciously. Our music is a mixture of all the bands that were just mentioned, but we add our signature sound to it and try to fuck shit up.
CARLO: …and bands that we are influenced by have been influenced by Motorhead for sure.
If you’d have to come up with a dream line-up of 4 bands to play a gig with, who would those bands be (dead or alive)?
JOHN: That would be Pantera for me!
CARLO: I’ve always loved Metallica, but I also love a band that’s getting quite big now called Periphery. They’re awesome, so I would love to play with them.
LEONARD: I would go for Led Zeppelin.
MATT: I can’t say it… (All the other band members burst out laughing and encourage him to pick Toto) It’s really hard to choose one, but I would go for Judas Priest.
So Toto then… What will the future bring for Diaries of a Hero? You said you’re recording the second album, so can we expect a new video or another tour?
CARLO: Definitely a new video! (Everyone laughs) Our video for “Shine Upon the Sun” is pretty gay, so let’s not talk about it!
MATT: We had such a great idea for that video and we came up with the whole storyline. It was supposed to look very ‘’Sin City” like, but we didn’t have any artistic control over how the video is actually going to look like.
CARLO: Even though that video doesn’t represent us who we are now, it was a good experience for us and we’re definitely looking forward to shoot another video.
As well as that, we’re halfway through the recording process of our new album. We had to stop recording for a bit, because this massive tour came along.
LEONARD: We’ll try to do some summer festivals in UK and maybe Germany, so we can play songs from the new album. And when the summer’s over we would like go on another tour as an opening act or do a mini-headline tour around UK.
A lot of people have discovered you since you’ve been on tour with Anthrax and Motorhead. Do you see your fan base increase a lot?
LEONARD: Comments about our band has definitely changed over the last two weeks. The thing is that we always had our video out there and to be honest… We do look quite gay in that video! But most of the people change their minds after they’ve seen us live. They see the energy on stage and think: „Maybe they’re not gay at all? They’re actually cool and can grow a beard!”
MATT: I kind of understand the average old school Motorhead fan who wants to check out the opening band before the show. They check out the video where we look really young and clean shaved and they think: ”Who the fuck are they to open for Motorhead?” But a lot of comments have changed since the tour started and people really seem to care and they’re interested once we start playing.
JOHN: Especially it’s really nice to hear good comments after the show.
What would you like to say to encourage people to check out your band and what is it that sets you apart from other new bands?
LEONARD: We would encourage people to come down and see us, because we bring a lot of energy to our shows. I think people react to that and they have a great time. We have songs that people can sing along and drink along to. We make music that makes us happy and if people can relate to it, that’s just great!
MATT: We also read an interesting review online a couple of days ago that said: “These guys can be contemporary, yet old school.’’ I think we have something that can please every listener.
LEONARD: I think it’s because we all come from completely different music backgrounds, like punk rock, heavy metal, 8o’s stuff and we just blend it together. We even try to add a lot of drum’n’base elements to our music like Pendulum does! But basically we listen to everything from Slayer to Toto!
Many thanks for you time today!