Interview: BEN CHRISTO (Diamond Black)

Diamond Black is the new project from Ben Christo (The Sisters of Mercy, Night By Night) who have recently released their debut single ‘Sorrow’.  Here we ask Ben for some background on Diamond Black and his recent touring activity with the Sisters Of Mercy

How did Diamond Black form?

J.I. & I met Helsinki, where we’d both been recruited to play a Skid Row cover as part of festival. We had a good chemistry onstage, Jaakko said to me after: “One day, you will be my guitarist”. I laughed it off at the time, but it came true!

We helped each other out with our respective bands over the following years, doing guest live spots or bits of song-writing here and there. When Night by Night (my previous band) ended, I was looking to move back to London, so J.I. struck me a deal. “You can live at my place for a month for free – if you write me a song.”

Feeling instantly inspired, as I knew exactly the sort of thing J.I. (and I) loved, I set to work. We both became enrapt in what was developing – it was heavy and energetic, yet haunting and evocative. It was exactly the sound both he and I had been searching for in our other previous bands but had never found. We knew we HAD to make this into a reality, into a BAND. That song became Ghost in the Glass, which contains the line “I’ll go far below into the diamond black…”

The band was born and shortly after, the name appearing from the ether. We were writing down the kind of words and imagery that suited the band’s sound, to see how they appeared together, and suddenly, it was just there, staring from the page – ‘DIAMOND BLACK’.

The debut single ‘Sorrow’ had over 4,000 YouTube views in the first three days. Have you been pleased with the reaction so far to the song?

Yes, very much so. We’re currently on rotation on Scuzz, we’ve been offered a record deal by a strong label, the song has been shared by Piggy D (Rob Zombie) Mark Thwaite (The Mission) and Doug Blair (W.A.S.P.) and one of my biggest idols has been in touch and we’re now writing a song together for the DB debut album. That’s mind-blowing.

And, what’s REALLY important to me, is that we have already received numerous mails from the fans about how much the words and music have moved them, inspired them and even helped them through hard times in their lives, which has also meant some brilliant fan art! That’s amazing. That’s one of the main reasons we do this. Because that’s what others’ music has done for US. All of this, in just over a month and from just one song! We’re thrilled and galvanized.

What sort of music can we expect on the upcoming debut album?

Diamond Black are hard rock with melody, meaning and mystique. The music can be powerful and muscular or fragile and haunting, with lyrics and themes that often nuanced and introspective.

Big rock riffs, stirring electronica, cinematic choruses and an emotive vocal that ranges from a brooding whisper to a venomous scream. There are ‘80s rock and electro vibes, there are ‘90s industrial & metal flavours; there is contemporary darkness – all tied together with a cohesive melancholia.

Are Shot Through The Heart still going and do you still DJ? What would be your top 3 songs from the 80’s/90’s hard rock era?

STTH is pretty much a monthly event. Whenever I’m away on tour, I manage it remotely (set-lists, arrangements, promo, admin) and get a dep in on guitar and BVs to take my place onstage.

I still DJ occasionally, but live playing takes up way more of my time now, which I much prefer. I actually created STTH as a way to take those 80s rock DJ sets and make them REAL, with very talented singers and musicians. I feel very lucky to have such a hard-working and lovely team around me! 3 songs? That’s almost impossible, but:

Harem Scarem – Sentimental Blvd.
The Cult – Soul Asylum
Def Leppard – Gods of War

How did The Sisters Of Mercy Roundhouse gig go in September? Do you see any new fans coming along to the shows, or is it mainly fans who have followed the band since the start?

It was great – both nights were sold out, we had a wicked new stage set, and it was such an honour to have Therapy? open the show. Therapy? were a huge influence on me, and I was lucky enough to share the stage with them on one of the nights, playing one of my favourite songs! See here:

The demographic is quite varied – the original generation still attend, alongside fans from ages 18 – 30, who have discovered the band through their parents or by their fave bands citing TSOM as an influence.

Acts as varied as Machine Head, Limp Bizkit, Avenged Sevenfold, AFI, Deathstars, Black Veil Brides, 69 Eyes – plus too many more to mention – grew up listening to The Sisters.

Andrew Eldritch did say that Donald Trump coming to power would see a new SOM album. Is there any sign of this happening any time soon?

He said “it might” or “it could”, not that it would!

What would you like Diamond Black to have achieved by this time next year?

2018: March, April, May – more singles/videos released, and/or possibly an EP. We have a small UK tour pencilled for March/April. Would like festival appearance over the summer. Autumn onwards, release of 11-track album on a strong label, with us on bigger tour supports with relevant acts across Europe. An ever growing enthused fan-base, building toward making the band a self-sustaining entity by 2019.

Message for your fans…

We’re overwhelmed and enthused by your support, your kind mails, your fantastic art-work and your very authentic responses to how our music has helped you in some way. That could be that you enjoy rocking out in the car, your room, way to school… or it could be that the music and lyrics have supported you through some difficult times. This means the world to us.

We really, really want to do this with our lives, to create this music for you and for us, and you guys are instrumental in making this happen! Spreading the word about us, helping with street teams, requesting us at your local clubs and radio stations, wearing our merch (coming soon!)… it all plays a part!

Also – please leave a review of our single Sorrow on iTunes, Amazon etc. This really helps us!

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 LIONVILLE Magic Is Alive (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 MAD MAX Stormchild Rising (SPV)
14:00-16:00 MARY COUGHLAN Life Stories (2020)

Power Plays w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)

SOUTH OF SALEM Cold Day In Hell (indie)
BLACK LESION Sins (indie)
CAROLINE JONES All Of The Boys (Social Family Records)
BLACK SUN Resist (Rockshot Records)
THE JAILBIRDS Dull My Brain (Golden Robot Records)
FROM ASHES TO NEW Scars That I’m Hiding (Better Noise Records)
THE GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS Spirit Of A Workin’ Man (Mascot)

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