With an anthemic, ‘80s-inspired sound and striking, blue-haired image, Diamante has stormed onto the national music scene in 2018. The 21-year-old Mexican-Italian-American’s debut album, “Coming in Hot” (read Live Metal’s review), was released on June 15 via Better Noise Records/Eleven Seven Music, following her duet with Bad Wolves on the song “Hear Me Now,” the video for which has tallied more than 10 million views on YouTube. Bad Wolves took her on the road to sing that song with them on their spring tour with Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown, and will do the same this summer on a massive trek with Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin and Nothing More. Now, Diamante is on the road with her band, introducing her own music to packed venues across the United States on the “What’s in Your Head Tour,” co-headlined by Bad Wolves and From Ashes to New. When that tour came to Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, Maryland, Live Metal’s Greg Maki caught up with Diamante to discuss the new album and more.
LIVE METAL: Your debut album came out yesterday. Did you do anything special for the occasion?
DIAMANTE: I went to the gym. (laughs) It was a day off, so I went to the mall, I shopped, and then I went out to a nice restaurant. But it was good. It feels so surreal that it’s finally out, but I’m so excited that people can finally hear the music that I’ve been listening to for the past two years.
Yeah, a lot of work has gone into it, so kind of take me through that process.
So because I’m a solo artist, I didn’t write with band members. Instead, my writing process was I went into a session every single day with a brand-new person—a different songwriter, a different producer. The beginning was a lot of trial and error, finding the right people that I liked writing with and then writing with them again and again and again, and really honing in on the sound that I wanted. I think the overall writing and recording time took about 18 months just to really have everything come together.
What influences went into this?
Definitely the ‘80s and especially the women of the ‘80s. A big one for me is Joan Jett—vocally, the guitars. The song “Coming in Hot” is very much inspired by her. Just that female grit and that ‘80s, anthemic vibe.
“Coming in Hot” as the album title and the first song—are you making a statement with that?
Yeah, definitely. When I wrote the song “Coming in Hot,” I knew that had to be the title of the album, just because, like you said, it makes a statement, and it’s very direct and to the point. It’s also a metaphor—because it’s my debut album—of me coming into the music industry. I’m not coming in slowly or timidly or shyly; I’m coming in hot, so get ready.
What are some of your favorite songs on the album?
It’s such a hard question. I love “War Cry” and “Bulletproof” a lot, because they’re my most personal ones lyrically. “Bulletproof” is also very dynamic. It’s very quiet, and then I’m yelling at the top of my lungs. “War Cry” is also very personal because it’s what I deal with on a daily basis—my inner demons and my inner battles. And then “I’m Sorry” is actually a ballad on the album that I really enjoy, because I never really put out ballads before; I never really got to sing.
You did a version of that in Spanish, too.
Are you fluent in Spanish?
I am, yeah. I’m half Mexican, and I always wanted to record a song in Spanish. I just never had the chance, I guess. It was so interesting because the Spanish language emotes so much passion. So it almost feels like a different song. I really want to do more songs like that in Spanish.
Are you gonna try one in Italian?
One day, yeah. I’m not as fluent in Italian as I am in Spanish, but I’d love to tackle that one day.
From the songs, I get the impression that you kind of embrace the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Is that true, and to what extent?
Yeah, rock ‘n’ roll is definitely a way of life, and it is a side of me. That’s why I love this album, because it’s so multidimensional. So you have these parts of me that are very fierce and in your face and strong, and then you have these parts that are very vulnerable. That’s probably what I learned the most throughout this whole process, was that true strength is embracing vulnerability, and Howard Benson, who was my producer, was the one who really pushed me to go there and write from that place.
Following that, what was he like to work with? He’s got such a long list of bands he’s worked with (My Chemical Romance, Chris Cornell, Halestorm, Kelly Clarkson).
He’s incredible. He definitely understood that I wanted that retro, ‘80s sound while still being modern—a 2018 record. He was kind of the guiding force, because I had written maybe 100 demos. He and I would sit in his home studio and listen to every single demo, and he would tell me, “This is the right direction,” or “This is not so much the right direction,” and really made sure that everything was cohesive.
You did a cover of “Crazy on You” by Heart. How did you choose that song?
I always wanted to do an ‘80s cover by a female icon, and I figured that by doing Heart it was the biggest challenge ever. And I really like challenges. It’s very difficult vocally.
You’ve done a bunch of videos already, and they look like a lot of fun. Do you enjoy making videos?
I love music videos. I’m a very visual person, and I love colors, and I love storylines. So I get really involved when it comes to music videos. “Coming in Hot,” we actually shot that at Howard’s house, in his backyard. The story is my friends and I are crashing a retirement home. We’re getting the old people riled up for the weekend, and it’s a very funny, comedic video. “Had Enough” is actually based off of my favorite all-time film, “Thelma & Louise.” It has a very girl power, outlaw, desert vibe, so we shot that in the Mojave Desert.
Yeah, they’re always so fun. It feels like I’m shooting a full-length movie.
How’s this tour going so far? I know you’ve had sold-out shows already.
Yeah, the tour has been so much fun. From Ashes to New and Bad Wolves, we’re all on the same label, so it very much feels like family. And yeah, the shows have been sold out or close to selling out, so that’s very cool.
Before this, you were out with Bad Wolves on the Five Finger Death Punch/Shinedown tour. What was it like to be a part of that?
Oh my gosh. That was life-changing, because they were the biggest stages I’d ever been on—singing in front of ten, twelve thousand people a night in arenas. And I get to do it again after this run with Nothing More and Breaking Benjamin.
Does being part of that give you extra motivation to work harder and get to that level on your own?
Definitely! I’m so hungry now. I tell myself, I am not quitting until I step out on this arena stage again and it’s my own set. I got the taste for it, and now I’m just willing to work hard for it even more.
What has it been like just traveling the country and seeing all these different cities? Have you been in Baltimore before?
No, it’s my first time. That’s what I love so much about touring, is I get to explore new places. On show days, rather than just hanging out in the green room or staying inside, I actually like to explore and look around. Like today, I went and got lobster rolls right down there. Yeah, it’s super cool. I love being in a new city every day.