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Dean View Drop Down
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    Posted: February 25 2012 at 19:15
Diagonal
 

by Sam Scott-Hunter    DIAGONAL

 
Diagonal are an Eclectic UK Prog/Jazz Fusion band hailing from the Sussex seaside town of Brighton. After receiving some Prog attention from their eponymous debut on Lee Dorian's Rise Above Records, they are currently recording its follow up for release later this year. While we wait its release, Torodd Fuglesteg sent them a few questions via guitarist Nick Richards:
 
 
When, and by whom, was your band formed? Did any of you, past and present members, play in any other bands before joining up in your band? Why did you choose that name and which bands were you influenced by?

 

Diagonal formed at some point in 2006, I think. A whole group of us had grown up together playing improvised music, making strange recordings and all sorts. For a while we had a band called The Five Sons of Drona, but it was never really going anywhere. There was a group of us living in Brighton after finishing university who knew we wanted to do something together; myself (Nick Richards); Dave Wileman; Alex Crispin; Nick Whittaker and Ross Hossack. Luke Foster was one of our best friends and shared a flat with a couple of us, but had been concentrating on drumming for another band, Autumn Chorus. We eventually convinced him to play with us, and when Alex brought in Dan Pomlett to play bass, that was when Diagonal really began.

Luke came up with the name. He saw the word on the side of a building in huge letters and just thought it looked like a band name. I think maybe we liked the way it suggested an alternative trajectory, in a way. A tangent, or a different direction.

 
In terms of our influences at the beginning, they are probably far too numerous to list. Between us we had got into a lot of progressive and unusual music, but there were so many influences. We never set out to sound like anyone specifically. We simply had a shared love of all kinds of different music and set about creating our own, with the assumption that some of those influences were bound to be audible in what we created.

 

 

Brighton has a very good music scene now. How is it to run a band on the Playa Del Sussex these days?

 

Brighton is a fantastic city to live in if you're a music lover; music and the arts in general are the life-blood of the city, it's what the whole place is about really, and as a punter it's brilliant - there's always something interesting happening somewhere. Everyone in Brighton is a musician or an artist of some kind. That makes it a great place to be in a band from a practical perspective - there are rehearsal and recording facilities everywhere, loads of venues, good guitar shops - but from our perspective in terms of performing, it hasn't been great. There's no real local scene in terms of 'underground' music. There are a couple of local promoters who bring in some fantastic bands from elsewhere, and there are some great local bands too, particularly some avant/noise rock and doom metal bands, but there's nothing you'd call a coherent scene. And being a small city, there's only so many times you can play the same shows, with the same bands, to the same people. If you're in a punk band, it's a totally different story, but we've always found more of an audience in London.

 

You are or were signed on Rise Above Records. A pretty legendary label in it's short life. How did you get signed to them?

 

That was all down to the good people behind Night of the Long Swords, an excellent club night in London. Nikki Hirst asked us to play a show for them, possibly in the basement at El Paso's in Shoreditch, but it could have been somewhere else. I think the story is that Thogdin Ripley called Lee Dorrian, knowing that he would be into our music, and told him he should come down and check us out. After seeing us play live he let us know that he wanted to release an album, and that was that. I had been a fan of the label for years, and to begin with Rise Above was the only label I could possibly imagine releasing our music.

 

Over to your releases. You released a seven inch vinyl single named Heavy Language in 2008. Please tell us more about this single.

 

That was really only done to see how well we worked with Liam Watson of Toe Rag Studios, with a view to recording the album there. I think we wrote it specifically for that 7", because all of our other songs were too long. When we played it live there was a whole other section with a lot of improvised parts in it. I used to love playing that song live, but I wasn't so happy with the recorded version. The B-side was something we put together over a few days recording in Alex's flat.

 

Your self titled debut album was released back the same year. Please tell us more about this album.

 

It was more or less our live set on record, apart from the song 'Deathwatch', which we hardly ever played. It was a great experience, but also a frustrating one. Recording at Toe Rag is very limiting in certain ways because of the whole stripped-back analogue setup. Liam is brilliant at what he does there - he's won a grammy after all - but I'm not sure it was the right studio for us, and what we wanted to do with the album. A lot of our ideas weren't really realised, or we didn't get a chance to realise them because we had so little time in the studio. I'm proud of what we managed to do though, and of the reaction the record received. I think the quality of the songs comes across, but I wouldn't record in that situation again.

 

What have you been up to since the recording of that album and what is your plans for next year?

 

After the record was released we played some shows, and carried on writing and working on new material, but then in early 2010 Dan and Alex both decided to leave the band, for various reasons. There was a hiatus for a few months where we thought about how to continue, and eventually decided to have a slight reshuffle and carry on as a five-piece. Since then we've been writing material, playing shows, and recording. We're currently getting close to finishing the recording for the next record, which will hopefully be released later this year. Our sound has changed somewhat, and we've had to abandon our old material for the live shows, but we've probably written two albums worth of stuff since the line-up change, and I think we're sounding better than we've ever sounded at the moment.

 

For those of us unfamiliar with your music; how would you describe you music?

 

 It's full-on, intense, heavy prog/jazz-rock. The songs on the first album are largely organ/vocal led, with heavy guitar passages and quite a bit of two-part guitar harmony. Lots of dynamic and mood changes, lengthy songs which evolve and progress, and quite a bit of group improvisation. The new material is almost entirely instrumental, largely led by guitar and saxophone melodies. It's more powerful, more direct, heavier and darker, but retains the same focus on song structures which evolve and develop through dynamic and rhythmic changes.

 

To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add to this interview?

 

Keep up the good work! Prog Archives is a great website - long may it continue.

 

 
(with thanks to Torodd Fuglesteg for the interview)


Edited by Dean - March 14 2012 at 15:34
"You know what uranium is, right?
Itís this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mellotron Storm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2012 at 11:04
Their debut was amazing and i'm glad to hear they are releasing a follow-up.
"The wind is slowly tearing her apart"

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AtomicCrimsonRush Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2012 at 15:11
I love Diagonal! The debut was masterful so hopefully they will continue to produce complex music like that on the following release. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sagichim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 16 2012 at 02:06
^ Good point!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sagichim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 16 2012 at 06:42
^ I said good point to a stupid spam message that was deleated, but Back to topic .
I also enjoyed Diagonal's release and happy to hear there is a follow up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 16 2012 at 08:52
Please do not respond to spam posts.
"You know what uranium is, right?
Itís this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sagichim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 16 2012 at 09:59
^ Ok daddy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jim Garten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 18 2012 at 06:13
Looking forward to the follow up to that stonker of a debut - they say the 2nd album is more guitar'sax led, but I do hope the organ still has its place...

Jon Lord 1941 - 2012
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dlz1965 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 19 2012 at 11:09
Saw 'em live in Leeds in January and have to say they were magnificent though a totally different beast to that which recorded the first album. The organ is now non existent, replaced with a few synthy swoops but the sax/guitar arrangement works well. I would encourage everyone to see them when you get the chance and buy the new cd.
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