“It’s funny because they call your second album ‘the sophomore slump’ because it’s the album that makes or breaks you, which is true!” 24-year-old, blue-haired, usually-leather-clad, chanteuse Diamante is reflecting upon the classic concerns associated with second albums in light of her own sophomore LP, American Dream, which dropped last month. Although we’re currently chatting about some of the singer’s favorite conventional pop stars (“Taylor Swift’s sophomore album, Fearless, was obviously amazing and catapulted her into a whole new arena, just like Katy Perry’s.”), Diamante’s swagger (sonically and sartorially) is best known for its nods toward the kind of stars who emerged from the Sunset Strip in the 1980s.
2018 saw the release of Coming in Hot, Diamante’s debut full-length, which combined her love of aqua-netted headbangers with 21st Century pop sensibilities. The album, which came courtesy of Better Noise, led to tours alongside a handful of rock radio’s heaviest hitters (You may have seen her opening for Breaking Benjamin at BB&T Pavilion in 2019.), in addition to some airplay of her own, which she tells me have been two of the biggest highlights of her time in music: “For me, one of the coolest experiences was hearing a song of mine, ‘Haunted,’ on the radio for the first time. And, around that time — I was probably 21 — just getting to step onto arena stages and amphitheater stages with bands like Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace was so incredible.”
Diamante and Better Noise parted ways in early 2020, leaving her to take the reigns for American Dream and making the album even more intensely personal than her debut: “I was making a lot more decisions on this album: who I got to write with, who I got to collaborate with, what songs made the album… I describe that first album as an introduction to Diamante as an artist – I was unknown at that time and just starting out – but this American Dream album was more an introduction to me as a person.” On top of that, the majority of American Dream was conceived during the pandemic, which the singer tells me was a blessing and a curse.
“The pandemic was both the worst thing and the best thing that ever happened to me. And what I mean by that is, I always thought I’m always gonna tour and that’ll just be my life, and all of a sudden there’s no touring, so it was a real wakeup call for me. I had to reevaluate myself and think, ‘Who am I, if I’m not touring and playing shows?’ That’s when I came up with most of these songs, because I was stuck at home and forced to face these emotions… I would love people to know that the music I make is very autobiographical. But also, as intensely personal as it is, I want to talk about things that maybe other people are ashamed to talk about, because that’s always what got me.”
When we talk about what the future holds, like most musicians at the moment, Diamante seems focused on getting to play live again. I ask her if she has any fantasy bills to play on and she tells me, “I would die to open for G N’ R, who are my favorite ‘80s band. And I would kill to do anything with Joan Jett or Stevie Nicks.” However, she does tell me that some of her actual upcoming shows are also things that she’s fantasized about: “I’m playing three festivals in September – Rocklahoma, Inkcarceration, and Louder Than Life – and I’ve never played any of them and they’re festivals that I’ve always dreamed of like, ‘What if I could play this one day?’” And she tells me that, although the people who actually come out to her shows are rather diverse, there are a couple things they have in common: “My fanbase is so diverse. I have kids coming to my shows with the blue wigs on and then I have older people shaking my hand and telling me they like me. The one thing they have in common is they all know I have an obsession with tacos… and they all know I’ll sign titties.”