Q&A with Daren "Klank" Diolosa on January 14, 1997
Sheila René: Hello darlin', how are you?
Klank: I'm hanging in there.
SR: Sorry we missed you in December.
Klank: Yeah, things got all screwed up here. I've been crazy busy.
SR: The album surely kicked off well on the hard charts.
Klank: I'm happy with the way things are going so far.
SR: I interviewed Scott Albert when Circle Of Dust put out that last album. The photo on that album shows you as almost angel like. Now on this album you look meaner than the devil and very Rasputin.
Klank: (laughing) Oh, no. I guess you could say that the way COD got railroaded the way we did, I got a little pissed and it worked out to be a decent photo shoot.
SR: Was that a whole shoot around this album?
Klank: We spent a whole day in Brooklyn under the Williamsburg bridge on the port in buildings and it was getting really tiring. When it comes to my music I'm pretty serious and I like to put that image forward.
SR: Yeah, I can see this guy in this picture writing this music. "Scarified" is a tough song to listen to, it's so real.
Klank: Okay, cool. The thing is that I get a lot of flack from people. My e-mail account is smoking.
SR: I've got to have that address.
Klank: Okay, it's email@example.com and also klanksta @aol.com. I get the best of both worlds...they say my music is so incredible, everything you write I totally relate to it and dig it. I've finally found something I can listen to that has my feelings on it. Then I get the other side telling me that my lyrics are way too dark and depressing. It's a musical journey into venting different feelings. Everybody writes about what they feel and some of them are happy, go lucky people. I say there's way too much happy stuff. If I get one letter from someone who has been touched in some way by it, I've done my job. I don't have to make millions and it would be nice to be financially secure. The comments just flood in like crazy and 99% of the comments are all good.
SR: I love the album, but my observation is the same as King Diamond's latest. It's just too scary not to mention the vile, child molestation subject matter. I know you really like his work too.
Klank: Oh, yeah. He's the man.
SR: Have you heard The Graveyard yet?
Klank: I got it the first day it was released.
SR: It's sooo heavy. Mercyful Fate is so different from that dark story-telling King Diamond-type material.
Klank: Yes, and most people don't get it. They think it's just the same whinny guy singing and I say no, no, no, don't even trip.
SR: I couldn't help but notice that your real last name is Dio and Dio in Italian means God. What's the story there?
Klank: I know. I'll give you the exact story as it was told by my Grandmother. A long time ago in Italy there was a family who were good people. Someone in their family had a baby and they couldn't afford to take care of him. They put it on the doorsteps of this good family with a note, knocked on the door, and then ran away. The lady comes to the door and sees the baby and takes it in. There was no name given and so an older Italian lady looks at the baby and says diolosa which means god knows the answer. It's a totally true story.
SR: Then, of course, in the thanks section between Gilbert and Gray, you thank God.
Klank: Oh, yeah because he put us here. I got slack from people because I didn't put God first on the thanks.
SR: The artwork is incredible. The pressure gauge built into this guys eye says a lot.
Klank: (laughing) When he hits a certain point he just pops and vents musically.
SR: I finally figured out who Celldweller is. It's Scott Albert.
Klank: A lot of people think Celldweller is a band. I didn't have a studio to work in and I wanted to work with him so we went into the Circle Studios. He knows me best and I'm really comfortable with him. When Circle of Dust kicked the bucket, it was really hard for me, about a year ago.
SR: REX Records just wasn't holding up their end of the bargain.
Klank: They flaked on a financial agreement. They owe us $8000.00. That's one of the main reasons we split from them. I wanted to jump on a plane and kick the shit out of them, but I didn't.
SR: How did you get over to Tooth & Nail who have a great reputation in the punk world.
Klank: I knew Brandon Ebel at Tooth & Nail because I had gone to California at the request of a guy I'd met on tour, Bryan Gray, who has a punk rock band called The Blamed. He had asked if I could come out and play guitar on his first record. I go out there and meet the label guy. He knew of Circle of Dust and liked the music. I gave him a couple of songs to listen to. He thought they were really too heavy metal sounding. When you finish the songs get back to me. That was three years ago. When COD was finally over I was very bummed out and that same guy Bryan asked me to come to Nashville to produce his latest album. While I was there I got a call at the studio from Brandon Ebel telling me that he wanted to sign me. It really blew me away.
SR: I guess you blew him away when you signed the contract in blood.
Klank: Oh, yeah. Actually, I was at Scott's house when Brandon was on the phone telling me he had just received the contract. Scott asked him to take a look at the signed contract to see if everything was okay. Then you hear a scream, it's signed in blood. I told him that I did it to prove the point that I'm not a joke and I'm not to be taken lightly. If you have the balls to back me up, this is what you're in for. He still gets a little tweaked about it. Everyone else at this famous punk label thinks it so cool and so punk of me to do.
SR: I've always been a heavy metal freak and it's just in the last ten years that I've learned to love the metal/industrial combination.
Klank: The only problem now is that there are so many bands popping up right and left that it's harder and harder to do anything original. I find it really comforting to me that some reviewers are saying...yes, it's electronic; yes, it's metal but no two songs sound alike. I say thanks for that.
SR: My partner on our website picked up the cover and said right away, this guy's suffering from ghosts of his past.
Klank: (laughing) You know I didn't tell anybody what each song is about. I just say get your own meaning. Maybe with the next release I'll say more. The preface on the first page of the booklet says it all. I thought it was totally appropriate. I wrote this up and unfortunately in the transition. At the very end I say 'seek help. Don't hold it in and let it eat away at you!!!' Then it was supposed to say 'Welcome To My World' but it got left off. It just killed me. That was the final nail in the intro coffin. I was bummed, but I got over it. The people at the label were referring to this section as my disclaimer. I said no, this is just my thing about talking to the people. I actually got a letter >from some of the Christain fans that said they'd buy anything on Tooth & Nail. The guy was really blown away. He commented that he didn't hear anything about God on the album, but then again he thought it was spiritual.
SR: That what you and King Diamond have in common. You're both very spiritual as opposed to say religious.
Klank: I sent him the '95 re-release of COD's album. I just got in touch with his guy, Ed and apparently they never got it. I was like a little psycho fan. I waited every day for a reply. I have talked to him recently on the internet and so I sent him a Klank CD. I told him I even thanked him in the album by using his real name. He said that even Metallica puts his real name. I had a chance to tell him how King Diamond has always been such a personal thing for me, along with the fact that I met him a long time ago, I wanted to pay my respects on this album.
SR: I love the way the album starts off on "Time" where you invite everyone in so you can show them your face. You talk about making mistakes but we'll go on. Here are some of my mistakes and maybe you'll learn something.
Klank: Totally correct on all counts.
SR: "Downside" is a very strong song. I do believe some days that we are on the downside of life with all the horrible things happening in the world. "Leave" which asks the listener to be angry with you.
Klank: It goes along with the whole meaning of the song...that sample that starts it off. I got a letter from a guy last week who told me that I had really opened up a can of worms with this CD. He went on to say that he had a wife for seven years, everything was cool, she left me and I hated her, but I loved her. "Leave" really helps me out. When I think of her I listen to your song and it helps. It talks to me. I say that's what it's all about.
SR: Are all these song new to this project?
Klank: The first four songs on the album I had written for the next Circle of Dust album. They were in slightly different forms, but then I liked them so much I just kept them for the Klank album. I had some chord changes and lyric changes so it wouldn't be redundant. It's not like Scott wrote half the album but he did help a lot. I used a lot of his suggestions.
SR: It must have been a lot easier going from one band to another not to mention one label to another by keeping him in the picture.
Klank: Absolutely. I felt so comfortable around him.
SR: I did think that these songs would have worked as COD songs.
Klank: There's the Circle influence but if you compare the two bands you definitely hear something different from Circle. I just picked up the Mindshaft zine and they did a review on Still Suffering. They liked it and just pointed out that it was me on guitar but not on a par with Circle and that no one could be. Klank displays some strong, industrial, metallic guitar. They pointed out that "Scarified" reminded them of second-rate industrialized Sepultura with the remainder of the album showing some good points here and there. Not all bad.
SR: Your good buddies with Ty and all those King's X guys?
Klank: I talk with Doug frequently. If you look really close at the picture on the back of the album, Ty is wearing a Circle of Dust shirt. In the new Metal Maniacs out two months ago he's in there from the same photo shoot with his fly open and in big letters Circle of Dust.
SR: Does the writing come easily to you?
Klank: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. What it is..my friends joke around and say I suffer from chronic loop syndrome. I walk around and maybe hear a creak in the floor or a car door slam, I have to record it. Grab the DAT. A lot of times music comes to me in weird ways. I sit down sometimes and it just won't come. Maybe at 4 a.m., not sleeping, I get tons of lyrics. Sometimes when I'm driving I search for a pen and paper as lyrics flow. I'm writing them down on the back of my insurance card so I don't forget them. That was the story with "Scarified." I was cruising around eating Taco Bell and these lyrics just started popping out of my head. I wrote them down on taco wrapper.
SR: I love the "ing" ending. It comes in at 4:41 where someone come in with...There's no earthly way of knowing/ where Klank is going/what direction Klank is going/Is Klank happy?/Is Klank falling?...
Klank: Oh, yeah. That's my friend Anthony. He called and left all that stuff on my machine. I listening to my machine and the breathing starts. This is totally cool coming in the day before we edited everything down. Scott wanted to know if I had it on DAT. It wasn't and it was so great we just turned up the volume and let it peak, distort and get all muffled. I gave Anthony, who's by best friend an advance CD. Everybody knew but him. Well, he finished his shower, the CD comes to the end and then freaks when he hears his voice. I got him later on my machine about listening to it. I saved it for the next album.
SR: Is Klank happy?
Klank: Klank is pretty happy at times and other times Klank is pretty upset. (I later found out that he was mourning the passing of an uncle) I went through a lot growing up in New York. My parents moved to Amish country in Pennsylvania.
SR: You dedicate this to your parents and your Grandpaw, yes?
Klank: Well, it's my brother, father and my stepmother. They have been there for be so I had to give them props.
SR: Tell me about a tour.
Klank: Okay, you're in Austin. You can just be ready in March because we're coming your way. No dates yet. Right now my booking agency is in the process of getting us on this tour that's coming around with Chemlab and Parlorman or Powerman or something on Dream Works. There's a band >from Dallas calling themselves Spy Glass Blue. One of the guys used to be in a punk rock band from Los Angeles called Scattered Few. He got in touch with me on the Internet and asked if I'd do three weeks with him starting in Texas. Yeah, I want to play dude. I want to play and I want to play. We're checking out who's going out that we could hook up with and we'll be doing some stuff by ourselves.
SR: How are your fixed for websites? I'm sure Tooth & Nail have one. Do you have any others?
Klank: My site is at http://www.geocities.com/sunsetstrip/9433 and I'm sure Touch and Go have one too. The first e-mail I get is from a guy called Jeff who explains that he's a big punk rock fan and I love your stuff. I've made myself a Tooth & Nail website and asked me to check it out. I had seen the Circle of Dust page and I thought it was great back then but it wasn't it that big. His page is insane. I'm thinking he's a brainiac, computer whiz and then when he contacted me I find out he had been asked to take down his Tooth & Nail website and he thought his was a little better. He didn't want to cause any problems and that's when he approached me to do my page. He told me he'd do one either way but wanted it to be official. I told him if he'd run everything by me first, he could put one up. I did a Stryper cover of one of their songs for a tribute album. He put that up and "Animosity" that I did way, way back before there was any samples added. It was recorded on a four-track at Scott's house. I recorded the whole Stryper song in an hour and a half making the deadline in Nashville.
SR: I would say that a little bit of suffering is good. You do finally have to forgive yourself.
Klank: I'm not telling people to hurt or to rejoice. I'm just putting them out there for your consideration. "Downside" could be about society, government and "Disease" could be about someone struggling with suicide; "Leave" could be like a girlfriend, a mom, a relationship. I even had someone tell me it was like God. This person is not with God anymore.
SR: You have so many different voices.
Klank: (laughter) I try. I don't want to get bogged down or logged in where people have to say it's the same old industrial crap. I loved the Circle stuff. Scott used to change his voice here and there, but didn't really explore it more. I wanted to combine really heavy groove music with industrial sound and hardcore vocals. Not screaching, babbling but make it cool, really subdued as in "Burning." Then the next song just in your face rawwwwww!
SR: Who did you have in your touring band?
Klank: I have a lineup but whether it'll be permanent or not only time will tell. We're working out the bugs and the funny is they're all from the west coast. I can not find anyone in New York that's compatible. It's a same because NY is supposed to be this mecca of musicians; however there are two extremes here. They're either really, really great people and they can't play or they're great players and they're just the most insane people to get along with. I can not be trapped in a vehicle with this person for more than an hour because I'll kill them. It's not an ego thing, you just know what's going to work and what's not.
SR: Give me the name of the players.
Klank: There's a guy named Mike Niosea on guitar; Carl Weaver on guitar; Eric Wilkins on drums and myself on vocals and sometimes guitar and keyboards. I'll see about the keyboard stuff because I don't want to put it all on tape. There are some things we have planned about making the live show big and entertaining; but also within our budget. We're poor folk since we got scammed by our last label so we're trying to rebuild.
SR: What about you and me meeting up at the Black Hill Sanitarium and maybe we'll dine with Nurse Needle?
Klank: (laughing) Oh, yeah. Maybe or we could hang out with Lucy.
SR: It's been so much fun talking to you.
Klank: Listen, I had a great time. I'm really sorry we couldn't make it happen last week.
SR: Hey, we made it happen. Rather Mike Mazur made it happen.
Klank: Thanks. I'll catch up with you in Texas in March.