Tetrarch’s Diamond Rowe: ‘We’re Not Intimidated’ by Lofty Expectations for ‘Unstable’ Album
Tetrarch's Diamond Rowe was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. The guitarist was on hand to discuss the band's new buzz-generating Unstable album, and Diamond reveals why the critical response is something they've been prepared for giving their career path so far.
Rowe also discusses the importance of not bowing to pressures to conform to a certain sound and she comments on her thoughts about being a trailblazer in the industry and an inspiration to minority kids. Check out the chat in full below.
We're here to talk about Tetrarch's new album Unstable, which is out now. Tetrarch are a band that's come into its own through gradual growth and development, which is something unusual today. Diamond, what's been the biggest benefit of that trajectory?
It's crazy because we started like me and Josh [Fore], our singer and rhythm guitar player, we met when we were 12. We started in middle school, and from there we hit every level of being in a band. We played the talent show. We played the local show. We toured in a van, slept at Walmart, slept on people's floors. It's been a gradual journey from being 11 and 12 years old, but I wouldn't change that at all because, you know, we learned a lot about each other.
The little things that bands go through when they meet later in their careers, we don't have to go through anymore. We've met so many established bands and they are like, "Man, if we had to tour in close quarters, if we had to tour in a van, we wouldn't make it." But for us, that's like easy stuff for us. We're like family, we have to do it. We learned so much about each other and also like how to just be a band. We learned how to play shows like that.
The experience of playing shows in front of two people for 30 dates in a row around the country, when you're doing it, you're like, "Oh my gosh." But when you start to play those bigger and bigger shows and you're so tight and everything's just so in sync, you realize how important those experiences were. So just little things like that. Your band becomes just completely one when you have to go through those things together and it makes everything so much easier and it makes you so much more appreciative of everything that you get later on.
Tetrarch, Unstable Album Artwork
Diamond, you studied your musical heroes, but you also studied and critiqued your own performances. What did that level of scrutiny make you realize about the band's musical persona?
When we grew up we were becoming influenced by our favorite bands. Our favorite band collectively was Metallica and it's such a cliche thing to say, but watching them and watching their live DVDs as kids, you realize that they're the biggest metal band in the world, but you realize kind of why. They write great songs, but they are monsters onstage. They put on an amazing live show. So we always wanted that.
We always wanted to be a band that could write the music, but also be entertainers, you know? We would always film every show and we'd go watch it back. We'd see was there too much pause before Josh started talking after the crowd cheered? Or did we take too long to count off that song? We would like critique everything because we wanted to keep the energy of performances high.
There are things that a lot of bands when they hear that, they're like, "Are you serious?" This is metal or this is hard rock and it's all supposed to be just natural. And it is, but we practice everything because we have lofty goals and we've always wanted to be one of the biggest bands in our genre and the world. In order to do that, we have to be great entertainers. So we always wanted to make sure that that element of our band and that live aspect was up to par with some of the best and to do that we had to critique and practice the little tedious things that most people would think is just a waste of time.
Tetrarch, "You Never Listen"
Unstable is an eagerly anticipated album that's already being called one of the best of the year. What's empowering and intimidating about such lofty expectations?
It's always empowering when we've had lofty expectations since we were kids. We're not super intimidated by it. We're very confident in ourselves. It's very cool to hear it coming from people that are not ourselves. When you're kids and you're like, we're going to be as big as Metallica, and everyone's like, "Yeah. Alright kid, that's great." But it's cool when you work really, really hard and you keep those goals in mind, then you have other people that start to kind of catch on and start to believe it along with you and start to support that journey and that goal. So that's been really cool.
We're not very intimidated by it like I said. We're very confident in it because we're willing to do the work to get where we want to go but it's more so just making sure we make the right decisions and take the right steps to get us closer and closer.
Tetrarch, "Forget to Remember" (Acoustic Mudvayne Cover)
Two recent acoustics demonstrate that the stylistic choices are limitless for Tetrarch. Why is it important, Diamond, to establish yourselves as musically undefined?
That's a really cool question because when we grew up we started getting a lot of industry attention at a very early age, I think we were 16 or 17 when our first major label contacted us and kind of started trying to like groom us in a sense. One thing we heard a lot when we were younger was like, "Oh, you guys, it's bad that you guys are walking down the center. You guys aren't heavy enough or you're not active rock radio enough. We were always kind of in the middle.
We always were like, "Man, we liked that about ourselves because it doesn't limit us." If we want to write a song that's huge and catchy and could be on active rock radio, we want to do that. But, if we want to write a song that is so heavy and people could get in the pit just mosh to and go crazy to, we want to write that song as well. For so long, we kind of battled that. All these people are talking in our ear and saying we've got to pick one or the other, but we found that when we finally were at the point of you know what we're going to do and what we feel is best for ourselves, we just wrote the music as best we could for ourselves and that was not limiting ourselves stylistically. That's when we really started to resonate with people and we found that it worked to our benefit.
Even with this new record, we have some of these heaviest songs we've ever written in our life, but we also have some of the biggest choruses and the catchiest songs you've ever written in our life. That has played to our benefit a lot because we can have fans that might not even be metal fans enjoy our music, but we also can have like elitist metal fans that enjoy some of our music. I think it's really cool and it helps us connect with more people.
Diamond, you're a guitarist in a metal band who happens to be female and black. Why is that important? But conversely, how do you make sure that people aren't focused on just that?
When I started playing guitar and when I got into heavier music, I never had like any female influences or African-American guitar playing influences. My influences were Dimebag Darrell, Slash, Kirk Hammett - all white guys - Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield. I wanted to be like those guys. I was always kind of like a tomboy. I was always kind of like a weird kid from my demographic. I liked skateboarding and hockey and motocross. So, it wasn't anything really different to me to get into guitar.
I was like super genuine, you know? People would always tell me as we were coming up, "I don't know what you're doing, it is really different. You don't see that." And I'm like, "What are you talking about? Like, I'm just playing guitar. I'm just a guitar player."
It doesn't matter. You know? It was very genuine to me. I did it because I loved it. I loved the music. I wanted to be like those guys that I loved watching, but as we started progressing and our career started to progress and more people started talking about it, I kind of started realizing how much of a blessing in disguise it was, even though I was unaware of it when I started.
It drew a lot of attention to our band that we wouldn't have maybe gotten without it. People started to become curious and wanted to check our band out or I would get messages from other minority kids who would be like, I felt I was made fun of, I felt so outcasted because there was no one that looked like me and everyone made fun of me, but now being able to show them, you were able to make me feel comfortable.
It makes me feel like I belong here too. Then I started realizing, wow, this is a little bigger than myself. I started doing it because I genuinely just loved it, but it's very humbling and awesome to see that it makes a difference for so many people and that it's something that's kind of trailblazing. There's nothing that I can really do anything about. It's not becoming a focus because it is so different, but at the same time, I think because it's so genuine to me and because it's something that I've genuinely done since I was a kid, because I love it. I think people can kind of sense that, that it's not like this gimmick or this thing that we use for attention. It's just something that naturally happens because of my interest. I think it kind of naturally plays itself out as being something that's honest.
Thanks to Tetrarch's Diamond Rowe. The band's 'Unstable' album is out now and available here. You can also follow the band on their website, Facebook. Twitter, Instagram and Spotify accounts. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.