A band unto itself

    The Unicorns may be dead and gone but, as they say on the Web site, Islands are forever.


    The new project of former mono-horned horses Nick Diamonds and J’aime Tambeur has received a ton of attention for its debut, Return to the Sea,
    and for its sound, which draws from such divergent sources as hip-hop,
    calypso, even country. The day after the album’s release (or intended
    release anyway — see details below), I sat down for coffee with
    frontman Diamonds. Never one for conventional interviews, half the fun
    is trying to separate fact from fiction
    in his answers. Over the course of an hour, we discussed the
    consequences of mentioning the Unicorns in his presence after October
    4, 2006, adolescent pornography tycoons, and what it’s like to fly the
    friendly Canadian skies.




    So, which line of questions are you more sick of and why? The uni-

    Nick Diamonds: That one.


    You’ve been getting a lot of Unicorns questions I guess?

    Diamonds: Well, it keeps popping up, but once we develop more of an
    identity, I think it’ll be less of a concern. I have a six-month grace
    period from the day the album came out where I can talk about the
    Unicorns. I won’t mind if people come to our shows and shout out “The
    Unicorns” or request Unicorns songs. I’ll let that slide for six
    months. But after that well, I have a gun.


    Has that been a big problem for you guys at your shows?

    Diamonds: It doesn’t happen as often as I was bracing for. It’s easy to
    ignore, though. I don’t even know what people want when they do that.
    Maybe they want to prove they have a larger capacity for information
    than those around them, or maybe they really want us to break out into
    a Unicorns song. It’s just weird, since this is a band of seven people,
    five of which had nothing to do with the Unicorns. I don’t know. I’m
    just ready to blaze a new trail, I guess.


    the deal with the new album? Why is there so much confusion about the
    release date? Some places said April 4; others, April 18.

    Nick Diamonds: What? Where are you seeing that?


    Pretty much the majority of the online retailers, really.

    Nick Diamonds: I’m gonna have to make a call about that. That’s fucked up. I wanna shoot someone. I have a gun.


    No, you don’t.

    Diamonds: I actually do. I bought a gun in Portland, at a gas station.
    It’s a BB gun, but it looks like a real handgun. I actually hate guns;
    I think they’re disgusting. But I just thought it was hilarious that
    you could buy a weapon at a gas station. It even has an infrared scope
    on the bottom. It has pretty good range. I can probably shoot something
    six or seven blocks away.


    You’re not serious.

    Nick Diamonds: No, really. It cost me ten bucks. Then I smuggled it back across the border.


    That must have been stressful.

    Nick Diamonds: Not really. I had it on Metric‘s tour bus; it was a piece of cake [laughs].
    But, yeah, I thought I lost it when I was recently in Victoria. I was
    upset, but I was glad that at least I still had my smoke bombs. But
    then, when I was about to go through security at the airport to come
    back to Montreal, it occurs to me: I have smoke bombs in my bag.



    Diamonds: Yeah, so I’m like, “Fuck, I have bombs in my bag.” And I’m
    freaking out, [thinking] that when they put my bag in the X-ray
    machine, they’re gonna see these bombs with little wicks and
    everything. I mean, regardless of whether they’re just smoke bombs or
    not, they still look deadly. Since you can’t even take nail clippers on
    a plane, I doubt they’d let me on with smoke bombs. But the bag went
    through undetected, so I didn’t say anything. So as I get into my seat,
    I reached into my bag to get something and I felt my gun. So I
    accidentally smuggled my gun onto an airplane.


    This really happened?

    Nick Diamonds: Really. And, I mean, it looks like a real gun. That’s why Canada’s great.


    Because we let people with guns onto planes?

    Nick Diamonds: Exactly.


    So what can you tell us about your new label, Equator Records? Why did you choose to put the album out with Equator?

    Diamonds: Well, it’s a new label. The guy who runs the label, Matt,
    he’s a young guy in his twenties, and he’s like a millionaire. He
    actually went into business for himself when he was in grade five. He
    would ride the bus from school everyday, and he always saw this kid get
    off at the same stop and walk into this little convenience store. So he
    decides to follow him one day, and he sees the kid just buying armloads
    of pornography. So it turns out the kid was buying the porn and going
    back to school to sell it for profit. So Matt decided he wanted to do
    that too, and it went really well. Eventually it got to the point where
    the distributors of the pornography were sending it directly to him at
    his house, and he was in, like, grade seven at the time.


    What? Okay, there’s no way that this story is real.

    Diamonds: It’s a true story. It’s a true fucking story; I’m not
    shitting you. So it gets to the point where the cops come to his house,
    and they find forty grand hidden under his bed that he made from doing
    this. He’s a good businessman. So that’s why we’re on Equator.


    Okay. So, have you guys started on any new material with the entire group?

    Diamonds: Yeah, tons. We have about seven brand new songs with the
    entire group, as well as some older stuff that I’ve had kicking around.
    Plus, I have some stuff that I’m just about ready to show to the rest
    of the guys. So, all in all, about fifteen new songs, probably.


    I know that when the album first leaked, you were pretty outspoken in your displeasure about it.

    Nick Diamonds: No, that wasn’t me.


    It wasn’t?

    Diamonds: No, I’m kidding. It was an impulsive reaction, I guess. But
    it wasn’t about the album leaking, really. I got mad because even
    before the album leaked, I received an e-mail from someone telling me
    that some guy was going around saying he had the new record, and he was
    using that to try and get shit out of people, like, “You hook me up
    with this, and I’ll make you a copy of the Islands record.” I just felt
    that using something that we created as a commodity was so wrong,
    especially since it was still months away from seeing the light of day.
    It wasn’t from a business sense. I just wanted people to treat the
    record with a little respect.


    Do you think the album leaking months before its release date ultimately hurt or helped you guys?

    Diamonds: I definitely think it helped us, in terms of us being able to
    go out and play shows. We were able to look out into the crowd and see
    people singing along. Ultimately, if the music speaks to people, I
    don’t care how it gets out there. As long as I’m not starving — and
    I’m not — then I don’t care. If you want to look at it from a business
    sense as well, I guess it was a good promotional tool.


    I know that you’re originally from British Columbia. What would you say are the best and worst parts about living in Montreal?

    Diamonds: Contact dances are the best part. Nah, I’m just kidding. I
    guess the best part, for me, is that I have someone that I love a lot.
    That’s really what’s keeping me here. The worst part is the cold
    weather, I guess.


    I’m surprised you didn’t say the whole language thing. Are you bilingual?

    Diamonds: I’m not. I would have volunteered that except that I have a
    deep sense of regret and embarrassment about my inability to speak
    French. I want to learn, but I just never have time. I’m never here
    long enough to take a three-month course or anything. I don’t know. I
    need help. I can’t die a monolingual.


    Any chance that there’s ever going to be an album put out by Th’ Corn Gangg?

    Diamonds: Yes! Right now we’re looking at maybe putting out an album of
    all the remixes we’re gonna do for Islands singles. In the meantime,
    though, we’re gonna continue to make beats and remixes for people when
    the opportunity arises. About a year ago, we made a beat we were
    originally going to give to this guy Murs,
    but that fell through. It turns out, though, the Swollen Members were
    willing to pay a good amount for it, so they bought it off us.


    Wait a minute. You talked shit about them in an interview once.

    Nick Diamonds: Did I?


    Yeah, your first one with Prefix.

    ND: [Laughs.] Well, now we’re collaborators.


    Okay, last question. Which band is going to blow up soon.

    Nick Diamonds: Maybe Think About Life. Do you know them?


    Yeah, I like them a lot actually.

    Nick Diamonds: I think they could do it. There’s also bands like Devotchka, Man Man,
    and this band Chet, from Victoria. If they move here or something, they
    could make it big. I think all those bands deserve to blow up.


    Okay, real last question. Anything in particular you want to tell the readership of Prefix?

    Diamonds: Read more. Watch less TV. Get off the Internet and do your
    homework. Get a job. Get a haircut. Get Prefix to update its blog(http://www.prefixblog.com/) more often.


    You’re a fan of Prefixblog?

    Nick Diamonds: Yeah, it’s good. Does Dave take care of that himself? That’s a lot of surfing. That’s what you should rename the blog: “Surfing so you don’t have to.”


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