Siblings, no rivalry
Local teenage indie duo the Dreaded Diamond finish up their first album
Sacramento’s the Dreaded Diamond’s members are still teenagers, but they’re already having trouble remembering how long they’ve been playing music together. The siblings—singer/keyboardist Juli Lydell, 19, and drummer Tyler Lydell, 17—have been playing together for … well, it depends which member of the band you ask.
“We have been playing together as a band for, like, two-and-a-half to three years,” Juli claims.
Tyler says four: “Three to four. I played my first show when I was 13.”
“With me? At Java Cafe? I don’t think so,” Juli interjects, their back-and-forth mirroring that of normal teenage siblings. “That makes me 15. I had a mullet when we started playing. That’s when I was 17. That was two years ago.”
Whenever it was, the Dreaded Diamond formed after playing together in church. Juli explains that one of the churches they attended had really good, new equipment and a lot of instruments to mess around with. This piqued their interest.
Everyone has a different interpretation of the Dreaded Diamond’s sound. Tyler himself described it to a curious onlooker before a recent show at Luigi’s Fun Garden as “math rock.”
Ira Skinner, who is currently recording the group’s debut album at his Alley Avenue Studios, had a different take.
“They’re epic,” Skinner explained, “They don’t really fall into any genre. Someone was saying they felt they were ‘strangely a pop band.’”
Indeed, their sound is a bit of everything. Tyler supplies the fat beats and filler. There isn’t much slowing that kid down. Even during the mellower pieces, his action is on. He looks like a tiger ready to pounce as he waits for a set to begin.
Juli, who has a quiet stage demeanor between songs, fools audience members when she starts singing and such a huge but sweet voice belts out from her diminutive body. Her quiet-to-banging keyboard style fills in whatever spaces are left. If you weren’t looking and only listening, you’d think there were more than two members in the band.
Some songs come across, at least lyrically, like David Bazan. Tyler drums like a math-rock and jazz enthusiast before his time. Like Zach Hill, Jack Bevan and John Stanier. However, their overall sound is too unique to compare.
When Skinner first met the band, he was running sound at Luigi’s. He ran into Juli outside, and she asked if he liked their sound. She wanted to talk with him about recording and, according to Skinner, he “immediately offered them help putting an album together.”
Today, the kids are nearly finished recording their first album. The experience is very new to them, and there were some unforeseen consequences of having to examine and scrutinize creative work for the first time.
“It’s been really interesting trying to almost deconstruct the songs and put them back together,” Juli says.
“We thought we were so ready to be in the studio,” Tyler explains. “But when we got in there, we [realized] there is so much we want to add in, and there is so much we want to [take out]. There was just so much we wanted to change. That’s why it’s been such a long process. We’re limited [being a two-piece], but we have so many ideas.”
Both Tyler and Juli have experience playing in other bands. Addison Quarles of the Happy Medium and Embrace the End, Chelsea Wolfe, and the singer for A Lot Like Birds have all collaborated with Dreaded Diamond. And the siblings were formerly members of A Lot Like Birds.
Juli played in an electronic project called Mansion Closets with Damien Verrett of the Speed of Sound in Seawater. And Tyler has guested on some folk tracks for a few friends.
But Juli is confident she’ll always jam with her younger brother. “We’ll always play music together,” she says, “regardless of whether we’re the Dreaded Diamond.”
Incidentally, whenever the band eventually formed, the name the Dreaded Diamond was never their first choice.
Juli learned in economics class that the diamond industry controls the amount of product allowed into the market in order to be in command of its price. “The dreaded diamond,” explains Juli, “[is] the one too many that brings down the value of the whole batch.”
The duo says that they had originally intended for the Dreaded Diamond to be a temporary name. But after their first show, they could never agree on an alternative, so the name stuck by default. They don’t even try to disguise their distaste for the moniker.
“[The name] sounds metal,” complains Juli.
“I feel like whenever we are on a flier, we should come out with giant ’80s hair,” Tyler adds.