With a creative sound, powerful performance, hard work, and overall optimistic attitude, it’s no doubt that Tetrarch is bound for even more greatness in the music world. I was lucky enough to have a memorable conversation with guitarist Diamond Rose Rowe about the band, the music, and the passion behind it all, as well as what is next for Tetrarch. I also asked Diamond what her secret is for writing amazing guitar solos. Check out our MG exclusive interview here:
MG: Tetrarch released a fantastic new album earlier this year called Unstable. Even though the themes can kind of seem negative at first glance, it’s in such a way that it’s a cathartic album with many uplifting bits. Was this the goal when you set out to write Unstable?
Diamond: Yeah, I think so. I think when we first started writing and the first couple of songs and the lyrics started to come together it was kind of obvious that the album did have a certain kind of theme. I think that influenced the way we wrote the rest of the record. For us, I know we wanted to make this album kind of relatable to everybody. We knew we wanted to hit on certain topics that everybody deals with. Whether that’s a bad relationship, or not being happy with who they are or where they are, or feeling like the underdog. I know that as a band, for a long time we always felt like the underdog, or that we had something to prove. We still do sometimes to this day. So that theme and just kind of also adding in the -being able to rise above adversity- and stuff like that. It just kind of naturally came out in this record.
MG: As a band you can really write a chorus. It’s undeniable that Tetrarch has mastered that. What is your benchmark for writing a great chorus, how do you know you’ve really found it?
Diamond: We’re still learning how to know we’ve really found it. It’s never for certain, like you never know. We could think something is amazing and then we put it out and the world will be like ‘this is the worst chorus ever’. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet, but it could happen easily. So we kind of just go by your typical things like: does it feel catchy, are we singing it later, lyrically is it something that’s easy to catch onto – but also has substance… that’s a big thing for us. I think Dave Grohl or someone said a funny comment like ‘white people dance to lyrics…’ or something like that, I don’t know. But it’s just really funny because it’s like – it’s true when it comes to writing a chorus in any genre of music. It could be the silliest melody, or the most simple melody, but if you have lyrics that someone can hear and be like ‘aw man that resonates with me..’ or ‘that’s funny’ or ‘that’s interesting’, it seems to do really well. So we just kind of, like I said, for our band in particular, we try to make choruses that are melodic, big and open, and they can lyrically resonate with people so that they easily catch onto it.
MG: The very first song that I heard by Tetrarch was Negative Noise and I was a fan instantly. The solo in that song is so ridiculously cool. Do you have a specific approach to writing solos, or is it usually a lightning-in-a-bottle situation?
Diamond: Thank you! It depends. It really depends on what serves the song, I think. I’ve definitely gotten to that point because I’ve always wanted and strived to be a versatile guitar player. So for me I’ve always wanted to be like: ‘okay, if a song needs a ripping solo I want to be able to do that, if a song seems like it just needs some strong rhythm playing and some weird textures, I want to be able to do that. So I’ve always kind of been a versatile player, or have grown to be a versatile player. But as far as solos are concerned, when the song starts coming together and the rhythm section for the solo starts to appear I kind of start thinking about what I want the solo to be like. With Negative Noise it was kind of interesting because it was like ‘I cannot hear a very traditional guitar solo for it’ and I kept saying that. I wanted it to be something kind of glitchy and weird and more just, like, crazy than I wanted it to be just a melodic guitar solo. So when I said that, I started just messing around with a bunch of weird stuff and that’s what came out. So it just kind of organically happened.
MG: Do you have a favorite song off of Unstable, or do you kind of love them all equally?
Diamond: I mean, I love them all and they are all my babies in some kind of way, I’m sure every band says that. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m Not Right is my absolute favorite on the record. I love that song. It is the song on the record that I still listen to right now, you know, a year into the record, two years into us finishing the record, I still listen to that song and enjoy it and listen to it as a listener and as a fan of it. Which is really rare for me because usually when our records are done it is rare that I will listen to them. I might pop them in every now and then, but.. When we are writing it we labour over it so much that it’s like, when we are done with it I’m like: ‘unless we are playing it live – I’m good’. But I’m Not Right is definitely one that I just, the way that song came out and the chorus. It was like everything we envisioned for it when we started and it’s everything I wanted in a song for our band to have, other than a guitar solo, when we started with it so yeah, I love that song. It’s like my child.
MG: So you’re just about to head back out on tour with Atreyu. That has to be an amazing feeling, how does it feel to be back at the live show life after everything?
Diamond: It’s exciting ‘cause we consider ourselves to be very much a live band, very much road dogs. We love being on tour. We’ve been touring for a long time, so not being able to for eighteen months was kinda weird. But we are really excited about it. We got to go out with Atreyu last month for just five days leading to Incarceration, which was kind of a little warm-up run. So we got to dust the cobwebs off a little bit on that run. So now we are getting into the full-fledged run with Crown the Empire and Saul, so I think it will be good, I’m really excited. Before the pandemic we played some festivals and it was like our first shows upgrading from a van to a bus, so now we are doing tours in a bus. Tour life in general is just amazing for us, we’re just so stoked about it. We are really looking forward to it, it’s gonna be some really good shows. We’re hitting some really good cities like New York, we get to play our home town in Atlanta, which is awesome, we haven’t played there for a few years so we are stoked about it.
MG: I saw you on Premiere Guitar’s The Big 5, and you had mentioned at the time that your favourite guitar was your ESP E-II black natural burst, is that still the case, or have you switched up favourites since then?
Diamond: I think it’s still the case, I love that guitar. It’s really funny because right now I don’t even play that guitar live, because I’m still integrating and figuring out which guitars I want to play for which tunings and all that kind of stuff. So it’s really weird, it’s like – Diamond, if it’s your favourite guitar then why is it in the case?- It’s like one of my backup guitars right now, but I’m hoping to move it over as a starter here to a set shortly. But yes, it’s a beautiful guitar, it feels really good and I love it, I love it a lot.
MG: I’ve gotta ask this for all my gear nerds out there: which EMG pickups are your favourite, and why?
Diamond: It depends. So there’s two that I use most frequently, two sets. I use 57/66 and I use 81/85. I’ll say the 81/85 set I like a lot, it has that traditional metal tone and feel to it, very high gain, just your standard EMG sounding pickups. The 57/66s kind of sound a little bit more like passive pickups, so they’re not quite as hot and they kind of…when you play those you can hear the character of the player a little bit more. I feel like they are not quite as gainy as the 81/85s, so it’s gonna sound different when different players play on them. As opposed to maybe your 81/85 where it’s such a distinct tone that, you know, it’s not going to vary too much, but the 5766 do. I use them for different tunings. The 57/66 I use for drop b, and the 81/85 I use for my drop a and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, that’s really nerdy talk but, there you go!
MG: It’s been a great couple of years for Tetrarch, even with the limitations the music world has seen, you’ve continued to flourish. What are you most proud of as a band?
Diamond: It’s really hard when people ask that, me and Josh say this all the time. We’re a band that started from the very beginning and we had to do every single step of being in a band. So we started in our school talent show, and we moved up to playing local shows, and we went from local shows to playing regional shows, sleeping in a van with no heat in the middle of winter at Wal-Mart. From doing that, to touring with some of our favorite bands… so, like, we’ve done every step. We haven’t skipped any steps, and so it makes us appreciate everything so much more, if that makes sense. Whereas if we were a band that skipped a ton of steps it would be like ‘oh this is easy, we’re most proud of this’. But it’s hard to say because it’s like, when you’re a kid and you’re learning how to play guitar and you’re dreaming of being in a magazine like your favorite guitar players – we’ve gotten that and we’re so proud of that, and it’s one of the coolest things in the world. But it’s also one of the coolest things in the world when we were on our first tour and we were dreaming of being able to play one of these huge festivals – and we’re playing the festivals now. We’re so proud of everything because they are all parts of the dream we had as kids and we are still growing. So it’s just all part of it, we’re proud of all of it. I’ll say that, we’re proud of all of it. I can’t pick one particular thing, obviously it is amazing to be out here on the road on a National level playing with some of the bands that inspired us, and being in a bus after sleeping in a van for 8 years. All of it. I would say this to put it in a nutshell: seeing our band continue to grow towards the dreams that we have and some of the goals that we have will continuously make us proud.
MG: So with that in mind, you’re a band that sets big goals and does what it takes and you smash them. Do you find that setting these big goals kind of helps you to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude overall when it comes to the band?
Diamond: Absolutely. I grew up around the music business, my dad is an arena tour promoter and he’s worked with a lot of artists like Michael Jackson and Prince, just like, massive artists, he still does it today, been doing it for forty years. So I grew up around the music business and I saw, and lived, and I was raised by the very prosperous life that the music business can give you. And so when I wanted to start a band myself, I knew that this industry and this life could provide so much for us, on top of having so much passion for it, loving what we do. It sucked to be in a band and hear all these other bands talk about like ‘…oh being in a band…we’ll never play with Metallica, we’ll never do this, we’ll never do that. We’ll just tour with our friends in a van for a couple years and then go and get a 9-5..’ or whatever. The four of us never understood that, we were always like ‘what’s the point of that?’ Like, don’t you want to be as big as Metallica, don’t you want to set these goals and be the biggest band you can be, and play around the world in front of as many people as you can, and touch and change the lives of as many people as you can… and all that. That’s always what we wanted and we saw it to some capacity and we always knew it can happen. We are all over-achievers, and that’s always what we said, we were like ‘We want to be one of the biggest bands in the world of our genre’. That has always been our goal, it still is today. Everything we do every day is working towards that. And we’ve had very good guidance and good motivation from family and stuff to keep us motivated, and help us know that we are on the right path and that we’re gonna get there. So, we were able to look at everything when we were coming up – everything that sucked – like a means to an end. I remember us running out of gas in our van in the middle of Iowa or Florida with literally no money because we played for twenty dollars the night before, and pushing the van down the street but literally laughing the whole way – just cracking up like it’s so funny. Because, it’s so silly, but we always just knew in our heads like ‘alright, this is just part of the story, we’re gonna look back on this and laugh’, and now we look back on it and laugh, but we always knew it. So I think having those high goals and knowing this is not where we’re going to stay always helped push us forward. And having the examples as well, to know that what people are saying when they don’t know any better, like this industry isn’t gonna produce you any money or any kind of good life is wrong and its misinformation. It helped us really keep going towards our goals and still does.
MG: I guess my final question is; what’s next for Tetrarch, can you tell us what you have going on in the future here?
Diamond: Monday, like you said, we leave for tour with Atreyu, that’s gonna be about six weeks long. We go basically up until Christmas, I think the last show is December 17th or 18th or something like that. We’ll take a quick break for Christmas and then we do the Voragos Cruise in February, and I know that we have some unannounced tours in the spring, some festivals that are unannounced… So basically, next year is unannounced but it is full of touring. We have always planned for the touring cycle of Unstable to be two years, so all over the world. Over seas, here in America, South America, so…everywhere we will be over the next two years. But a lot of other cool stuff too that we’ll be releasing in the meantime and all of that. So you just have to keep your eyes out, but it’ll be fun!