Gavin Ho, Matthew Urquhart and Peter Gardiner perform together as Diamond 6. A hard rock band based in Hong Kong, whose latest single “Head Electronica” we reviewed earlier this month.
They took some time to talk to us about their work, inspirations, the scene in Hong Kong, and more.
PW – Hello. How’s it going?
Hey, we’re doing fine, thanks for having us.
PW – Tell us a little about yourselves.
Pete: From Gateshead England, raised in France and Hong Kong. Guitar, vocals.
Gavin: Born and raised in Hong Kong. Bass, co-lead vocals
Matt: From Perth, Western Australia. Left high school early to play drums, but before long found myself working in IT. I still fill most nights of the week playing music.
PW – How did the three of you meet?
Pete: Gavin and I have been friends since we were kids. I found Matt through the local music scene, and brought Gavin in for our first jam.
PW – What are your backgrounds in music?
Pete: When I was 10 years old my dad gave me the Black Sabbath self-titled album. I remember listening over and over again to “The Wizard”. I was hooked. Then he gave me Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced.
I asked for an electric guitar for Christmas. I figured out how to play “Wild Thing”. I thought to myself “Wow I just played the same chords as Jimi!” Next up was “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath. I then heard “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, and I knew I wanted to write a song like that, so I started writing.
Matt: I experimented with various things – violin, piano, and trumpet; but drums were all that “stuck.” It started with the Sambanistas (a Brazilian-style drumming troupe) and progressed to the point where I quit high school early to work towards a diploma of music at Denmark TAFE.
Gavin: Started playing music at the age of 12. Joined classical and jazz ensemble at 17, but was thrown out due to poor sight-reading. Started to take bass seriously and branch out to different genres of music.
In 2002 I won the “Best Individual Performance” award in the Tom Lee acoustic band competition, and in the same year won the Asia Beat “Best Bassist” band competition.
PW – Which artists have inspired you the most. As a group and individually?
Matt: It might sound surprising, but individually we’re quite influenced and inspired by different genres. Pete’s mostly into the heavier stuff like Mastodon and Rosetta, while Gavin tends to gravitate towards funk, R&B, soul, and jazz; and I’m probably most influenced by the likes of Rush, Dream Theater and Nightwish.
As a group, though we definitely converge on artists like Stone Temple Pilots, Royal Blood, Velvet Revolver, Queens of the Stone Age, The Winery Dogs.
PW – What themes are you particularly interested in exploring through your music?
The sense of loss, love, introspection, isolation, snapshots of cinematic scenes. The pursuit of hope through astral-projection and space travel.
PW – You originally formed with the intention of only playing one gig. What was the thinking behind this?
Pete: It was just for fun, and to blow off some steam. I hadn’t played a gig in a few years and wanted to have one more go at it.
PW – Why did you decide to carry on working together?
Pete: Mainly because we thought our songwriting had something to it. The first couple of jam sessions we worked on songs I’d written previously, but after working in some changes we realised we were enjoying the process of coming up with new material – so that’s what we continued doing.
PW – Your videos are pretty striking. As a band do you like to have much input into them?
Pete: Yes, from the beginning to the end of a video, we like to conceptualise the whole thing. We give creative license to the people we get to work on our videos, but of course we need to make sure it aligns with us as a band. People are going to associate the imagery with us, so it needs to match.
PW – The pandemic has obviously shaken things up. But generally what’s the music scene in Hong Kong like?
Matt: The live music scene as a whole in Hong Kong has been on the decline. I blame astronomical real-estate prices for it – there are many bars that just can’t afford to have a space large enough for live music.
At the moment with the pandemic, it’s pretty much ground to a halt – bars in Hong Kong are allowed to be open, but live bands and dancing are currently illegal.
Peter: It’s very monotonous and bland, people tend to follow the trends from abroad. I’m still amazed that Hong Kong, with a population of 7 million, has yet to make a significant impact on the world stage musically.
I love this city, it’s my home, and I want to put HK on the music map. However with regards to the feedback that we’ve had from our videos and the songs that we’ve put out on various platforms, most of our fans seem to be from outside of HK.
Gavin: The Hong Kong music scene has been dominated by Cantopop [Cantonese Pop] since the 1970s, and anything outside of that genre seems to not resonate well with the masses. So as an English speaking rock band, we are constantly fighting an uphill battle. We’ve decided to try our luck outside of Hong Kong from the get-go. So far, the response has been pretty well received.
PW – Are there any other artists you recommend people check out?
Gavin: Meg Myers for me.
Peter: The Kills.
PW – What are your ambitions for the future?
Pete: Make the best music and videos we can.
Matt: Get out and play as much as we can!
Gavin: Write honest music, hopefully resonating with more music lovers around the world.
PW – This site focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Does inspiration typically strike you out of nowhere; or do you have very specific ideas and goals for any project you decide to work on?
Pete: Typically it will strike out of nowhere, which is the most exciting type of inspiration. Other times I will come up with alternative storylines to a film or book I just saw/read, and expand on it. This means that lyrically several songs are linked together, in order to explain the storyboard.
Gavin: Personal life experiences, anything that triggers emotions for me.
PW – In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
Gavin: I thrive in adversity – I’m stubborn that way. I love to prove doubters wrong. One piece of advice I can give is don’t get into music for the money.
Peter: Working out the little things, and then move onto the next little thing. In the end it all adds up to something big. Just don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Matt: I think a lot of people focus on what’s hard, or what’s impossible, rather than focusing on what’s possible. Don’t go around in circles staying upset about what’s not working for you – instead, work within those limitations.
You can find Diamond 6 here: