Heart of Steele is the first E.P. from multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer David Diers of Austin, TX. Like the steel girders supporting the heart depicted on the cover, this album has a strong foundation and is an unexpected mix of fury and finesse. Forged while David was studying music composition and playing rock n’ roll, the album combines a punk trio with a chamber ensemble into one heart, pumping out its vital life blood into each of the six tracks. The raw energy of the performance, the direct sentiment, and the skillful musicianship of the performers was captured faithfully by recording just like they used to - as a group, live in a room with a few mics, entirely in one day.
“Drinking for Catherine”, a Celtic rock song of mixed meter kicks the E.P. off. The lyrics were influenced by the work of poet, Catherine Pierce and musically the violin work of Beth Hiser and piccolo of Jenny Beavers float deftly over the barrage of guitar, bass, and drums. “Truth, Justice, and the American Way Blues” jabs and tears at shortcomings of modern American life through a rollicking country blues. Ska and fusion mesh with chamber string lines in the Geraldine Fibbers-inspired “Deeper”. El Mariachi, Antonio Banderas, is paid a tongue-in-cheek but loving tribute in “B.L.T.” that alternates between a fast samba and bossa-nova texture. In “Followed You So Far” David’s high tenor vocal lines deliver emotionally raw lyrics of heartbreak and love lost while Michael O’ Brien’s throaty cello sings a sombre legato line. The title track, a song for David’s great-grandfather, allows the breakneck bass of Mike Becker and the powerful yet precise drumming of Aaron Lack to shine through, especially in the triple-time finale.
David Diers is the prodigal son of punk rock and bluegrass who sold his birthright to pursue music composition. He learned much from his teachers and colleagues, but the ivy halls proved an echo chamber, and his heart fled from him. It took a dive to the bottom--past heartbreak, disillusionment, guilt and death--to reclaim what he had given away. Now he’s headed home, his voice both joyous and saddened, stopping at every corner to tell a story and sing a song for those who need to hear them.
With the heart of a Dust Bowl organizer, the voice of a diva, and the soul of a warrior poet, David Diers brings brings both passion and a grin to his music. A multi-instrumentalist and powerful singer, David plays solo-gigs, open mics, or shows with his americana/bluegrass group the #910 Train in Austin,Texas. He loves belting out done-me-wrong songs in his high lonesome voice, fiercely strumming off-kilter rhythms on his mandolin, digging in on the banjo for driving bluegrass or firing out the eclectic alt/indie rock of the Beauty Hammers on his guitar.
David is a performer and songwriter with deep and eclectic roots. As a teenager he played in punk rock and prog-metal groups in central Pennsylvania sharing the stage or in bands with future members of Breaking Benjamin, Waylon Speed, and Lifer. His love of music brought him to a formal study of music resulting in a Master’s degree in music composition from UT Austin where he studied with Pulitzer prize winner Kevin Puts and master orchestrator Donald Grantham. Throughout his life he has studied and played numerous musical styles from rock to jazz to bluegrass to West African drumming, Javanese and Balinese gamelan, and eleven years of sitar and tabla under the tutelage of master sitar player, Stephen Slawek, himself a disciple of Ravi Shankar. Rather than directly quoting any of these styles, David’s music blends their influences together in subtle ways in his rock, folk, and bluegrass songwriting.
David’s first official release, “Heart of Steele”, is punk rock attitude fired like buckshot into a concert shell. This six song E.P. melds guitar, bass, and drums with violin, cello, and flute--it’s a combination that brings his roots face-to-face with his education. The result is both raw and refined - complex motivic development and musical form exploration work against manic drum fills, raucous strumming, and breakneck bass lines. The title track salutes David’s grandfather Steele, a man who left home without looking back after his own father demonstrated his thoughts on a musical career by smashing his son’s violin over his knee. “Antonio Banderas” is a comedic take on Hollywood crushes, and “Drinking for Catherine” is a musical poem influenced by the work of poet Catherine Pierce. Other songs touch on talking blues styles, alternative rock, and a reggae ballad of love lost in “Followed you So Far”.
David is on the long journey to become the ghost of Rock ‘n Roll’s future, the third ghost, the one that wakes Rock up in a cold sweat with a promise on its lips to do better by all of us. Come on and join him, it’s going to be one hell of a trip!
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