Diamond Rugs: Tasting Blood With Every Lick (Part One: Ian Saint Pe)
What was the genesis of Diamond Rugs from your perspective?
ISP: Black Lips are literally rock n’ roll — diehard motherfuckers who travel India, Israel, Palestine, Russia, South America, North America, Japan, everywhere. I’ll just put this in there, after this tour, I have nine days off, I’m going to go tour Europe, then Mexico, then the Middle East. We’re going to Iraq. We had to cancel Syria — if you haven’t read, Syria is not a good idea. We go to the embassies, we talk to everybody. We’re legit, man. We really have a love, like anybody does, to travel. We just want to do it rock n’ roll. Even though we might not speak the same language, we all know how to do this [mimes dancing] — a little pep in the step, a little boogie in the shuggie. It’s just a good time.
So back to answer your question. Black Lips did a four-month tour. We bought a round-the world-ticket. The beginning of the tour was in North America. When we did the East Coast, we hit Providence, Rhode Island and John introduces himself to me. We had previously met at Coachella. I was so loaded, I didn’t remember at the moment. I do now. But he came to a Black Lips show, reminded me about our meeting. The rest of my band was tired so me and him ended up raging that night. He brings me back to his buddy’s house, I think it was Ian [O’Neil]’s house, the guitar player in Deer Tick.
So we’re just slamming it. Partying. Coors Lights. Good times. His friend Bryan [Dufresne] comes over, who’s the drummer from Diamond Rugs, and we started talking about this idea of having a band – maybe call it Stoner Drama. But I literally had just started this four-month Black Lips tour! But John’s so persistent. Throughout the four-month tour, when I’m in these random countries … when I’m in Japan, when I’m in Turkey, I’m getting these calls and emails — “Hey Man it’s John. Are we doing this?” And I mean, I really love John as a person. But as a musician? I don’t really know him. But I do and I kind of want to, but should I do this? I’m not sure. So I said, “Ok man, let’s do this.” But I STILL wasn’t set.
What made it set was this. He calls me up about two months into our four month tour. “Steve Berlin from Los Lobos — Grammy award winner Steve Berlin from Los Lobos — likes Black Lips and likes Deer Tick. And if [John] and I are involved, Steve’ll do it.” At that moment, I knew I cannot give up this chance. I mean LOS LOBOS?! I grew up with them! I’ll try it. So my tour ends August 5th. I flew out to Nashville August 9th. Literally, I was not even home but five days after a four month tour, and I flew to Nashville and went in the studio with these dudes. And it just worked. Just one of those things. I’m here to say that sometimes shit does just happen and sometimes it does just work. We’d been planning to just do a few songs, but instead we did a whole album. So we decided to have a band at that point because all the same kind of personalities are in this band. I don’t name names, but not everyone in Black Lips is the same. Not everyone in Deer Tick is the same. But in Diamond Rugs, if you took the same people out of all these bands and made a band? It would be Diamond Rugs. I know that sounds corny but it’s true. We’ve all toured enough to understand that we all do is eat, shit, sleep, breathe and live out of a suitcase and don’t mind it. Rock n’ roll — that was my point. And what’s the worst thing about playing rock n’ roll? Nuthin.’
And I’m sure it’s nice to be appreciated for your art.
ISP: To achieve something, and give 110 percent, there doesn’t have to be a college degree. It comes from here [points to his heart]! And it feels good that if you work hard enough, people will take notice. And like I said, my mother passed away a while ago and she always said, “Get a real job,” and I said “this CAN be a real job!” and she never got to see it actually happen. But she sees it every day, man. Every day [points up to the heavens]. I’m driving around, Cadillacs, good living, you know what I mean? I got three bedrooms…they’re empty, who really needs three bedrooms?! You know what I got in those bedrooms? Guitars.
Are you married?
ISP: No. I’m not saying I won’t one day, but if I have an animal, it will die. If I have a plant, it will die. If I have a relationship, I don’t want to say it will fizzle out and fail but unless some girl wants to put up with nine or ten months of me gone … Lord, if I meet that kind of woman, that’s pretty cool. Here’s the problem, man. Unless you’re a different man than me, I don’t talk on the phone all that well. I’m better in person. But how can you talk in person with a girlfriend you see two and a half months out of the year? You can’t. I know. ‘Poor me, my pussy hurts.’ I play rock n’ roll for a living. I never forget, I always remember where I come from. I came from nothing, so to have something is everything. Rock n’ roll. Did you ever read those “Choose Your Own Adventures” books growing up?
ISP: Having that moment when I was young and I had to choose between page 36 and 27 and I had a little bit of a scenario. You got to take a chance, man. Complacency will kill you. It will kill your fucking dreams. Those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books was probably the best thing that my mother ever gave me because it makes you have to decide. When you’re seven fucking years old, what am I going to pick? “Well, you got to pick something, son! You got to make a choice!” “But Dad, I don’t know which one to pick.” That’s life! Life’s not fair. Life’s not fair, man. Go with your gut instinct and I’ve raised you good. It made you man up and realize….tomorrow? You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, that’s when we’ll have part two of this feature, in which John McCauley and Hardy Morris share their takes on the group.
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