Thursday, October 27, 2011

Interview with Diamond Sam LaValerie

“Diamond Sam LaValerie” is a colorful radio personality who hosts a weekly Internet radio show on the Evil Broadcasting station each Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EST. The musical focus is indie music, particular indie metal music. He has a loyal bevy of followers, and the show features a live chat room that allows listeners to communicate with each other and with Sam.
Here’s the text of my recent interview with Sam.

Tamworth Grice: How did you get started in radio? Did you ever study broadcasting or work for a radio station?
Diamond Sam: (Laughs) As in formal training? God, no. I got my start and never saw it coming.
T.G.: Can you explain?
Sam: I met a girl online named Angel Clark. We would talk from time to time, and she told me I had a good voice and I should be on radio. It turned out that she owned a station named Distant Thunder Radio. I remember at first I didn’t really want to do it, so it took her a little while to talk me into it. And to be honest I didn’t know I wanted to do it until about 3 or 4 days after my first show.
T.G.: What’s your Evil Broadcasting show like?
Sam: The most dissident show on the Internet.
T.G : Can you describe it for us?
Sam: Not sure I can. (Laughs) I never really have a plan when I go on air. I just wing it. So it’s kinda like one big party for the people listening and especially for the people in chat.
T.G.: What do you think is the main appeal of your show?
Sam: I think the appeal of the show is that I’m not one of those DJs who makes the show all about himself. I never really wanted a fan base; I wanted listeners and friends. Most of the people who listen to the show have my Yahoo IM. Some even have my phone number. So I think that’s the appeal: it’s more than just a show; it’s kinda like a club or--better yet--a big love affair with each other. Did that sound cheesy?

 T.G.: You’ve openly said that “Diamond Sam LaValerie” is a stage name. How did you choose it? “LaValerie” sounds similar to Satanic cult leader Anton LaVey’s surname. Was that a factor in your choice?
Sam: I got the nickname “Diamond” from a bunch of wiseguy gangsters in the Bronx when I used to run to the store for them. I was like 8 years old buying beer for them while they played cards on the sidewalk. I had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, so they started calling me “Diamond” because they said I always shined. The name just stuck.
T.G.: And what about LaValerie?
Sam: After I was done with college, I got a job tending bar for high-profile parties. My booking agent said that if I wanted more jobs and bigger jobs my name had to have more “flair.” I figured that if I was going to name myself I was going to name myself after my grandfathers, Samuel and Charles. The problem was that the 2 names are very strong-sounding, so we needed to soften them by using a female first name for my last name. At first, we tried Adrian, but I wanted to be more true to my Italian ancestry. Plus Sam C. Adrian wasn’t sitting well with me. That’s when my book agent’s daughter, Irene, came in to tell on her sister, Valerie, for doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing. Irene had a real bad stuttering problem, so the first thing out of her mouth was, “V, Va, Va, Valerie.” I started to play with that and came up with LaValerie.  
T.G.: You’re a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe. When or how did you discover Poe?
Sam: I grew up in a part of the Bronx where he was somewhat of a hero. There was a park named after him, and he had a cottage on the Grand Concourse when he was alive. I went to kindergarten through the 2nd grade at the Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School. Back then the school had his image all over the place. I remember there was this big picture of him in the lobby that scared the living shit out of me every damn morning. (Laughs) So he was kinda like the first legend I knew of.
T.G.: What’s your favorite Poe story or poem, and why is it a favorite?
Sam: To pick a favorite from the works he did is kinda hard. For the risk of argument I’d say “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Not to mention “The Raven.”
T.G.: You’re very supportive of indie bands. Why? Why should anyone listen to indie music instead of long-established metal bands such as, say, Black Sabbath or Metallica? Are the indie bands ever better? If so, how?
Sam: The reason I support them is that music is an art form and just like any art form, sometimes it needs new blood. Black Sabbath and Metallica are great bands; I still listen to them. But if you wake up everyday looking at Michelangelo’s David, eventually you’re going to get tired of it and want something more, something fresh.  
T.G.: At the risk of playing favorites, would you be willing to name some of your favorite indie bands?
Sam: This is going to be a long list! Killcode, Tanadra, Break 9, Fatal Kaliber, King Whack, Motorband, The Black 13, That Killed Crimson, Jean Cabbie, No One’s Mercy, Davie Reese, Big Black Novel, Black Haze, ElectroNomacon, Deathalizer, and Death and Taxes.
T.G.: What is your absolute all-time favorite song, and why?
Sam: There are way too many to list.
T.G.: What would be your advice to indie musicians today who want to gain exposure and succeed in the music business?
Sam: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Hit every Internet radio station. Be sure the station will announce all your shows, Web sites, and CDs. Record some of your shows and stick them on YouTube. Use Facebook, Twitter, Yearbook, MySpace, ReverbNation, and any other social network you can find.
T.G.: You were present in lower Manhattan during the September 11th tragedy, and there’s been some controversy about whether you really were present. Why do you think there is this controversy? Are your detractors just looking for a way to take pot-shots at you?
Sam: Pretty much. See, when you put yourself out there you attract 2 different kinds of people: the cool kind and the haters. The asshole who made these claims [that I wasn’t there in lower Manhattan on September 11th] was a DJ who had worked with me on another radio station. He attacked me with the hopes, I think, to get my spot. He made all kinds of claims about me.
T.G.: Such as?
Sam: That I abused children, raped a bus full of nuns, killed puppies then boiled their blood and drank it. (Laughs) I ended up going down the legal avenue and contacted the police in my city and his. Then I called my attorney, who provided my insurance papers, medical records, results of my lung tests, and the booking slip for the job I had to do that day with the address, date and time on it. The FBI began looking into this jerk, and they found out that he was doing the same thing to other people. He had a history of being a cyber bully—one of those tough guys behind a computer keyboard. . . .
T.G.: What finally happened?
Sam: Eventually he was told that if he continued he was going to be facing some big legal problems. So after that, he backed off. But in a strange way I kinda wish he was right about his story about me--maybe it would make the nightmares of that day go away.
T.G.: During each show, you do what fans call a “rant,” when you stop playing music and discuss an issue of personal or national importance, and this has become one of your trademarks. How did the practice of doing a “rant” get started? Was the first “rant” planned, or did it just happen by accident? What’s the importance of the “rant” to you?
Sam: The first one started out as just a goof. It was me acting as if I was going to run for President of the United States, and I made a speech that I thought was going to be funny. But my friends and listeners found it thought-provoking. The next day I had a ton of emails asking me to do rants about this and that. The problem is that I can only do a rant if I’m passionate about an issue. If I do one that’s half-assed, my friends and listeners can tell, so I try and keep it close to home.
T.G.: Tell us something about your producer, Mistress Tara. How did you two meet, and how did she become your producer?
Sam: We met in the Distant Thunder chat room, chatted a few times, built a friendship. And just like any good friend, when you’re in trouble your friends are there for you. I was busy with other business ventures, and I didn’t have time to get my show ready, and Tara asked if she could help. So she got the music for me, the plugs, ads, and sound bites. A few weeks later she was working for me.
T.G.: You broadcast on Internet radio. Other than using a different technology, how do you think Internet radio differs from regular radio? What do you think is the future of Internet radio?
Sam: Internet radio is just normal people having a good time. We play what people wanna hear, not what they are told to listen to. I think there is a very good future for it. With Internet radio, people can get what they want; they’re not dictated to. So for that reason I, my listeners, and my friends are happy to be a small part of it.
T.G.: Where and when can we hear your show?
Sam: My show is on Fridays at 7:00 p.m. EST. To listen, go to .
T.G.: Do you have any special shows coming up?
Sam: Yes. On Saturday, October 29, at 1:00 p.m. EST I’ll be hosting a Kiss tribute show that will be like no other. Over 10 hours of KISS with King Whack, No One’s Mercy, The Black 13, Careless, and Break 9.
T.G.: See you there!