(By Pat ‘Riot’Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
I still recall the very first time that I heard guitarist / musician Daren “KLANK” Diolosa, although I’m not sure he’d been tagged with the nickname at the time. In fact, I really did not know it was him per se, all I did know was that I saw a music video that absolutely floored me. The video, the song, the music itself and the guys present in the visualizer were like nothing I had ever heard…or seen.
The year was 1994, the song and video were “Telltale Crime“, the music was Industrial Metal and the band was Daren’s former, Circle Of Dust. I made it my mission to get the release, on cassette of course, and pretty much became a fan of the band and thus, by default, Daren. He would eventually exit that band and start his own, one quite appropriately attached with as near an ideal of a name one could choose: KLANK.
My fascination with Diolosa’s songwriting, arranging, creating, recording and releasing music really ratcheted up with KLANK the band. Started as a side project in 1993, releasing a REX Music compilation-included single in ’94, KLANK issued their studio full-length “Still Suffering” in 1995. Hearing that album, and the ones since, ignited my intrigue and in the years since, has consumed my interest to say the least.
KLANK, aka Daren and his bandmates Pat Servedio (guitars, keys. programming) and Eric Wilkins (drums), create very multifaceted, textural music that melds Metal, Industrial, Thrash, Electronica, Gothic, Ambient, Psychedelia, Speed Metal, Dub, and a lot more. It is overlaid with movie dialogue samples and other selected exerts, inserted and all integral to setting the mood the band seeks, and each track separately requires. Those songs are laden with deeply personal, real-life lyrical content that centers on experiences that he, and all people really, feel and undergo. Oft-times dark and introspective, other times outright aggressive, yet always poignant, what Daren & Co. bring to life musically, and ultimately into the light, cannot be casually downplayed or just ignored.
Dropping their latest record “Rise” earlier this year, currently working on an EP of remixes and specialties related to that release, Daren and those band mates, Pat Servedio and Eric Wilkins, collectively are KLANK. But, and with no disrespect to anyone, one individual is kind of the very embodiment of KLANK for me. Needless to say, I got those fan-boy-ish chills recently when an opportunity presented itself, one that my 1994 self would never believe might happen. Yeah, you already know it, it is why we are here:
Riff Relevant Presents: The Daren ‘KLANK’ Diolosa Interview!
Pat Riot – Let’s start at the beginning and work forward, shall we: Daren, what originally set you on the path of music i.e. a band, artist, concert, etc? Who would you cite as some of your own personal influences both as a musician yourself and ultimately in your band setting both?
And although I’m familiar with it’s origins, would you mind sharing where your nickname ‘Klank’ originates from?
Daren – I’ve just always been a music head and totally into it. As a child it was my escape from the boredom or hassles in every day life. No matter what mood I was feeling at any given time, there was always music that met that mood, usually transforming me to a better place mentally.
Personally, my biggest influences at an early age would be Kansas, Electric Light Orchestra and The Cars. I have five older brothers and they had very varied musical tastes so I was exposed to a lot of different things at one time, which I think helped me appreciate all different types of music. As a band, I’d say influences range from stuff like Prong, Stabbing Westward, Fear Factory and Depeche Mode, just to name a few.
The nickname Klank originated while on tour in 1993 with my old band Circle Of Dust. Everyone said I was the token metalhead in the band and one day when we were in Virginia at a promoter’s house, I was chasing his kid around and one of the guys was joking, trying to trip me. Our drummer Jason said “hey you can’t do that because he is so metal he will Klank when he hits the ground”. After that, every step I took people started saying Klank and it just kind of stuck.
Pat Riot – Speaking of Circle Of Dust, I first discovered you through your past involvement with that band…how did that gig originally come about? What was it like, at that time, playing a style of music quite outside the norm of “metal” (i.e. Industrial?) and how was it ultimately received?
Also, in the years since then, there has been some confusion, or misinformation even, about your role within Circle Of Dust. Do you care to set the record straight now as to what that role was in your own words?
Daren – I was friends with Klay and he was offered some shows, but didn’t have a band. He knew I played guitar and we got to talking one day at his job and not too long after, I went to his house to jam and learn the songs.
I was a member of Circle Of Dust. I didn’t write any of the music, but I was definitely way more than just a “hired gun“ or “live musician” and honestly it is a bit of an offense to be referred to as such. Originally I was just playing guitar, but I wanted to help Klay out and take some of the stress off him so I got more heavily involved and ended up spearheading all the merchandise ordering, getting all merch orders from the P.O. Box, logging them, processing them, depositing checks and money orders into the bank and then sending the orders out. I also corresponded with fans who wrote to us.
I started and maintained our mailing list, also booked shows, tours, getting flyers for all our shows put together, taking them to our friend at the printer, and ultimately handing out flyers at every single show that I knew was going on. Handing out those flyers everywhere is actually how I met Pat Servedio, who eventually became the guitarist / programmer for KLANK.
In 1993, I ended up getting the COD logo tattooed on my back. I was the first one to ever do this. No hired gun would do something like that, especially if they weren’t really getting paid like just a “live guy” would be.
Pat Riot – In 1995, you branched out with your own band, Klank, and the Tooth & Nail Records debut, ‘Still Suffering’ (a phenomenal album BTW). That album really broke some amazing ground with the CMJ charting ‘Downside” single, radio airplay in general, etc. It’s follow-up ‘Numb’ also did really well. Were these “validating” experiences for you overall and what did you take away from it all as a whole?
Daren – Actually KLANK first started as a side project idea in 1993. I ended up recording a demo of the song “Animosity” in December, 1993 and it was on some REX Music compilations that came out in 1994, which helped jump-start us and get publicity. It was very validating to see so many people actually touched and affected in a personal, private way from my music because we ended up getting thousands of letters over the years from kids telling us so. It’s pretty amazing to make such a connection with kids when you write really personal lyrics. That experience basically helped set the tone for the rest of our career knowing that the things we had to say, people were connecting with in a real way and that has just resonated with us so much.
Pat Riot – By the way, does signing a contract in one’s own blood make it any more binding than using just regular old ink? 🙂
Daren – I’m not quite sure about that, but all I know is I wanted Tooth And Nail Records to understand how serious I was about music and that I didn’t want to be treated as a joke or any other type of “filler” release on their label.
(For those of you that are oblivious to what we’re referring to, there was a long-running rumor that Daren signed his Tooth & Nail Records contract in his own blood, after intentionally slicing his hand open to do so. He has confirmed that this is NOT merely rumor or fiction…it is fact! – Pat Riot)
Pat Riot – It is no secret that you are a Christian (or however you choose to identify), something that was almost taboo in metal at one time. Did you ever undergo any negative experiences in connection to this, at any time, and how do you see the existence of “Christian” (metal) now in a scene dominated mostly by secular acts?
Do you perceive there being any separating lines between them at all now…I guess what I’m getting out is how do you view both the Christian / Secular music realms in general circa 2017 – 18?
Daren – It was definitely taboo and I didn’t want to be labeled at all, or referred to, as a Christian. There was a lot of hypocrisy going on in Christian music and Christianity in general. For many years I didn’t want to be associated with any of that so I did not refer to myself as a Christian. It was only the beginning of this past year actually that I came back to faith and am at the point in my life where I’m not ashamed to refer to myself as a Christian. Obviously, even these days, the term Christian gets misconstrued and twisted a bit. There are many people that call themselves Christians who I want nothing to do with but it’s like that in all facets of life.
I went through many negative experiences in the past. People boycotted my shows, people returned our CDs complaining that the album artwork was either too dark or we were not open enough about our faith. No matter what you do in life or how good of a person you are, somebody will always have something to say about it. That’s just reality and we have all learned to deal with it and ignore it, LOL.!
Honestly I really only listen to about a handful of Christian bands these days. Sadly, in my opinion, a lot of Christian music just doesn’t stand up with a lot of the mainstream music out there. Even though I’m a Christian, I’m not going to listen to something just because it’s Christian, especially if I don’t like it or if its production value is really low, just because it’s labeled “Christian“. First and foremost, in my book, it has to be good music.
Pat Riot – I recently discovered you contributed to the ’21’ debut from The Blamed (recently an Oldschool Sunday subject here), I knew of your work with Argyle Park. Do you like collaborating with others or outside acts?
Are there others that you have and is there someone you would like to work with, that you haven’t, if you could choose to or the opportunity presented itself?
I would love to collaborate with Jason Wisdom of Death Therapy. I really like his work and respect it and him a lot, and actually hung out with him over the weekend at a show in Oklahoma. I’m one of those guys that just loves to collaborate, especially if it is someone I like and look up to musically. I know it’s a longshot but one day before I die, it would be amazing to do something, anything with Jeff Lynne of Electric light Orchestra. (THAT would be soooo amazing! – Pat)
Pat Riot – Let’s talk about KLANK circa now, brother..You released the phenomenal ‘Rise’ album earlier this year. How do you feel it was received at this point?
If someone reading this has not heard the record, or perhaps any KLANK, what would you say to inspire them to take the time to go check it out?
I always tell people that the music of KLANK is best summed up as sonic therapy. Picture a page out of a journal or diary but set to music. I write about things that affect me personally, those I love and those around me. Musically, I like to describe it as “where the mosh pit meets the dance floor“. If you like music that’s dance-y, heavy, aggro and melodic at times, you will definitely like what we are offering.
Pat Riot – It’s ironic that you refer to it as “sonic therapy” for it segues us into my next question: You seem very open about your Faith, struggles (that everyone experience at some point) related to it, etc. so is it safe to assume you find music as a cathartic outlet..a type of “spiritual therapy” if you will?
Daren – Yes, I’d say music is definitely a form of spiritual therapy. Personally, I feel the best way to try to live a Christian life is to let others see what God has done in you, as opposed to beating them over the head with the Bible or screaming at them on a street corner. I do talk about faith and life in our lyrics like I said earlier because they are real life experiences that are relatable to other people. I believe in transparency, being real, and open and honest with people. That’s what works for me, as well as us in a band setting, and I find that very fulfilling. If I’m struggling with things, I like to sing about it and document it in our lyrics because somebody else most likely will be going through the same thing that I am, or we as a band are, and it might be able to help them and what the are going through.
Pat Riot – What other projects are you currently working on? I understand there’s a possible remix CD and some other stuff underway? I also hear you have a connection to the Metal Missionaries* documentary as well? *(I recently interviewed its narrator, Dee Calhoun here)
Yeah, we did the musical score for my childhood friend Bruce Moore‘s film titled “Metal Missionaries: The Documentary”. Bruce and I have been friends for many, many years and he approached me and asked if we would be interested in doing the soundtrack and we gladly obliged. That was our first time tackling something of that nature and it was a lot of fun.
Pat Riot – In this day and age where everyone wants to label, tag, or quantify every little thing, what is the difference, in your own words, between Industrial and Metal…or is there even any?
Daren – That’s kind of a trick question because there are so many labels, genres and sub-genres these days that people kind of lose the music in the labeling of it. Some purists may refer to Industrial as bands like Skinny Puppy or early Ministry, but a lot of times these days it refers to music that usually has some form of programming, samples, soundbites and loops.
We have been labeled Industrial, we’ve been labeled Metal, we’ve been labeled electro-dance and electro-metal. Call it what you want as long as you listen and you like it!
Pat Riot – I’m always curious as to what music icons (my words, ha) do in their non-music lives: What non-music things do you enjoy doing such as hobbies, travels, etc.?
Daren – Man, I love taking my dog for walks, I love going on road trips and flying to see friends and family in different states. I’m hoping at some point…let’s say the next year or so, I can basically afford to take an RV road trip with my dog and cat across the country and back. Just something I really wanted to do for a long time.
I love good food, good beer and also good whiskey. I enjoy any time spent with family and friends.
Pat Riot – I am also curious about KLANK live. Do you guys play live much or often, gigging out, and what about touring itself?
Are there any challenges to playing the type of music you create in the live setting as opposed to the abilities a studio setting provides?
Pat Riot – Daren, I have a tradition of closing my interviews with a open floor for the interviewee so anything you want to say, share, state or leave us with, this is all YOU, brother:
Daren – Well I don’t know what to say except for the fact that life is a gift. Every day that you get to wake up and breathe the air, is a blessing and you should be thankful for it. Many people don’t get that chance and unfortunately there are a lot of people that are not really thankful for all the things that they do have. We all struggle in life and there are definitely things we would “like“ to have. We should definitely be focused more on what we do have as opposed to what we don’t have and be thankful for it, and the time we get to spend on this earth with our families, friends and loved ones.
There you all have it and I fully agree with Daren, that it does seem people are losing sight of the important things in life anymore. We should be trying to focus on our shared, common threads as humans, people in general, and set aside the more inconsequential BS but what do I know?
With that said, I want to extend a hearty, gracious Thank You to Daren ‘KLANK’ Diolosa for taking the time and expending the energy to undergo my interrogation, ha! But seriously, Daren’s music has been a hugely impacting thing upon me for close to quarter of a century now. He, and that music, helped expand my own horizons and eventually, they both were essential to helping mold my own interest in, and enjoyment of, varied styles of differing music and it is THAT which I am thankful for. I hope he, his band, and the music they are doing can do the very same for you too!
All of that and more is also available from KLANK on Bandcamp at this location.