I recently had the chance to catch up with Tetrarch co-founders Diamond Rowe (guitar) and Josh Fore (guitar, vocals) for a piece in the latest issue of Revolver, with that interview touching on their beginnings as a Metallica-covering middle school band in Atlanta, up to crafting the post nu-metal earworms of their sophomore LP, Unstable (out April 30 through Napalm Records).
This was actually the second time I spoke with the group, the first being a few years back for Guitar World, and since I had Diamond on the line, I thought it was only fair to get into her latest gear specs and some of the chewier riff dynamics of the album.
Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic take concerts off the table, but trade shows as well. This includes the famous NAMM showcase, which went virtual this year through a bunch of gear-related videos. Diamond was one such player that got to flex her scorching technique on ESP’s latest line of guitars. Maybe they’ll pop an official Diamond Rowe signature series off the assembly line for next year’s show.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
When did you start playing ESPs?
Diamond Rowe: I got my first ESP around 2005. I was a huge Metallica fan, so I wanted the Kirk Hammett signature, the KH-202. My parents bought it for me. It’s not like a top-of-the-line version of the signature, or anything, but at the time, if Kirk Hammett played some form of it, that’s all I needed. Some years later, I got my first Eclipse—my black one, the CTM. I changed out all the hardware for gold. I got that one probably around 2013; I got endorsed by ESP in 2017.
You’re on the ESP team, but you recently posted some memories about you first guitar, which was a Les Paul. Did that make it onto Unstable at all?
D: My Gibson Standard, yeah. I didn’t play that one on Unstable, but I had on Freak— I did all the leads with it. We used all ESPs on this new one, though.
What is it like to test out ESP models before they hit the market?
D: It’s cool! One of the ones I tested and loved was a black satin Eclipse. It was so nice. There was no NAMM this year, so that’s how they [went about] presenting their new models. It ended up being super fun. They had them all spread out on the floor for everybody that was coming in. I got to go through and look at them all, and see what was coming up. It’s always a treat to have that privilege.
Did you give them any feedback?
D: I told them that I loved that Eclipse. It felt really good— I love Les Paul shapes—and it sounded good. I still tell them that I want a blue one, a deep blue one. Either a signature needs to come out, or get a blue EC-1000 for me [laughs].
How long have you been sponsored by EVH amps?
D: I think it was spring 2018, something like that. It’s been a couple of years. They’ve been amazing to me and Josh.
How big of an impact have they made on your tone?
D: We played the 5150s on Freak, and you just can’t beat those in the studio. They sound so smooth.
I’m an extreme high gain freak—not because I want to cover up my playing, or anything weird like that, I just love the sound of gain. I love when I can have a super high gain amp, but there’s still clarity there. We do have songs that are very riffy, where I need that clarity, but we also haves songs like “Freak” that are really chug-based. They need that deep tone. I get it all out of the 5150s. We use those in the studio and live.
It sounds like you put a whammy pedal to use throughout Unstable.
D: It’s funny, I got the whammy for one song, but then I was just practicing with it one day and was like, ‘man, I can get some cool tones out of this.’ A lot of people were like, ‘you must be a Tom Morello fan!’ I love Tom Morello, but I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of Rage, or anything, I just happened to be messing around with [the pedal]. It started out as me using it for a lot of creepy sounds, like you’ll hear on “I’m Not Right,” “Sick of You,” or “Trust Me.” But when we got to writing solos, Dave [Otero, Unstable’s producer] would be like, ‘dude you should try a whammy on that!’ It naturally became my best friend on this record. It’s just the regular DigiTech.
Can we talk about the solo in “Negative Noise”? There’s some serious scale climbing in there, and some shred, but there’s almost an EDM-style production twist to it, too.
D: It was one of those situations where I was like, ‘ok, I haven’t done a ripping solo in a minute.’ I’ve never been a huge theory nerd; I just play what sounds cool.
With that one, I broke it up into parts. I knew from the beginning that I wanted the solo to be weird instead of dad-shred. I wanted it to be weird and glitchy, so we put some whammy drops in there, but there was one where [Dave Otero] did it in the box. It sounds, like you said, like an EDM drop because it’s a synthetic drop. Live I would just use the DigiTech for that.
What can you say about Josh’s rhythm playing, and how it meshes with your lead style?
D: Josh loves to play rhythm guitar. His idol are James Hetfield and Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day—very solid rhythm players, you know?
He’s the only other guitar player I’ve ever played with, so we’re very in tune with each other. He knows what I like to play over for solo sections; he knows I like the rhythms to have peaks and valleys.
Josh has a really good right hand. I hate to compare him to James Hetfield, like everyone else does, but people don’t understand how important a rhythm player is. If you isolate the one rhythm section of Metallica and you listen to James Hetfield’s [patterns], that’s harder than the solo! That’s how I feel about Josh, too. I never want to overlook that. [Josh] being such a great player makes me a better player, too.