John Diva Interview

Bernd Manthey

The Big Easy is the third album from John Diva and The Rockets Of Love. We caught up with the band’s namesake and frontman John Diva, who fills us in on their latest record.

Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for The Big Easy compare to your first two albums?
John Diva: The process itself didn’t change that much. Mama Said Rock Was Dead was a crazy whirl, like everything you do for the first time. A debut is a debut and you and the rest of the world hear your band for the first time on tape. From American Amadeus on we worked on the development of the sound of the band – and that starts with the songwriting. Whereas we’ve been reaching to a broader style of rock on American Amadeus – back to the seventies, more into the metal etc. We reduced our craft to the max on The Big Easy. That was the plan and I guess we completed the mission.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
There is so much to memorize. I spent a whole week with Snake in a beautiful countryside hotel, driving to the studio in the morning, returning at night and working our way through the fantastic menu – and drinking a lot of beer. But what I also remember are the nights when I walked in and heard what JJ Love had made out of a song – these are great moments. It’s a song that you have created together und you leave the “baby” with the boys – and you come back after a couple of hours and it suddenly sounds huge. And you think to yourself: “I wrote that shit? Good job!”

What was the most challenging part of recording The Big Easy?
At the beginning it was a challenge to write a positive album in dark times. Pandemic was full on. But then the sessions and the studio soon became our private amusement park. We could let go, we left all negativity outside. I think I’ve never been so deep in music since my teenage years. What a beautiful time machine this band can be!

How has the band’s sound evolved from American Amadeus?
We grew stronger both as individuals as well as band. There is no comparison to have a band, I’m in bands since I was eight years old. And it’s amazing to see that dreams don’t grow old – you and your bodies do, but then again this whole thing makes you smile like a kid a lot. It’s a feeling of connection and belonging that money can’t buy. I think we have developed a signature sound – maybe The Big Easy is a big less heavy, it’s leaning a bit more towards melodic hard rock – with a big fat smile. Most definitely it’s more conceptional than American Amadeus. We follow a line here, you can read it in the lyrics as well.

What lyrical topics did you tackle this time around?
I was just getting there. I enjoyed writing over-exaggerated fun lyrics on Amadeus. This time it was different, the world was spinning into a major crises and it still is. Nobody knew when all of the pandemic restrictions would end – would they ever? The Big Easy is a positive album, but born out of doubt and trouble as well. It’s about keeping your head up, about staying strong, about dreaming yourself back to a better future. And of course there is a lot of great love songs on it, I specialize in broken heart stories, got a masters in it.

What was your favorite video shoot of the singles you’ve released from the album so far?
“The Big Easy” itself. We hung out in a mediocre mansion on the Croatian coast. We tried all kinds of local beer and they all tasted the same – after two days I didn’t get drunk on it anymore. The sun, the locals, the booze, all of this created a certain vibe. We lost track of time. We jammed. Camera was on and that didn’t matter, it was just a party going on. Big props to our brave video master Sebastian, he really managed to make a video out of it. I was there, but I wasn’t. Big fun.

What has been your most memorable John Diva & The Rockets Of Love live show?
Honestly, there were so many. But what I love about performing with the Rockets; there is a twist to every show, the holy moment, when we all enter the zone. It clicks, you can see it in our eyes – and then may God be with you. Tour starts in a week, let’s create new best memories, it’ been a long time since we rock and rolled!

What’s the most unusual venue you’ve played?
We played up in the mountains, about 10,000 feet, with heavy snow coming down on us from the front. After a song or two I simply couldn’t move my mouth anymore and the fingers of everybody else were frozen. We made it through the gig with gallons of Jägermeister.

What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
Metallica, Ride the Lightning Tour.

What’s the best show you went to as a fan?
Probably Aerosmith. Super small venue, almost private, somewhere in the ’90s.

Who are some of your favorite ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock/metal bands?
Thin Lizzy, Van Halen.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Besides drinking? I guess watching Snake Rocket vacuum clean his wine cellar.

What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
Bloodline. White Lotus. Fauda.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Siena Root, Ozzy, Alice in Chains, Orchid, The Marcus King Band.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Everybody, go out, buy tickets and support rock n’ roll. The bands out there need you right now.

(interview published March 17, 2023)

Watch John Diva and The Rockets Of Love – “The Big Easy” Video


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