Tunnel Vision: Tetrarch’s Diamond Rowe explains how focus, self-confidence, and perseverance allowed her to sidestep the skeptics

Posted by Knotfest in Culture on February 9, 2021

Among heavy music’s emerging class of contributors, Diamond Rowe has thrived in challenging expectations and dismantling the status quo.

Culture and CommunityThe two tenets are a fundamental part of the identity of this very platform and especially crucial to the fabric of heavy music as a whole. Embracing expression that often exists on the fringe, we come together through our mutual love for outsider art as a diverse collective comprised of people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world.

In an effort to nourish that diversity and promote the health of our community, Knotfest is working with Rock Against Racism to bring into focus important stories from artists and cultural contributors that merit being heard. Operating with the understanding that perspective is power, these personal experiences penned by artists themselves not only promote dialogue within our culture, but also underscores the diversity that allows it to thrive.

KNOTFEST x Rock Against Racism

Growing up, I was always a very active kid. One thing that I was not, was a kid that enjoyed sitting on the sidelines and watching others partake in the interests that I had. When I found an interest in something, I always, ALWAYS wanted to not only do it, but be the best at it.

A lot of this was probably because my parents, especially my mom, were adamant about putting me in every activity possible as a child so that I could figure out my passions.

I was raised an Atlanta Braves baseball fan so at the age of 7, I became a softball player. I eventually excelled and ended up playing year around for 12 more years to follow. In addition to softball, I had many other outrageous ambitions as a kid. Ambitions that always seemed within reach in my young mind, and for some reason I always had the confidence that if I put my mind to anything I could become the best in the world at it.

For example, after watching the Disney movie Motocrossed at the age of 10, I instantly decided that freestyle motocross was my life’s calling. This was it, I was going to be just like Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana, I was going to be the only girl in the world that could flawlessly do the volt (which is when a rider does a 360 spin next to their bike mid air, catching it as they spin back around and mounting the bike again before landing).

I instantly told my dad that I wanted him and my mother to get me a Yamaha dirt bike so that I could start my Supercross racing career. Surprisingly, he agreed and the night before getting the bike he told my mom. That was a mistake. She instantly turned it down and said she would not let him buy me something that could potentially kill me.

That, my friends, was the end of my supercross dreams.

When I turned 11, I somehow became obsessed with hockey and wanted to join a hockey league. At 12, I started buying skateboards thinking that I was going to be the next Bucky Lasik or Tony Hawk. Keep in mind that never ONCE did it cross my mind that I did not belong to the typical demographic that was into these sorts of activities. Sadly, the skateboarding venture did not stick either but during this same year I found my love and passion for heavy music and guitar. Little did I know, this would be the one thing that I would stick with and that would change my life forever. 

In middle school, I met a friend that introduced me to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc. Nirvana was the very first rock band that I ever fell in love with and the band that quickly propelled me towards the heavier bands that would ultimately become my genre of choice.

Not only did it introduce me to my lifetime love of guitar playing, it gave me a world that I could feel safe in. Even though I did not really look like anyone that you would typically see into this kind of thing, I just felt like I belonged in that space which gave me a powerful feeling of being a part of something much bigger than myself. 

I became obsessed with learning about new bands and even more obsessed with the guitar. As you can imagine, since I had previously had so many other “callings” before this one, when I told my parents that I wanted to play guitar, my mom went out and bought me a cheap Telecaster knock-off to see just how interested I was in it. They also got me lessons that started the exact same day I got my brand new guitar.

I would practice 12+ hours a day, learning songs by Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, and others. I would take the guitar to the bathroom, the dinner table, to school and anywhere else that I went. It was safe to say that this was something that I was going to stick with for a very long time and after about 6 months of playing I KNEW it was time to join or start a band. 

Every day when I came home from school,  I would watch Metallica’s Live Shit: Binge & Purge DVD KNOWING that was what I wanted to do. I just needed a few other guys to join hands with me to execute this vision of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. I was going to be just like Kirk Hammett, Slash, Dimebag, Zakk Wylde, Head and all those other guitar heroes that I loved so much. 

Since I attended a small private school, there was only one other kid in the entire school, that I was aware of, that played rock/metal guitar. We weren’t friends yet, but I knew that probably needed to change in order for me to start the band that I had been dreaming of.

Josh’s (Fore/rhythm guitar & vocals) desk was directly in front of mine in 7th grade English class. One day he was leaning his chair back on to my desk, and in true Diamond fashion, I pulled my desk back from under his chair where he almost fell. I remember him looking at me very confused, and in his defense I see why. We had never spoken a word to each other but this became the catalyst to our friendship that would only continue to grow stronger over the years through music.

I knew Josh jammed with another guy in our grade named Tyler (Wesley / former Tetrarch drummer) who played drums and after seeing them play a Metallica song at our schools talent show, I figured now was my time to ask to join the band. The next day I asked Tyler if I could start playing with them and he excitedly went to ask Josh about my proposal. Much to my surprise, Josh said no because he “didn’t want a girl in the band.”

Didn’t want a girl in the band!? This was probably the very first time that I was even made aware of the fact that being female could possibly even matter. Lucky enough for me I was able to convince him otherwise. At this point, I think we’re both very glad that he changed his mind.  

Over the next few years we started writing songs and honing our skills as a band. We quickly started playing shows and would play every single weekend around the Atlanta local scene, any and everywhere that we could. We started developing relationships with other bands around the scene but it became apparent very quickly that we just didn’t really fit in with everyone else.

Looking back, I think I got the brunt of the negative attitudes from them pointed at me. I never really understood exactly why, but when I think back maybe it was because I was so confident and it absolutely killed them that I didn’t care about their opinions of us or what we did at all. I knew where I wanted us to go and what kind of band I wanted us to be from the beginning and their negative opinions or attitudes were not going to hinder that.

I was also an easy target. I was easily the only female in the scene and let alone the only African American female, but I had a very strong support system that constantly reassured me that it was their problem and not mine.

So I spent very little time letting any of them get to me. It was very easy for me to ignore any racist comments or comments about being a female because I was so confident and sure of myself and where Tetrarch was going. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I knew we were going to get there. I had spent years practicing to become the best, they could see that and it pissed them off. 

Over the years, as we continued to grow as a band and ascend past the local scene, it became apparent that the exact same things that the musicians in the Atlanta local scene tried to use to tear me down were actually the things that started to bring awareness to Tetrarch and what I was doing  all over the world.

It wasn’t until then that I really started to pay attention to the fact that what I was doing was any different than the boys that I played along side of. All I ever wanted to do when I started this journey was to write and play heavy music around the world but I didn’t have any plans of making history or being a trailblazer when I started. I was just a 12 year old kid that fell in love with an instrument but now I genuinely feel that I was put on earth to do exactly this. 

Strangely enough, I think the fact that I was so oblivious to being different for so long made my journey to get to this point pretty enjoyable for me. It was never a gimmick and always extremely genuine and By the time I was made aware that it was something special, I had already learned to appreciate certain things that made artist stand out in a crowd.

Why would I frown upon something that brought awareness to me or my band? I grew to enjoy shocking people when I got up on stage and started shredding after them assuming that I was just the Merch girl. It was also always a good laugh to see everyone’s mouth open midway into the first song. 

I know that every woman or person of color in the metal world have all had different experiences, and therefore react to questions about their specific difference differently but I have always welcomed any question about who I am within this space. It seems to have inspired so many and has helped take us to heights that we only dreamed of as 7th graders starting Tetrarch.

When you see a photo of us you can instantly identify us because there is something different there. People who usually wouldn’t give a new band a chance, give us a chance because there is something there that they have never seen before and I am truly thankful for that.

I didn’t ask for that role but I am proud to have it and I am aware of how lucky I have been. It took a lot of hard work to achieve all of this, because I wanted to do it the real way, by practicing my ass off and becoming one of the best guitar players in metal, regardless of what I look like. I don’t use who I am as a crutch, it’s more of a cherry on top. 

Diamond Rowe, Tetrarch 

Tetrarch’s sophomore album, Unstable, arrives April 30th via Napalm Records. Pre-order the album – HERE

About Rock Against Racism

Rock Against Racism emerged in 1976 as a political and cultural movement in reaction to a rise in racist attacks on the streets of the United Kingdom. From 1976 to 1982, the activists behind the movement organized festivals and tours, local gigs, and clubs throughout the country to bring together music fans of all races to discourage young people from embracing racism. After years of inactivity, Rock Against Racism has been revived in 2020 through a collective of musicians, artists, and music industry leaders, with a common goal of continuing the crucial work of the original organization – combating modern day racism.
https://rockagainstracism.com


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