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Now based in L.A., Low vs. Diamond can't forget its Boulder roots

Seattle native Lucas Field — the frontman for Low Vs. Diamond — decided to attend school at the University of Colorado at Boulder for two important reasons. "First of all, it looked like the most beautiful place in the world," he notes. "Secondly, it seemed like it had a big music scene, and I was listening to a lot of Grateful Dead in high school."

Low Vs. Diamond hardly sounds like the sort of group a former Deadhead would lead. "Don't Forget Sister" and other dramatically melodic tracks from the outfit's self-titled debut recording (issued by Epic's Red Ink imprint) take most of their cues from English classic rockers circa the '70s, not Jerry and Pigpen. But earlier this decade, Field, who grew up as a Pearl Jam aficionado before thumbing a ride to Terrapin Station, collaborated with fellow CU students Howie Diamond and Tad Moore in a hippie-friendly combo originally called Aurora. "We'd cover Dead songs and play our own original songs and just jam for a good three hours at a time" while gigging on Boulder's house-party circuit, he recalls.

"It's so funny," he goes on, "because our sets now are between thirty and fifty minutes. And I remember those sets being like, 'All right, we'll do our intro' — which was seven and a half minutes — 'into our first song, and then into our second song. And that'll take up forty minutes!'"

As graduation neared, however, Field started listening to groups like the Beatles — and before long, he took on the challenge of composing more compact songs. "I thought, man, writing these shorter songs is a lot harder than writing these 25-minute songs," he concedes. "When you're able to just spit it all out, sometimes it comes out easily. But doing something tight and concise is hard. And that's what a good song is. They trim off all the excess and they leave you with the best of what was there in the first place."

This lesson was solidified after Field, Diamond and Moore moved to Los Angeles, where they went through a couple of other sonic iterations, and monikers, before arriving at their present style. Still, Field says (in a more convincing manner than expected) that the various shifts resulted from natural evolution, not commercial calculation — and he thinks past influences may assert themselves in the future. "I pushed the Dead away for a while because the rock I got into right when I got to L.A. was overpowering it," he notes, "but now I think we're all bringing it back. Look for that in some of the newer songs."

You can take the boy out of Colorado...but you can't take the Colorado out of the boy.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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