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At first glance, there seems to be little in common between punk rock and what we now think of as classic rock. In fact, punk was spawned in the late 1970s partly in reaction to the stadium rock of the era.
But veteran punk rocker Nato Coles is putting out an album with his project, fittingly named Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond Band, that keeps its punk roots visible while heavily mining what Coles describes as his “holy trinity” of commercial rock: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Neil Young.
The band came together in 2010. But it was a slow evolution to where they are now, with Coles contributing the experience he gained playing in bands like The Used Kids.
“I have always loved the rock and roll that is sometimes called punk and the punk that’s sometimes called rock and roll,” Coles said. “I was consciously trying to go for more of a punkish version of what Gram Parsons from the old Flying Burrito Brothers would have called cosmic American music, where it’s more rooted in older rock and roll, yet not anchored to the past, not encased in carbonite.”
Coles put together the Blue Diamond Band after moving to Minneapolis from Brooklyn. But it wasn’t until the band’s first road trip that they really started to come together.
“We realized that we were four people who could really do this, that we wanted to play the dives, and basements and clubs,” Coles said. “I still haven’t got to the point where I can’t get some sleep on a hardwood floor as long as I have a sleeping bag.”
Coles and his band are hitting the road this summer, bringing their notoriously energetic live show to venues from the Northeast to the West Coast. Shows often consist of Coles bouncing around the stage or perched on tabletops while playing guitar solos. Coles says they want to project that level of energy, partly to break down the walls between the crowd and the band.
“I consciously want people who see the band to come away not thinking that they just watched four guys get up on stage and have a glorified band practice,” Coles said. “We’re a band. We’re putting on a show. We’re consciously trying to work harder than anybody else out there.”
Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band are hosting two record release shows on Saturday for their new album Promises to Deliver. An all ages show will take place at Hymie’s Records in Minneapolis in the afternoon, followed by a bar show at the Turf Club in St. Paul.
And after the release shows and tours, what does the future hold for Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band?
“There’s a saying about punk rockers,”Coles said. “We’re kind of like giant tortoises. Most of us don’t make it to 25, but if we make it past that we might live forever.”