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Tin Can Diamonds


Tin Can Diamonds - photo by Mary Sweeney of www.sweeneysphotography.com/ Artist's Facebook
by Mike Huberty
May 2016

With a joyous and bluesy sound, TIN CAN DIAMONDS are a young Madison band that mixes elements of folk and rock. The folk ingredients are the way vocalist Aarushi Agni powerful and confident voice mixes with Mitch Johnson’s guitars and harmony vocals. The rock foundation is the rhythm section of bassist Ben Strohbeen and drummer Dave Janus. They’ll be releasing their first album at Bright Red Studios on May 21st and we talked with Aarushi, Dave, and Ben about the band and their new album.

MAXIMUM INK: What inspired you guys to pick up instruments and play in the first place?
BEN: I don’t think I’ve ever not played bass. My bass has grown up with me, it’s in all my childhood photos. I’m not sure how the wood manages to change size but I don’t want to ask too many questions.
AARUSHI: I always loved music, and have been singing since before I could talk. My household was bilingual so I actually didn’t talk until I was almost 4 years old, but I would sing… I’m the type of person who will sing to herself when she’s walking around, and then people on the street will turn around and I’ll abruptly stop like I had no idea where it came from, haha.

MI: And then how did you guys start playing together?
AARUSHI: At the time I was madly in love with someone who grew up in the folk scene, and I started writing a lot of folk songs on the guitar. I had only just started doing music on the guitar and I was still pretty nervous about it, but when Ben started improvising a bassline to my song, that’s when I knew it was on. I was just like, “Damn, I like the way you play the bass. Let’s make a band.” Strohbz thought Mitch might be interested in playing with us… Eventually, we brought Dave in on drums— he and Strohbeen had worked together in another sort of hip-hop band called Bad Kidz— and that’s when we really started to get serious about writing and our “sound.”
MI: Who were the bands that you guys gelled on as musicians?
AARUSHI: Honestly, we all came in with SUPER different tastes, which I feel like was part of the reason we were able to create such a unique sound between us. We have a kind of shared musical lexicon, but the music we’ve individually loved is really different, but is fixed kind of within the blues/folk/country/rock zone.
BEN: I think our shared musical interests mainly overlap at our love of 90s summer jams. I think that the diverse musical styles that we each listen to is great though.

MI: So what’s the single off the new album?
AARUSHI: Well, in terms of a single, our music video is for “Make Up Your Mind,” which will be released shortly after our album is released. It’s probably our “poppiest” song. It’s a super fun song to listen to and will make you happy, but it has some really detailed lyrics and a pointed message. It is also the first song we wrote together as a band.
BEN: This was the first song that we wrote together, back when we were just young kids jamming out. The bass riff gets caught in your ear though, and TCD is all about that bass.

MI: Do you feel like there’s a theme that’s running through this particular album?
AARUSHI: Yeah, I think it has something to do with making sense of the hand you’re dealt, and figuring out to what degree you can push back against the system and to what extent you just have to party anyway. We have lofty ideals, but at the end of the day we still gotta eat, and sometimes that means you sell out a little more than you want to.
BEN: I’d say being in our early–20’s, our songs do the maybe-cliché millennial act of exploring ideas such as personal relationships, identity, growth—basically trying to find direction in life—through music.

MI: Why TIN CAN DIAMONDS?
AARUSHI: It’s from the idea of finding beauty in hopeless places.
BEN: I always say it’s about blood diamonds like in that Leonardo DiCaprio movie though.

MI: So, what can people expect when they get to Bright Red Studios for the release party?
DAVE: Awkward banter, poorly delivered jokes, but good enough music to make the first two forgivable.
AARUSHI: One time one of our fans made a love connection with another fan at our show and they ended up dating. I’m all about the TIN CAN DIAMONDS couples. Hopefully one day there’ll be a TIN CAN DIAMONDS baby, haha. Dave might say our banter is awkward, but I think it’s kind of cute and people seem to like it. So whatever.

MI: Anything else cool you guys have to promote?
AARUSHI: We had the opportunity to make a music video set at the Fargo Mansion Inn, which is this totally dope haunted mansion/hotel in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. I had never done a music video before and it was amazing to see it come together. The owners of the place, Tom and Barry, let us use the space for absolutely free. One of them told me that he loves when young people make their dreams happen, and I just about cried; it was one of the best days of my life.
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