Runaway Diamonds
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Runaway Diamonds


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"Runaway Diamonds - A Chorus All Their Own"

By Nick Andrews Photography By Savin Gatchalian

June 28, 2007

The Runaway Diamonds grace the stage with pickaxes, buzz saws and even tumbleweeds as props, rocking crowds across the city with what at first seems like a Cure video featuring Ray Charles’ backup vocalists. Frontman Mr. Pomerenke rocks the mic, Mr. Hernandez provides the piano and beats, and The Spirit Squad — Mr. Lockwood, Miss Marmur, Miss Bejarano and Miss Riggs — form the choir. All work in conjunction to create this circus sideshow.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing the Diamonds with a punk rock band, a Neil Diamond cover group or anything else for that matter. Their sound is resolutely their own. “We aren’t Scottsdale music and we aren’t LA music. We’re Phoenix downtown beats,” says Hernandez. “We like to think of our sound as soul-electronic, or even a blue-collar gospel.” With Pomerenke’s vocals, piano-based overtones, kitschy drum patterns and celestial backup harmonics, Hernandez provides the most accurate description possible.

The Runaway Diamonds formed shortly after Pomerenke first heard Hernandez’s production in his car. In a moment of divine intervention he knew that he had no choice but to put lyrics to the tracks he was hearing, immediately pulling his car over to make the phone call. In a desperate attempt to contact Hernandez, he was finally able to reach the man’s mother, rattling off all the plans that he had in store for her son. The choir was a later addition, accenting the production and aiding in the transitions within each track. Soon DJ Brendon Joel will join the group and add an element of breaks to the mix.

Lately the Runaway Diamonds have seen a rapidly growing fan base as their live shows have evolved into unique spectacles for their audiences. During a recent concert at the Rogue, Mr. Pomerenke appeared on stage dressed in white linens and crowned with a headdress. “I was very influenced by Eastern philosophy growing up, and the outfit that night was inspired by sheikhs who ceremonially wrap themselves each morning. They regard the process with a sense of purity,” says Pomerenke. Purity aside, however, the fans have a tendency of getting rowdy during these concerts, all too encouraged by the band itself. “I want people to have fun at our shows. Dance, drink, fuck, fight — whatever! As long as the people are having fun, it’s all good to me,” Hernandez says. “I want someone to break their ankle they’re partying so hard. Let’s see a stretcher or two.”

In addition to performing live, the Runaway Diamonds have also spent time in the studio recording their first full-length album, God’s Mom and Her Turquoise Chow-Chow. Onstage antics aside, Pomerenke has the capacity for reaching deep with the lyrics to each track. The song “Is This E-mail an SOS?” addresses the perpetual tragedy of working simply to live, and similarly working oneself to death. “A lot of our themes address false confidence, how life boils down to a mating ritual. The whole peacock syndrome problem with humanity — who’s got the biggest feathers,” Pomerenke says. With a stream-of-consciousness approach to composing, he crafts each song on the spot as it is first played to him.

Beyond songwriting, the Diamonds have also found time to make music videos, showcased on their MySpace page ( There you can watch porcelain painted people smearing each other and skin suspension eerily similar to what you’d see in The Cell. Oh, and Pomerenke running around in his underwear with a blond wig on. You never know what to expect with these guys and that’s exactly how they intend to keep it.

For those who have yet to see the Runaway Diamonds live, the group has upcoming gigs planned, including a July 29 show at Homme Lounge before an audience of drag queens. When asked whether or not he will dress the part, Pomerenke shrugs.
“I’m not sure yet. I guess I’ll play it by ear.”

Nothing is out of the question, of course. Long-term plans include playing at the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival in New York on October 17, a breakthrough performance for the Runaway Diamonds and certainly a launchpad into future glory. Be sure to witness this local phenomenon firsthand.

See the three-ring circus at - 944 Magazine

"First Exposure"

Runaway Diamonds' bubbly beats and jangly pianos evoke the Flaming lips backed by a gospel choir. Frontman Chris Pomerenke and his supporting "Spirit Squad" (a four person chorus) harmonize over kitschy, fiery furnaces-like lyrics ("Im enormous now/I have nunchucks now"). The Phoenix, Ariz., sextet's debut is a fusion of speaker thumping rhythms and daydream melodies.

(Dreamy Draw, www.dreamydraw - Magnet Magazine

"Diamond Mining"

God’s Mom and Her Turquoise Chow-Chow
Runaway Diamonds
(Dreamy Draw)
Diamond Mining

In a previous incarnation, Arizona iconoclast Chris Pomerenke was one-half of the dada-pop duo Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product, wearing a white, nuclear-reactor jumpsuit and playing drums with one hand while he stabbed at a tiny keyboard with the other. Eventually, Pomerenke and his musical comrade James Karnes made history by creating Less Pain Forever, the only documented case of a band forming a tribute band to itself.

Les Payne — and Less Pain, for that matter — was a brilliantly surreal group whose inspired mayhem never fully translated to disc. Pomerenke’s new project, Runaway Diamonds, is nearly as minimalistic as Les Payne, but by employing stately piano and rinky-dink drum-machine beats, it places Pomerenke’s self-help lessons, his poisoned-chicken-soup-for-the-soul remedies, front and center, where they deserve to be.

Pomerenke embraces life’s absurdities in much the same way he delights in the ridiculous nature of most three-minute pop songs. It’s his deadpan ability to mock and empathize at the same time that keeps you coming back to Runaway Diamonds’ debut CD.

Right off the bat, with “Is This E-Mail an SOS?,” Pomerenke reveals: “I started working for the man when I was just a little kid/ it hurts, it hurts.” There’s something in the way he repeats “it hurts” that makes you want to crack up, yet he never drops his mask of sincerity, never turns the song into an outright parody. He also sees something of himself in a sad hummingbird who “hurt his little brain” by thinking too hard.

What Pomerenke is after is a kind of free-form slacker transcendence, the idea that you can meditate your way to higher consciousness, but if you want to cheat and achieve the same effect with drugs, give that a shot too. He’s something of a desert Zen master, preaching the idea that grace can best be achieved when you stop trying; that thought inhibits feeling and effort thwarts pleasure. But the advice that he imparts — “quit your job, take your mom and your dog for a walk in the park” — is the practical stuff of everyday life.

There are musical precedents for Runaway Diamonds: the garage electronica of Le Tigre, the bare assault of Elvis Costello’s “Pills and Soap,” and even the flowery chordal flights of Ben Folds. But between Gabe Hernandez’s eloquent piano playing, Pomerenke’s droll narratives, and the Greek chorous of backing singers (Andrew Lockwood, Lisa Marmur, Yolanda Bejarano, and Riana Riggs), the results feel utterly fresh.

— Gilbert Garcia - San Antonio Current


Runaway Diamonds
“God’s Mom and Her Turquoise Chow-Chow”

50 years into the rock ‘n’ roll revolution, it’s become increasingly difficult to bring a wholly original concept to the musical genre, and all the more refreshing when somebody actually does. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Runaway Diamonds.

The group — composed of six local music luminaries boasting years of experience — features a lead singer backed by a lone multi-instrumentalist and a quartet of backing vocalists collectively known as the Spirit Squad. With the simple musical backing of piano, programmed beats and occasional guitar, frontman Mr. Pomerenke — first names are not used — sings and sermonizes on sin and salvation, from life’s smallest details (“Itty Bitty Thoughts”) to the grand scheme of all things (“Motion of the Mountain”). Meanwhile, the Spirit Squad of Mr. Lockwood and three female singers, weave their voices over, under, through and around the melodies to startling effect.

Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, the omnipresent Spirit Squad both echoes the action for dramatic effect and occasionally moves songs forward on its own. It is the communal voices that give Runaway Diamonds their sumptuous, one-of-a-kind sound. Ably produced by Bob Hoag, whose fingerprints have been all over the Valley’s finest recorded music of late, “God’s Mom and Her Turquoise Chow-Chow” positively sparkles.

Grade: A
- Mesa Tribune

"Runaway Diamonds Are Forever"

Runaway Diamonds Are Forever
Local rockers form "a lovable cult"
By Ed Masley
Published: April 5, 2007
She's been part of The Spirit Squad, Runaway Diamonds' life-affirming wall of vocals, for nearly a year now. But when people ask Rhianna Riggs what the Phoenix band sounds like, she has no idea what to tell them.

Mark Skalny

"Vibe of Goodness": Runaway Diamonds

CD release party on Saturday, April 7
Subject(s): DJ Peeps, Runaway Diamonds
"You're just like 'Well, Gabriel plays the beat machine and piano and sometimes guitar and he's the only one who plays an instrument. And then there's this other guy, Chris, he bounces around the stage in tighty whities with a pickax and a parka. Then there's us. We do these harmonies. And we're all wearing white."

Which is to say they're not your average rock 'n' roll band, setting existential prayers and cryptic inside jokes to speaker-thumping hip-hop beats and a melodic sensibility that puts the Diamonds' own eccentric spin on Flaming Lips' eccentric spin on Brian Wilson's teenage symphonies to God.

It was a common love of Flaming Lips that helped their tighty-whitey-rocking frontman, Chris Pomerenke of Less Pain Forever, form an instant bond with keyboard player Gabriel Hernandez.

"Gabriel gave me a tape and said, 'There's no lyrics to this. Check it out,'" Pomerenke recalls. "I was driving around with my friend and it was really psychedelic, but with elements of electronica and hip-hop, but it still felt melodic, so I pulled the car over immediately, got him on the phone and said, 'I want to make up words to this.'"

And so began what Hernandez describes as a perfect collaborative process — Pomerenke bringing his odd, stream-of-consciousness wordplay to the keyboard player's wistful melodies and killer beats.

As perfect as that process may have been, it wasn't long before they started wondering if maybe they should bring more people to the party. "We were looking at why would we add to this setup," Pomerenke says. "We've got drums. We've got keyboards. It's rhythm and lyrics and melody. The only thing I kept thinking about was more voices, more people with character to lift everything musically."

And "the obvious choice" from their circle of friends to assemble a choir at that point was Andrew Lockwood, a veteran of the local scene who also fronts his own group, Dolphins Kill For Love. His first recruit was Lisa Marmur, an Australian import whose background was more in the solo acoustic realm.

That original four-person version of Runaway Diamonds played its first show in early 2006. Yolanda Bejarano of Snow Songs signed on next, but it was after adding Riggs (whose other band, Edison Gem, is "super serious" in tone compared with this), that Pomerenke felt the lineup was complete, although they've since parted ways with Lockwood -- at least for the moment.

"I think we can finally see the group and know what it is now," he explains, which Riggs poetically sums up as "two dudes and three hot chicks," quickly followed by Hernandez saying, "Do the math."

Seated around a table at the Arizona Biltmore on a recent Saturday evening, the members of Runaway Diamonds are living large and acting silly.

"I think we have the three best singers in Arizona," Hernandez says of the Spirit Squad ladies, who clearly bring more than an obvious hot-chick factor to the table.

This sets off a round of hysterical laughter as his bandmates try to top his idle boast with ironic suggestions.

"In the fucking world," one suggests.

"In Maricopa County," shouts another.

"Yuma County," adds a third.

"As you can tell," Riggs says as the laughter fades, "we have really good chemistry."

When Marmur follows with "We're all completely in love with each other," Pomerenke, who's penciled in a pencil-thin mustache for the occasion, seizes the moment to make a confession.

"I've fallen out of love," he deadpans, quickly adding with the sense of comic timing that makes him such a brilliant frontman, "Awkward."

Some have seen the way the Diamonds interact and turned to words like "Manson-esque" or "cult-like" to describe the bond between them — like Ryan Page, who's releasing the group's first album, God's Mom and Her Turquoise Chow Chow, on his Dreamy Draw label.

"He came to one practice and he was sold," Pomerenke says. "He said, 'You guys are like the Manson Family. I want to sign this.'"

Bejarano's heard that kind of talk as well. "That's what my sister says," she seems thrilled to announce. "'You guys are like a bizarre cult.'"

"It's not a bizarre cult," Marmur quickly clarifies. "It's a nice, quiet, regular cult. A lovable cult."

A cult whose members spend their debut album — produced by Bob Hoag with an ear toward ethereal grandeur — euphorically shaking their brains for the Lord, as Pomerenke puts it in the album-closing "Motion of the Mountain," while advancing cult-like self-help theories on the univ - New Times (Phoenix)


Runaway Diamonds have released their first full length album, GODS MOM AND HER TURQUOISE CHOW CHOW to wonderful reviews and are receiving consistent airplay on CBS owned Free FM 101.5. Runaway Diamonds were honored to perform this year at the legendary CMJ 07 marathon in New York City!



April of 2007 heralded the release of Phoenix singing group Runaway Diamonds' full-length debut, GODS MOM AND HER TURQUOISE CHOW CHOW, on Dreamy Draw Music. This song collection of existential prayers set to downtown Phoenix beats establishes Runaway Diamonds as the new breed of back yard, blue-collar gospel.

Runaway Diamonds' minimal structure often takes listeners and audiences by surprise, as they employ zero bassists, guitarists or drummers. Instead, the songs are crafted with a piano, drum machine, (Mr. Hernandez), a lyricist, (Mr.Pomerenke), and four singers, (Miss Marmur, Mr. Lockwood, Miss Bejarano, and Miss Riggs) known as The Spirit Squad!

Styling songs about the twists and turns of kinky drugs, god, sex with strangers, and the importance of family, Runaway Diamonds is a party you can think and feel with. Percussive, triumphant piano melodies and soaring vocal harmonies fill this one-of-a-kind offering, juxtaposed by super-catchy, every-man rants that honestly face the fear, magic and mysterious mechanisms behind the human condition.

Runaway Diamonds merge the metaphysical with sexiness, pop-culture references with ancient logic and 50's Doo-Wop with hip-hop dance beats. Their live shows are spectacular parties involving cross-dressing, nature documentaries, group hugs, and pistol waving. Runaway Diamonds isn't a band, per se. They're a group, a click, a crew, a set, an act.

GODS MOM AND HER TURQUOISE CHOW CHOW, produced by the venerable Bob Hoag at Mesa's Flying Blanket Studio's, will appear on Phoenix/ LA based upstart "boutique" label, Dreamy Draw Music, created by film maker ryan Page (Moog, What is it?)