Alex Crispin (Vocals, Organ)
Luke Foster (Drums)
Nick Richards (Guitar)
Dave Wileman (Guitar)
Dan Pomlett (Bass)
Nick Whitaker (Sax/Clarinet/Flute/Vocals)
Ross Hossack (Synth)
"Here's a chord. Here's another one. Here's another one. Now start a band." Mark Perry, 1976
These words appeared in the 'Sniffin Glue' fanzine in 1976 and have come to signify the DIY ethic that provided the Punk movement with its revolutionary zeal some 32 years ago. Any paperback oral history of punk will re-tell the now familiar story that 1976 was a bleak year in Britain. None more so than in the pop charts which were dominated by bubblegum acts like the Bay City Rollers, and even worse, lots of pompous, bloated prog-rock bands - the Punk movement managed to achieve many things in a short amount of time, not least of which was that it pretty much made those bands obsolete over night.
Mark Perry's words may have been timely and catalytic in 1976 but could he have realised that so many years later the charts would be dominated by countless anonymous indie bands, amateurishly playing through the same three chords with the same stunted lack of imagination. Maybe the people that learnt three chords and formed a band shouldn't have bothered, surely it's the egalitarian nature of punk, which has paved the way for (insert current top 5 Indie band here). It's ironic to consider that a movement as radically creative and spontaneous as Punk has contributed to a music scene which seems rigid, cautious and predictable.
Diagonal are very much at the forefront of a new wave of bands inspired by and exploring the musical stylings of the underground Progressive Rock bands of the early seventies. Ironically playing their progressive music with very much with the same attitude and the kind of embattled revolutionary zeal that came to symbolise the movement which buried their influences.
A seven piece from Brighton on the UK's south coast, all in their mid twenties, Diagonal are: Alex Crispin (Vocals, Organ), Luke Foster (Drums), Nick Richards (Guitar), Dave Wileman (Guitar), Dan Pomlett (Bass), Nick Whitaker (Sax/Clarinet/Flute/Vocals) and Ross Hossack (Synth). With the exception of Dan the entire band grew up together and attended Heath End School in Farnham. They came together over the same sections of the same record shops, soon realising that remarkably, they had a shared obsession with Space Rock, Prog Rock and even Jazz Rock bands such as Colosseum and Nucleus.
The seven shared a general dissatisfaction with the pedestrian nature of the music industry and inspired by the records of the early seventies set about forming their own contemporary prog rock band, a progressive prog rock band if you will.
Diagonal who were once ran out of town for playing 3 songs over 90 minutes in a pub in Surrey, are now very much an in demand band. Word has spread about their incendiary live show which manages to combine the righteous indignation of bands such as the MC5 and The Sex Pistols with the cosmic jams of Gentle Giant and Guru Guru and the experimental noise of bands such as Battles and Lightning Bolt. Diagonal is a band borne out of dreams and boundless ideas.
Whilst there are easier and quicker paths to fame and fortune in the music industry, Diagonal have chosen their own. It may be hard to imagine a 10 minute Prog jam on daytime Radio 1 but stranger things have happened and, after all, wasn't Punk all about demanding the impossible? After 32 years, maybe it's just about time we demanded the different, or at least that our bands learnt a 4th chord.