Arts & Culture

Girls, Guitars and Shabbos Goys: Interview with Marc Diamond (The Dwarves)

Marc Diamond is the kind of working musician that other musicians dream they could be. Not only is Marc the guitarist for the legendary garage/punk band The Dwarves, but he has also worked with internet celebrity turned sleeze-punk front woman … Read More

By / July 26, 2009

Marc Diamond is the kind of working musician that other musicians dream they could be. Not only is Marc the guitarist for the legendary garage/punk band The Dwarves, but he has also worked with internet celebrity turned sleeze-punk front woman Texas Terri, Mondo Generator* (featuring former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri) and his own band MotoChrist, who are currently recording an album with Marc’s "old friend" Gilby Clarke. At one point in his youth, Marc was even a roadie for Steve Jones.

And did I mention that Marc is a BIG Jew? I figured that a rock star like Marc wouldn’t want to talk to me, so I was amazed when I got this email back from him after asking for an interview: Oy Veh! It sounds like he’s gonna plotz! It would be a mitzvah! I’m sure he is a real mentsh! We must educate the goyim! Forgive my chutzpah, not to kvetsh, but in keeping with our glorious tradition of money hording and controlling the world’s economy, we must talk schekels, perhaps just a bissel in my pocket, yes? Greatest. Email. Ever. So I called Marc up at his home in Los Angeles. And after shooting the shit for a few minutes, I got down to business by asking Marc if being Jewish has influenced his music at all. He said no. "I formed a band to meet girls." "Crap, there goes the whole premise for the interview," I thought to myself. I was hoping to get some kind of Steven Lee Beeber-style Heebies Jeebies at CBGBs story about how being a Jew made Marc an outsider in his WASP community and drove him to play DIY music. Marc was honest. He wasn’t trying to end world hunger. In fact, he thinks the Bono-style Rock-and-Roll-Will-Save-the-World stuff is bullshit. At fifteen, Marc started playing guitar while listening to The Rolling Stones, The Ramones and The Beatles, all for the glory of getting laid. And Marc fell in love with it. Now, with a wife and a new baby, Marc is still going strong with the same energy he had in his pussy-seeking teen years.

He needs it in order to play with The Dwarves. The band is known for their insane show antics, including one story that Marc told me about a show is Glasgow where a girl jumped on stage and started giving singer Blag Dhalia a blow job in the middle of their set. "Being in The Dwarves is like having a license to kill. You’re not trying to uphold any kind of good reputation…it makes things more honest," says Marc. Honesty is important to a guy like Marc. He’s honest about the fact that Judaism hasn’t really impacted him much. He’s a totally secular guy. But he also proves something that I have always believed: no matter your lifestyle, once you are a part of the greater family of Israel, you are compelled to participate, in whatever means you can. In Marc’s case, that included being a Shabbos goy: while living in an apartment along side an Orthodox Jewish family, Marc was asked if he would perform a few, simple favors for the family on Shabbos (some religious people reach out to non-Jews to turn off lights, buy groceries, and perform other activities they cannot during the Shabbos). Marc is a nice guy, and he did. One day, the family saw his Star of David tattoo, and according to Marc, that ended his career as a errand boy for the Yiddishkeit. Marc’s honesty also goes as far as pushing Jewish stereotypes. When I asked him what his favorite Jewish stereotype was, he told me that his wife always says, "I married the only Jew without any money." After a moment of silence, Marc said in a truthful, direct voice that he wished the Jewish stereotype of all Jews working together for each other were true. He wished that he could just go to some of the big names in the Jewish world and say, "I am one of you, please help me." Suffice it to say, the idea that Jews help other Jews only goes so far. With Marc, I got to do all the fun things that I don’t get to do with my co-religionists. I asked Marc what his favorite Jew joke was, and he told me and oldie-but-a-goodie: An old man is walking with his grandson along the beach. Suddenly, a huge wave crashes into them and sweeps the little boy out to sea. Every day the grandfather would walk to the beach, crying out to G_d to give him his grandson back. One day while walking along the shore, the grandfather cried out one last time, and suddenly dark clouds formed, lightning began to strike and a huge wave came toward the old man. As the wave pulled back, the man’s grandson appeared in his arms, in perfect, glorious, angelic condition. The old man turned to the sky and said, "he also had a hat!" Marc also talked lovingly about his Mom and her beef brisket (the secret apparently is to cook it, then freeze it. When it comes time to reheat, the meat will be really tender). His favorite Jews are Stanley Kubric, Albert Brooks and half of the Ramones, but he can’t stand Billy Crystal. With tattoos, a few hard rock bands and a lack of interest in saving the world, it begs the question, "is Marc Diamond a good Jew?" I would say that he is an exceptional Jew. Because he deals in the realm of honesty, whether in his music or in his personal life. Marc represents in a fair way what the Jewish people are: a tribe of many, all searching for their place. His place is rock music. Honesty and fairness are important values to the Jewish People, so much that we call charity "justice" and even have a code of Law for calling "bullshit" on our own creator. Guys like Marc represent that attitude, a punk attitude that is willing, on one hand, to make fun of your own people, while at the same time raising them up. So for the renegades among us who shine a light on our culture and push boundaries, I say "L’Chaim" and I can’t wait until the new MotoChrist and Dwarves albums are done, so we can see Marc rock out across America.

*In full disclosure, the drummer for my band Can!!Can is the former drummer for Mondo Generator, hence my hook up with Marc. Aren’t you jealous?