Black Pumas shine bright on Chronicles of a Diamond: ‘It was no small feat for us as a duo traversing the unknown’

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Black Pumas shine bright on Chronicles of a Diamond: ‘It was no small feat for us as a duo traversing the unknown’

Credit: Jody Domingue
Words by Alex Callan 

On Chronicles of a Diamond, Black Pumas really had something to prove, facing the challenge of following up their 2019 seven-time Grammy-nominated debut album Black Pumas, which catapulted them to the status of one of today's hottest touring acts in the world.

So, as you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure when the Austin-based soul rock outfit got into the studio to record album number two. 

“We all felt the pressure,” states the group’s lead singer, Eric Burton. “I know I felt the pressure. But I think it did give me solace to learn that everyone in the band was experiencing these heights for the first time. And so while we had and have a healthy level of confidence in ourselves individually, there was quite a bit of pressure to reciprocate something we felt proud of ourselves.”

Pressure, however, breeds diamonds, and on the aptly-named Chronicles of a Diamond, Black Pumas demonstrated once again that they’re no one-trick ponies.

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Traversing the unknown, Burton reflects, “It was no small feat for us as a duo traversing the unknown. But we have the confidence of having a great band and such a brilliant place to start in Adrian Quesada. And his ability, in conjunction with some of my songwriting that I’ve been able to bring to the table, made it that much easier for us to explore new terrain.”

The writing process for this album was heavily influenced by an unrelenting tour schedule. Burton shares, “We wrote a lot of the vibe, and what you hear on this new record, during every off time that we had on the road and during soundchecks.

“But I think it works to our strength, to write some of the music and allow the ideas to be initiated on the road. You get to hear a lot of what was in the moment of just being out on tour and the excitement that came with all of that.

“And being able to play those songs live before finishing them in the studio definitely influenced the way we concluded what you would hear on the record.”

This trait is evident upon listening to Chronicles of a Diamond; in particular when it comes around to the swaggering ‘Rock and Roll’, a kaleidoscopic yet slow-burning closer that melds aspects of soul alongside psychedelia and rock n roll to create a soaring masterpiece in the albums closing moments.  

Burton reveals, “While we hadn’t performed that song live yet, I do believe that there was a sense of excitability that implored that idea out of us. 

“‘Rock and Roll’ was an idea that came from maybe a few months prior, where we were doing a show in Texas, and 15 minutes before the show I was inspired and kind of captured three chords and a melody, as well as the title of the song, which I recorded on a voice memo. Then we find ourselves in Amsterdam, where that idea just made complete sense to bring to life. It just felt fitting during that time.

“We’ve been really lucky to have played songs that are on the new album for audiences while we were touring because we got to know how people would respond to them.”

Discussing the added difficulties of writing on the road, Burton notes, “We’re a band that doesn’t stop writing ideas. We’re just always working, which I think is really a part of our secret sauce. Like we’re always working without any necessary direction in mind outside of just being inspired individually.

“I think the main challenge for me was communicating my own ideas in a way that someone like Adrian Quesada could palette himself to embellish upon for a concluded piece.

“So I think that it’s been an interesting journey to be able to meet each other where we are at, to then add to what we are building together in ways that are supportive of the next person.” 

As the group embarks on a sold-out national tour in America, Aussie fans may have to wait a bit longer to witness the greatness of a Black Pumas live set.

Burton cheekily confirms, “Australia is definitely at the top of my list of places that I would like to go and share some of my art and as well as learn from the culture. It just seems like a lot of fun there. So hopefully we can encourage management to get on top of that soon.”

Black Pumas’ Chronicles of a Diamond is out now via ATO Records. Listen to it here