UNCUT DIAMOND: Going from drab to fab, John O’Regan glams as indie boy Diamond Rings

GLAM JAM | After finding reassurance for his music at the hospital, O’Regan created Diamond Rings and is now on the road with pop singer Robyn.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

A bout with Crohn’s disease would hardly seem like a prime period of inspiration. But with a lengthy stay at the hospital and a built-in audience of doctors and nurses, John O’Regan discovered his inner Ziggy Stardust, and thus was Diamond Rings born.

Almost by accident, he’s making a sensation on many music radars and the rainbow eyeliner certainly doesn’t hinder getting attention. But don’t compare him to glam pop idol Adam Lambert.

“I don’t know too much about that dude, for sure,” he says. “Hopefully my songs are better.”

When asked if he might be the indie alternative to Lambert, O’Regan, 25, politely dismisses the idea. He understands that people want frames of reference, but he’s focused on becoming his own artist.

As the frontman of Canadian indie band The D’urbervilles, O’Regan wasn’t all that flashy, so Diamond Rings was something new for him.

“I didn’t want to be what people had seen before,” he says. “When I first started doing these shows, I was nervous in a good way. I enjoy pushing myself somewhere that I’d never been before.”

He unlocked this persona while being treated for inflammation in his GI tract. He wrote songs catering to his enamor of pop music. Although confident in his lyrics, he still wasn’t sure if he was just adding to the “clutter of music” out there. With an ever-present medical staff, he tried it out on them.

“I was going through a bit of an existential crisis, but seeing their reaction reaffirmed to me that music is for everybody, be it a garbage man or a doctor,” he says. “Realizing that gave me courage to do this.”

With pre-releases “All Yr Songs” and “Wait and See,” O’Regan received positive attention from the blogosphere and music publications. His 2010 album Special Affections lived up to hype with outlandish videos and that oh-so important music media buzz all indie musicians thrive for. Now he finds himself in his highest profile gig, opening for Robyn, who comes to Dallas Feb. 18. Is the pressure on? Not really.

“I am scaring myself a little playing on a bigger stage for new fans, but I’ve been learning so much,” he says. “To be with a performer like her who’s been making music at a high level is important for me. And fortunately, I’m surrounded by really good people.”

As for the Lambert comparison, audiences have yet to see him shave his legs and don a dress for his videos.

“It’s all coming back in slowly and not too itchy.”

But for sure O’Regan’s got Lambert beat in the guy-liner department.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 12.31.10

By Jack FertigMel-Gibson-fourth-rant-audio-released

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Mel Gibson turns 55 on Monday. After riding years of box office success, karma bit the actor/director in the ass hard. His homophobia and anti-semitism are no secret, but charges of domestic violence and racism throughout 2010 hurt his career. He was dropped by his talent agency and his film Edge of Darkness was considered one of the bigger flops of the year. Mega-ouch.

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THIS WEEK

Sun squaring Saturn adds the weight of age and responsibility, but Venus enters Sagittarius, leading affections and aesthetics toward new adventures. She gets in the middle of that square offering frivolous escape that can too easily complicate problems at hand, but she also offers creative solutions.

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CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You’re at the top of your game, but what’s next? The answer to that is not as urgent as it may seem. Relax, indulge in a romantic or sensual retreat and the hard questions will gain perspective.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
The world’s troubles are not necessarily your own. Discussing global and personal worries with friends help balance it out. For answers, look across borders and oceans.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Put your deep, dark imagination to work. Even in a bleak future there are opportunities. Even if the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, you can ride it out.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
The responsibilities of work and relationships feel oppressive. A romantic adventure is needed. If partnered, plan a getaway. If single, a stern attitude is sexy, but balance it with playful warmth.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
As hard as you’ve been working, you’re entitled to a much-needed release. If you really need to beat someone, there are eager victims. Just keep it safe and consensual.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Play only for funsies. Take a chance on love or a passionate facsimile. Incredible sex is no basis for a solid relationship. Take it one day at a time and see what else there is.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
A strong sense of responsibility at home can be a millstone or a motivator. Go with the latter. Once you drag your tush into action, momentum will make the rest of it a lot easier.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Even you have inarticulate moments. Take them as a creative challenge. Playfulness boosts morale and productivity. Too much, not so good. Turn up the jokes and your dazzling smile.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your best investment of time, energy and money is in your own home and community. Think ahead before taking on responsibilities. Spreading good will at home will help build your standing.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
The weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. Opportunities can be hard to find, but they’re there. A lighthearted chat with a sister (genetic or otherwise) can help you get perspective.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Life is tough, but don’t let troubles wear you down. When you find yourself worrying, channel that into constructive thought toward a solution. Stick to basics and remember what’s important.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
You may be worrying too much about money. Focus on your personal assets, the kind you’d have even if you were penniless and naked. You almost always fare better than most.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas