RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
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.