“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘You’re like a female Johnny Thunders,’” says singer-guitarist Diana Death. “If I have to be compared to somebody, it may as well be him. His talent and badassery are undeniable.” Last month marked 20 years since Thunders’s death on April 23, 1991, officially ascribed to drug abuse.
Last year, Death’s adoration of the late punk guitarist inspired her to cofound Chinese Rocks. “To my knowledge, we’re the world’s only Johnny Thunders tribute band. Our setlist spans his whole career, from the first songs he wrote with the New York Dolls to the Heartbreakers and his later solo material.”
The 34-year-old multiinstrumentalist is also the bassist for nu-wave quartet the Very (whose debut CD was released this month) and plays a Casio keyboard in the minimalist electro-duo Erleen Nada. “I manage to maintain a pretty consistent practice schedule with each band, and I avoid gig conflicts by always keeping a calendar in my purse.... I recently played my one-thousandth gig.”
“On the rare occasion that I have a gig-free Saturday, I do runway modeling for local designers at events put on by MayStar’s Fashion Whore.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
- “The Best of Montage Records: Lovetown because I dig that Philadelphia electro-funk and R&B.”
- “An all–British Invasion internet radio station.”
- “Duran Duran, Rio. I’m currently decorating my bedroom in Patrick Nagel–inspired style.”
ALBUM YOU HATE TO LOVE?
“Akon’s Konvicted. After hearing his single ‘Smack That’ on the radio and being reminded of Stevie B, I ran to the store all excited, thinking I’d discovered a neo-freestyle artist. But the rest of the album stunk and sounded nothing like the late 1980s. ‘Smack That’ is still the jam, though.”
“Guitar Wolf in 2001, at the Garage in Hollywood. A group of friends and I had just seen the band in the Japanese zombie flick Wild Zero and were beyond stoked.”
HOW DO YOU THINK JOHNNY THUNDERS REALLY DIED?
“There’s a lot of mystery around Johnny’s death, and unfortunately, circumstantial evidence points to foul play, although his leukemia would have likely killed him before his 40th birthday. But the romantic weirdo in me thinks it’s also a sort of a cosmic death-wish fulfillment. He did, after all, tattoo his body with the motto ‘Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die.’”
MOST VISITED WEBSITES?
- “Facebook is where I run into every human being I have ever known since age 13.”
- “I used to visit CNN.com to stay informed, but now I get my news solely from writer Michael K at Dlisted.com.”
BEST PLACE TO HANG OUT FOR FREE?
“Greenwood Memorial Park is San Diego’s largest and probably oldest cemetery, [with] lots of beautiful things there.”
WHAT REMAINS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
- “Travel the world, using rock and roll as my excuse to eat Thai food in Thailand, Italian food in Italy, and drink French wine in France.”
- “Play guitar and/or keyboards with Dhani Harrison,” son of George Harrison.
- “Get married by an Elvis impersonator, either a ‘Jailhouse Rock’ or ’68 Comeback–era Elvis, not the fat Vegas one.”
WORST PICKUP LINE EVER USED ON YOU?
“Hi, I’m Lyle Lovett’s cousin.”
WHAT SONG BEST DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE?
“‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll)’ by AC/DC.”
THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
- “When I was about eight, I went through a month-long phase eating and drinking purple grape-flavored everything.”
- “My very first pop idol was Mozart.”
- “I’m still trying to get my first driver’s license.” ■