Interview: Super Diamond is Forever

INTERVIEW: Super Diamond is forever

By Kristin Lockwood

Colorado Daily (U. Colorado)

(U-WIRE) BOULDER, Colo. — The growing live cover-band scene is ideal for those of us looking to experience carbon copies of our favorite musicians without having to also experience the loss of cash we most likely would for the real thing. For nearly four decades, singer/songwriter Neil Diamond has influenced Generation-Xers everywhere with his upbeat tunes. Super Diamond, a Neil cover band out of San Francisco, has been interpreting and recreating the sounds of Neil for audiences nationwide since 1993.
Scheduled to electrify the Fox Theatre in Boulder Oct. 15 and 16, this sextet has successfully “spread the good word of Neil” to Diamondheads far and wide with its alternative Neil experience. Fronted by Randy Cordeiro, better known as Surreal Neil, a somewhat reticent former engineer whose impersonation of Diamond’s mannerisms, voice, and performance style is remarkably dead-on.

“It started as just for fun. I never really thought I’d be able to make money on it,” says Cordeiro with a surprisingly soft and articulate voice. Even after pinning down the right musicians for Super Diamond’s Neil spectacle, Cordeiro never expected that a decade later he would still be belting out classics like “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “America,” and “Sweet Caroline” as a full-time gig.

Also an original musician/songwriter himself, Cordeiro has the astonishing ability to impersonate multiple singing voices. “When I realized I could do Neil Diamond I just had to do it in public, so occasionally I would throw a Diamond song into my set,” says Cordeiro.

Six months later Randy was asked to dress up and play like Neil for a party: the first of many all-Diamond shows Cordeiro would nail. He continued performing Neil songs solo before finding the apposite musicians to back him.

With the formulation of Super Diamond, reserved Cordeiro begins to embody Surreal Neil, retro-pop chick magnet. Complete with shiny sequined get-ups, Neil-esque shirts, velvet bellbottoms, and platform shoes, the members of Super Diamond are always decked out. The band delivers Neil’s nostalgic songs with their contemporary alternative-rock spin. With flecks of Kiss, Rush, and Black Sabbath influences, the band transcends all previous boundaries.

One of Super Diamond’s biggest distinctions is their rock interpretation of Neil’s squeaky-clean image and classic dandies. Their contemporary show captures the long-lived appeal of Neil minus the easy-listening lounge act quality that he often typified.

“We add a lot of other influences into it,” says Cordeiro. “That’s what makes this really cool because they [the fans] don’t expect it. They think it’s gonna be a lounge show.”

With the abundance of wild modern ’70s-esque costumes that were mostly collected on San Francisco’s Haight street, Super Diamond’s live veneer is a far cry from Neil’s full sideburns and skintight pants. “We are constantly coming up with new things and having fun with it. We do a lot of morphing to keep it fresh,” says Cordeiro.

Super Diamond will often sing the lyrics of Neil’s “Sweet Caroline” over the music of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” in order to spark a little recognition from the crowd. They also morph “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” into Led Zeppelin’s “Cashmere.”

Like many of us, Cordeiro grew up listening to Neil Diamond with his mom and dad. This early exposure is what plants the seed for potential nostalgia to arise in audiences at Super Diamond shows.

“You’ll hear a song you haven’t heard in 20 years cause it’s not overplayed everywhere,” says Randy.

The Super Diamond crowd is diverse, from closet Neil Diamond fans to proud young ones, Generation X fans to 65-year-olds. There are also those that are unaware that his original songs include “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”, “Red, Red Wine” and “I’m A Believer.”

“At our show, people aren’t as familiar with Neil so it’s the first time they’ve heard these songs they know in years,” says Cordeiro.

The real Neil Diamond has joined Super Diamond on stage on two different occasions. The first time was in 2000 at the House of Blues in Hollywood, followed by the Hollywood film premiere for “Saving Silverman” in 2001. “It was very surreal, obviously, meeting him… I’m hoping it’ll happen again someday,” says Randy.

The band has performed in Colorado many times before, with amazing response from its audiences. Fox Theater’s Don Strasburg says, “The Surreal Neil is really for real!”

The majority of crowds in Colorado dress up for Super Diamond shows, a phenomenon that caught on during Super Diamond’s visits. Cordeiro equates a show in Boulder to a Halloween night.

“That’s the one thing that’s totally different in Colorado than anywhere else. They really know how to have fun,” says Cordiero.

Cordiero admits that his real infatuation is writing and performing with his original music band, Tijuana Strip Club. The Super Diamond experience, however, has been a vibrant trip that has gone above and beyond his every expectation.

“Eventually we want to tour Europe and Australia,” says the soft-spoken Cordeiro. “As long as I have a guitar on my shoulders, I’m happy.”

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