Legendary NWOBHM band, DIAMOND HEAD, needs no damn introduction. If you claim to be a fan of this type of music and don’t know the immense influence they’ve had on two of the biggest names in the history of metal, METALLICA and MEGADETH… you probably have not been a headbanger for very long. Their most famous song, “Am I Evil?”, undoubtedly ranks as one of the best heavy songs ever written. Sure, they are no household name like METALLICA, and never sold a ton of records, but perhaps this is all about to change finally. In 2014, DIAMOND HEAD hired a talented new singer named Rasmus Bom Andersen, and then next cut their first full length album in nine years. The self titled record is simply going to blow away American fans once it releases in North America on June 3, 2016.
THE METAL DEN’s Randy “Rocket” Cody recently conducted a phone interview with guitarist Brian Tatler Of DIAMOND HEAD for his loyal Den Headz around the globe.
ROCKET: Do you recall your first rock concert?
BRIAN: I went to see a band called Amon Düül from Germany. They are a Krautrock band. My older brother, he was six years older than me… he was going to see this band in Birmingham… he had two tickets and his friend dropped out… so I went with him. I was probably twelve… or thirteen. I didn’t know what was going on but I liked it because it was loud. With a lot of lights. It was good fun.
ROCKET: When did you first start playing the electric guitar?
BRIAN: I was 14 or 15.
ROCKET: Did you ever take any guitar lessons?
BRIAN: I never had any guitar lessons but my older brother played guitar and he played in a band that did covers. He was the one that started me out on guitar. He showed me some chords and got me going. Once I learned how to play a bar chord and move it up and down the neck then I was off with starting to write my own songs.
ROCKET: Who would you say is your biggest guitar playing influence?
BRIAN: Jimmy Page.
ROCKET: Let’s talk about the new self titled DIAMOND HEAD album that will release later this year in North America on June 3rd. Are you signed to a record label or will it be self released?
BRIAN: We have a deal with Dissonance Productions.
ROCKET: I listened to the entire album three times already and I am blown away by how great it is. You guys did a fantastic job from top to bottom. It has such a warm sound like it was recorded in the 1970’s! Vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen is amazing. How did you find him?
BRIAN: A friend of our bass player said there’s this guy who is really good, so we sent him one of our tracks.. we sent him the backing track. and asked can you sing over it and then send it back? And he did that… he made it sound easy. There was no effort to holding long notes.
ROCKET: Yes, you can tell he is a well trained singer!
BRIAN: So you know I invited him up to the midlands for a rehearsal , and we thought he’d be great for the next tour we had lined up… a festival in Germany… which was about two months away, we started preparing for that. And then during the tour in 2014 we just offered him the job. And he accepted.
ROCKET: How many auditions did you have to do?
BRIAN: Five. You know we had discussions… and I’d play each singer while at home listening so I could hear their performances, and I thought Rasmus was great.
ROCKET: Did you record the album analog or digital?
ROCKET: How did the songwriting process work for the album? Did you all get together in a studio and write as a band ?
BRIAN: What we did, I am always writing at home. I have a little Pro Tools rig at home, since about 2007 I have been gathering material for an album or whatever project. And I put together about forty five pieces on 2 CDs, and I gave them to Rasmus. He went and picked the ones he likes, the ones he thought were the most Diamond Head-like. In January 2015, we entered a local rehearsal room and began working on them together as a band in rehearsal. The five of us knocking them into shape. So for example on a song like “Bones” I already have the verse and the bridge but it really didn’t have a chorus. It went nowhere. Our bass player Eddie came up with the riff to that chorus and I just leaped on it. I said “What are you playing there”, and so I copied what he was playing.
ROCKET: It’s been said you once collaborated with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth on an album together. But the project never released. Why did this not happen and is there ever a chance that some of those demo songs will be released?
BRIAN: We met up when I went to see Megadeth in the UK and we talked about doing an album together. We did emails and phone calls back and forth. So I started writing material for it at home. And I would send stuff over to Dave and he would say, “Yeah, I like this… I like that.” It went on for about six months or so… then the next thing I heard was that Dave had hurt his arm. He couldn’t play guitar. Do you remember? It was around 2000/2001?
ROCKET: Yes, I remember.
BRIAN: Yeah, and Megadeth pretty much stopped after that. Well he called me and said he wasn’t going to be able to do the album with me. So I had all this material and… so… I have been able to use it occasionally. On albums I have made since 2001. So it didn’t go to waste.
ROCKET: It’s well known what kind of an influence your band has had on so many metal bands, mainly METALLICA, and I know they brought you out on the stage at Sonisphere 2011 to jam on your song that they covered called “Am I Evil?” as a way to say thank you… how does that make you feel to get that kind of recognition from your peers?
BRIAN: It’s recognition, isn’t it? For the work you did. You know, these are incredibly big, successful bands and for them to kind of nod in my direction… uh.. you see Diamond Head never sold a lot of albums but we are obviously an important part of this whole rock/heavy metal style. And so to get recognized is… well, it’s wonderful really.
ROCKET: What advice do you give to someone starting out their first band with a dream to become a rock star?
BRIAN: Focus on writing good songs.
ROCKET: Thanks very much for rocking this interview out with me. It’s an honor. Best of luck with your music. Any last words for the fans?
BRIAN: Thanks, Rocket. Great chatting with you. And thanks to the fans for supporting us all these years.
ROCKET Interviews Guitarist Brian Tatler Of DIAMOND HEAD,