MAY 18th 2017
DIAMOND HEAD EXCLUSIVE

The word ‘legendary’ is oftentimes used loosely; such is not the case with the band Diamond Head. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal act [as they have been categorized] have been influential to some our of favorite acts; Metallica and Megadeth amongst them. Metal Titans caught up with guitarist and founder Brian Tatler on May 15th, 2017 from his home in the U.K. “We fly out tomorrow. I’m currently in the process of packing,” says the guitarist as he prepared to embark on a North American tour with Diamond Head. In 2016 Diamond Head issued their 7th studio effort simply titled ‘Diamond Head’ which features new vocalist Rasmus Anderson taking over for dismissed Nick Tart.

Diamond Head has two Northwest date on this tour Portland, Oregon on August 23rd @ The Bossanova, 2017 and Seattle on August 24th, 2017 @ El Corazon.


 

 

 

 

 

MetalTitans: I didn't discover Diamond Head until 1987. The first album I picked up was ‘Behold the Beginning’ which was issued in the United States on Metal Blade Records. I worked my way backward and picked up ‘Lightning to the Nations’ and ‘Borrowed Time’ shortly thereafter.  

Brian Tatler: Ah yes, our manager sent the masters to our label in Germany and they disappeared! [laughs] There was a suggestion that we remix it and the album was issued on Metal Masters in Europe and Metal Blade Records in the U.S. as ‘Behold the Beginning.’ I suppose if you've never heard the band before that would be a good introduction.

MetalTitans: What’s your thought now on the remixed versions [‘Behold the Beginning] vs the original versions [‘Lightning to the Nations’]? Is there a preference?


Brian Tatler: I prefer the originals. I didn't hear anything wrong with them; we remixed them out of necessity. Thinking back now; I think we could have remastered them from vinyl. I think the good thing about remixing them is that you could get more out the recordings; sonically. Ultimately, I  prefer the original. I don't think the remixes do much more for the songs really. I'm sure you love the first version you heard over the other version. It's your introduction and it's what you grew to love.

MetalTitans: There are parallels between UFO and Diamond Head stateside; both acts caught the collective ear of American Metal musicians and cite Diamond Head as a direct influence. While you didn't sell millions of records you have the respect of several metal acts. That’s got to be gratifying.

Brian Tatler: It’s really flattering to be influential on any musician. I think it was something about our songs that people really liked. I think our music was ahead of its time and sounded unique.

I have to add that I love UFO and love Michael Schenker; I agree that they are a highly influential band and I thank you for including us with them. I have to say that we didn't even sell records like UFO who were a gigantic band compared to us. I think you almost have to go out of your way to find a Diamond Head record; because we didn't get any exposure in America. We were a ‘word of mouth’ kind of band.   

MetalTitans: In America the first taste of Diamond Head was second hand, as Metallica covered “Am I Evil.” They recorded it and at one point it made it onto a pressing of ‘Kill ‘Em All.’

Brian Tatler: I think it was Lars [Ulrich] that called us in ‘84 saying that the band [Metallica], planned on putting “Am I Evil” as the B-side of “Creeping Death” [in Europe]. I'm not sure if they issued that in America. It was released in Europe on a big indie label called Music for Nations. When their deal with Megaforce Records ended and they signed with Elektra Records ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was reissued with “Am I Evil” and “Blitzkrieg” as bonus tracks. That was just am added bonus for us. The biggest accolade for us when they put all the Diamond Head covers on the ‘Garage, Inc.’ album. That was amazing. I knew then that they were going to reach a lot of people! [laughs] ‘Garage, Inc.’ has sold something like 5 million copies.

MetalTitans: The royalties off the songs covered by Metallica must be incredible.

Brian Tatler: Oh, they're fantastic! Thank you boys! [laughs] Metallica helped us get over to America and reach an audience that we otherwise wouldn’t have [reached]. ‘Borrowed Time’ was released in America in ‘82 but I don’t believe that ‘Canterbury’ [‘83] was ever released in America. Like you stated earlier, it wasn’t until the mid-80s that ‘Lightning to the Nations’ [‘Behold the Beginning’] was released on Metal Blade [Records]. I feel that without Metallica we would have been a really obscure New Wave of British Heavy Metal band.

MetalTitans: In ‘93 something really cool took place where Metallica asked Megadeth and Diamond Head to support them in the U.K. I remember reading about that in Kerrang! Magazine or another import magazine. That’s all we had in those days.

Brian Tatler: In ‘93 there was a big festival called ‘National Bowl’ in Milton Keynes; it was as you stated Metallica headlining, then Megadeth, there was another band [The Almighty] then Diamond Head opened the show. We all played on the same stage; it 2011 we played a few shows opening for the ‘Big 4.’ We opened shows in the U.K. and in France--that was great!

MetalTitans: In 2017 you’re several years removed from the album ‘Borrowed Time’ what’s your take on that record now?

Brian Tatler: I really like the album, I think it has a lot of good songs on it. I’ve always been about songwriting. Some songs are better than others; overall there’s nothing on that that I’m embarrassed about or anything. I really like “Lightning to the Nations,” “Borrowed Time,” of course “Am I Evil” is on there and “In the Heat of the Night.” We have a lot of long songs on there that are 6 minute plus! [laughs]

MetalTitans: Thoughts on the ‘Canterbury’ record?

Brian Tatler: That was a ‘difficult’ album because unfortunately the band split while making that one! [laughs] Our drummer [Duncan Scott] and bass player [Colin Kimberley] quit; which left [singer] Sean Harris and I to finish the recording [of the album]. It was a very expensive record to make; it was a difficult time and not a lot of fun was had making that one.  It cost us half the band, so I have mixed memories about that record. Sonically, when you put it on now, specially on CD it sounds great. “Makin’ Music,” and “To the Devil His Due” are great songs. I’ll be honest with you because of the emotions attached to that album---I don’t listen to it very often! [laughs]

MetalTitans: On ‘Death and Progress’ [‘93] there was a track on there that was co-written by [Black Sabbath’s] Tony Iommi. How did Iommi wind up co-writing and performing on “Starcrossed [Lovers of the Night]?”

Brian Tatler: We were in the process of writing for the album; the guy who helped us get the record and publishing deal for that album, put us in touch with Tony Iommi’s management. He rang and asked “Would you like to write a song with Tony Iommi?” I said, “Yeah! That would be brilliant!” [laughs] I went to Tony’s house and we’d would put together cassettes of riffs and we sorted out the ones that we felt were the best of the lot. Then we’d take them to Sean [Harris] and he’d put lyrics to them.

When we were recording Tony offered to come into the studio and do some guitar solos. There are two solos on that one; there’s one in the middle which I played and there’s one at the end which we thought was perfect for Tony. Sure enough he liked the idea and came into the studio and did it. That was like a dream come true to me; I remember being 14 watching Black Sabbath at Birmingham, Odeon and now watching him in the studio recording a solo for a song we co-wrote together. That was very special.

MetalTitans: Also on ‘Death and Progress’ you had Dave Mustaine [Megadeth] who performed on “Truckin.’” He co-produced that track as well.

Brian Tatler: That’s right, he did. I remember we had gone out to see Megadeth when they were in the U.K. He [Mustaine] was very enthusiastic about us doing a new album. As you know he’s a big fan of the band. He said “If there’s anything you need me to do. I can can play on it or whatever you need. Just let me know.” We thought that was a brilliant offer. So we sent him a couple of tracks. We asked him to play on them, mix them, do whatever he thought he needed to do on them. We sent him the tracks to California, Sean and I liked what we heard. He finished “Truckin’” he was also sent “Paradise” but he didn’t have time to complete that one. We were grateful that he was able to finish one. We felt that would be another good point to include in our press junket; not only did we have Tony Iommi on ‘Death and Progress’ but it also features Dave Mustaine! [laughs] The Milton Keynes show that I mentioned earlier took place the same week that we released ‘Death and Progress.’ Synchronicity, that was!

MetalTitans: Do you keep in touch with Colin [Kimberley] or Duncan [Scott]?

Brian Tatler: I do. I don’t see Duncan quite a lot. He actually only lives a couple miles away. I go out with him with him occasionally, when neither one of us are busy. It’s usually sometime in the afternoon and we have a cup of tea. We have a good laugh about the old days! [laughs] I see Colin occasionally, sometimes all three of us go out for a curry--that is Duncan, Colin and myself.  We make a night of it, we have a couple of beers--it’s great! We still have our friendship; I’ve known Colin since I was 6 years old and I’ve known Duncan since I was 11 years old. I cherish their friendship.

MetalTitans: Any contact with Sean Harris these days?

Brian Tatler: Less with Sean because of what’s gone on. I had to ‘sack’ him from the band in 2003. We had started an album and I didn’t like the way things were going; we fell out due to that. I wound up losing a lot of money as a result. I just had to carry on and keep the band going. I got another singer and moved forward. I must say that since doing that; life has gotten a bit easier.

MetalTitans: I was trying to think when the last time you were in Portland, Oregon was. I wanted to say that it was in 2015 but it was the fall of 2013. Has the line-up remained intact since the last time we saw you in the Northwest?

Brian Tatler: We have a new singer; his name is Ras [Anderson] he’s on the new album titled ‘Diamond Head.’ The album came out in April of last year. I’m really happy to have found him. He’s a great singer and great songwriter as well. You were there but it was a bit of a ‘complicated thing’ when we played in Portland last time; we have a different singer so it will be better this time.

MetalTitans: Let’s do which do you prefer;  The Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

Brian Tatler: Beatles! I just love the songs. I’ve become a bit mad about The Beatles in the last few years. I’ve always loved them. My brother who’s 6 years older than I got me into guitar was in love with The Beatles. I recall he was in The Beatles fanclub and used to get the flexi discs for Christmas and stuff like that. I really appreciate their songwriting. They were so original and they broke down so many barriers. They simply paved the way for the rest of us. I listen to and watch anything related to The Beatles because there’s master craftsmanship happening there.

MetalTitans: [Led] Zeppelin or [Deep] Purple?

Brian Tatler: Zeppelin! [laughs] Zeppelin are my favorite band. They’ve been my favorite band since the 70s. Again, it’s about the songs; I think Jimmy Page has written some incredible stuff. There was a brilliant chemistry between all four guys in that band. I think that’s four of the most amazing four people to ever go into  studio and make some amazing records. I love the entire catalog from top to bottom; I think I’ve almost overdosed on Zeppelin, really! [laughs] I don’t play the records much anymore because I’ve heard them so many times. They’re in my DNA.


All things Diamond Head:

http://www.diamond-head.net/

https://twitter.com/DH_Diamond_Head

https://www.facebook.com/DiamondHeadOfficial/