DIAMOND HEAD – The Prince Returns To North America
May 24, 2017, a year ago
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) pioneers, Diamond Head, are returning to the States. In addition to its headlining shows, the band will be playing two dates with Ross the Boss, a show at the Legions Of Metal Festival in Chicago with Armored Saint and an appearance at Rocklahoma Festival.
Boasting original guitarist Brian Tatler, vocalist Rasmus Bom Anderson, guitarist Andy Abberly, bassist Dean Ashton and drummer Karl Wilcox, Diamond Head is firing on all cylinders.
In addition to these US dates, the band will return to the States in August for a few more dates, as well as an appearance at the highly anticipated Psycho Vegas 2017 Festival. Since Diamond Head hasn’t toured the States for several years, Tatler stated that the band is pretty excited to be returning to this continent again.
And you can bet the band’s setlist will be loaded with classic Diamond Head songs from its first three albums — Lightning To The Nations, Borrowed Time and Canterbury — as well as selective tracks from its dynamic 2016 self-titled album. According to Mr. Tatler, the reaction to the new songs from previous audiences have been overwhelming.
“I think the new songs go down really well,” he said. “I think they fit very well in the set and don’t feel out of place. Especially a song like ‘Shout At The Devil.’ That always seems to go over well because it’s fast and has a big chorus. The big songs — ‘Am I Evil?’ and ‘Helpless’ — people know those and I guess that’s partly why they come to see the band. It’s great for us to do new material because some of the songs are 30 years old now. So it’s very fresh for us to have a whole new album to explore.”
Although Diamond Head’s new self-titled album is more than a year old now, it’s still getting considerable amount of press.
“I’m still talking to people who have just heard it or just got a copy, and I’m getting the same feedback that they’re really enjoying it,” Tatler said. “It gives me a lot of confidence to write more and to continue and do another album. It’s been a really positive time ever since the album started getting press last year. There’s been so much positivity coming our way. It does give you a real boost and makes it all seem worthwhile, all the hard work.”
Formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England, Diamond Head was part of the NWOBHM explosion of the late ’70s/early ’80s, which also spawned Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon and others. It was the perfect time for the band to get noticed as well.
“I can remember it started and there was pretty much one main music magazine that would feature things like that,” Tatler said. “It was called Sounds, and the editor was I think Allan Lewis and one of the main writers was Geoff Barton. And between them, they came up with New Wave Of British Heavy Metal thing that linked together these bands that were separate to each other all around the country doing a similar thing.”
Although Diamond Head and hundreds of other NWOBHM bands were sharing the spotlight at the time, Tatler was unaware of bands such as Maiden and Leppard pulling ahead of the pack.
“I had no idea; we were all the same size at one point,” he said. “The difference was it was partly to what label you signed to, who was your manager and how hard you worked for it. Of course trying to keeping a lineup together was always hard. Within a year Iron Maiden and Def Leppard were pushing ahead. They were kind of the leaders and then behind them there was a trail (of bands). A lot of them just disappeared.”
One of those disappearing acts was actually Diamond Head, who couldn’t hold it together and split up in ’85. However, they experienced a resurgence years later due to a little ol’ band from the Bay Area called Metallica. Tatler was alerted that a band from the US wanted to cover their biggest song, “Am I Evil?”
“Probably Lars would have called to ask for a copy of the lyrics,” Tatler recalled. “He asked to get the lyrics and that they wanted to cover it. When they released it, they sent a copy and Sean (Harris) and I listened to it and we were flattered that Lars’ band Metallica had covered this song and did such a good job of it. It was very faithful to the original. If anything, their version was a bit faster and tougher. We were mightily impressed. In ’86 when they played around where I lived on the Master of Puppets tour, I met Cliff Burton at that gig for the first time. They asked me if I wanted to play ‘Am I Evil?’ on stage for the encore and I obviously did. That’s a lovely memory for me.”
The writing of “Am I Evil?,” which appeared on the band’s Lightning To The Nations album, took over a year to complete, as the band kept adding parts, constructing different riffs and various sections.
“Like most Diamond Head songs, that song started with one riff, which was the main verse riff,” Tatler said. “We would make a start and we’d build. We figured out how to put the fast section onto it, which might have been another song we were working on. I had the idea to put the intro on, the big march intro with the tritones. The ending as well even has its own distinct ending where it all breaks down and goes back into the original riff. That song grew from one riff into a seven minute/40 second epic. I think there was just something about that song that created magic.”
Currently, the band’s chemistry is off the hook. With the addition of Danish powerhouse vocalist Rasmus Bom Anderson in 2014, Diamond Head has transformed into an energized band.
“I think he’s perfect for the band and we’re all happy with each other,” Tatler concluded. “It’s a strong lineup and we’ll just keep going as long as we can. Things are going well at the moment. We’ve started work on the next album as well. I don’t know if we’ll be finished by the end of the year, if not, then 2018. As long as people are coming to see the band, it’s got a good future.”