Are DIAMOND HEAD Too “Evil” To Open Up For METALLICA?!
October 3, 2014, 7 years ago
Despite not having issued a new studio set in nearly ten years (2007's What's in Your Head), NWOBHM vets Diamond Head continue to rock on with live work, as evidenced by an upcoming October/November tour of the UK (as well as one-off dates in France and Norway).
Best known as a band that Metallica certainly enjoys covering (“Am I Evil?”, “Helpless” and “The Prince” are just some tunes that Hetfield and co. have recorded over the years), Diamond Head is led by original guitarist Brian Tatler, and will be utilizing the set of live dates as a tryout of sorts for new singer Rasmus Bom Andersen, who is filling in for Nick Tart.
On the 34th birthday of the influential Lightning To The Nations (released October 3rd, 1980), Tatler chatted with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about the upcoming shows, what lies ahead for the band, and what if a certain band offered Diamond Head an opening slot for a tour?
BraveWords: What can fans expect from the upcoming UK tour? Will any new material be played?
Brian Tatler: "There won't be any new songs. But there will be some songs that we haven't played for a while. We've been able to rework the set a little bit, because we haven't played that much - we only did one gig this year. So while we were quiet, I always try and change the set and come up with new ways to refresh the set that we've got, and we think of songs that we haven't done before. There's at least one song in the set that we've never played live, and there's a couple we probably haven't played live very often. It's nice to change the set around a little bit. It's going to be good - we're looking forward to it."
BraveWords: From what I understand, Nick Tart will not be singing on this upcoming tour, right?
Brian Tatler: "That's right. For a long time, we've tried to keep Nick working in the band - he emigrated to Brisbane in 2008, so whenever we got offers of live work, we would fly him backwards and forwards, which of course, was very expensive, and has been getting more and more expensive. It just causes a lot of extra stress, sorting out work visas and just commitments. In the end, we thought it would be more logical…we had a meeting earlier in the year, and we just thought, 'It would be more logical if we could start looking for another singer.' So we did that, and in the meantime, Nick has been busy over there doing his own thing. He's got some dates, he's got another band together, and is working with a producer, trying to write songs for pop stuff, which will hopefully get released and sell. I totally understand. But it has been a bit of a nightmare - if you get offered one gig at a festival or something, you either say 'No, we can't do it' because the fee would get wouldn't cover the flights, or you'd have to build a tour around it. All that seems to land on the our drummer's shoulders, Karl Wilcox. So we just thought, 'We don't need this stress any longer. Let's try and find a way around this problem.' Hopefully, everything will work out and everything will be hunky dory."
BraveWords: So is Nick still a member of Diamond Head?
Brian Tatler: "No, he's still in the band. I spoke to him earlier, and we just said, 'We'll do all these dates with this new singer we've got and just see how it works out for next year,' and I'll speak to Nick once the tour is over and let him know exactly how it went, and decide what we want to do in 2015."
BraveWords: Who is the singer who will be fronting Diamond Head on these upcoming dates, and what is his musical background?
Brian Tatler: "I don't know much about his background, because we've only don’t one gig so far, and he's been up for a couple of rehearsals. It's not like he was in a name band that you could go and research or anything, or listen to albums by. He's 30, and his name is Rasmus Bom Andersen. We met him through the bass player, who plays in another band with another singer, who is also a vocal coach, and she used to give vocal lessons to this guy. He's from Denmark, but lives in London. She recommended Rasmus for Diamond Head. She said, 'Listen to this guy.' So we did, and sent him a Diamond Head backing track, and he sang on it and sent it back. I thought it was really good. So we started speaking on the phone. He did that first gig in Germany, that was a tryout - we did Headbangers Open Air in Hamburg in July - and it went really well. People in the audience said he was very good and he was a good frontman as well - he was good with the crowd. Which of course, I wasn't necessarily sure how that would go - I thought it would be nice to get some feedback. Because when you're in band, you're concentrating on what you're doing, and you just kind of hope your singer is going to do what he does. Everybody said he was great, and I watched a little video. Yeah, he was good. If anything, he looks a bit like our old singer, which is obviously not intentional, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people didn't think it was still Nick and didn't realize it was a different singer!" [Laughs]
BraveWords: What are Diamond Head's future plans beyond this tour?
Brian Tatler: "Well, we've done three American tours in the past three years, so we're not sure what we're going to do next year. There's been talk of Canada and there's been talk of South America, but nothing's concrete. At the moment, we've got this European tour coming up and that's where we're focusing. We'll just see what comes in. Usually, something comes in towards the end of the year, and we'll take it from there. But new material, it's been extremely difficult to write new material, having a singer that lives 13,000 miles away. Usually, when Nick comes over, he'll come over exclusively for gigs, and we'll just go to rehearsal, and do a couple of rehearsals and off we go. So there's not really been a lot of time to write, and he's not one of these technical guys, who can send Protools files backwards and forwards, and neither am I, really. So we couldn't even write that way. That got put on the backburner, and who knows what's around the corner? We might get into it. I've always got material - musical ideas. I tape riffs. When I come up with a riff, I have to tape it. Obviously, you build up a backlog of riffs. That's easy enough to do. But turning them into songs and then getting the whole band in the same room at the same time to rehearse and record, it has been very difficult these past six years."
BraveWords: Something I've always hoped is that Metallica would invite Diamond Head to open for a full tour. Would you be up for that?
Brian Tatler: "Of course! Who wouldn't? We have supported Metallica a couple of times, but they were just sort 'one-offs' at festivals. If they offered us a tour, we'd jump at it. But what I think happens is Metallica use new bands to open for them - fresh bands, like Slipknot, Mastodon, Lamb of God, things like that. And I think the logic behind it is that in order to keep the audience young and fresh and introducing new Metallica fans around the world…say if they went out with Saxon, for example, then you'd be playing to 40 or 50-year-old guys, wouldn't you? Or Motörhead, even. And we'd have a lovely time, but I think one of the reasons Metallica have stayed so fresh and keep getting young kids into them, other than just having a core audience that ages gently with them, is that whenever they go out, they play to the latest sort of hot shit band. And I think it's the right thing to do from their perspective. That's one of the reasons they've been able to sustain a very young crowd, because I think you go to see Metallica, and you think, 'Oh, brilliant - Mastodon are opening,' for example. You enjoy Mastodon, and then Metallica would come on, and 'show you how it's really done.' [Laughs] And then you think, 'Fuck, Metallica are incredible.' So if they were doing lots of packages, where they'd go out with say, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, I'm sure they'd love to, but they could end being a nostalgia act, rather than the latest cutting edge metal, which they're hanging onto brilliantly."