MERCYFUL FATE Bassist BECKY BALDWIN - "I'm Not Like You And I Don't Want To Be Like You, So Now I'm A Satanist?”
January 29, 2023, 5 months ago
You could liken it to a lottery win, but this life-changing moment makes you richer since it involves music. I will let Becky Baldwin tell you the story of how she scored the bass gig for Mercyful Fate this past summer. After a string of North American dates, we had met back stage at the BraveWords-sponsored Monterrey Metalfest that was held in Mexico on December 6th. The bill was mind-blowing to say the least with Stryper, Behemoth, Mercyful Fate, Pantera and Judas Priest bringing their 50 years of heavy metal majesty to the hungry masses! As you’ll find out, it was actually Mercyful Fate guitar legend Hank Shermann who saw one of Becky Baldwin’s video on YouTube and the band thought, why do we necessarily need a male in this position. So while Joey Vera was busy with his (armoured) saintly duties, Baldwin was offered the position at Bloodstock this past summer which she gladly agreed to after picking herself up off the grass. At the beginning of the year she detailed a summary of 2020 in a touching FaceBook post stating it was the “best year ever.”
"Well, it was, you know, it started off good, it started off strong,” she adds. “I released an album with my band called Fury. We're kind of a traditional heavy metal band based in Birmingham. Throughout the year I was feeling a little bit frustrated about where I was in the music scene. This album I released was a self-release, and we're an independent band. We started, like, playing in Europe and doing some of the bigger festivals, but it's still frustrating, you know, not getting to where I wanted to be at this point in my life. And so, unexpectedly went to a festival, Bloodstock Festival, in August, and there I just went to see Mercyful Fate because they're a band that I've been a huge fan of since I was about 14, and it was the first time I had the opportunity to go and see them. So I was like, 'Yep. Definitely going to get a ticket,’ and so that week I picked one up and went down to the festival. When I was there, I was having a pretty rubbish day, on the day they played, on the Saturday. Again, I was talking to friends about it, about the frustrations I was having with the music industry, and where I'm at at the moment. You know, there's nothing wrong with the band that I'm in, it's just this kind of classic metal is just not very popular and a lot of labels don't really want to put stuff behind it, because it's not very trendy right now. And that's fine, I never really wanted to be trendy, but you know, you just kind of want to get those good shows in, and that sort of thing. So, yeah, throughout the day, having a bit of a weird time, but I was wandering around the festival site and someone came up to me, a friend, and said, 'Oh, could you meet this person, Livia?', and I thought, 'I don't know who that is, but sure I will meet them.’ And they said, 'Don't go anywhere, wait there.’ And I was like, 'Ok, cool.’ And then to come back a little later and they say, 'Oh, you have to come with me,’ and I'm like, 'Sure? I mean, I don't know who Livia is, but I will go to them, to meet them'. I mean, maybe they can come to me if they want to meet me, but at the time, I didn't know who this was. And then I end up realizing that I'm coming backstage on the main stage of this festival, Bloodstock Festival, and we're going round the side. So, I'm like, 'Oh. They're like someone who's working here or someone who's involved with these bands, this Livia person.’ Later I discovered that Livia is King Diamond's wife, and so she was kind of trying to orchestrate me meeting them. And so, yeah, I'm kind of starting to follow along and, I'm like, 'Oh, we're going backstage. Am I going to meet Mercyful Fate?’ This would make sense because they're the next band on this stage and people might know that I've been a fan of Mercyful fate for a long time. You know, I've posted videos covering some of their songs before, and yeah, I just love the band. So I thought maybe we're going to meet them. And I'm kind of waiting around, being told to wait different places, nobody's really telling me what is going on. And then someone comes up to me who I later got to know as the Manager of Mercyful Fate, and they said, 'Do you know why you're here?' I'm like, 'No idea. No clue.’ I mean, I'm hoping I'm meeting the band, but yeah, we'll see. And they're like, 'Oh, they want you to come on tour with them. Mercyful Fate do.’ And I'm like, 'What?' How? In what way? Am I doing merch, am I extra? You know at the King Diamond shows they have extras, people performing that aren't part of the band. And I'm like, 'Well, this is cool! Ok! Cool. But why?' And they said, 'No, we need you to play bass. They need a bass player and they want you to play bass.' I thought, no that can't be real. But then they were like, 'So yeah, if you're ready to, you can go and speak to King about it all' and they shoo me into this room, and King's there, full makeup, full like stage outfit and everything, and I was like, 'Oh my god.’ Suddenly it went from like exciting to kind of like terrifying, but still exciting. So we just had a little chat there. I was just so awkward, and I was being filmed at the same time as well, as Livia was filming, the footage may have been used to introduce me to Mercyful Fate fans, like, we found this person, here's her meeting King, and she's going to be playing on the tour. But I mean, I don't know, I haven't seen this footage, I don't know how it came out. It's probably me looking absolutely stunned, and they were probably like, 'No, this isn't a good look!’”
BraveWords: So you went from buying a concert ticket to getting the golden ticket.
BraveWords: Wow. That is surreal. So, everybody wants to meet King, but very few people get to meet King. What were your feelings when you first met? This guy is larger than life. He's more metal than metal.
Baldwin: "Yes. It was just very overwhelming and being in full makeup - you meet a lot of people and you're just trying to read their face and be like, 'Ok, what are your expressions? What are your eyes saying? Are you happy? Angry? Sad?' You're trying to figure out what they're expressing. But the makeup kind of covers a lot of this. So it was a bit intimidating. I definitely found it intimidating. But he was so friendly, and I was also stunned into silence. I didn't want to say anything uncool, so I was very quiet during this time, and he was just happy to carry the conversation. He had a lot to talk about, he was talking about the tour that they'd been on over the last few months, and yeah, he was really cool. Like, a really nice guy. So when I was there at the festival, I spoke briefly to King, and a little bit after the show to Hank, the guitarist Hank Shermann, and he was like, 'Oh yeah, it was me who suggested you to the band because I watched some of your videos you posted on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, whatever, and when we started thinking of bass players and we went through our initial list that Management had provided', and none of them was like setting them on fire. They were all good enough, they said, but they said they didn't get like a strong feeling about any of them. Except for one of the bass players, and I don't know if I'm allowed to say who it is, though, but it was like a big, main person who they asked first, but he was too busy and he couldn't do it. When I heard that it was really cool, because it was a really big bass player. Anyway, I was the second coolest. Yeah, they said after they looked at this list, maybe, these are all men on this list. Why can't we have a woman playing bass in Mercyful Fate? There's no reason why not. And then when King mentioned this, Hank was like, 'Actually, I know the perfect person. I've been following', or, 'I've seen videos of this girl from Birmingham, and she plays these covers of Mercyful Fate, and metal, and great stuff, and I think she'd be great for it'. And then someone brought up that, oh, it sounds like she's going to Bloodstock this week. Why don't we speak to her there? So the decision was made really quickly. And you know, they had a few days looking around at my content on YouTube and that sort of thing, and then decided to make the offer at the festival, because at the festival would be a cool surprise for me."
BraveWords: If you're a fan of Mercyful Fate, obviously you know those early records were monumental. They really did change the face of extreme music. And it wasn't just King's voice, it was the dual guitar work as well. It just took heavy metal to another level.
Baldwin: "Yeah, absolutely. Learning the songs, going back through the catalogue and really studying what's going on musically really just made me appreciate them so much more. Because although I've listened to them, and I knew the songs, I never played through them and really appreciated how - they're a lot more proggy than I thought they would be. They're kind of like if Judas Priest were heavier and then more prog. Because when you're learning the songs, you're like, 'Ok, cool, we've got this verse, we've got this chorus, great, when's the verse coming back? Oh! Wait, there's no verse.’ So we're going to go into this long tangent of loads of different solos and new ideas being brought in all the time. I think people are really, because of the imagery and how prog rock and prog metal is very different musically, it just sounds like very different stuff, isn't it? They don't expect Mercyful Fate to also be kind of proggy, in the way that they put songs together. Definitely they're experimenting with all different things. I've just been transcribing one of their songs, ‘Come To The Sabbath’, just writing out all the bass lines, and you know, they change key signatures like four times or something at least. They change tempo all the time. I'm trying to name sections and I'm like 'I don't even know what you would call this anymore. It's just gone on such a different tangent'. And that's probably one of their most standard verse-chorus kind of songs, whereas Satan's Whore, which is like thirteen minutes long, has a lot more going on there. They're a very unique and interesting band. Thinking of them in context of history, like where they were starting, and all the kind of different music, all the bands that they influenced, it's really incredible that just this band, random band from Denmark created so much variety in the music they came after, like heavier, more satanic bands, end they're influencing Metallica, and possibly even like the prog rock, prog metal stuff that came later on."
BraveWords: Mercyful Fate are truly hitting the iron while it’s hot. They’ve always been revered, but now fans are coming out in droves to witness the horrific spectacle. We are very happy for King and the band. They're not playing tiny little clubs, they're playing to thousands of people. Finally justice!
Baldwin: "Yeah, absolutely. I think some of my friends that are into metal, they know Mercyful Fate but they're not like super into them, like one of the big ones that you first get into when you first discover metal. You kind of work your way back to Mercyful Fate eventually. Now it feels like, with them coming back so strong on this tour, headlining so many great metal festivals in Europe, and doing those shows in Mexico and America, it feels like if they wanted to continue, they could really step things up and get a lot of people watching."
BraveWords: So, tell me about your first jam session and how did it feel, and what did you jam?
Baldwin: "Well, so I ended up arriving in Dallas, which is where the first gig was, where we were doing the rehearsals. I ended up arriving two days late because I had problems with my passport coming back to me in time. So it was the Wednesday and I was meant to be flying and I didn't have my passport. So I was cutting it fine with the rehearsals. I was losing days of rehearsal.I was getting a bit worried that it wouldn't arrive in time to even do the first gig or do any of the tour. I was starting to think, 'Oh no, they're going to have to find someone else to do this tour.’ But eventually I made it there, a few days before the first show. The first full day we had we went into the venue, set up in a little room, and it was just me, Hank, Mike (Denner), and Bjarne (Holm), no King at the moment, and we just were like, 'Let's start with the first song.’ And so we had the set list and we ran through all the way, and yeah not really any stops or anything. It was like, 'Yeah, that song sounded good. Next one. That song sounded good, next one,’ until we were done. And then they were like, 'Ok. That sounded fine. Good. Should we finish now?', and I'm like 'What?! We're only going to do one run through of the songs?,’ and they were like, 'Yeah. Well, like, you know, we've played it all summer, and actually we've been playing these songs since the ‘80s'. For Hank especially, he was like, 'I don't want to play it again, I know these songs.’ And, I'm like.'Yeah. Ok. Well maybe let's have a break and then come back to it.’ So, we did do it a couple more times, but they were a bit like, 'Oh no. We've got this, you'll be fine, don't worry.’ I just really wanted to make sure everything was right for the performance and you know, playing with a drummer for the first time in particular, you really want to make sure you have the time, so you get locked in. But luckily I had been preparing for quite a while at home, and I'd been watching live shows, rather than the recordings I'd been playing through with the live shows, so I could hear every little change and there could be, every cue that's different. So after that day that was, they were all quite satisfied and then we did some sound checking and that was the first time playing with King, was during the sound check. We did maybe three of the songs, so we didn't do very much rehearsing, only, like, a couple of songs as a full band and one or twice as a four-piece. But the thing is, the vocals cue a lot of changes that are going on. When you're like, 'Ok, I know I have to play this riff like thirteen times,’ and then you're like, 'Hang on! How many times have I done it?’. And you're waiting for the vocals to bring you back. But, you know, we managed to keep everything together. And then it made it even easier when King was added to the mix because we can rely on him to do the right thing, you know? They're his songs and he's been doing it for a really long time as well. So, actually the first gig went pretty well."
BraveWords: Now, it's one thing to learn the songs and know the songs, but what did you think you were going to do on stage. And maybe more importantly (laughs), what am I going to wear on stage?!
Baldwin: “On what to wear, I actually had a conversation with King Diamond only a few days after he offered me the job. He said that I could go anywhere I want on the stage, but just don’t stand in front of me when I’m singing a particular line, or something. And that’s something I wouldn’t do anyway, blocking the view of the singer from the audience (laughs). He just said that and he said, 'You style is very cool and very metal and I notice that you tend to wear all different things, skirts and shorts, lots of different things. We’d prefer if you wore all black, maybe something like trousers or something, leather trousers or something.’ And I thought to myself, I’ve been waiting to treat myself with a really nice pair of custom leather pants. So I was like, 'This is perfect.’ Going back to the Bloodstock thing, when I was there where they asked me, the girl who came to find me and said, 'Livia wants to speak to you,’ that was my friend Sophie (Turnbull) from Painkiller Clothing. She's the one who came to find me, and I was like, 'You were there when this all happened and you stood there next to me beside the stage when we were watching the band. Please make me a custom, fake leather stage trousers for the tour’ and she said 'Hell yes, let's do that!’ He was very open; ‘Ok, just wear some black trousers, as metal as you like, but not too bright and over the top. Just keep it black.’ And then for stage, he just said I could go wherever I’d like, really. The first show I was more concerned about getting in someone's way, I didn't know where they were going to go, so I just kind of kept an eye out and I didn’t move around too much. But, as it went on, we kind of spoke more with Hank and Mike, and Hank was like, 'Ok, during this song you go to that side and I'll go to this side of the stage, we'll come over there, both climb the stairs at the same time and rock out at the top’ and stuff like this. We tried to figure out what we could do to make it visually more interesting. And I started to figure out where I could go without being in somebody’s way. It would be really embarrassing to knock into somebody and send somebody flying across the stage (laughs).”
BraveWords: And people really love you. You are a perfect fit. And it's really evil. Are you comfortable with that dark staging element with the upside-down cross. It’s a real life horror show!
Baldwin: "Yeah. It's really cool. It's great that people have welcomed me so much. I was a bit concerned that people wouldn't, you know? It's something a bit different having a woman involved, and also someone quite a bit younger than the rest of them, like 'You weren't there when the band came out, so how would you know what it's like to be a true Mercyful Fate fan who's been there since the ‘80s?' So, I was kind of expecting a bit of a backlash, like a bit of 'Who does she think she is? Playing with these legends when she's just some unknown person from Birmingham.’ But yeah, I was really welcomed into the Mercyful Fate family and stuff and it was really lovely to see. I love the stage set, I think it's really cool. I was trying to do a lot of extra research before doing this whole like, like all the background about King and the band and know, like, the Satanic Church and stuff like this. I've been finding it all really fascinating and there's so much to take in about the band. I can't possibly watch enough interviews to really get a grasp of what's going on."
BraveWords: So where do you stand with all of the Satanic elements around that? Is that part of your schtick?
Baldwin: "I mean, it's something I haven't really been thinking about for a long time. When I was a teenager I was really into like, Satanic stuff, and like pentagrams everywhere. But that was because I went to a very Christian, Catholic school. So, the kind of Christian, religious thing was kind of forced on me, and so it was kind of a rebellion, like, 'I don't like these teachers, they're picking on me for being as I am, like, into metal'. And they're saying, 'It's all satanic music', and I should stop, and I was like, 'Well, if it's Satanic music and I like it, maybe I'm satanic.’ I didn't really lean hard into it, but mostly because I didn't really like my teachers and I didn't like the way religion was pushed on me. More recently, since leaving school and stuff, I haven't felt like religion has been as forced upon me, so I haven't really felt as much like I want to push back upon it. I feel like a lot of Satanism is that - 'We don't need this religion forced down our neck, so we're creating our own thing which is against that.’ So, I completely understand it, but it wasn't something that I hadn't really engaged with for quite a few years, until researching everything about Mercyful Fate."
BraveWords: Cronos told me a really funny story about the early Venom years. He said, all they wanted to do was give the finger to the church.
Baldwin: "(Laughs) Yeah. I think, I don't know, when you're getting so frustrated with how you're expected to live and believe, and everything about your life seems so set out in the Christian way, so that if you are a bit different and you're starting to be shunned, you're definitely going to lean more and more into being like, 'Yeah, fuck you!' I'm not like you and I don't want to be like you, so now I'm a Satanist?”
BraveWords: What does your family think about your new gig?
Baldwin: "I think at first when I was trying to explain to them, they just didn't really understand. Like, they had no concept of how big the band are. At first they were like, 'Oh, that's nice. Very good, very good, I'm glad this is happening' and then I think I didn't speak to them for a few weeks, and the next time I saw them, I think they'd done some research, and they were like, 'Oh my god.’
Baldwin: "Yeah, They don't really know much about the metal scene, but when they started to read more about it, they were like, 'Oh, so they've been around since the ‘80s, like they're as old as we are.’ Then they were like, 'Why are you doing this? It doesn't make any sense.’ They just didn't really know how to take it. They didn't know how big a deal it was at first. Eventually they started to come around when I explained 'This is a picture of the tour bus we're going to be on' and 'I'm flying here' and ‘I’m flying there,’ because my mom was saying 'What are you going to do about your lessons? How are you going to be able to afford to live? You can't teach while you're on tour' and I'm like, 'Mom, they will pay me. It's not like the kind of touring that I'm used to, where you're just haemorrhaging money all the time. You get paid to do tours when you're playing to like two thousand to five thousand people. There is some money in it.'"
BraveWords: Pantera played after you at the Monterrey Metalfest. What is your opinion on the reunion?
Baldwin: "The Pantera reunion, I do find it a bit, there are certain parts of it I'm uncomfortable with, you know what I mean? But, watching the fans react how they did, it was just really cool. Everyone was excited to hear those songs live again. I feel that maybe they should have named it something else? Like named it as a, like, named it as Cowboys from Hell, but something that wasn't Pantera. It does kind of make sense to call it Pantera, but I think the main reason behind that was to make as much money as possible, which a lot of people would do, I guess I can't blame them. It was just great to see people able to enjoy those songs again, live, with as much of Pantera as they could possibly get."
BraveWords: Well, I understand the debate, but when you've got the family giving their blessing, and I was just so overwhelmed by how good they were. I've seen Pantera in their heyday, and wow, it was just unbelievable. And when I looked at that audience, I would say 80 percent of the kids there weren't even born when Pantera was around in the early ‘90s.
Baldwin: "Well, yeah, if there's people there to listen and they want to come out to shows - anything that brings metalheads out to have a good time is good by me."
BraveWords: So talk to me about bass, and why you picked up the bass, and what is a bass riff that you wish you wrote?
Baldwin: "Oh, so I started playing, I got my first bass on my 13th birthday. I just discovered rock music and Metallica and all this stuff, and I didn't really know the difference between basses and guitars, exactly, but the more I looked into it, I was like, 'That's the different, and this person is a bass player and that person is a guitarist', and I started to think the bass players are really cool, kind of calm, understated, cool people in the band. I kind of like that, and my favourite bass players were Cliff Burton, Steve Harris, John Entwhistle, players like that. They kind of influenced me when I was growing up, in metal and rock."
BraveWords: And you are living now in the home of heavy metal. So we're talking Sabbath, Priest, Zeppelin, Napalm Death. Talk to me about living in the home of heavy metal. There's a lot of heritage there.
Baldwin: "Yeah, yeah, I moved here about two years ago, so I'm not a native of Birmingham, but I heard the call and I was like, 'This is where I need to be'. It's such a great city. I moved from Bristol, where I was living before. It's a lovely place and there's still lots of great venues around. There's metalheads everywhere, I just like, I don't know if it is just me, or, like, back in Bristol you'd see a metalhead and you'd be like, "Whoa! There's one metalhead. Wow'. But where I live, I live quite far out from the city centre, and I'm seeing people walk their dogs and I'm like, 'Oh my god, Metallica Kill 'Em All hoodie, no way!' and I'm like, should I shout out the window, 'Hey! Be my friend!' or should I just be cool? Then you go to the local gym and there's someone in a Slipknot t-shirt and they're like, 'Hey, I like your Type O Negative t-shirt' or 'I like your Slayer t-shirt' or whatever. You just see them out and about, doing their day to day normal things. They're just normal people, but they're metalheads. Normally you have to go to a dedicated rock bar to find these people. But yes, Birmingham is great. Unfortunately I haven't been to see the Black Sabbath bridge yet, but you know what it's like, you don't do touristy things when you live somewhere. So I always say, 'Ok, yeah, in a few months I'll go see the Black Sabbath bridge.’”
BraveWords: Talk to me about Fury, your band.
Baldwin: "Fury are a traditional metal band, more in the vein of Iron Maiden and Metallica. I joined them around the start of 2018, and we put out an album in April 2020, which was interesting for us. We put out the album The Grand Prize, then full lockdown in the UK, didn't really do many gigs until 2021, in the autumn. But during the lockdown, we wrote another album, because we were like, 'Well, that album's done.’ We did what we could. When the 2020 album came out we started doing live streams for Facebook and stuff like this, to try and engage some kind of audience. And it worked in some ways because usually we just tour the UK, but this way we got to reach audiences all over the world. So there were people in America tuning in, and Japan, and Australia, or wherever, then we started getting orders of our CD to all these different, new places. So that was one good thing that came out of it. We had to adapt to doing things online and that opened us out to a bigger audience, and different audience. But we were thinking it would be really nice to tour, though, so what are we going to do when things open up in a few years? Like, let's be ready with another album. So we wrote the album Born To Sin, and we released that in March 2022."
BraveWords: It's very empowering to women to see somebody like you on stage. How do you view that?
Baldwin: "I think that's cool. I think it's necessary for women to continue feeling included in the metal scene, because I think it is sometimes an uphill struggle, and there are times when I've spoken to friends and I'm feeling a bit rubbish because someone had made some comment, and I'm like, 'Oh god, they don't want me here because I'm a woman, and it sucks'. And like, why do they treat me differently? Because I'm a woman. That's rubbish. And then my friends will say, 'Well, you will walk so that others will run. The women who came before you in the ‘80s and stuff, they had an even harder time than you. But they paved the way. They made it a little bit easier for you.’ There's more women now than there have been before, and the media is starting to pick up on that. They're starting to kind of feature more women, in magazines and stuff. And then hopefully keep this up, keep being bad ass and in another ten to twenty years there will be even more women, and people won't be able to ignore us and treat us like rubbish anymore. Because we'll be a bit more equal, there will be more of us, and then we can gang up on them and pick on them instead."
BraveWords: "You will walk so they can run" - that's a beauty quote. Is that yours?
Baldwin: "When my friend said that, I was like, ‘My eyes are going to cry. Don't give me all this inspirational stuff because it will go to my head.’”
BraveWords: What are some of your female heroes, over time?
Baldwin: "I would say Fernanda Lira from Crypta, and ex-Nervosa, she's awesome. And if I'm thinking back, I really love The Great Kat, I think she's really cool. She's very different, but I think she's so ahead of her time. I don't think the world was ready for her in the 80s. If you think of her larger than life personality, the way she dressed, the way she was just so like, over the top, you'd expect that from Blackie Lawless or Tommy Lee or something, but people couldn't get their head around it. They couldn't wrap their head around that a woman would be doing this. Dressing sexual by her own choice, and being very in your face about so much, and shredding completely nonsense shred, which lots of guys do as well, but because it's a woman, it's like, 'Oh, it's all nonsense'. And then she'd like bring this like, classical element into her playing, and then people were just like, 'Nah man, I'm not ready for this!'. It's a shame that she isn't as big as I think she could have been, because I think she was a real rock star. And I think even now, if The Great Kat was at her peak now, people still wouldn't be ready for her. She's an alien from the future, I think."
BraveWords: And you're also a teacher. Talk to me about the Bristol Rock Centre. You seem to be giving a lot back to the community.
Baldwin: "I founded the Bristol Rock Centre when, just when I finished music university with some other ex-students and graduates from down there in Bristol. Our aim was not to just teach lessons in bass guitar and vocals, drums, but to start to get the kids playing together. So we were doing workshops and we had a rehearsal room, and we were trying to get the kids playing there and performing at local shows. So, yeah, it was trying to make - we were just skint students, really. We were then ex-students, but we were still skint because we're musicians. So we were trying to find a way to keep the teaching, start teaching kids and make it a bit more interesting and incentivize them to start playing together. Because so many kids these days are glued to their video games and they don't interact with people, in-person very much, and it's really sad. Because there's something so special about getting in a room and making music together, and trying to get those few kids who are still somewhat interested in doing that, forcing them to play together until they're ready to do a gig, and hopefully they catch the bug for it, and come out of their video game shells."
BraveWords: Can you recall a time in your life that somebody gave you that kind of lift up?
Baldwin: "Yeah. Yeah, so many times. I think - there's this quote, 'Self-made is a toxic myth.’ I follow a lot of people who talk about this kind of thing. The concept that nobody is really self-made, even though some people work much harder than others and get to different places. It's all about the community that you build and the people who do things for you. So, this opportunity with Mercyful Fate, I was given this opportunity. I did work for it, but I was given to it by someone else. And one of my first breaks in teaching, I worked for this exam board called Rock School, that do music exams when one of their guys gave me my first job doing that, or proofreading for that. Or any gig that I've ever been asked to debt for, I always think, 'Thank you so much. You've put so much faith into me because as a debt, somebody's who's filling in for someone, something could easily go wrong on a performance, and you will look stupid as the band leader for hiring me, so thank you so much for your trust.’ Throughout my career there have been so many times like that, and I feel really grateful for all of them. But yeah, the best one so far has been Mercyful Fate."
BraveWords: Let's address the elephant in the room - what is the future with you and Mercyful Fate?
Baldwin: "I can't really tell you, like, there is no set thing that's going to happen. Mercyful Fate have a bass player in Joey Vera, and I think they really want to stay with him because he's an amazing bass player. And he was approved by Timi (Hansen) before Timi passed away, so there's no changes happening on that front. So I think fans can be assured that there's not going to be any drastic lineup changes or anything like that. But, I think any time that Joey is busy again, maybe with Armored Saint or one of his other - I think he's got like four bands on the go - I'm hoping and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be their first call. So, you may see me show up with Mercyful Fate. And actually, King did say, if I need a depth bass player for King Diamond, I'll give you a call, and I'm like, 'Yeah, that would be great!'"
BraveWords: Did you get the vibe from the band that there was a real hunger and that they just want to keep rocking this around the world?
Baldwin: "I think so. When I was speaking to them about what's going on in the future, they were like, 'I don't really know, we don't really have any more gigs booked after this'. I feel that because this is my last time playing with you guys, but I didn't realize that you haven't got any plans for any more shows for the next year or so. Because they're doing an album cycle now, so they're going to be working on either King doing his album or Mercyful Fate doing theirs. They have to time this all very cleverly. So it's going to be a little while before they're playing together again. They did sound a bit sad about it, and I was very sad. I was like, 'Come and play the UK again, I want to come and see!' I haven't watched the show from the audience yet. When I saw them at the show at Bloodstock, it was side-stage. I was enjoying myself, singing along, but it's different when you've got hundreds and thousands of people around you, all enjoying the experience together, and going crazy, and seeing the full stage setup which is all very beautiful and symmetrical and great. You know, it wasn't quite like that from the side stage, because on the stage you don't quite get the full effect. So I really hope they come and tour soon and I'll see them in the UK."
BraveWords: Was there any talk of maybe you contributing to any new material?
Baldwin: "There wasn't actually. But we shall see. I wasn't really asked about any, like, recording stuff, but I did say, 'Let me know if there's ANYTHING you need me to do, I will come and do it.’ So, who knows?
(Photo credits top to bottom: Livia Zita, Carlos Cortez, Casey Steinmiller, Pit Perspectives, @the__rockstar, Oscar Sañudo Corona, Juan Gutierres)