Diamond Head: still a band that you might not know even if they probably exist for longer than you … Brian Tatler and Rasmus Bom Andersen answer our questions about their career, the integration of Rasmus into the band as well as on their new album: The Coffin Train!

Hello, how are you? How do you feel to play here, at the Hellfest?

– Brian Tatler
Yeah, well, thank you. I’ve never played at the Hellfest before. I’ve been here a couple of hours and I haven’t had a proper chance to look around yet. We haven’t been to the stage where we will play yet. It looks like a fantastic site. I’ve never seen anything like it. We wanted to play here for a number of years and the opportunity has only just arrived. So you got to make the most of it and we’ve got a 50 minutes slot and we’ll play three new songs of the new album. I think it’s gonna be great.

You’re part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, could you tell us more about it?

– Brian Tatler
Well, it started in around 1979. I think there are lots of bands all over the UK that were trying to play Rock like the classic 70s bands. So many great bands come out in the seventies as you know. That’s still my favorite decade of music. So we were one of the bands, we were from the Midlands and we just wanted to play a similar sort of music. We’d seen these bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, … We just wanted to do something along those lines but be original. We adopted a little bit of punk rock into our style because it had been huge in the UK two years earlier and I liked it. I wasn’t aware of all these other bands around the UK. I only knew about the Midlands and when the thing happened in Science magazine, they called it a new wave of British Heavy Metal. Suddenly I was introduced to Saxon, Iron Maiden and Samson and then because everybody was getting coverage, I thought: “Wow this is a perfect opportunity for us to get a record deal and get noticed”. I just hope that’s what gonna happen.

Is there anything funny or impressive that happened to you or what is the most impressive or funny event?

– Brian Tatler
Well, I can remember certain festivals we’ve done: we did Reading, Sonisphere, Wacken and a couple of times Sweden Rock. Some of those gigs are so big and monumental that they kind of stick in your mind. I always liked that feeling of finishing an album and you get a finished product in your hands. It’s such a long journey from trying to write a song to get it in a cd in your hands. That’s a big sense of satisfaction for me to know that it’s done, that people could listen to it and I don’t have to worry about it or fiddle with it any longer. They’re lucky babies: you put a long time and care into them and hope they’re gonna go out, go around the world and people are gonna like them.

Since your self-titled album, you are working with a freelance vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen, how did you choose him?

– Brian Tatler
Just simply, a friend of a friend of a friend kind of recommended him. He lived in London, we didn’t know each other, I called him up and he came up to the Midlands and auditioned for Diamond Head. We went through some old songs. I think you can get the lyrics on the website or something like… Two songs came up and he was fantastic. Within about half an hour, I just thought: “Yep you’ll be fine”. I didn’t really think about writing with him or making new records at this point in 2014. Initially, it was just to play live: we had gigs coming up. Then, we saw if we can write songs together and in 2016, we released a self-titled album followed by the Coffin Train. So he has done two albums with us and he’s a fantastic and very talented singer. He’s also the producer on this album and he mixed it as well. So he’s an amazing talent.

You decided to make as the 7th album, a self-titled album, how did you choose that it was a good time to make this album? Is it because you think you are at your best?

– Brian Tatler
Not really. I wasn’t bothered about making another album. We’ve done two with Nick and then Nick emigrated to Brisbane in 2009. So it kind of makes it very difficult to fly backward and forwards for gigs. I thought there’s not really much point in trying to make an album if the singer lives in Australia. So after a while, we said let’s try to get a singer that lives in the UK. This is how we found Rasmus. Then, during a time when we were touring, he started suggesting that we could write songs and we should try. I thought: “OK let’s try it! If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, we’ll walk away and say “well, we tried!” But it did work and within about a week, I realized it’s gonna be really good. We’ve got plenty of good materials with some really good ideas coming from everybody. We set off on the course of let’s make an album. We worked that out how we could do it and where we could record it: the technicalities of making a record. It turned out great and we got a label called “Dissonance Productions” to release it. It’s been great, the press and the reaction was fantastic.

Regarding “The Coffin Train”, what inspired you this album and why did you choose this name?

– Brian Tatler
Yeah. The title comes from one of Ross’s dreams. He had said he had a dream where there was a train going towards him. All the carriages looked like coffins. We would just hope that’s a really strong game age and we had some titles. But we thought, of all the titles, The Coffin Train seems to have the most power and the best image because we could picture train on the cover. We started making ideas and images to do with trains and that kind of thing. It worked really well. Rasmus just joined us here. He just asked us about what inspired the coffin train. I’ve sort of explained the title and all that. So If you want to continue…

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
Yes. So it came from a dream while we were on tour and I saw this sort of a train coming with the skull, these big coffins for carriages and body parts flying out. It was sort of running away from this giant mushroom cloud and then this orange dust everywhere. This show just inspired that image and inspired the sort of the key theme for the song. We’re bringing it around our own end. It’s pretty much about what we are headed on a track of coffins if we don’t stop. Essentially that.

Diamond Head - Coffin Train

What was your approach for the creation of this album compared to the previous ones? Have you changed your way of working?

– Both
Only a little bit!

– Brian Tatler
Everything still starts with riffs. I try and come up with a guitar riff and build a demo. But what we did this time which Rasmus suggested was: I go down to riffs and try to work together on some song ideas. We would rewrite things, add to them, make new demos and riffs and then eventually we’d get to go into the rehearsal room and start trying things out with the band: adjusting pitch, tempos and things like that. Rasmus is also the producer on this album and he mixed it as well. So that’s different to the last but it sounds so much better for him.

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
I’m sure I drove you mad Brian: how long I just sort of spent on it but I think we’re happy with what it will be anyway.

– Brian Tatler
I knew you could do a good job and I knew you were trying to get it as good as possible so… I used to say it to myself. I can’t argue with that and you’re only trying to make it as good as it can possibly be. I just got to be patient. I know it’ll be great. I’m more impatient than Rasmus. I’d get a bit frustrated. whenever he said BMX, I knew it’s gonna be fantastic: it’s brilliant. A week later, he sends another mix. I trusted Rasmus and I would just let him do it.

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
We just went with it and tried to do the best thing that we could. Shortly. But I know I spent a very long time trying to get it to the best I possibly felt I could. Eventually, you always had to let it go because you can’t keep mixing and touching and tweaking… Sometimes Brian says: “Enough Ras’, it is good now !”

– Brian Tatler
I probably tried to stop Ras’ becoming crazy. I’d say: “Look, you’ll drive yourself mad! You need to stop!” We even booked the mastering to say: “It’s the day it’s gonna be mastered so you have to finish for this day.”

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
We re-recorded the whole vocals. I’m happy that I have rerecorded that because now when I listen back to the other version, I’m thinking : “That’s shit! The new is great!

– Brian Tatler
You never regretted spending that time.

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
No, no. It was one of the best choice I did on this record.

For the music video “The Coffin Train”, was it your own idea or did you receive help to design and realize it?

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
No, we approached a company that I’d found which are based in the Czech Republic. They did this animation for another artist that they worked for and I thought this is a really cool idea. I asked them to follow the lyrics and go with what was there but they sort of make a piece of art to a piece of art as they say. I think it came out really really good. It’s very powerful. They used a lot of powerful images and I think the song is only empowered by that. The people now sort of listen and read more to the lyrics and the story behind it. I know we had sort of problems with it because it’s too political but it’s not political issues controversial because it’s what’s going on. That’s the whole point of writing a song, like other things, to carry a message through. It was a company called “All4Band” in the Czech Republic and they’re online. They do great work! I’m very happy with what they did.

Your music video gives off a dark atmosphere, could you tell us more about the lyrics and the message you wish to convey through this music video and this song?

– Rasmus Bom Andersen
We touched on the subject … It’s about where the humankind is pushing themselves to. If we don’t understand that we can’t keep living the way we do, we will eventually create our own end. It’s not about “if”; it’s about “when” because the numbers speak for themselves. Unless something … Cataclysmic happens in advance to sort of balance, we will eventually end up on a train of coffins.

We arrive at the end of this interview and as always, we leave you the last words of this one.

– Brian Tatler
OK! Well, we’ve got a lot of festivals coming up. We’ve really been looking forward to play Hellfest today, we’ve got Wacken coming on and then we’ve got dates with Saxon and Black Star Riders later in the year. A lot of other festivals in the UK and in Europe. So that’s what we’re building towards hopefully to get out in the US and in Canada next year. So it’s going really well. We’ve now got professional management and we’ve got a great label for the new album. So it seems like all the stars lined up and it’s going really really well at the moment. A message: if you haven’t heard the new album, check it out! It’s out since a couple of weeks now and it’s called “The Coffin train”.


Pictures by Stephan Birlouez for www.amongtheliving.fr

 

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