» Brian/Rasmus - Diamond Head
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Interview conducted November 1 2019
Interview published December 18 2019

"Who wouldn't trade places with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards?"

Metal Covenant talked with guitarist and original member Brian Tatler and vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen of the legendary metallers Diamond Head when the band was in Stockholm, Sweden as special guest to hard rockers Black Star Riders.

Tobbe: Being out on tour with Black Star Riders, isn't that kind of an odd combination, in terms of style of music?

Brian: I mean, Diamond Head has quite a wide style anyway over the years, with albums like Canterbury [1983] and Death And Progress [1993]. We haven't always been full-on. If the only thing we did was Am I Evil?, fair enough. But it's quite a wide style over the catalogue, so we just tailor our set a little bit.

We're not doing Belly Of The Beast on this tour. We figured that that's probably a little bit too in-you-face, isn't it? At our own shows that's fine. You know, we've been out with Metallica, we've been out with Europe, we've been out with Thin Lizzy, and I supported Slade, and Rory Gallagher, so I think Diamond Head has got quite a bit of a musical thing. It's not just all about screaming and shouting and headbanging.

Tobbe: Has touring always been attractive to you, or is that just something that comes with the job of being an artist?

Brian: Yeah, I like it. I still like touring. I wouldn't do it otherwise; if I hated it. There's some bands that probably had enough of being on the road. It's quite hard to get to a certain level and then have to come down, which is one of the things I've had to do. I must love it to be doing it this long; 40 odd years. You couldn't do it if you hated it, so.

I like it. It's a necessary part to promote the album. So you realize "Okay. If you're gonna do a new album, you've gotta go out and promote it.". Just comes with the territory. You got to do that work. It generates press and it generates excitement.

Tobbe: Your latest record The Coffin Train [Out May 24th, 2019] was given good reviews in general, but since then it has been a little bit quiet around Diamond Head and is that a situation you have to deal with before you go out on tour, really?

Rasmus: I think it was more of a strategy, 'cause we're with Silver Lining and Siren Management and they sort of had a plan and we're just following what they think is the right way to proceed. So that's sort of maybe why it has been a little bit quiet, I guess. (Brian:) We've been waiting for this to start. We've done festivals. We've done Wacken, we've done Hellfest and we've done some in the UK and then it just seems to be a little bit of layoff before this. Well, it's okay. We didn't mind too much. It's very difficult to fill all the gaps.

Tobbe: Things are so different today for musicians and in what way has the digital age affected your view on music as a whole?

Brian: It's a bit strange at first, to know that people could download your album free, and listen to it at Spotify, whereas years ago you would make the commitment, or you'd be a fan, and you'd buy the album. And now you don't have to do that, do you? You can just have a quick listen and copy it. (Rasmus:) The digital age has changed the way the value of music is perceived. It's like "Why should you go and spend 10 quid, or 10 pounds, on the album when you can just listen to it for free?".

But you forget what you are supplying. You're not just buying the music; you're buying into the band. And I think people forget that, because it's just easy, and people tend to just go for whatever is easy. They forget that there is a weight to do the hard stuff and do the hard thing, but when buying an album you're actually supporting the band way more. And if people want more music from the bands they like, they should maybe consider putting their weight into it.

(Brian:) Maybe some people think that way. A lot of people think record companies are just like fat cats, so they think it doesn't matter. (Rasmus:) But it's also that thing of having a physical hard copy. I think we're very lucky because we're in a style of music where the fans are extremely loyal. (Brian:) Young kids are not interested in hard copies, are they?

(Rasmus:) Well, I mean, we say that, but we have seen, like, young kids go like "I want this vinyl." and "You don't have a vinyl player.". They want it, because it's big. (Brian:) On the whole, they're not interested.

Tobbe: I just got Spotify myself, and I've tried it, and I must admit that it's very cool, because it's so easy.

Rasmus: It works, but again, it's the whole thing. I will admit I also use Spotify, but I use it in a way that if I know the band that I like, I will listen to it, and then immediately, if I like it… Well, it should not even be the case. If it's a band I know I like I would just buy their album because I wanna support them.

So, recently Jinjer released an album called Macro and I bought it the day after. I bought it so I actually had it on a digital version and then I listened to it again on Spotify while I was downloading. And I loved it, and I'm gonna buy the physical copy as well, because I think it's great. So I think it's fine if you like Spotify because it's easy, but maybe just go and spend the money on the record as well, because it would take you, like, a lifetime of streaming that album to gain the same value for the artist.

And I think that's what people don't understand. They don't understand the math behind it. I would have no problem with streaming services and all that, if they actually pay the artist what would be fair.

Tobbe: To have a history like Diamond Head has, if you must choose one, is that a blessing or a curse?

Brian: A blessing. It's great. It's a great band. I've managed to come up with some good songs. And of course Metallica have helped by covering us and playing those songs all over the world, and, you know, provided income for me. So I think it's great. I mean, a lot of bands had liked to be in our position. Just 'cause we're not the biggest band in the world… Not many get there. It's very rare. And influential. There's not that many influential rock bands, are there?

Tobbe: 7 years until 50 years of Diamond Head. How about that?

Brian: 7 years 'til 50… I don't have any thoughts about that. Next year is the 40th anniversary of the Lightning To The Nations album, so we're planning to do some gigs, and play the whole album, and, you know, try to make a bit more of a deal of it. But I'm not thinking about the 50th anniversary, whether Diamond Head will still be going. You know, I'll be 60 next year.

Tobbe: Well, you would only be 66 by then.

Brian: Exactly. People say "Rolling Stones is still going.". Who wouldn't trade places with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards? (Rasmus:) Yes, they have several people making tea, and massages, and food. If you can give me that, I'll go until I'm 72, or more.

Tobbe: People usually say that nothing lasts forever, so how do you envision, like, the final chapters of the band?

Brian: Who knows? We're just going while we can, while it's good. It's great to have Ras onboard. We've done two albums with Ras. They're both great; well-received. We've got all these dates with Black Star Riders, we've got 5 dates with Saxon probably, we've got 3 with Uriah Heep, we've got festivals for next year. So it's all going very well and we're just gonna roll with the flow. You know, keep the flow going. (Rasmus:) If things are good, if things are right, if everyone is happy; why stop it?

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