With the release of Diamond Head’s new album just around the corner, here is an interview with guitarist Brian Tatler for you to enjoy. My thanks to Brian for his time.
Q1: Good to hear about the impending release of the new album. The press release hints and it being similar in style to the early days. Was that a deliberate intention?
BT: It’s very difficult to be in the same frame of mind that I was in between 1976 and 1983 but we all agreed that it was a golden time of writing for Diamond Head. I write in a certain way and I like certain chords and riffs. We all agreed “it should sound like a Diamond Head” and whittled my ideas down from around 45 to 14 in the rehearsal room. It was a conscious decision to write and arrange in the rehearsal room and make it sound good with the four instruments, not relying on demos or producers or any recording techniques.
Q2: The press release also tells how the writing was done with new vocalist Ras and the band in the same room just like the “old days”. That does sound like a positive move rather than ‘phoning it in or recording individual parts separately. Would you say that the creative process was enhanced by being together?
BT: When we began talking with Ras about making a new record he said we should write the songs as a band just like Diamond Head did at the beginning of our career. There’s no substitute for writing together in the same room, we spark each other off and create something far bigger and better than we could have done individually. On last album the drums were recorded by Karl in a garage in San Francisco and then sent on a disc in the post. We never played the songs in the same room. Everything was overdubbed individually onto of Karl drums, I did not want to do that gain.
Q3: Any particular reason there’s been eight years between albums. Although “NWOBHM” remains popular is it harder in today’s music industry to get a recording deal?
BT: Our last singer Nick emigrated to Brisbane in 2008 so it became almost impossible to write and record with him. We would pay to fly Nick backwards and forwards for gigs but it became increasingly stressful and expensive so in March 2014 we had a meeting and decided to start looking for a singer that lived here in the UK. Once Ras was in place I thought we should try and write some songs together and here we are with a whole new album of songs. It’s always been hard to get a record deal, Diamond Head were formed in 1976 and it took us 7 years to get a record deal. Now it’s more profitable if we do everything ourselves, we have copied the Marillion model!
Q4: In a similar vein, do the modern recording techniques and technology available today help or hinder the recording process. Is less spontaneity involved and is that one of the reasons why you wrote together?
BT: I think ProTools and similar recording software help the recording process because it’s much quicker and cheaper. For this new album Diamond Head were able to afford 25 days of studio time for recording and mixing, in the past we have spent £1000 per day and would not be able to get a return on that kind of money nowadays. Also you can edit even in the mix stage so if I come up with a good idea it can be tried in a matter of minutes. You just have to be careful that you don’t fix every little thing and end up with a flat/too perfect sounding album.
Q5: Can we look forward to a few dates to promote the new album?
BT: Yes, Diamond Head have several dates in already: APRIL 22 Swindon, Level 3 23 Newbridge, The Patriot 30 Northwich, Memorial Hall MAY 1 Telford, The Haygate Plus we have dates in Malta, Ibiza, Sweden, Germany & Spain. Check out www.diamond-head.net
Q6: I “grew up” back in the heady NWOBHM days in the late 1970s/early 1980s seeing Diamond Head live many times here and there. Indeed, one of my treasured possessions from back then is a copy of the original “White Album”. In your opinion, what’s the main difference (good or bad) between those days and the modern scene?
BT: There seems to be more of everything now, more bands, more festivals, more albums, more ways to get your band name out there. The competition is world-wide and it’s getting very hard to get noticed. The old ways still stand up though, good songs, a good singer and lots of touring. Diamond Head did not tour enough back in the 1980s, we seemed to concentrate on the UK and did not touch America. It was a big mistake. We only played about 20 gigs in mainland Europe between 1976 and 1984, the band split in 1985.
Q7: Social media – help or hindrance. Do you think the likes of Facebook, Twitter and the like are useful? Also, many bands are in to crowd funding now. Is that something you’ve considered for Diamond Head?
BT: Social Media is a help I think. Some bands know how to use it to their advantage. Diamond Head have considered crowd funding but it all came down to me in the end and I did not know the best way to go about it. We don’t have a manager or a label and only have a small booking agent in the US, it’s a small operation and we are doing our best to survive.
Q8: What countries/regions are Diamond Head most popular in?
BT: The UK as we toured here the most. We have pockets of fans in the US and Canada. We must have played in at least 25 countries by now and we are lucky that we do have fans that turn out wherever we go.
Q9: What, if any, of the modern bands influence or inspire you?
BT: I like Muse, Porcupine Tree, Biffy Clyro, Joe Banamassa, Ghost BC, Gojira. I saw Cradle of filth on the 70,000 tons of metal cruise and they impressed me.
Q10: What do you miss most about the “old days” and what do you look forward to regarding the future of DH?
BT: I don’t miss the ‘old days’ we had some great times but I can never go back there. I like the band as it is now, I think our new singer Ras is great and we all get on really well. You can throw anything at us and we will deal with it. I am looking forward to hearing what people say about our new album and playing the songs live.
Brian Tatler 13/2/2016.
My thanks again to Brian for his time to answer so thoroughly. Don’t forget that the new album is out in March and available via Diamond Head’s web site: http://www.diamond-head.net