Photo Credit: MB PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTLAND
Diamond Head are set to play La Belle Angele tonight in Edinburgh, Chris Stones from Down The Front Media managed to catch up with Brian Tatler before the show, this is what he had to say:
(CS – Chris Stones)
(BT – Brian Tatler)
CS: Hi Brian. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. How’s the tour been so far?
BT: Good! This tour started last April. We’ve been to America, Canada and all sorts of places. We did Europe. We did festivals. We’ve started the album and recorded the backing on the album, we’ve done all the backing and we’ve done three quarters of the vocals and then we had to stop to start this leg. We’ve done Ireland, these two in Scotland and then New Wave of British Heavy Metal festival tomorrow at the Sheffield O2 then London, Midlands and then Blast from the Past, Belgium. All sorts! Then we stop for Christmas and then Ras gets a chance to finish his lyrics.
CS: How do you squeeze all that in given the travel and the work on the new album?
BT: I know! We just started writing the album in January and I’d go to London on the train to Ras’ (Rasmus Andersen – Vocals) then we got together as a band. We did drums in July in the studio in Birmingham. We went to America then and did about 20 dates. We came back and did bass and vocals. Last year’s been full on and this year too.
CS: Is next year full on too?
BT: It’s getting there. We will have another album and more dates. We’ve got Saxon into March. We’ve never done a tour with Saxon before. We’ve done festivals, crossed paths but never toured.
CS: You were a prolific writer, and still are. Do you do that on tour?
BT: I can’t do it on tour. I have to be at home in writing mode. When I’m on tour my brain sort of compartmentalises. The set, what we’re doing that night, we’ve gotta eat, we’ve gotta travel. I can’t think about composition. Years ago, you’d read about bands like Deep Purple finishing a tour then having three weeks to record the new album. Then back out on tour again. That kinda pressure would be really hard. I seem to have months to work on ideas and make demos. That’s the way I work.
CS: Do the other guys in the band have an involvement?
BT: Well Ras does all the vocals and has helped with guitars and arrangements. We all throw ideas in when we’re in the room together. I think the song needs to get started by me. Couple of riffs, a chorus.
CS: I guess that’s where your consistency comes from?
BT: Probably. I’m the original band guy so I think if it comes from me it’ll have more of the Diamond Head signature style.
CS: The new album has massive songs. Songs like ‘Bones’ are special. Will we hear them in the set tonight.
BT: We like that one. That’s probably our favourite track off that album. I also like ‘All the Reasons You Live’ which we did last night and we’ll probably do again tonight. Several songs on that album I think really work. It’s been great to have new material
CS: Do you change your set from gig to gig then?
BT: Sometimes. I try to mix it up. As long as Ras can remember the lyrics! I’ll bring tracks in. I think it helps, keeps us fresh. I don’t like doing the same set every night.
CS: I guess there must be some staples you need to keep in?
BT: Yeah. There’s quite a few. There’s at least five songs that can’t come out.
CS: And do you change the material depending on the country you’re in?
BT: Not really. There’s a greatest hits set for festivals. I like to bring in songs we haven’t done for a long time. We’ve brought in ‘Dead Reckoning’ and ‘We Won’t Be Back’. They don’t always work but I love the idea of not having it too defined. And we’ve been doing it so long. The bands been going on and off for 41 years. I don’t get asked for the obscure stuff too much. The ‘King Maker’ or ‘One More Night’. I think we’ve gone more in favour of the heavier stuff because of the market place. Several times we tried to write a hit single. It seems to me that the market place and the kind of fans who come through the door want the heavier faster stuff. It’s what sounds best live anyway. We play to our strengths. They’ve paid to come and see us and we don’t want to alienate them by playing lots of weird shit they’ve never heard (laughs).
CS: What do you expect from an Edinburgh audience?
BT: We’ve done this place before. We were here last year and it was great. I’ve played here lots of times in the past. The Playhouse and what’s that place up the stairs? (CS - Madisons). I’ve played Glasgow. We’ve just done Dundee for the first time. There are still places we’ve to visit. People were thanking me last night for playing Dundee. That was nice.
CS: You are often asked about your influence on the well known acts but do newer bands you come across acknowledge your influence?
BT: Sometimes. Particularly the bands that are into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They often sound more like Iron Maiden than Diamond Head but you do get that. It’s good. We’ll come across bands that say they’ve covered our stuff. Rather than everyone aiming for one style – that’s cool.
CS: Do you find that at this stage in your career you are influenced by other bands?
BT: Not necessarily now. But obviously it all comes from somewhere. When I started, I had Sabbath, Deep Purple. All those fantastic 70s bands. In a way, I was lucky to be a teenager when all those bands were around. I saw some fantastic bands and the quality of their albums still echo through today. That all rubbed off on me and made me the guitarist and writer I am today. There are a lot of newer bands that are really heavy with shouted vocals and dropped guitars. I search for melody and to hear the lyric. I like a good riff! Some newer bands are creeping through. I often think I’m not the target audience. Newer bands aren’t aimed at me – it’s aimed at 14, 15 year olds.
CS: So what has been the highlight of 2017?
BT: We enjoyed ‘Bang Your Head’ in Germany and it’s been great to make a start on the new album. We enjoyed the dates in Canada. Vancouver Island was fantastic. We did ‘Psycho’ in Las Vegas. That was at the Hard Rock Hotel. It’s such a rollercoaster. We could be playing small venues or massive festivals. The contrast is interesting. The bigger shows, if you do well, seems like a greater achievement.
CS: And what are you looking forward to in 2018?
BT: The Saxon dates will be on my mind before long. Some festivals are starting to come in. The new album too. We’ll be starting to mix it in January.
CS: Who has been your favourite support act over the years?
BT: I’ve never given it much thought. We toured with Raven and that was great but I really appreciate it when bands aren’t arseholes. Don’t over-run, don’t take the piss. Sometimes we’ll turn up and a band will be set up and we have to set up behind them.
CS: I’m really conscious we don’t want to take the piss (laughs) so thank you so much for your time, have a great gig and good luck with the tour and the album.