DIAMOND HEAD's TATLER: METALLICA Royalties Saved Us From Obscurity

Chris Skoyles of Classic Rock magazine recently conducted an interview with DIAMOND HEAD guitarist Brian Tatler. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

Classic Rock: The new album, "What's In Your Head" is due out later this year, can you tell us a bit about that?

Tatler: "We started writing for it towards the end of 2005. 'All Will Be Revealed' [DIAMOND HEAD's previous album] came out in October of that year and we went to work on it not long after that. Most of it was written by myself and Nick [Tart, vocals] and we Dave 'Shirt' Nicholls involved to record it. He's the live sound engineer for SLIPKNOT and he was with STONE SOUR for about a year, but we managed to get some time with him. We had to fit the whole thing in around STONE SOUR having some time off, so we got everything done in around four or five weeks!"

Classic Rock: What should DIAMOND HEAD fans expect from the new material?

Tatler: "I've gotta be honest, I think it's fantastic, but then I'm probably a bit biased. It's riffy, it's heavy, it's got some great songs. I think Nick's done better with his lyrics and vocals than he did on the last one. The 'All Will Be Revealed' album was a little bit like dipping your toe in the water, you know? We were feeling our way around as songwriters and seeing if we could pull this off. This album comes back with a confidence, it says 'yes we can pull this off and we can take it ten steps further'. So I just think it's a lot stronger than the last album. Some people have heard bits of it already and the feedback is pretty good, nobody's said they don't like it. I mean, the proof of the pudding will be in how many it sells and reviews, but so far so good! Hopefully it'll be a good album for us and we're very proud of it."

Classic Rock: Any news on a release date?

Tatler: "Well we're just sorting that out now. It could be mid-July but we haven't got an actual release date as of yet. It'll be on the website as soon as we know."

Classic Rock: The band have split up and reformed on more than occasion. Are you confident that you're back for good this time?

Tatler: "Yeah, you know, we'll do this for as long as the band can last really, it's impossible to say. I never expected the original line-up to fall apart. You don't really, somehow you just keep going and working every day to keep things running. Everyone gets on great, which is the main thing, there's not a lot of egomania going on in this band, we all just want to keep it going as long as possible and get the recognition the band deserves. We all believe that the songs are great, the band's great, we just need certain doors to open now to work our way back up the ladder. You can slip back down the ladder from your peak. DIAMOND HEAD's peak was in 1982/83 so we're just trying to pull it back up."

Classic Rock: Have you spoken to Sean [Harris, ex-DIAMOND HEAD singer] since the two of you split up?

Tatler: "Yeah briefly, but what can you say? He probably feels a little bit hurt by it, but it was inevitable the way things were going. He's totally entitled to go off and do his own band and get on with it if that's what he wants to do. That's what I wanted to do but it was almost like I was being prevented from it. I think it's better that we work apart now. I've spent twenty five years on and off with Sean and I think it's time somebody else had a go. I've done my bit so if another guitarist wants to get stuck in with Sean, be my guest!"

Classic Rock: Much of what's been written about the band seems to focus on the past and DIAMOND HEAD's place in history as much as, if not more than, what you're doing now. As a band that are actively touring and recording, does this bother you at all?

Tatler: "[sighs] All publicity is good publicity. There was a piece in Classic Rock last month that just talked about 'Am I Evil?' and I'd rather have that than nothing, but I do like people to remember that this is a fully functioning band now. We're still touring, we're still making albums, it's not just a nostalgia act. I'm sure a lot of people probably think that DIAMOND HEAD split up twenty years ago and don't even exist. I mean, we don't tour America or anything so they've no reason to believe that we're still going. Unless you pretty much shove a band under people's noses they forget about you, but it doesn't annoy me. I do still like the old songs, we still play 'Helpless' and 'The Prince' and it's great. So I don't mind people talking about the past as long as you tag-on that we're still making music today and still playing live."

Classic Rock: What about when it comes to the connection between DIAMOND HEAD and METALLICA? Is that something you ever get sick of talking about?

Tatler: "Nah [laughs]. I mean, god bless 'em. If it hadn't been for METALLICA, and Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer], and the songwriter's royalties that me and Sean [Harris, former vocalist] get, I don't know what we would've done. We'd have probably slipped into obscurity along with, I don't know, ANGEL WITCH or something. But they've managed to keep the money coming in for us and raise our profile by covering four DIAMOND HEAD songs on an album that's sold over five million copies, that's just…you can't buy that sort of thing you know? I must've seen hundreds of articles where Lars is raving about DIAMOND HEAD, and it's just brilliant, more power to 'em."

Classic Rock: How did you guys react when fans who were perhaps too young to remember DIAMOND HEAD in the early '80s started coming to your gigs or buying your albums after hearing about you through METALLICA?

Tatler: "It was definitely a good feeling. You're always trying to get out there and reach new people. You know your die-hard fans will buy your albums but you always want more. If somebody hears [METALLICA's version of] 'Am I Evil?' and then underneath they see it was written by DIAMOND HEAD and go out and buy a DIAMOND HEAD album then yeah, you know, that's fantastic. The newer fans go mad down the front too, they're young enough to have the energy to go berserk at gigs rather than standing at the back clapping!"

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