British metal veterans DIAMOND HEAD influenced a slew of early '80s thrash metal bands, in particular METALLICA, who recorded the band's "Am I Evil" as a B-side to their 1984 "Creeping Death" single and again included on the band's multi-platinum 1998 covers album "Garage Inc." METALLICA would record three additional DIAMOND HEAD songs: "Helpless" ("Garage Days", 1987), "The Prince" ("One" single B-side, 1989) and "It's Electric" ("Garage Inc." , 1998).
Asked if he remembers the first royalty payment he got from METALLICA, DIAMOND HEAD guitarist Brian Tatler told Sweden's RockSverige: "Yeah, and I think it was early '90s — like, 1990. We were in the red at first with our publisher. DIAMOND HEAD didn't sell any records so we never really recouped on our advance. We split in '85 so there was nothing happening. There was a publishing issue where our old publisher had some of the songs, like 'It's Electric', 'Helpless', 'Sucking My Love', etc., and it took me a bit of time to get away from him. When we signed to MCA, we also signed to Zomba Publishing, and they were saying all the money was coming in, but it's going to our management, so it wasn't coming to me. I had to get a solicitor involved and do the homework, and in the end, they had to get Zomba to split the payments so my share would come to me, which makes perfect sense, and Sean's [Harris, former DIAMOND HEAD singer] share to him. Then it went into the black and started creeping up. Of course, they [METALLICA] hadn't sold that many records. In '87, they did 'Helpless' on 'Garage Days Re-Revisited'. At one point, Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] was helping me. He asked, 'Are you getting your royalties?' and I said, 'No, not really.' and he gave me a lawyer to contact and said, 'Speak to this guy at Elektra.' He put me in touch with people and he was determined that I would get my due, and he did help in any way he could. It did take a bit of time, but it came eventually and it's never stopped flowing ever since."
Tatler also confirmed that he receives money when DIAMOND HEAD songs are performed live. "That's PRS [For Music], and at one point I wasn't in PRS," he said. "I think I joined in 1988 and I should've joined years ago, but nobody told me about it. Our management didn't know what it was, so I had to find out for myself really. Maybe I spoke to a couple of people, possibly Lars, and they said, 'Do you remember PRS?' and in the end I joined myself, so the money did start flowing, yes. If METALLICA performed it live at the NEC or something, then I would notice and get a statement and it would say 'live performance.' It took a little bit of time for it to come through. I made it my mission in the late '80s when DIAMOND HEAD wasn't happening and I didn't have much of an income."
According to Brian, the royalties that he receives from the DIAMOND HEAD back catalog, including the METALLICA recordings of his songs, are enough for him to live on. "It's my biggest source of income," he revealed. "It's great and I don't know what I would do without it. It gives me the freedom to do what I like. I'm very grateful."
Tatler went on to say that he had to learn the ins and outs of the music business "the hard way." He explained: "I didn't understand what publishing was. We all signed away our publishing to our management and it took a little bit of time to get it back, because we didn't know what we were doing. We were young, sweet and innocent. I always thought you become a big band like DEEP PURPLE or something, or you split up and disappear and go back to your day job. I didn't realize there's a middle ground, where we're at, where you can make a living and I didn't realize about royalties and publishing and PRS. All of that took years for me to figure out bit by bit. It all got sorted, but I had no clue in the early days and our management, haven't never done it before and weren't really music business people, didn't advise me so I signed crap deals. But I'm not the only person to signs crap deals."
DIAMOND HEAD's latest album, "The Coffin Train", was released in May via Silver Lining Music. The album was recorded at Vigo Studios in Walsall, Circle Studios in Birmingham and Raw Sound Studio in London.