Interview: DIAMOND HEAD’s Brian Tatler in Limerick… Posted: 09/11/2016 by Philip Morrissey
“It’s almost that we pushed things forward and found something new in those days. I am still looking for that ultimate riff!”
There is much happening in the crowded bar area of Dolan’s Warehouse. This dark and wet evening in Limerick had brought many in to seek warmth and shelter. Staff deal with orders for groups watching the latest premiership offerings, tourists inquire about this evenings entertainment and an assortment of metal fans cast their gaze towards the table in the corner. The attraction is that it contains the members of New Wave of British Heavy Metal (N.W.O.B.H.M) legends, DIAMOND HEAD. Over some warm food and refreshing drinks, I spoke with lead guitarist and sole founder, Brian Tatler, on a wide variety of issues that they encountered over their forty year career.
The reason that the band are here is to play a series of Irish dates on a wide ranging world tour. DIAMOND HEAD are no strangers to these shores, having played several dates over the past couple of years. Each one of these have been memorable in their own right. This is on the back of a highly lauded new self-titled album. It is one that the band certainly delighted by.
‘I didn’t expect it to be so well received. When we started getting the reviews, we were amazed’.
Plans had been to release the album themselves independently. Events changed when record label Dissonance expressed interest in signing them up. This certainly helped them in dealing with different aspects of promotion.
‘We found that having press officers working for us enabled us to reach a lot more magazines and websites than we could have done by ourselves.’
All of this brought about a higher profile than the band had for quite some time. ‘Diamond Head’ is the bands seventh studio album overall and their first since 2007’s ‘What’s In Your Head?’ It also marks the debut of singer Rasmus Anderson and bassist Dean Ashton. Anderson replaces Nick Tart and Ashton replaced long-standing member, Eddie Moohan. It can be a tricky balancing act for a veteran band to bring in new members. On one hand, you don’t want to have them dilute their sound to make like prevailing trends. On the other side, you don’t want to be like carbon copies of previous associates. Tatler believes that they have managed to get this balance right.
‘People want to do a good job and protect what has been achieved because forty years is a long time. But yeah there is a great balance. We are complementing each other well’.
A new-ish lineup, and a brand new album, could have seen fans react with a degree of suspicion. The acid-test how these are coming along, is how they are received on the live circuit. Too many bands have tried to ram-road to their audience. For many, this can be an excuse to head to the bar or elsewhere. Being able to hand-pick tunes that can fit next to the classics is key. The band are still finding the songs that get the best response. Approximately eight from the album have been used so far across various dates. Tatler feels that they are slotting in quite well.
‘They don’t feel out of place at all. They feel like they are part of the Diamond Head catalogue’.
And there are more than enough of classics that can be brought out of the locker. ‘Am I Evil?’, ‘It’s Electric’, Lightning to the Nations’ and ‘Borrowed Time’ are all numbers that are instantly recognisable to even the most casual metal fan. It is only natural for some bands to get tired of hearing constantly about their earlier material, rather then their latest offerings. ‘Yeah it’s great. It’s nice to have these sort of songs that we can perform live and that people still want to hear them. They haven’t dated really’. The source of inspiration for these numbers still remains a mystery. Certain bands can trace their identifiable songs to a particular period of time or their icons. Tatler is still no wiser on the matter. ‘Everything comes from somewhere but I really can’t trace the influence on it. In terms of the songs, it’s almost that we did push push forward a little bit and found new ground’.
The talk about their early days brings to mind what was like to be at the centre of the N.W.O.B.H.M scene and it’s enduring legacy. New bands have spoken openly of their love for the movement and it’s sound. Tatler puts this down to fans looking for something else. ‘Maybe people are looking for great riffs, great vocals and some choruses that you can sing along to. There is a market out there still. There is a resurgence in N.W.O.B.H.M. A few years I couldn’t have named many bands that were still playing and touring. But they all seem to be coming out of the woodwork now!’.
If bands in that era found it tough, then ones these days can find it even harder. The lack of radio play and dwindling record sales means that outfits struggle to find an outlet for their music. When asked what advise he has for up and coming bands, Tatler has this to say… ‘You have to write good songs, end of. You can have all the chops and looks, but if there is no songs there, people will quickly see through you. If you write good songs, they will last. I mean ours have been serving us well for this length of time’.
The band finishes up their food and drinks and begin to consider the show ahead and future plans. On this issue, Tatler remains optimistic. ‘We will probably start trying to write new songs in January. But it will be until 2017 until we have a good idea about where we are. It’s amazing that the band has been going for this length of time and can still say we are looking forward’.