Returning with an album that is threatening the top five of the year for Overdrive, Diamond Head have returned with a record that is pulsing with enough energy to fuel a rocket ship (NASA take note). Having managed to capture a sound that tips the hat towards the more classic NWOBHM sound; but equally offers a captivating and spine-tingling nod to the future of straight-up, no bullshit heavy metal, Diamond Head are back and ready to melt the skin, clean off your face!
Upon meeting Diamond Head’s charismatic new vocalist, I am instantly taken by just how laid back and effortlessly friendly Rasmus is. Clearly buzzing about the new record and the forthcoming shows: which will see the guys take on Ireland the U.K and America, between now and December, it’s blatantly clear that Diamond Head are in rude health and yearning to hit the road.
OD – We finally were treated to some new material of March this year, the first in over eight years. A lot has changed in that time, especially now with you fronting the band, do you find that Diamond Head are in a good place?
RASMUS – We are in a very good place right now and have had so much good feedback from everyone. Our label Dissonance Productions, have been calling it a rebirth of the band and they are not wrong as we have a different kind of fire brewing and feel like we are on a role. We’re gonna ride this as much as we can and probably start writing a new album very soon. I’m gonna push for a new album soon, as the momentum is really on fire with us all at the moment.
OD – Considering that Diamond Head only came out in March, that’s an impressive work ethic. So you’re not going to do the Metallica / Guns n’ Roses thing and take a minimum of half a decade and then some, to record?
RASMUS – No, no, no (laughs) Today peoples attention spans are just so bloody short that you have to keep coming up with new stuff to remain on the radar. We’ll try and make another album, hopefully as good, or better than Diamond Head.
OD – Brian (Tatler – guitars and band co-founder) had commented about going back to a more classic form of writing, just like you used to do back in the day. Can you talk a little about this withing the context of putting this album together?
RASMUS – The last two Diamond Head albums prior to this one, were basically put together over the internet, due to the location of band members and especially with Karl (Wilcox – drums) living in America and Nick (Tart – vocals 2004 -2014) had moved to Brisbane, Australia and Brian was not keen on doing another album in this way. I tend to agree with him. I believe that Diamond Head are an old school band and should write in a room, so I suggested to Brian, that if we were going to do an album, we have to be in the same room as a band and write as a band. That’s how you get the magic and that special chemistry!
It’s like all of a sudden, One of us will come up with an idea and then Brian will do something else and we begin to bounce ideas off each other, feeding off this magnificent energy; which is just fantastic. This particular method of song writing is very important to me and the rest of the guys in the band and the overall experience was just really positive and very productive.
When we got into the studio, I had obviously listened to the entire back catalogue and had already completed my first tour with the band, so I was thinking about what I had witnessed from the fans and their particular reaction to certain songs and knowing that Brian felt the same way, we all collectively decided to strive to achieve a more classic sound. That’s what the fans remember as being “Diamond Head“, so we began to revitalise that kind of sound. It inspired us to really investigate the true meaning of what Diamond Head’s sound really is. We looked at each element and sort of broke everything down from the drums to the guitar riffs, melody and vocal delivery. Everybody’s part had a particular type of chemistry or DNA that creates that true Diamond Head sound.
To me, it was an obvious choice with how we had to go on this album and obviously it worked because so many people have commented on how it just sounds like the classic Diamond Head.
OD – I always assume that when a band / artist release an album that is self-titled it’s almost a statement in its own right. Would I be correct in suggesting that the reason for this was to almost just clean the slate and come back with a solid punch if you like?
RASMUS – Yea, you’re totally right. Coming back with a self-titled album can be dodgy, to be honest as it’s kind of like a tipping board. You can either make a fantastic ‘re-birth’ album, or you might completely fuck it up (laughs). Either way, it is a bold statement!
We had a long list of names for the album in which everybody put their suggestions in the hat and to be honest with you, we couldn’t really find a title that was right. We all knew what wanted as a statement and Eddie (Moohan – bass) said, “What about Diamond Head?” and Brian said “yea, that’s cool. If we can’t find anything better than Diamond Head, then we’re calling it “Diamond Head‘” and we just couldn’t find anything that was better suited to the overall sound of the album.
OD – There is a fantastic sound to the production on the album. It’s like a nod to the old analogue presence of days gone by but with a tremendously huge fat presence but dripping in nostalgia. This was obviously a sound that you wanted to achieve but how did you go about it?
RASMUS – To be honest the problems with the way music is put together today, there is just too much over-production. Yes, you can get that really modern sound that is super-clear and hi-def, where you can hear everything and it’s like a razor blade that is so sharp that it just fucking cuts through the overall production. We used Dave ‘Big Shirt’ Nichols (Slipknot F.O.H) to do some of the mixings, along with Adam Beddow, ( sound engineer ) , who managed to collectively give a beautiful old-school sound.
We just really tried to not over do it and tried to keep things really simple and let the music breath. The album was mastered though some analogue gear at Metropolis Studios by John Davis (Led Zeppelin BBC Re-Masters, Ash, The Prodigy, The Foals, Blur) which was just the icing on the cake, so to speak! John brought a fantastic classic sound the production which just sounds incredible.
OD – You bring so much energy to the over all sound of the band and it’s evident from the moment the album begins. How was your initial acceptance into the band from a musical perspective and did you feel that sense of new energy from the get go?
RASMUS – Well, ‘Bones’ (First track from the new album), was the first composition that I began working on with the guys. Brian brought the idea for the track to the studio and it just came together so perfectly. The chemistry was sparking between everyone from the get-go and it just felt so right. I remember not having any lyrics or a melody and I just picked the lyrics ‘lightening strikes the earth’ the first words on the album, right out of the air and everybody just knew that we were on the right page.
OD – Was ‘Bones’ the first song, from the batch of new material, that you had worked on with the band?
RASMUS – It was the first full song that we completed as a band for the new album. It’s a song that for me – just spoke the most. For me, it just completely hit the nail on the head, as to exactly what is Diamond Head in 2016! In every aspect, that is the perfect song, as exactly what we are trying to do. It hit the mark with sound, feeling and the brief of what we wanted this album to reflect. We could all feel it in the rehearsal studio and our excitement was something that I will never forget. We just wanted to play it again and again!
OD – You will be performing in Ireland very shortly with a few dates confirmed for Dublin (Fibber Magees Sep 22nd), Belfast (Voodoo Sep 23rd) and Limerick (Dolans Warehouse Sep 24th) and then on to the U.K and then American and Canada which will take you up to the end of the year. Are there any plans for 2017 as of yet that you can share with us?
RASMUS – Well, this tour that’s kicking off in Ireland will be the start of a huge selection of dates, across the countries that you just mentioned. We are all really looking forward to it but it’s gonna be very hard work as we have a run of about 30 shows in a row. I think we have just one day off in between all of those dates.
OD – For you personally, when you have to consider doing a run of shows like that, how do you maintain the quality of your voice? It’s gotta be difficult to endure that night after night without some possible hazards.
RASMUS – Yea, it’s a lot of hard work to maintain a level of quality. I have to be physically fit and very careful when doing a continuous stint of live shows with no break. I am trained as a singer by profession, so I have extensive knowledge of how vocals work and the very best way to look after myself. The funny thing for me is that the longer I sing and the more shows I do, the stronger my voice gets. We’ll see how much, these dates are going to effect me (laughs), especially the U.S dates because when you’re on the road over there, food options are not really that healthy.
OD – Brian recently spoke about you relationship with Dissonance Productions and how there is a good understanding between both parties. Were you at all nervous or concerned about getting involved with another label at this point in your career?
RASMUS – They are a label that is very much interested in releasing albums an d working with bands that they enjoy and have a passion for. From the outset, they were very adamant about working with Diamond Head and were very excited, especially because we had this new album, which they were just going crazy for. At the moment Dissonance has only licensed this album from us and I guess we will see what happens down that line with any further releases.
We did this whole album ourselves from top to bottom and actually did our own pressings before we signed with Dissonance Productions. We did a limited run of 500 vinyl and 2,000 CD’s made and then they did their pressing of the album, which looks fantastic! It’s double gate-fold on clear vinyl!
OD – I understand that there was something like 45 tracks in the selection bag for this album, will there be any of that material appearing anywhere else soon and secondly do you have any second thoughts about the final track listing?
RASMUS – I don’t have the exact number, but Brian is just always writing and laying down ideas. He probably had about 45 riffs and loose ideas that he sent me on a disc, to which he asked me to select what I believed to be the true essence of what Diamond Head really is. So I came into the writing process with an objective outlook and fresh ears and like a producer, picked out what was going to work. Brian does credit me for helping with the direction on this album but I don’t want to take the credit because we did together as a band.
I just took what I believed to be as material that just worked as per the Diamond Head brief as well as compositions that really worked for me personally as a singer and a writer.
OD – It sounds like you were giving a great sense of involvement with the band from the start which is kind of unusual with new singers.
RASMUS – Yea, I think partially it’s because Brian doesn’t really do lyrics and melody, so it was up to me to do it anyway. So he just really trusted me from the start which was very brave of him (laughs). I think that it was my interpretation of the older material that backed up his confidence in me. I think that he just liked what he heard and was confident to move forward. If he didn’t like what he was hearing, he would always let me know. Brian is very much the quality controller when it comes to all things Diamond Head, so he really didn’t have anything to loose when he asked me to pick out some of his many ideas. Like I said, if he thought it was wrong and I had written something shit, he would let me know about (laughs)!
OD – You spoke earlier about your professional vocal training but I want to know who or what was your inspiration to get into this business. There has to be someone that you look up to as an inspiration when you decided to become a professional vocalist?
RASMUS – Yes, you would be correct in that assumption and I can tell you straight away that that person in question is. I was 16 years old and I was sitting in the car with my parents driving in the South of France and they put on Queen – Greatest Hits. I just started singing along and discovered almost immediately that I could sing and my parents were just looking at me like “what the fuck is this?” (laughs) So we just played Queen for something like 20 hours straight and that’s when I just knew that this is what I needed to be doing. Freddie Mercury was the catalyst for all of this!
From there, it just slipped into different singers and exploring different genres. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) is just a massive influence for me also. I tend to think that he is one of the best rock singers out there. He’s got a unique tone and a great writer. His sound it just amazing. I’m trying to work it out from a professional point of view just how he does some of the stuff that he’s doing and I’m getting close to his unique recipe. We did a show a while back and the review said that I sounded like Chris Cornell! To be honest, that was such a compliment for me and I was very happy about that.
OD – So looking ahead now to your shows in Ireland, what can we expect this time around?
RASMUS – Well, for starters we just love playing shows over there. The reaction from the crowds has always been fantastic. The last time I was there, I didn’t get to have a drink with anyone after the show; which was back in 2014. The guys were getting battered with shots of whisky from some of the crowd after the show (laughs) and I just decided to keep the sensible hat on because we had a show the next day but it was just fantastic fun and always a pleasure to play in Ireland.
The self-titled album Diamond Head is out now via Dissonance Productions. Get your copy on this link.
For more information, please click this link.
© Overdrive 2016