With origins tracing back to the mid-1970’s, Diamond Head is one the most recognisable names in British heavy metal, and some 40 years after their formation, they are still actively producing new material and keeping up a regular touring schedule. Just last year, they released the eighth full-length album of their career – the self-titled Diamond Head – and they have been busy on the live scene since. Their latest stop on the road was a final day headlining slot on the second stage at the inaugural Amplified Festival in the UK, and it was here that we had a chance to catch up with Rasmus Bom Andersen (vocals) and Karl Wilcox (drums) from the band.
After joining the band in 2014, last year’s release was current frontman Rasmus’ first album with the band, and he was keen to ensure that they honoured the traditional Diamond Head sound on the album. “When we did the record last year, I made it clear to Brian (Tatler) that if we’re gonna do it, we should do it as a band because that it was Diamond Head does, it is an old school band. So Brian was very happy about that and he thought we should give it a shot, but he was also very hesitant about what was gonna happen because he just didn’t know what was gonna happen with this record.” Rasmus had no such hesitation though with the record as he explained, “I was fairly confident, I went through all the back catalogue, and by doing that, I felt I got a really good feeling for what I think Diamond Head is. And because I work as a producer as well outside of Diamond Head, that just gave me a nose for what was right and that way we started to collaboratively find the right bits that work, which is what we refer to as the Diamond Head brief. What is Diamond Head? Riffs, drums, specific lyrics, the whole kind of recipe for what is Diamond Head because the last two records before that one didn’t really, in my opinion, feel like it had that. And that was because they were obviously working with the new singer and working around Nick Tart rather than Nick Tart working around the band, which I think was the wrong method. You know, there were still some great riffs, great melodies, some great stuff but it just didn’t feel as much like Diamond Head to me, so we were very happy that this record really hit home with the fans.”
The band have not rested on their laurels since the album’s release though and have toured extensively to support it, including their slot at Amplified on which the band had the following thoughts: “We are always looking to try new festivals and get more going because the more festivals there are, the more music there’s gonna be and the more gigs that you can do, but it’s also always good to support a new festival in its first year because it’s always gonna be a teething period for them. There’s always gonna be shit happening – like the fucking weather – and you can’t really do anything about that, so you learn from that. But I think we’re just interested in trying this festival and seeing what it’s gonna be like, and everything showed it had massive potential and it still does, but you can’t do anything about the weather.” The band also confirmed that they would be happy to return to Amplified next year should they be asked.
Looking beyond Amplified, the band have big plans for the rest of 2017 and Karl Wilcox was very excited to elaborate on what’s next for Diamond Head, including work on a brand new album. “After tonight’s show, tomorrow we head into a studio for three days and hopefully re-record all of the drums for the new album, which is not-yet-titled. Most of the songs don’t have any working titles, and they have numbers like ’67’, and ’65a’, and ’77’ and things like this and so I can only give the album a working title of ‘165b!'” Following their time in the studio and a few days off, the band have a couple more festival dates to fulfil, including Heaven and Hell Festival in Cumbria and the Leyendas Del Rock Festival in Spain. They will then fly out to America ready for Psycho Festival in Las Vegas on August 19th before the band embark on their first ever proper tour of Canada with a 12-date run before they then finish off with a show in New York in September.
Diamond Head is well known in music circles for the strong influence they had on Metallica, but perhaps less well known are some of the bands and musicians that have influenced them. Long term drummer, Karl Wilcox, took his initial influence from his parents. As he explained, “My mother was basically like this, I don’t care what grades you get in school, if you don’t get a grade one in music, then that’s it: don’t come home, you know what I mean! ‘Cause my father was a musician, a drummer, he played in a dance band; he was a full professional. And then all that went upside down when The Beatles hit because nobody wants a dance band anymore, so he worked semi-professional, and then the few dance bands that were still around he was still part of that, and he encouraged me a little bit.” Aside from his parents, Karl names Slade as his all-time favourite band followed by AC/DC, and he is also a fan of jazz which stems back from the time he was a trumpet player for ten years in his youth before moving onto the drums. Rasmus on the other end can trace his musical roots back to hearing Freddie Mercury for the first time when he was 12 years old, and as he says: “That was kind of the key point where something just clicked into place. We were driving through the South of France for a holiday, and all of a sudden they put that disc on, Greatest Hits (by Queen) and something just happened.” He also names Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden as his favourite album and was a huge fan of Chris Cornell.
With a career history of 40 years and counting, it is clear that Diamond Head is a band with no plans of slowing down, and with a rejuvenated lineup and a new album in the works, these legends of British metal are continuing to break new ground and reach new audiences.