Diamond Head


22 Juin 2019



Interview Brian and Rasmus

Hi Brian, hi Ras, thanks for taking the time, we are the French webzine and this interview will be provided in English and in French. So this is your first appearance here at Hellfest right?

Ras: it’s fantastic to be at Hellfest. We have been waiting for this.

Brian: Yes definitively. We have never managed to do it before. We had a little look around and it looks really fantastic. We are on at quarter to five today and we are looking forward to playing.

Have you seen some concerts while you've been here?

Brian: no not really yet, we saw a little bit of Gloryhammer. Later tonight we will see some of the bands as we have a flight back tomorrow.

Did you prepare a special setlist for this fifty minute show at Hellfest?

Brian: Yes we had to prepare for just fifty minutes. We had a gig last week, which was the first one in six months. So we are a little apprehensive about getting it right. It went really well the other day so I’m pretty sure it will be fine. We will play three songs from the new album in the set. They went down pretty well so it’s looking good.

Let’s switch to your latest album, "The Coffin Train". Frankly I was blown away by almost all of the tracks. As the main composer how did you work on this new material?

Brian: Thank you. I just did what I always do, which is guitar riffs. I come up with good guitar riffs and I do a demo at home. When I have some things that I think are good ideas, I give them to Ras. What we did different this time from previous albums is that we got together and worked on the songs. For example Ras could propose to change a chorus, or add a new chorus and we made a new demo out of this. When we feel the songs are ready we go to rehearsal and try them in rehearsal. Some don’t make it, so we scrap them but most of them worked this time. That’s it, then we go to recording. It takes time.

Can you explain why this title?

Ras: The title comes from a dream I had while we were on tour. A nightmare should I say. My brain was probably processing through what I feel about the situation globally, socially and all that stuff. I was dreaming about this train carrying coffins and body parts, with mushroom clouds in the background, it’s the end of the world basically. So I suggested it and everybody thought it was a very powerful image, an unusual sort of words. Actually somebody told me recently that there was something in American history called the coffin train which was carrying bodies during the plague or something like that. It became the title track and we are quite proud frankly about "The Coffin Train" track, as it encapsulates a lot of what Diamond Head identity is all about.

Who writes the lyrics? And what are your sources of inspiration?

Ras: I do write the lyrics yes. I take inspiration wherever I go. I look around me and always take little notes, some words, some ideas, or whatever triggers an idea. Starting also from that nightmare, I was trying to ask myself why I had such a nightmare, what was I thinking, and what inspired that dream. It all comes down to the impending doom of human race, because of how we are exploiting resources, and climate change and all that stuff. I don’t want to sound like a hippie or anything but it’s not a matter of if anymore but a matter of when.

Most of the press was very enthusiastic about it, stating that it was your best album since "Lightning To The Nation". What’s your view on this?

Brian: I’m always flattered that people like it. That’s what you always hope when you release a new album. Yes, that what a lot of people have said, that it’s the best thing we have released for a long time, and even since the first album. And that’s good because that first album has become a classic. So it’s great to see that we can come up with such a good album after forty years. It’s amazing to see that we still have that creative spark that is still relevant for 2019. We managed to pull it off, and it’s a difficult trick to do. But people seem to be liking the album, so that’s fantastic.

I have to say that some of the songs like "The Messenger", "The Coffin Train", "Shades Of Black" are old school heavy metal, with really catchy chorus and a killer modern sound. Do you pay particular attention to those choruses? And is Rasmus participating in those?

Ras: I always think that a great song should have a good chorus that people can sing along. But I also think that you don’t want to fall into that mouse trap of always using the same chord progression. I hear a lot of bands nowadays who use the same four chords for a catchy chorus, I guess that’s fine if that’s the way they want to go but we try to come up with something that is different but still catchy. And this I think is the key to a great chorus. And the chorus is always what people remember from the songs not the verses.

Brian: I think you noticed that Ras is more into choruses than I am. I concentrate on doing my things. Try to come up with a good riff and Ras nearly always says: it needs a chorus, where is the chorus [laughs]. I probably neglected to worry about that, but he is dead right. The chorus is the big thing. The riff is important but if you have a good chorus that’s it really.

Speaking about Ras, he's done an exceptional work on this album, even more than the previous one. Do you think you have found now the ideal singer for Diamond Head?

Brian: Yes, absolutely. Initially when Ras joined I was not thinking about writing songs or making new music. It was basically because we had dates so we needed a singer to do the live work. Once I heard Ras, I thought "yes he is great and we’ll be fine". There is something in his voice that I like. But he surprised me over the five years he has been in the band. He is a very talented guys. So from just a singer the partnership has grown as we get on very well. Ras kind of pushed to try to write new music. I agreed and we worked very well together.

I read in an interview that thanks to the royalties of your songs that Metallica covered, you could stop working. So what keeps you motivated to write new music?

Brian: Yes I could. But this guy put me back to work [laughs]. This is exactly right because I would probably not have done it if Ras hadn’t been so enthusiastic. He added a lot of energy to the band. Nothing but a positive experience.

It’s fun to see that you came out and rode the New Wave of British Heavy Metal back in the 80s. What a wave!? Did you think that it would last so long?

Brian: Noooo. No idea. Yes it’s now forty years and we still talk about it and play it. Some of these songs are really forty years old: "Am I Evil", "The Prince".

Some of the other guys are still around too, Iron Maiden, Saxon, just to name a few, still kicking ass. Do you get to see each other sometimes?

Brian: Yes a few bands are still going. We did some dates together with Saxon last year. We bumped into Girlschool at a festival, we played with Angelwitch, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Rock Goddess. They are still going.

Will you tour to promote "The Coffin Train"? In France too?

Ras: We have got a lot of dates coming up. Not exactly a Coffin Train tour. We are doing a lot of dates with Black Star Riders later in the year. We are playing Wacken in about a month. We are still discussing what the label and the management want to do but we will do a headlining tour later on.

Brian: We were just offered some dates in Romania, and we have never been to Romania. We are also trying to get to the US and even Australia and maybe Japan. There are all maybes at the moment but they're things we’d like to do.

Thanks for your time, do you have a last word for our readers…

Brian: Hopefully you have heard the new album and you like it, so come and see the band live.

Ras: If you like the album, value music, buy a physical copy. Support the bands and they’ll keep writing music.


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