NWOBHM heroes Diamond Head have come a long way since their inception in the late 1970s. As key inspirations to Metallica, who have covered a number of the band’s early tracks, the Stourbridge act have weathered ill-fortune and line-up changes to remain standing in 2016. Back with a new, self-titled album, their first in nine years sees the band re-energised with a new singer, and a fresh outlook that sees them hone in on their early formula for success. We caught up with singer Rasmus Bom Andersen to talk about the album, and the band’s future plans. Helpless: Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Rasmus, how are you today?
I am doing very well. I’m happy to be at Bloodstock, and very excited to play today.
Being the singer in such a well-respected act like Diamond Head must be a dream job?
Yeah, it was quite an honour. It is one of those very legendary bands that don’t actually get all the credit that they deserve, so it was a fantastic one to land that gig, and the guys are happy with me.
Guitarist Brian Tatler has credited you as the catalyst for making the new album ‘Diamond Head’.
Yeah, I admit I had a hand pushing to make a new album. It’s great to be the singer of Diamond Head, but you also want to put your mark down somehow, and the only way you can do that is really by writing an album.
The new album has gotten a fantastic reception, both critically, and from fans.
Yeah, with the direction of the last two albums that Diamond Head released [‘All Will Be Revealed’ (2005) and ‘’What’s In Your Head’ (2007)], I don’t know what people were expecting this to be. I pushed to make an album, but I think it was a joint idea that the band should make an album that resonated and echoed the early albums, because that’s where the fans really came from - that’s what they loved, so we wanted to try and aim for something along those lines.
It must be very validating for you to have made your mark, given that the album has received such a positive reaction.
Definitely, it was very, very rewarding for me. I still feel like I need to earn my place with the fans, because I’m still relatively new in the band. Being the front man of a band like Diamond Head is quite a big role, with big shoes to fill, so I’m still trying to get in there with the fans in that sense. But mostly, the hard core fans that I’ve met over the last two years, they are very accepting and very welcoming as fans.
Were you a fan of Diamond Head before you joined the band?
Actually, funny enough, I didn’t know much of Diamond Head. I didn’t even know ‘Am I Evil?’, would you believe it?! I grew up listening to Metallica and those bands, but I didn’t actually know the history of Diamond Head and the connection between those two at all. I heard some of the tracks and I thought – great songs, I’d love to sing that.
Did you have any trepidation taking on the role, given that a lot of people probably still expect to see original singer Sean Harris fronting the band?
They are, and they still ask for Sean Harris sometimes on social media and all that stuff, and yeah, you come in with a bit of trepidation, as you say, but you kind of just have to see what reactions you get. Most people are very, very happy with what I’m doing with the band. I have had the odd person not happy. Also, someone snuck backstage and slapped me in the face at a gig! I had to have a chat to security to say; “how the f**k did that happen”?!
You actually got slapped by a fan? What was that fan’s problem?!
I don’t know; she was shouting at me in German; “you ruined Diamond Head for me!” I had to ask; “well, why? How?!”, and she just pissed off. I think people are very much in love with the idea of Diamond Head as they were, with Sean Harris and Colin [Kimberley, bass player] and the original line-up, because it harks back to their days and what they grew up with. So it’s kind of a romanticised dream. Everybody wants to relive their childhood, absolutely, but it is the way it is, and we just try and make the best of what we are and what we have. But most people are happy.
Are those European fans the most passionate?
To be honest, everyone is very equal. Metal is a very loyal genre of music, and it’s a family that everyone’s part of. I think the most crazy people we’ve had so far was actually in Malta. That was a bit mental - they just all went completely f*****g crazy. It’s fantastic, but we always love coming out and playing to our U.K. fans. It is the home of the band, and it is where a lot of them are there to support us.
Do you get more enjoyment performing the tracks that you’ve been a part of recording, or do you still love singing the classics?
I get an equal enjoyment, I think. It’s always great playing your own stuff, but it’s also a bit nerve wracking because with a new album, you don’t quite know what people’s reaction is going to be. And especially with a band like Diamond Head, because of how the last two albums were done, and they didn’t receive the same kind of positive attention as what had gone before. A lot of people are saying that this is the best album since [1982’s] ‘Borrowed Time’, which is a huge compliment.
But you still love singing the classics too?
When you play the Diamond Head legendary tracks, you know what the reaction is going to be – people are going to love it. I try to sing the classics as best I can to how they should sound, because the fans sing along; they know every word and every line. You want to make sure that you’re in sync with them. If I forget a lyric I just have to look at them to see if I’m screwing up!
You’ve quite a few live dates coming up in support of ‘Diamond Head’.
Yes, November is a big tour the U.S. and Canada. It’s the first time for me, but it’s the longest one for Diamond Head in the U.S.A. It’s a lot of shows, and to be honest I’m dreading it, because I think we have about twenty-five shows on the trot, or something like that. So that’s going to be a bit of a stamina one for me. It’s going to be a dry month – no alcohol for me! I can’t be a rock ‘n’ roller!
When you joined the band, did Brian hand you a handful of vinyl and say; “absorb this”?
Sort of. Brian actually gave me a list of the back catalogue, and I listened to the whole list and said; these songs are great, I like these songs, and we complied a listed of all the songs I liked, and all the songs that he thought would be good. I think that was a really good move, because it gave me - from an analytical point - a lot of knowledge about what made the band great, and I brought that forward to this album, to try and hark back, and echo a lot of the features that were on those albums.
Do you think that your fresh ears coming in made the difference with this album?
I think it is. I think that because I also do production on the side as work – I work in music in general, but also do production and composition as well – it gave me that selective look, and an objective look to analyse what makes Diamond Head great. That’s why we steered in that direction; so I came in with some fresh ears, and almost like a producer, picked out the best bits. So when Brian said; “here’s a lot of riffs, Raz, what do you think?” I was like; “that’s fantastic, that’s Diamond Head”, or; “that - doesn’t tie to Diamond Head, so let’s run with these ones and see what else we can do”.
That must take some guts – telling Brian Tatler that some of his riffs don’t belong in Diamond Head!
Yeah! I did think about that, and I was quite ruthless, and Brian comes back to me some time later after that conversation and said; “you know what? That took a lot of balls for you to tell me that”. But he completely said I was right, so that was great, because we ended up with this brief; of a checklist to write this album according to. I actually think it helped the band immensely, because it took away the whole; “well I think this is right, I think that is right” – yes, but does it fit this list?
It gave you a group focus?
Exactly, and it just made the politics of writing together as a band a really, really easy experience. And also, the whole band and everyone were just really cool about just giving space. The brief, the list – what is Diamond Head? – just really helped us to nail down what’s going to make it to the album, and what’s not going to make it to the album.
Does that mean that there will be a follow-up coming soon?
2017, yeah. We’re hoping to start actually, in 2017, to start writing some songs, and then god knows when we’ll see it.
So Diamond Head is looking at returning to the whole album, tour, album cycle again?
I can’t stand still; it’s like start me going and I’m just going to keep running, so I keep pushing forward and forward and forward. More Diamond Head music would be great for everyone.
Click here for our chat with Brian Tatler.
Like this interview? Like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter for regular updates & more of the same.
Diamond Head tour the U.K. and Europe throughout September and October. For a full list of dates visit the official Diamond Head site.