The Big Über Rock Interview: Brian Tatler (Diamond Head) Print E-mail
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Sunday, 17 December 2017 04:00

They say that perseverance pays off… A few weeks ago, UR’s head honchos Monk and DQ sat down for their annual chat with Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler.  However, the fates aligned against them, and a combination of blabbering bouncers, soundchecking drummers and the venue staff turning the lights off half way through the interview meant that the video was virtually unusable…


But, we don’t give up that easily and, seeing that the band were one of the headline acts at the recent HRH NWOBHM shebang in Steel City, I grabbed a few minutes for a quick chat about his influences, starting off in the music business back in 1976 and 46 years in the business…


Diamond 5

That's right, yeah, on and off. We did stop twice, but that's when I formed the band and came up with the name and started writing songs. It's a ridiculous amount of time! I didn't have a clue back in '76 that we would still be going 41 years later, but here we are! Amazing!


Were there are particular bands that influenced your sound?


Oh, totally! I think I was lucky, in the ‘70s there were so many great bands. For me it was a golden period of rock, there was, obviously, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, but also we had Judas Priest, who were another Midland's band, who were another influence - especially the album 'Sad Wings of Destiny'. Then you've got bands like Rush, AC/DC, Van Halen, UFO… there was just so many great bands! I'd go and see these bands when they'd come through Birmingham, so I probably just thought, 'Well, that's what I want to do!'


You started off a bit slower than maybe you could have (with band progression), you took your time choosing your label and such, was there any particular reason behind that, do you feel?


I think [because] we didn't have professional management. I figure they would talk to the label and the label may think “these guys ain't necessarily going to be able to take Diamond Head where they need to be”, so they probably looked at us and thought '”it's a good band, but they're tied to this amateur management”… so I think this did us some harm. It did take us a long time and it was very frustrating, until 1982. We did actually get signed in January 1982.


Is there a particular recording process that you go through when writing music?


It's changed over the years. Initially, we would actually be in my bedroom, with a little guitar, amp, a tin drum kit and that, and we would just record straight on to cassette. Over the years, I got a Pro Tools rig at home, so I'd make demos and try and build a song around an idea or a riff and then present it to the band, who would say “we like this” or “we don't like that one”, then whittle it down to the ones most like Diamond Head, I think. I always write a lot of stuff and then whittle it down, as a sort of quality control.


You had a change of sound a couple of times, with (releases) ‘Canterbury’ and ‘All Will Be Revealed’. Was there a particular reason that you tinkered with your sound, with them?


I don't think we had to, it was just evolving. You start getting older, then listen to other influences. We probably made the mistake of not sticking to the heavier style, which is what people want (from us) and the market is so huge. I don't think we quite realised that back in 1983, or whenever it was.


Diamond Head 2

We would experiment and try anything really, everything that we wanted to, whereas now I think we have realised that if you do something that is really light or has a piano in it, you're potentially alienating a lot of fans who maybe don't like it, or may not get it. I do focus a bit more on the Diamond Head style, which I think is probably defined in the first two albums.


We try to appreciate what's good about Diamond Head and what we do well, so we tailor the songs a little bit to that brief, rather than just go anywhere, because I think potentially your fan base is not gonna know what to make of it. You don't want to release an album, and your diehard fans don't like it and wonder what you're doing. Many times, people would say, “can't you just write 'Am I Evil?' again?”. It's a valid question, but it's impossible to do for me, so I have to move on, I don't like repeating myself, but at the same time, I do appreciate what Diamond Head does best.


You have a new album coming up?


Yep! That is due next year. We've done the drums, the bass, guitars and 70% of vocals, which we are going back to after these dates. He still has to finish some lyrics, then we may begin mixing in January!


Do you have a name for it, or any songs yet?


We do, but I can't say just yet. It will probably be one of the song titles. We've been working on that for a while. One of the songs will be called 'The Sleeper'.


Do you think with the potential of Brexit coming in the near future that this will impact on touring around Europe?


I don't know. It may do, it may complicate some areas, but I haven't looked into it, so we will see. I think it's going to drag on for years, all this Brexit talk. I voted to remain!


You've done so many tours with the likes of Black Sabbath in the past, in there any particular tour or gig that sticks out in your mind?


Usually I say Reading Festival in 1982 was particularly good for Diamond Head. It felt like the culmination of years of work. We were on the big stage, there were probably 10,000 people there. It felt like we had started in my bedroom, playing little pubs round Stourbridge and then suddenly we're on the world stage! It felt to us like it was a big deal. It was recorded for Tommy Vance's Friday night rock show. That was a real moment, it felt like the band was really cooking, gelling and all that! *laughs*


Today, it's a touch smaller than Reading, at a 2,500 capacity indoor festival, do you have a preference to which you like to playing these, or more intimate gigs still?


It's still a big gig to us! I quite like the big gigs, I think the more, the merrier! If you're going to do a good gig, let there be more people there! You don't necessarily want to play to 100 people, but I love gigging. The two gigs where we supported AC/DC were good as well… [the second] turned out to be Bon Scott's last ever gig, so that was kind of 'wow'.


Is there anyone else you would love to tour with?


Diamond Head 10

Metallica, because I know they'd look after us. I mean, they're huge, so you'd be playing to a lot of people. They'd make sure we got good sound checks.


You've clearly had quite a big influence on them...


Yeah. It'd be nice, I get on with them, I went to see them (not long ago) at the Genting Arena in Birmingham. I saw Lars, saw Rob. Lars is always lovely, always cool. We had a chance to have a chat. We've done gigs with them in the past, one-offs, but we've never done a tour. I don't think it's really going to happen, so I don't worry about it. Metallica have done a lot for us anyway, with covering our songs and such, so no, it doesn't worry me!


Lastly, is there any particular song you love performing live, or feel has to be part of the set?


I've always enjoyed 'Am I Evil?' because it gets such a good reaction. I always enjoy ‘Heat Of The Night’ and some of the new stuff, like ‘All The Reasons You Live’ (from 2016's self-titled album).


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos ©The Dark Queen/Über Rock.


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