A CHAT WITH
BRIAN TATLER | DIAMOND HEAD
HELLO BRIAN. WELCOME TO MHF!
1 Your upcoming tour will cover 8 countries and 22 cities across central and southern Europe. When you are on tour, do you actually get to see and experience the places you visit or are you constantly on the go?
Not usually, sometimes we may have a day off and see some stuff but it’s mainly all about the gig. Travel to the show, Sound check, eat, warm up, do the gig meet some of the fans and pack the gear away, repeat. Touring is tiring especially when you are of a certain age. I would not want to wear myself out looking around cathedrals and shopping malls before a show. I like to swim if the hotel has a pool if not I will go for a walk. If there is a bar near the hotel and it’s still open we will have a few beverages afterwards which is always fun.
2 How often do you have to improvise when things don’t go as planned on stage? Any funny stories to share?
Fortunately things don’t go wrong very often, at worse somebody may be having a bad monitor’s day or its mega hot. At one gig the PA failed and left just the backline on there were no vocals so I jammed a bit with our briefly acoustic drummer Duncan Scott. I have had amps blow up and not draw enough power from generators at outdoor festivals. That can massively affect the sound. Another time I slipped over on a spilled pint of water, I fractured my elbow and broke the neck off my guitar, a black JD Explorer. I jumped up and carried on for the rest of the gig with my spare guitar, the pain didn’t kick in until after the show thanks to the adrenalin flowing through my body.
3 You once said that you try not to be influenced by modern bands in order to preserve your unique style and sound. So, when you are writing music does logic overcome impulse?
Good question. I try to preserve what is good about Diamond Head. I have a certain style of writing and try to utilize that. I am not one for following whatever is big at the time. I think that is a bad idea, it works for some people though. I don’t think Diamond Head should sound like Slipknot or Avenged Sevenfold. I am happy when Diamond Head sound like Diamond Head we have a style and sound that has been around for 40 years. Obviously production has changed but our songs still start life with a riff and I am very influenced by 70s bands.
4 Let’s head back to the 80’s. For you, continual gigs worked out well and paid off as you got the chance to open for AC/DC and Iron Maiden. Is this still the key to success for bands and musicians today or are things different now due to the rise of social media?
We all have the same platforms, you can use a web site, Facebook, Twitter etc. but there is a lot of noise, it’s hard to get people’s attention that way. You cannot beat touring and making albums to generate excitement is the press and word of mouth. Getting a support tour is great for a young band, you are raised up a level and can hopefully make some new fans by getting in front of new faces and making a good impression. The downside is it’s very expensive to tour that way. The main band may be asking for a buy-on or the promotors might not want to pay you very much (if at all) To hire a van or a bus, fuel and ferry costs, and pay wages etc. is not cheap, you can easily lose money. I have done a few gigs where a promotor will say ‘you will make some money selling merch’ and then you sell one T shirt!
5 Speaking of the 80’s, could you go through your memory box and pick a happy memory to share with us?
I will never forget opening for AC/DC in January 1980. Just the idea of supporting AC/DC was unbelievable as we were all huge fans. Both the shows were sold out and had been added onto the end of the Highway To Hell tour. These were Diamond Heads 33rd & 34th gigs and it felt like we had come a long way from playing the pubs of Stourbridge. We hit the stage in front of 3000 rock fans and went down really well. It felt like the world was now our oyster. I saw Bon Scott watching us from the side of the stage. As we came off Bon gave Duncan his bottle of Jack Daniels. We all went out front to watch AC/DC and had a brilliant couple of nights. Sadly these were to be Bon Scotts last ever shows, RIP Bon.
6 Since I’m fascinated by the 80’s (and I, mychelf am an 80’s baby too) let me ask you this:
Is the audience different today compared to the 80’s and 90’s? Are they present or are they filming Insta-Stories on their phones?
There is some of that, I see a lot phones appearing at certain times during the gig, especially or Am I Evil? Maybe I would have done the same back in 1979 watching Michael Schenker in UFO. The audience is older now than when I was just a young whippersnapper. It’s always great to see a younger demographic at the gigs, it shows that the music is still relevant to some of the metal kids today.
7 Another thing that also fascinates me, is anything and everything British. How traditionally British are you? Describe a typical day in the life of a rock star please.
I am typically British. I have been having exactly the same breakfast at home for 30 years. When I am touring I try to have as similar breakfast to my routine as possible, and obviously that involves drinking tea. I don’t like coffee, never have. My favorite meal is a roast dinner. When I am at home I do all the cooking, shopping and walk the dogs. I ride my bicycle when I can and try to keep fit. Absolutely no drugs.
8 And what is the best way to spend a weekend in Stourbridge?
Never been asked that before. I would recommend a pub in the village of Wollaston (a mile from Stourbridge town center) opposite to where I grew up called The Unicorn. They serve Bathams bitter and it’s a nice atmosphere. I also like Katie Fitzgerald’s on the way into town, it’s an Irish type pub that has live music and comedy acts. The River Rooms is a good place to see bands, Diamond Head have played there a couple of times.
9 You’ve once said that despite the fact that you’ve been inspired by the classic rock and metal legends, it was the punk movement that led you to believe that anyone can form a band. I had a similar epiphany when I first discovered the Ramones a million years ago. So, where are all those glorious, true punks? Are they still around?
Not many bands survived Punk, there must have been a hundred bands in 1977 and it seems like they have all disappeared. Maybe it was never meant to last, nihilistic. There are no punks around here. A few people like Green Day but that’s a different thing altogether.
10 Alright! Please tell us everything we need to know about your upcoming tour and the new album! We are all super excited to either see you perform live and/or listen to the new songs!
The new album is finished and has been mastered, the artwork is done we are just waiting to sign the deal. It will be out early 2019. We think it’s a better album than the last one and sounds much better than any of the last four Diamond Head albums. It was produced and mixed By Rasmus Bom Andersen. We are all looking forward to the tour, it started last Friday 5th October in London and carries on until Belfast on 24th November. Its the longest run of European dates any of us have ever done. It’s quite scary looking down the long list of dates and wondering how the hell we are going to do it and how it will all pan out!
Thank you Brian!
Until the next one!