Diamond Head have been cited by ‘The Big 4’ thrash metal bands as a big influence in terms of guitar work and song-writing. Also being part of the 80s British metal scene with Maiden and Def Lep, it’s clear why Brian Tatler and the Stourbridge boys have had such a big following. Now in their 40th year, Diamond Head topped the bill on the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock, after a seven-year absence. We caught up with guitarist and founding member Brian Tatler to talk about his legacy, festivals, why metal is still popular, and the music industry in 2016.
You are the last band on tonight (Friday) and are on after the main stage headliners, Twisted Sister, what does it feel like to be today’s true headliner?
It’s a perfect spot for us. I think everyone will be up for it by then, we’re doing a full set and it’s a great stage so I’m looking forward to it.
Do you have anything different planned for tonight?
We’re doing a song we have only played once before, and the opening track [Wild On The Streets] we haven’t played for a while. We mix the set up, but there’s certain songs you have to do that people would be disappointed if you didn’t. So we never go away feeling we didn’t make the audience happy. We’re also playing stuff from the new album that we are promoting now. We have a new singer [Rasmus Bom Andersen] who’s fantastic. It’s quite an ‘up’ set – a lot of fast songs. So you need your energy.
Do you feel the fans at Bloodstock being both young and old prove metal is still relevant in 2016?
I always think it’s [metal] is getting bigger, and bigger. And I’ve been saying that for the past 10 years. So it can’t be that it’s peaking , or it has peaked, or it’s going down. There’s so many festivals now, I can never understand how they have enough bands to go around (laughs). I bet they scrabble for the headliners, they probably book festivals a year in advance so your Maidens and Metallicas are booked far ahead in advance. They can’t do all of the festivals so they have exclusivity. It seems to be getting bigger and bigger, which has surprised me – I’ve been doing Diamond Head, on-and-off, for 40 years! And I never expected it to be so big and still going after 40 years. If someone back then had told me, I wouldn’t have believed them and how much metal has changed since then. The way it has progressed and moved in to different genres is amazing.
You just mentioned you have been in the industry for 40 years – do you feel the way bands are playing, even in the past decade, is totally different?
It keeps changing, bands progress and come up with different ways of playing. There’s 9-string guitars now! No-one would have thought of that back then. People are inventive and creative. It keeps going, keeps evolving. Just when you feel you have seen it all – someone comes up with something original. You would have thought the style would have stayed the same if you think about it: We all have guitars, play 12 notes in a way, play the same chords … but we come up with different riffs, chord progressions and lyrics, I don’t see why it would ever stop.
Do you feel Bloodstock is the ideal festival for Diamond Head?
It’s perfect for Diamond Head. We are promoting the new album so this is ideal timing, and it’s going to be a good way of re-introducing Diamond Head to Bloodstock because we haven’t been here in such a long time. Actually, we haven’t done it since it’s been open air! We played it when it was the Derby Assembly Rooms [in 2002]. Been over-looked (laughs).
Will you check any other bands while you are here?
If we’ve got time. I wanted to watch Evil Scarecrow but I missed them. They’re great, I’ve seen them before, a few times. A good bit of fun. The prefect festival band I feel.
What’s next for Diamond Head?
More live dates, we have about 50 this year. In November it’s America and Canada, and then promoting the hell out of the album. It’s had such positive press, may as well just go for it. Go to Europe and tour, tour and tour until we can tour no more! We have discussed the next album and we will probably start writing bits-and-bobs next year. I’ve got ideas, I always have ideas, but it will be at least 2017 before we start writing – let alone recording.
All photography by Ash Crowson. Check out his other work here
You can can see what we though of Diamond Head and 100s of other band’s at Bloodstock 2016 in our full review in RAMzine issue 10, due September. You can also read out highlights:
Keep checking back for more interviews with many more bands from Bloodstock 2016.