Kayleigh MG chats with Diamond Head co-founder and guitarist Brian Tatler.
When I remember the fact that Diamond Head‘s first demo was released in 1977, it blows my mind every time. It’s production is certainly rough around the edges but songs like ‘Shoot Out the Lights’ and ‘Streets of Gold’ were two of the first tracks to exhibit that classic NWOBHM sound. The emotive vocals, guitar tone and incredible guitar solos, made it apparent to many that Diamond Head were something special from the get-go.
Coming from Stourbridge in the Midlands, Diamond Head were one of a handful of other inspirational heavy metal acts coming from this region. Bands such as Judas Priest, Witchfinder General (also from Stourbridge) and Black Sabbath had all gained different levels of success within the scene. Brian Tatler, Sean Harris, Colin Kimberley and Duncan Scott were no different, as they hit up NWOBHM with a storm.
They were set for success from the very beginning, but sadly have never fully gained the recognition that they deserve. Although, everyone knows of the major influence they have had on many bands. With Metallica covering enough Diamond Head material to release their very own Diamond Head covers album.
After a few break-ups, line-up and label changes, Diamond Head are still going strong. They are currently fronted by a phenomenal vocalist- Rasmus Bom Anderson, who, since 2014 has brought a fantastic new energy to live performances. However, it is guitarist, co-founder and original member Brian Tatler who keeps the name and power of Diamond Head alive.
Kayleigh MG had the pleasure of meeting with Brian to discuss his inspirations, Diamond Head, heavy metal …oh, and what he thought of the Midlands’ famous orange chips.
Kayleigh: It’s such a pleasure to meet you, Brian. Thank you for taking the time to talk to The Carouser today.
Brian: Not a problem at all. My pleasure. I’ve spent hours driving but it’ll be absolutely fine!
Kayleigh: One of the many reasons we wanted to talk to you today, is because we have been celebrating our idols. You have inspired many musicians and fans including us, and so we wanted to find out a little more about what has made you the person you are today.
Brian: Oh well thanks very much. That’s nice in’t it!
Kayleigh: Who would you say inspired you from the very beginning?
Brian: It’s always a difficult question, this. My icons though, would be Led Zeppelin. They have been my favourite band probably since I was about 15 years old! Guitar-wise, I would go Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker and I also really like Eddie Van Halen. So, a mix of all that.
Kayleigh: Amazing! We saw you playing with Uli Jon Roth last year, are you a fan?
Brian: Oh, absolutely! Uli’s great. I must say, though. I’m more of a ‘song’ guy. I like to hear songs, than I do just listening to guitar technique. Although I appreciate the guitar playing of players like say, Steve Vai, I much prefer to listen to a band who’ve got songs.
Kayleigh: So, coming from the Midlands, Stourbridge in particular. How did it feel bringing Diamond Head alive at a time that there were so many incredible acts from the Midlands doing so well? Do you remember how it felt being a part of such an important moment in heavy metal history?
Brian: Oh yeah, absolutely. I was around bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest- who i’d already seen a couple of times and really looked up to- it was inspiring and fantastic that they were local! It made it more reachable. You know, they weren’t from LA- or somewhere i’d never even visited. They were close to home. You’d hear stories about how and where they’d started, where they’d rehearsed and played, it felt like- “I can do this!”
When we started, we certainly imitated bands like that. Although as a band I like to think we always had a broad taste within rock. All 4 members liked lots of different bands so it gave us something more. I think it helped us come up with something original. When the NWOBHM scene happened around 1979, we were prepared for that. We were ready. We’d already been going 3 years- so perfectly ripe to be signed by a label, you see.
I was actually totally unaware of the other bands around the country like Def Leppard and Saxon. Until Sounds Magazine featured them and we realised this was something far bigger! There were loads of bands like that back then.
Kayleigh: Are you aware of any younger bands who are trying to keep NWOBHM and traditional heavy metal alive? Bands like Seven Sisters. Ooh and Dark Forest, who are actually from Dudley!
Brian: They’re not are they? How come I don’t know ’em? I’ll have to have a look!
Kayleigh: They’re brilliant- you absolutely should! Actually, whilst we are on the Midlands subject. Have you ever tried orange chips?
Brian: Orange what? Chips made from oranges?
Kayleigh: Haha! Apparently, a Dudley special…according to some.
Brian: Ooh right yeah, I’ve tried ’em I think. They’re nice, I think. Chips aren’t very healthy though so I don’t have them too often. Definitely didn’t know they were a Dudley special…
But yeah, i’ll definitely try to remember Dark Forest. Not too many heavy metal bands about these days. More of these growly types. *Growls*
Kayleigh: So, I have to ask you. My favourite Diamond Head track is ‘Sucking My Love’. I would love to know how you were able to develop your guitar sound to actually seem as if it is building up to orgasm. That, combined with Sean Harris’ vocals on that track in particular is almost blush-worthy!
Brian: Haha…well, you’re right yeah. I don’t know really. I guess I just constructed it so it built up. Started low and slow and then built up to a crescendo with more complicated licks. The track built up and up and up. I worked the solo out of over time and hopefully I achieved the goal.
Kayleigh: I assure you, you did! Is there an event in your career that stands out to you most?
Brian: Ooh it would have to be playing Reading Festival in 1982. It just seemed like an upward trajectory for the band. We played well, it was recorded for a live album and it was just brilliant. Unfortunately we didn’t go higher like some bands, like Iron Maiden. But hey, we can’t all be Iron Maiden. Everyone would like to be more successful.
Kayleigh: Do you have any ‘rock star’ stories that you could share with us? When we interviewed Europe they said they threw some TVs out of windows and danced in fountains at one point.
Brian: Oooh, I think I might have thrown a TV Times out the window at some point. Haha. No, but really, we’ve never been that sort of band.
I just get satisfaction of doing a great job really. I mean, I do of course enjoy a drink now and then.
Kayleigh: Do you have a drink of choice?
Brian: Probably just lager. You know where you are with lager, really.
Kayleigh: So would you jump on the band wagon that many bands have and create your own alcoholic beverage?
Brian: If we did do it… it’d have to be something like ‘Am I Evil Brew’ wine, or bitter or something.
Kayleigh: Yes! You should absolutely do it.
Well, Brian. It has been such a pleasure speaking with you and thank you so much for taking the time to do so. We’ll look forward to seeing you on the road again soon!