Diamond Head – All Has Been RevealedSunday, 10th April 2016
Dead Rhetoric: Diamond Head is no stranger to struggles with record companies, and I’m referring to your time with MCA. Looking back and seeing how things are today, what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?
Tatler: It’s all changed. It’s strange how people don’t sell CDs like they used to. That was your main source of income years ago. Now it’s live—concert tickets and t-shirts. Now, people are giving away albums. Prince did it, Muse did it, but it’s all changed. There seems to be more festivals, more outlets. You’ve got internet, digital, Spotify. You’ve got more press, more magazines, more bands, more guitars, more instruments…it’s just more of everything. You’re almost bombarded now and the good bands have to find their way through all of the chatter.
Dead Rhetoric: You were with MCA for two albums.
Tatler: Yeah, just two albums, I’m afraid.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view that time now?
Tatler: We were quite a young band. We signed to MCA when we were 21 years-old. I didn’t have much of a clue how it all worked. I was just focusing on trying to make the best of what we had. We had a band, we wrote songs, and we did gigs. I didn’t know much about management, or didn’t know much about publishing. I don’t think Diamond Head had good management. It’s been said before that the record company wasn’t right for us anyway. The NWOBHM happened and all of these bands came under the attention of Sounds, [like on] the front cover of Sounds. All of the record companies said, “Okay, we’ll have a look at this.” So Phonogram snapped up Def Leppard; EMI got Iron Maiden. And we seemed to mess about and waste some time. It took us a good 18 months before we signed to MCA in January 1982. It was almost like we were waiting for the perfect deal or something, which was probably not going to happen. We missed the boat a bit. We should have gotten on with it. We never toured America. The management couldn’t get it together. It was too big for them; it was too expensive. You could do those things for cheap if you are clever. We just concentrated on trying to make it big in England.
Dead Rhetoric: Was Neat Records a consideration at that point?
Tatler: No, we never considered Neat. We wanted to sign to a major; we wanted to be like Led Zeppelin. We had grand ideas about where we should be and we wouldn’t have considered Neat. I know they had Fist, and Raven. We wouldn’t have wanted that. We wouldn’t have gone with a smaller record label. The first album we put out ourselves, so we owned it, but it’s a shame none of the labels picked up on it. In hindsight, it’s become a classic. At the time, nobody wanted it.
Dead Rhetoric: You got so much good press early on. Did that mold your expectations at the time?
Tatler: Possibly. You have a self-belief; you’re confident when you’re 19. You think you’re going to live forever and take on the world. We were almost arrogant about where we could potentially be. We probably had no idea how to get there. We thought we were good, we could write good songs, and Sean [Harris] is a great singer. It’s a tough business. We fell by the wayside within two years of signing to MCA. We got dropped.
Dead Rhetoric: Borrowed Time and Canterbury were right after each other.
Tatler: Right, and we got dropped in January of 1985. The money stopped and the road crew disappeared. We couldn’t do anything. We were back to square one.
Dead Rhetoric: What was the atmosphere in the band like around Canterbury? People seem to have the most trouble with that one.
Tatler: Yeah, it was our “difficult” third album. Unfortunately, we lost our drummer, we sacked our drummer during the making of. Our bass player quit; he didn’t think it was much fun anymore. We gone into this mode of trying to make a perfect album with Mike Shipley who just came off of working nine months on Pyromania. It was done at an expensive studio called Battery Studios and we were the next band in. We were just a garage band and he had to make a great album out of this. He’s an engineer, not a producer. His job was to capture the sound. We could have gone with someone who could have pushed us along a bit rather than someone who told us everything was wrong and out of tune. [laughs] Our drummer wasn’t used to playing to a click track. We didn’t use one on the first, or possibly the second album…I can’t remember. We had to use one on Canterbury; he wasn’t used to it. He hated it.
Dead Rhetoric: Because of the Def Leppard connection, were you influenced by what they were doing on Pyromania?
Tatler: We liked the sound of Pyromania and we thought it would be great if our songs were produced like that, not realizing that album is stripped back to the bone, then rebuilt bit by bit, overdub by overdub over nine months and costing 700,000 pounds. We were supposed to make the album in two weeks. We liked the sound of Pyromania; we were impressed by it. It was hard not to be in ’83. It wasn’t the right album for us to listen to. We grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. You know, the raw kind of performance. When you first hear Led Zeppelin I, it blows your speakers out. We wanted it to be like that. We probably weren’t good enough players to capture that kind of performance. We were still pretty young, and we couldn’t possibly afford to hire someone like Mutt Lange for nine months. We were caught between the two and it didn’t work.
Dead Rhetoric: You, Satan, Saxon, and many more from the NWOBHM are still around. What do you think that says about that particular era?
Tatler: We’re survivors to have lasted this long and not thrown in the towel. It’s been up and down. We’ve spent many a long day driving in a transit van going up and down the motorways and playing little gigs, trying to keep going, trying to make something happen. Occasionally, you get a break—we got offered Sonicsphere in 2011; we got offered a support slot on the Megadeth tour in 2005. We did a 22-date tour across Europe and it was fantastic. Occasionally, someone throws us a bone. On the whole, it’s a struggle to keep a band like Diamond Head going. We’re not going to give up. There’s something that keeps driving me, trying to protect this band since 1976. I still, to this day, love it, and I love playing Diamond Head songs.
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