Diamond Head

First American Tour.... ever!
by Mike Huberty
August 2011

As the Seventies snorted on, the hard rock genre started bloating into the drug-fueled excesses of classic rock. Punk rock came in with its simple chords and snotty attitude to threaten metal into an early oblivion. Rockers that were into guitar solos and liked listening to men that scream like women needed a louder and faster response in order to save metal. Riding in like knights in leather armor, The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was that response. Bands like Iron Maiden, Mötorhead, and Judas Priest were at the forefront of the genre, eventually even gaining acceptance from the mainstream which had previously shunned the biker and fetish gear (for God’s sakes, you can buy Maiden t-shirts at Kohl’s!)

One of the most influential and important bands of the NWOBHM (as it is usually abbreviated as) was Diamond Head. Even casual metal fans have heard Metallica’s version of “Am I Evil?” (and if you haven’t, get thee to iTunes now!) and that’s probably their most famous song. Lead guitarist Brian Tatler, formed the original band in 1976 and has kept it alive through various incarnations over the decades and is spearheading the band on a US tour that will hit brand new locations for the band. Fresh off festival gigs in Europe serving as the opening salvo in the sonic assault of the Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax), Diamond Head will be delivering the goods all over more intimate rock clubs in the next few weeks.

Even while being in one of the most influential proto-Thrash bands on the planet, Tatler still sounds humble when he describes the difference between those big festivals and the smaller venues. “At a stadium show” he says, “you feel a lot more pressure to perform and to get it exactly right, very often they are being recorded or filmed and that is one more thing to worry about , that it will be captured forever so you don’t want to make any mistakes. I still enjoy playing live whether it is to a small club or a stadium, they both have their merits. As long as the crowd enjoy it then that is all that matters.” That humility extends to his music as well. “My first main influence was Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore.” Tatler says, “I wanted to play like him and when I got my first guitar I the first thing in learned to play was the riff to ‘Smoke On The Water’ (author’s note: The riff that launched a thousand bands!) one string with one finger in the wrong key.” He continues, “I have been trying to improve ever since I started in 1975, I am still learning all the time even now. I know I will never be the best, that dawned on me when I heard the first Yngwie Malmsteen album in 1984, I knew I would never be that good. I really like Michael Schenker, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, and Eric Johnson. I don’t consider myself a shredder, in am more interested in song writing than playing fast solos.”

While Tatler still feels that “Am I Evil?” is their best song (other favorites are “Home”, “Give It To Me”, and “To The Devil His Due”), he’s not remotely interested in retiring just because his most famous work is entering its fourth decade. “There are too many places I have yet to visit to retire.”, he says. “As long as Diamond Head is offered decent work and we all want to do it then it will continue until that changes. A US tour like we are about to undertake is something that we should have done in 1982 or 83. It’s crazy that it has taken so long to do a proper long tour of the US… If I had my time over I would still be a guitarist in Diamond Head but I would try and take more care of the business, ultimately that is what will keep the band going.” And for advice for aspiring musicians, he beats on the same valuable mantra that has carried him since the band began. “Write songs, write songs, write songs”, he says. “Good songs are easily the most important thing… don’t wait to find a good manager, do it yourself if necessary.”

This is Diamond Head’s first trip to the Midwest and they hit Station 4 in St. Paul August 24th, The Pour House in Wisconsin Rapids on August 25th with Time To Kill, and Shank Hall in Milwaukee on August 28th. For those going to the show, Tatler promises a night for metalheads to remember. “Diamond Head in full flow, an experience you are never likely to forget. We will be playing all the best stuff and taking no prisoners.”

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