Many things have happened in the King Diamond camp since their last visit to Finland. The band has released two studio albums ABIGAIL II and THE PUPPET MASTER and and also a live album called "Deadly Lullabies" which came out in 2004. Although it’s already been three years since the release of "Puppet Master" King Diamond hasn’t been able to do any touring outside U.S for a while and actually this tour was his first in Europe in five years. So it was about time to get an update on what’s going on in the world of King Diamond. I managed to reach bands guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead before the band’s first sold out night in Helsinki and they were nice enough to have this brief conversation.. Hope you like it!
INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
TRANSCRIPTION BY ANDY OSBORN
NEW KING DIAMOND ALBUM
First of all I would like to hear something about the new King Diamond album. How the process is going and when we can expect final product to be released?
Andy: I started composing songs in December 2004 and then we had a little break because we did a US tour in between and what else happened? I got divorced, I guess. [laughs] That took some time also but we finally composed the last few songs last December and January and then we started recording the album in March in Dallas, Texas. Then we went home for about three weeks. We recorded guitar, bass guitar, drums and a few keyboard lines. And as far as I know, King hasn’t really started working on the lyrics for that yet but he might be able to start during the tour now, start working on lyrics. He’s got a very brief storyline but I don’t know any details about that. Then, after the tour, Mike’s going to go over to the studio and record leads and solos, and same with me over in Gothenburg, I’m going to start recording solos and then King, as soon as he’s done with the lyrics of course, he’s going to start recording the vocals in Dallas. Then we will get together in the beginning of September and start mixing the whole album. Then hopefully it’s going to be released say, end of January or February; something like that followed by a US tour, hopefully?
Do you already have a title for that album?
Andy: No titles for that yet, no. I just know it’s going to be thirteen songs on the album.
Is it going to be a themed album once again?
Andy: Yes. I don’t really have the story lines since there are no lyrics written so far.
What kind of musical direction is this album? Will it be something like Puppet Master or something else?
Andy: I think it’s going to be better.
Mike: In my opinion I think it’s a bit darker; the mood of the songs is a bit more evil or whatever you want to call it. But it’s a really good thing, in my taste.
I spoke with your drummer and he said it’s the most aggressive record you’ve ever made, it’s more straight stuff, more like early Mercyful Fate, do you agree?
Andy: No, not if you compare it to the last one.
Mike: I don’t think itï¿½s that much heavier.
Andy: I think it’s more aggressive, some of the songs. But still, a lot of melodies in it. So when it comes to a new riff that we’ve never used before…..some of the stuff is totally King Diamond, within the frames of King Diamond. But some of the riffs are like, wow, cool you know? A little bit different than we’ve done before. I think itï¿½s going to be a great album. It’s just that it’s a natural progression. I think that Puppet Master was really good and we thought that wow, it’s going to be hard to beat this but we worked on riffs for this one and we already made it to be better than Puppet Master.
Itï¿½s usually Andy and King who wrote all music for King Diamond albums. How about the rest of the guys? Mike have you written anything for this forth coming album?
Mike: No, Iï¿½ve never written nothing for King Diamond. I wrote some stuff for Mercyful Fate but not for Kind Diamond. Not so far.
Andy: Matt [Thompson] came up with some riffs for the last album that he and King worked with but I canï¿½t even remember what song it was?
Mike: "No More Me." That was his riff.
Andy: Yeah, initially I think it was then they worked out something together for that album but now itï¿½s just King and me again?
One question about the Abigail II album, which was released in 2002, wasnï¿½t that like a kind of attempt to get back in your early roots like in the vein of the first Abigail album and how did you succeed with that?
Andy: No, I don’t think we really tried to get back to the roots on that one. Even though we talked about it for a while to get Roberto the old producer to come in and do some stuff and maybe have Michael Denner to do some guest lead and maybe Mikkey Dee to do some guest drums and stuff like that, but we thought, no this is almost twenty years later so we wanted to follow up the story but have a sound that fits for today like a modern sound. So I don’t really think we tried to get back to the roots on that.
Mike: It’s always hard to do sequels like that because the band progresses and the line up was new and even it was the old line up it wouldn’t sound like the first Abigail anyway because people progress and get influenced by different stuff and change their music tastes.
For Abigail II, you didn’t have any touring in Europe because King had some problems with his visa problems, right?
Andy: Well, it’s been five years since we’ve toured in Europe. Yeah, 2001 was the last time. Since we couldn’t leave the country we did two US tours instead and we recorded a new album and mixed the live album and also did Abigail II. But, what can I say, it takes some time to deal with the visas and all that but everything is clear now and as soon as it was we decided to go for a European tour.
Like you said this is your first time in Europe in five years and you have toured only in U.S. What about other territories, for example, when you guys last time played in Japan?
Andy: We’ve never been there and weï¿½ve never been in Australia either. We would really like to go to South America again because it’s been a long time since we were there. I wish we have did those places but it’s all about getting some promoter to have us down there, but there no plans at this point.
When was that South American tour?
Because you donï¿½t have actual album to promote on this tour you are now doing more or a less a kind of "best of…" set on this tour…
Mike: I don’t know about that. For me this is almost like the second part of the world tour. It’s really similar to the Deadly Lullabies: Live thing that we did in the states last year.
Andy: But from the beginning we had like four or five songs from Puppet Master? Yeah, back in 2004 we toured in the US; we had three or four songs from Puppet Master and we took them out one by one and replaced them with different songs. For different reasons I guess but now we’re playing only two from that album. Yeah, I guess it’s like a best of. It seems like the fans really like the set we are playing now.
Are there any songs you guys personally would like to add to the current set list? For example I would like to hear at least something from Voodooï¿½
Andy: It’s just hard to fit everything in. We want to do some of the best songs through the twenty year career but some things got to go. But we still want to promote the last album, so we’re doing two songs from Puppet Master and then try to squeeze everything else in. It’s kind of hard to fulfill all the wishes from the people. You want some from Voodoo and somebody else wants some from Spider’s Lullabies. I guess we’re trying to give the audience what they want but it’s really hard to put all the songs in an hour and a half. So some things have to suffer, I guess.
Mike: I would like to play more songs from the Them album because that’s my favorite album and I would like that very much. I don’t think thereï¿½s any particular reasons why we don’t play them it’s just….but I would like to play "Tea" and "Bye, Bye Missy" and maybe "Twilight Symphony."
KING DIAMOND DVD?
There has been lots of talk about possible a DVD release from King Diamond at some point?
Andy: We’re working on it right now collecting materials just to see what we have. But I don’t really know when itï¿½s going to be together and released. But we are planning to release something, yes.
Thatï¿½s really great news because there isnï¿½t too much good quality material available even in bootleg format from King Diamond. I didnï¿½t like the quality of the bonus DVDï¿½s either which were released as a bonus for KD re-master albums some years agoï¿½
Andy: Well, you’ll be surprised at how good it looks and sounds even if it’s some old stuff from 1989 or 1990? So we’ll put out something that I don’t think will disappoint the fans.
How about doing a complete live show DVD from the current tour?
Andy: Yeah, we’ve been talking about it. I don’t really know where or when itï¿½s going to happen but we’ve just been talking about it. I guess we’re a little slow here "laughs"
BITS AND PIECES
Andy, when you first started working King Diamond, how did it actually start?
Andy: Basically I and Mikkey Dee played in the same band over in Gothenburg back in 1984. Then Mikkey quit the band and he moved to Denmark with some Swedish guys who had some contacts with Michael Denner and Tim Hansen from Mercyful Fate. Then, when King decided to leave Mercyful Fate and go on with King Diamond thing, Mikkey Dee was asked to join the band together with Michael Denner. In the very beginning they had another Swedish guitarist for a little while but he didn’t work out in the studio so Mikkey asked me to come down and check things out. The day after he called me I took my guitar and my amplifier and went down to Copenhagen and went into the studio and did a few lead things and I was in the band.
Mike, how much were you into King Diamond before you joined?
Mike: I listened to them a lot when I was younger. I bought the first EP on a really, really expensive import. Never had heard about the band and just bought the record and I liked it very much. It’s pretty expensive these days and it’s hard to get.
Andy, how about those other projects you have done during the past twenty years. What other things have you done besides working with King Diamond?
Andy: Yeah, a lot of producing. I’ve been doing a lot of producing and I’ve also been a guest lead guitarist on lots of different bands like Dimmu Borgir, At the Gates, In Flames, oh man I can’t remember everything. But, I have no actual band project so far but I’ve got one coming upï¿½
I remember about five years ago you said you are planning a solo album. Is that still going to happen someday?
Andy: Yeah, maybe. We’ll see; I don’t think it’s going to be a solo album I think it’s going to be more like a band thing because I want everyone to be involved in everything.
Will you sing by yourself?
Andy: No, I won’t do that "laughs"
One of the most interesting things you have done outside of King Diamond is your work on Deathï¿½s "Individual Thought Patterns". Deathï¿½s music is pretty different compared to King Diamond stuff, how did you ended up working with him in a first place?
Andy: Well, I knew Chuck Schuldiner was a big King Diamond fan so when they moved on to Roadrace Records, which was the name back then, he called Monty who was the A&R guy at Roadrace and said, "hey, I really want to have Andy play on this album" so Monty called me and kind of invited me into the band. That was back in 1993, I believe. So I said yeah sure. I wanted to do something different because we weren’t doing anything with King Diamond at that time. So I just flew over to Florida and I spent like ten days there just having a lot of fun with the guys and putting down leads. That’s about it. I never toured with the guys or anything but we were in touch for a few years. Chuck used to call me every new years eve; "Hey Andy, how are you doing? "Blah blah blah…" He was a fucking cool guy.
How did you react when you heard what happened to Chuck?
Andy: Well of course it’s horrible when you hear things like that. What can I say, shit happens. It’s too badï¿½ He was a really cool guy.
THE FUTURE OF MERCYFUL FATE?
Mike because you are here something has to be asked about Mercyful Fate. What is the state of Mercyful Fate at the moment, I mean is that band alive at all?
Mike: Yes, I think so. We haven’t really talked about anything else but we haven’t put the band to rest. Now everything is revolving around the King Diamond band because we’ve got a good lineup here and we get good shows and the crowd seems to be growing a little bit tour after tour. I can’t really tell but I think King wants to focus on King Diamond for the moment and that’s fine with me. But in brief, Mercyful Fate isn’t officially dead yet.
There are rumors about possible DVD release from Mercyful Fate?
Mike: Yes, that’s right, but I don’t know when.
Could you ever imagine doing another tour with both bands in the future?
Mike: No, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
In my opinion, both bands suffered from that?
Mike: Yeah, especially King’s vocals. So it’s kind of hard to do that. I mean we did it once and that’s fine but it was a good experience.
Have you heard Hank Shermanï¿½s project band Force of Evil?
Mike: Yeah, I’ve heard some of it. Hal Patino is in that band too.
What are your opinions about that band?
Mike: I think it’s pretty good, but I haven’t heard that much. My own personal music taste is a bit heavier, toward the darker, slower side of music but I still like Hank’s music in Force of Evil because it’s more classical oriented like Judas Priest style and I like that a lot, it’s what I grew up with.
Andy: I’ve only heard a couple songs. I think it’s cool. I think its fine but it’s not my cup of tea.
Okay guys. Our fifteen minutes seems to be used… Thanx for you time!
Andy & Mike: No problem
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