Keyboard player Henrik ‘The Duke of Honk’ Widén – Diamond Dogs
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Johan Haller at Sound Pollution for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Wild Kingdom for the promo pictures of the band.
Additional live pictures of the band and the new line-up is taken from the archive of Anders Sandvall
Here we go, for the first time in metal-rules.com the Swedish classic English inspired rock n roll band Diamond Dogs, which have been in the business for a long time, is featured in the fanzine. The band has been on a hiatus since the departure of their saxophone player Magic Gunnarsson past away. The bands previous album “QUITTERS AND CMPLANINERS” came out in 2015 and a lot of really famous Swedish musicians have played in the band like Stefan ‘Björken’ Björk, (Wilmer X), Johan Johansson (KSMB, Strindbergs KSM3 etc), Robert Dahlqvist (The Hellacopters etc). The band was formed by Sören ‘Sulo’ Karlsson and Anders ‘Boba’ Lindström ( later The Hellacopters) in the early 90’s. Now the band is back with a new album and a new lineup as well, the new release is called DO YOU RECALL ROCK N ROLL AND THE MAGIC SOUL and I had a talk with keyboard player and one of the remaining original members Henrik ‘The Duke of Honk’ Widén. So read the somewhat short interview if you’re interested in reading about the new lineup in the band, the new album and the tour the band did in England and Spain. This is a really good band and if you haven’t heard their music you have to check them out. Enjoy……
Hi how are you doing today? Ready to take on some questions with metal-rules.com?
Hey. Thanks. Every day I don’t have to travel more than six hours in a touring vehicle is a quite pleasant day, so yeah I’m alright. DD just got back from a two week health trip around Spain, in constant physical and mental motion to cover as much of the country as possible. So 8000 kilometers and beers later, I’m all yours, it will be fun!
Let’s travel back in time to 2015 when your saxophone player Magic Gunnarsson tragically past away, his passing led to one last album and a tour before Diamond Dogs was put to rest. Was it hard for you to take the decision of putting the band on ice? What did your fans think of the decision?
Magic was the ultimate band member, fun loyal tough and brilliant, I feel sorry for every rock band who didn’t get to play with him. When he died we lost the spark, it wasn’t a choice we made. But we had to say goodbye to him with that last record, and Magic is there with us on the live bonus cd that comes with the album, but of course there is no other saxophone player on that studio recording, and there never will be.
I think our followers eventually knew what the whole thing was all about, why it came to an end.
And what led up to the decision of re-forming the band once again?
Me and Sulo now have had DD for over a quarter of a century, more than half of our lives, the band has shaped us and is a significant part of who we are. We missed being on the road together with this flying circus. Also there were quite a lot of people out there who wrote to us and shared their personal Diamond Dogs experiences and called for a reunion.
We are obviously very grateful for the fans who helped us realize we still have some more gigs to go.
What respond have you had from fans on the new album RECALL ROCK N ROLL AND THE MAGIC SOUL? And what do media think of it, do you guys care what critics have to say about your work?
As far as I know our dead heads are happy with it, so I’m happy. The media response isn’t my expertise, and to be honest it totally depends who the critics are if you care or not, some of them (who know their rock history) I respect and some of them should look for another hobby.
But I think we are doing alright!
Diamond Dogs gained cult status today, where in the world do you have your biggest fanbase?
Probably in UK and South America
Was it easy to find new members to join the band? The new guys are a bunch of well known names like Martin Slim Martin Thomander (Electric Boys) on guitar, Thomas Broman (Electric Boys) drums and Stefan Bellnäs (Piggyback Riders) on bass.
I knew both Slim and Thomas very well as friends and performers, we have played together many times before in various constellations, so that wasn’t hard at all. Same goes for Stefan Bellnäs, these last years Sulo and Stefan have had a band together with Idde Schultz and Chris Spedding.
In short, these three rockers are on top of their game.
For how long have Lars Karlsson been in Diamond Dogs and why was he the only one that remained a part of the band when the rest of the guys left?
Lars is on his thirteenth year I think, and still the youngster in the band. He is tougher and clearly made of much better material than the former lightweight popers.
Who own the band name? Sulo and Anders Boba Lindström started the band and now it is only Sulo left. What does Lindström think of that the band is active again?
I guess the relatives of the great late Mr Bowie have a pretty good case if it comes to that. His old publisher actually threatened to sue us in a Swedish evening paper in the 90s after we had some success with our first album.
No I’m sure Anders wouldn’t mind, I believe he has been playing with some garage band anyway.
Many of Sweden’s most well known musicians have been members of Diamond Dogs like Stefan Björk (Wilmer X), Robert Strängen Dahlqvist (The Hellacopters), Johan Johansson (KSMB), Stevie Klasson (Hanoi Rocks etc) and the founding member Anders Boba Lindström (The Hellacopters), how come you haven’t kept a solid formation through the years?
Yes all of these guys did a fairly decent job when they were sober I guess, and Strings also was a lovely man, but the only member Sulo and I have missed from time to time is Jesper Karlsson who was our drummer between 1999 and 2008. Magic Gunnarsson isn’t with us anymore, but with this new lineup it feels like we finally have found the high profile players we have been looking for all these years, so it must be a keeper, right!?
The new album RECALL ROCK N ROLL AND THE MAGIC SOUL
When did you began to write material to the new album?
About a year ago.
Is it Sulo that’s written the main part of the material or have the rest of the band also put in some efforts in the song making?
Yes Sulo is undoubtedly our main song writer, I usually have a couple of songs on the records and I’m also taking care of the producing duty. On this new album Sulo and I have written first track ”Recall Rock’n’Roll” together, Sulo wrote all other songs except for the Sam Cooke covers on the b-side.
What are the lyrics about this time and where do you find inspiration to write material?
For this record we first and foremost wanted to connect with the early 70s rock stars in England, no big surprise to our listeners I’m sure! Get into the vibe of Ian Hunter and all those mad glam dandy boys, explore the golden age of rock’n’roll.
Do you have any personal favorite song on the album?
After we finished the album recording session ”Singing with Elvis” was my favorite. I haven’t listen to the album yet, it use to take some time before I do, but I would probably feel the same now. It works really well live too.
Were there any songs that wasn’t featured on the album?
Yes of course there are always a few. We might give them another go next time around.
Where does the title RECALL ROCK N ROLL AND THE MAGIC SOUL come from?
It is simply a description of the album, Recall the glory days of rock music, along with some good ol’ heavy swingin’ Soul, and dedicated to Magic Gunnarsson.
Many bands and artists thinks that their latest album is their best one yet, do you have the same feelings regarding RECALL ROCK N ROLL AND THE MAGIC SOUL?
When it comes to my own list of the world’s best rock bands ever, Beatles Doors or The Stones for instance, it’s impossible and irrelevant to me witch career best album they have made, any of those old heroes, you simply don’t wanna grade their poetry! And I’m gonna say the same thing goes for Diamond Dogs, every album we make catch the spirit of the band at that particular time and place.
Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll (Official Music Video)
How was it to record the album with so many new members? How was the atmosphere in the studio?
Like a dream, sharp and present, on the edge, all live, and barely no rehearsals, we only agree to put maximum energy into it! And engineered by the sweet S Lindvall in the extraordinary Strawberry Studio.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Diamond Dogs play?
It is basic rock’n’roll, that children should learn in school.
Which bands and artists have inspired you through the years?
Alright so… Beatles Doors and Stones I have already told you… Jimi Hendrix Faces Johnny Winter Elvis J Geils band Zeppelin Creedence Jerry Lee Allman Brothers Chuck berry Mott Janis Joplin Bob Dylan John Lee Hooker Steppenwolf Leon Russell Mountain… Then of course other music genres and art forms inspires you as well!
Right before the album was released the band did two live shows in Malmoe as well as two shows in London, how was it to perform together with the new line-up? Which show was the best one?
London is always great for us, the second night Camden was cooking, Martin Thomander owned the stage 100%, the new lads are pure hard glam boogie!
During October Diamond Dogs is touring through Spain, how has the tour gone so far? Any show that have stand out, both positive and negative, so far?
Yeah as I said, you have to enjoy looking at olive trees through a bus window and try not to cut the inside of your mouth on a very dry bocadillo at any highway gas stop.
No Spain is good to us, the venues we play are top notch and the people who come to the shows are phenomenal, singing and dancing with us every night, boys and girls, old and young, dogs and birds, we love it, and Madrid is like a second home to me.
Are there any plans on continuing touring on the new album next year?
Is the band here to stay now or is the album and tour a one time thing?
I think we will hang around for a while.
There are also a drag show group in Sweden called Diamond Dogs that was formed 2002, what do you think about their choice of name?
A few years back we had an agreement with those guys they added drag-show to their name, nice fellas, and at the same time we did a happening together on Gröna Lund stora scen in Stockholm, where the Dragqueens started the show, and then after about two and a half of their songs our roadies ran out and symbolically threw them off stage so the real Diamond Dogs could go up and finish the show.
“The kings are back on their very own throne” can be read in the bio, do you agree with that?
Nah, that’s what you suppose to say, isn’t it?
Well, my time is now up, before we say good bye I really want to thank you for taking the time making the interview and I wish you all the best. Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Alright amigos, stop using your phones all the time, and if you find that hard, call me!
//The Duke of Honk