One of my favorite albums of 2019 is The Coffin Train from DIAMOND HEAD. I blast it easily once a week since I got it in my grubby little paws a few months back. So when the opportunity arose to interview longtime guitarist and songwriter Brian Tatler I jumped all over it. One problem…it was at 11:00 am my time. So you know what that means, right? Time for another Hiding In a Broom Closet interview!! Over the span of 15 minutes I had a lovely chat with Brian about the new record, what he’s listening to and more. Check it:
Amps: This album is wicked! I just got to hear the whole thing this morning and man alive, I’m impressed!
Brian: Well, thank you for that. After putting all that effort into the album I am so happy to hear people enjoying it.
Amps: Between the killer riffs and Ras’ (Bom Andersen) fantastic voice this is the epitome of Heavy Metal done right.
Brian: We put a lot of time into it, so thank you. And you’re right, Ras is a fantastic singer. It’s been a good journey from the demos up to the finished mixes and mastering. I’m very pleased with it.
Ras has put so much into this one as well; we co-wrote a lot of the material then he wrote the lyrics, and he produced and mixed the record. He’s put so much of himself into this.
Amps: You’ve said that a lot of it was written on the road. So how long did everything take?
Brian: It started the end of 2016 when I compiled some demos I had made at home. I gave a bunch to Ras, then in January of 2017 I started going down to his home studio. We’d sit with two guitars, work on my ideas, and build on them. Sometimes you’d say, “I like this one but it hasn’t got a chorus.” and we co-wrote the lead off track “Belly of the Beast” from scratch in his studio. That was the last song we wrote for the album. We bring the songs to the band and we work out things like the arrangements, tempo, and then finally when we think we’ve got it we hit the recording studio.
In the meantime, as this was going on, we did a tour of the U.S. and Canada, so while we were on the road Ras started to get lyric ideas. We edited the drums on a laptop while on tour as well. Then we were back in the studio to do bass, guitars, and vocals, which finished up in 2018. Then Ras did the orchestration at home, then the mixing which took months. That wasn’t finished until September, I believe. Not quite two years, in between tours, we spent on this one.
Amps: There is no better track to start a record than “Belly of the Beast”. That is How To Open an Album 101!!
Brian: (Laughs) I agree! If there’s one thing I’ve learned is to punch them in the face with Track One! I remember RAINBOW’S “Kill the King” and JUDAS PRIEST’S “Exciter” as incredible, fast album openers, and that’s what is exciting to me as well.
Amps: Any favorite tracks on the disc?
Brian: Oh my favorite is “The Coffin Train,” the title track. It’s got a great vocal, some great riffs, a big solo, everything that I like. The arrangement is very interesting with the light and shade. I always try to get dynamics into a song and I think I probably got it right in that song more than any of the others.
Amps: Unfortunately I missed your last tour. Please tell me you’re hitting the U.S. again.
Brian: There’s nothing planned at the moment, but we’ve got proper professional management now, a company called Siren Management who manage SAXON, EUROPE, and BLACK STAR RIDERS. We’re waiting for the right opportunity. We’ve got a load of festivals lined up in Europe and the UK, but we wanna get out to the States either late this year or early 2020. It’s coming, we’ve already done some groundwork.
Amps: What are you listening to these days? Old stuff, new stuff, rock, metal, polka?
Brian: (Laughs) polka??? I’m still a big fan of 70’s bands. i think that’s my favorite decade of music. So I still listen to a lot of those bands. I also like quite a few of the 90’s bands like NIRVANA and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, SOUNDGARDEN. And as far as the contemporary stuff goes I like MUSE, BIFFY CLYRO, THE WHITE STRIPES, things like that. There’s a few new bands I rather like such as RAVENEYE, MONSTER TRUCK, and THE AMAZONS. But if I’m honest, most of what I listen to is my favorite stuff from the 70’s.
Amps: Away from music what do you like to do for relaxation and to unwind?
Brian: I like to try and keep fit. I’ve had a few health issues the last couple of years so I like to walk, cycle, and go swimming when I can. I read a lot, and I enjoy movies. I don’t go and see bands as much anymore because I’ve been doing so for years. I don’t go out and get my ears blasted as much as I used to.
Amps: What would you like the listener to take away from this album when the last strains of “Until We Burn” ring out?
Brian: I hope they just enjoy the songs and the craft. I love music, I’m a music fan, and I want to write stuff that people like.
I try to make an album that I like and that others will, too. I’ve been listening to some albums for 40 years because they just got it right. I couldn’t do any better than that myself, nobody could. So I always try to make a great record with great songs. If you can do something that stands the test of time you’ve done something right.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the DIAMOND HEAD fans out there?
Brian: The album is out now, and I hope you all buy it and enjoy it. Please let us know, and maybe come and see the band when we tour near you. It has been my pleasure to make this music and play guitar for the past 40-plus years. I still love playing.
There you have it. He’s right, you know. The Coffin Train is an outstanding record and one I think that fans old and new will simply love. I truly enjoyed talking with Brian Tatler and I hope and pray that DIAMOND HEAD make it back onto U.S. soil sooner rather than later.