It’s been a while since The Guv’nor caught up with Diamond Head — almost two years, in fact, since he waved goodbye to the band after their show at Sharkey’s in Liverpool, NY.
Since then, the rollercoaster ride that is DH has continued unabated. Problems with management companies, record labels, and tour promoters have gone hand-in-hand with a difficult yet ultimately triumphant tour of Europe and a groundbreaking new album, The Coffin Train.
To find out everything that has happened to the band since September 2017, The Guv’nor caught up with guitarist Andy “Abbz” Abberley, bassist Dean Ashton, and vocalist Rasmus Bom Anderson.
Here’s what they had to say.
Prior to the Sharkey’s show, in July, Diamond Head had just started work on a new album. The album took over a year to complete and, despite being mastered in the middle of September, 2018, it sat on the studio shelf before only now seeing the light of day. Why that was so won’t be much of a mystery to anyone who understands the music business.
First, there were problems lining up the right management deal. A brief relationship with Thrashville Management, founded by Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and his son, Justis came to a sudden and unexpected end in the middle of 2018.
Dean: It was an awesome experience getting to work with Dave. I was a big Megadeth fan as a kid, so getting to meet him a couple of times was cool. He and his band were very hospitable to me and Ras when they played the o2 in London.
Ras: It was a big blow to all of us as there was so much great stuff happening in the wings and it all fell to pieces. I have nothing but great respect to Dave Mustaine and Justis Mustaine. They were super friendly and supportive and I believe wanted this to work out as much as we did, but sadly it didn’t.
Eventually, DH signed with Siren Artist Management, which looks like a great fit for both the band and company, who have a large roster of hard rock and metal bands, including Saxon, Europe, Uriah Heep, and Thin Lizzy.
But even though the management deal was sorted, the label deal was still slow in coming.
Abbz: Management wanted to get everything right just before release.
Ras: As things go in the business, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. We had a label and deal on the table in 2018, but they fell through and we lost lot of time because of that.
On the upside, the deal the band finally signed with Silver Lining Music in March of this year again looks to be a great partnership, with the label boasting another large roster of metal acts, including Saxon and Europe again along with Girlschool and Motörhead.
Dean: The delay was a little frustrating, but once Siren Management then Silver Lining got onboard, things starting moving pretty quickly. We’ve found the perfect team now.
Abbz: Silver Lining have been so professional, so helpful, its a whole new level of experience for me.
But the big event of 2018 was the grueling 38-date UK and European tour that was almost doomed when European tour promoter, Agentur EAM, filed for bankruptcy, stranding support bands Gin Annie and Statement in Belgium as the EU dates began and forcing them off the tour.
Ras: It was a bit of a shock that the booking agency were put into bankruptcy early into the tour and it caused a lot of financial and logistical stress and disappointment to ourselves and the support bands we had with us on tour. That was definitely the biggest low.
The band then had to endure other indignities at the hands of incompetent local promoters. There was the Potsdam show, where so few people showed up that the band invited them all on stage for the “Am I Evil” encore. And there was the show at the Colosseum Club in Košice, Slovakia, where the lads had to pay for their own contract rider.
The band was even affected by the gilets jaunes strikes that hit France in November, which forced them to cancel the last European show and ride a ferry for 32 hours to bypass the strikes and make the final dates of the tour in the UK on time.
Dean: A real lowlight was having to cancel the last show in Zaragoza. We were forced to make the decision due to road closures in France. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it over on the next tour.
But the shows in Poland in early November more than made up for the negatives and provided a major highlight for the band who won over the audiences with their usual high-energy performances.
Abbz: Poland in particular was a real eye-opener for us. The crowds were on another level. When we needed a lift after the booking agent troubles, they certainly supplied a confidence boost.
Ras: The biggest positivity for the tour came not long after the big low and was definitely our shows in Poland. We had a mixed experience with venues and crowds on the tour to that point, but the Polish shows were out of this world. Super engaged nice fans and totally up for a killer night. It definitely gave us the lift we needed to soldier through the tour.
Dean: The highlight was definitely the three shows in Poland. They’re really into their metal over there. They were some of the best attended shows, and the crowds were amazing. We can’t wait to go back.
Which brings us to the news that DH fans, and fans of metal in general, have been waiting for almost three years — the release of their eighth studio album, The Coffin Train.
The brief for the album sounded pretty simple on paper: make an album that sounds like vintage DH but which sounds contemporary enough that new fans will … ahem … jump onboard. It’s a hard feat for any band to pull off, but if anyone can do it, it’s Diamond Head.
Abbz: It’s an honest reflection of how we feel DH should sound for today, moving forward but still tipping our hat to the DH legacy.
Ras: A lot of work has been put into this record and we hope that it will sit well with all Diamond Head fans and maybe reach some new ones too.
Indeed, that’s exactly what happened when the first single and album opener, “Belly of the Beast,” was released in March, judging by the almost 30,000 YouTube views and the overwhelming number of positive comments that followed.
Ras: It’s a relentless song and probably the fastest song Diamond Head has ever written. Pure energy with echoes of “Helpless,” “The Prince,” and “Streets of Gold.”
Dean: I love the fast-paced energy of the tune. I can’t wait to play it live.
But Diamond Head’s ambition goes well beyond The Coffin Train’s release. It embodies the relentless energy and optimism of a band now well into its fifth decade and still hungry for the success they so richly deserve.
Dean: There’s lots of shows coming up, including some massive festivals [most notably Wacken and Hellfest — The Guv’nor]. There’s also talk of shows in Australia and South America, which would be amazing.
Abbz: We want to play to as many people as possible, get the album to as many sets of ears we can, show our fan base that their support is so crucial and so greatly appreciated, explore new territories, and win over some new admirers.
Will The Coffin Train help Diamond Head pull into that elusive station? Find out in the next Thoughts from the Guv’nor.