|KING DIAMOND - DENMARK||
Fatal Portrait – 1986 – Roadrunner|
Abigail – 1987 – Roadrunner
Them – 1988 – Roadrunner
Conspiracy – 1989 – Roadrunner
The Eye – 1990 – Roadrunner
In Concert 1987 – Abigail – 1991 – Roadrunner
The Spider’s Lullabye – 1995 – Metal Blade
The Graveyard – 1996 – Metal Blade
Voodoo – 1998 – Metal Blade
House Of God – 2000 – Metal Blade
Abigail II – The Revenge – 2002 – Metal Blade
The Puppet Master – 2003 – Metal Blade
Live [Deadly Lullabyes] – 2004 – Metal Blade
Gimme Your Soul... Please – 2007 – Massacre
S= Brats, Black Rose, Mercyful Fate>>KING DIAMOND [KIM BENDIX PETERSEN]>>Mercyful Fate
G= Trafalger, EF Band, Death, Illwill, X-World/5>>ANDY LAROCQUE [ANDERS ALLHAGE]>>Death, Illwill, X-World/5
King Diamond is the name of the band of the colourful former Mercyful Fate singer of the same name. Formed in 1985 upon the rancorous demise of the latter band, King Diamond (Kim Bendix Petersen) took guitarist Michael Denner and bassist Timi Hansen with him and formed a new band. The group issued an industry-only demo followed by an EP called No Presents For Christmas, which also marked the start of the group’s cooperation with Roadrunner Records again, which had the artists under contract. Also part of the team from the start (or day two in actuality) and the only other mainstay since was Swedish guitarist Andy LaRocque formerly of NWOBHM’s EF Band.
KING DIAMOND - THE PUPPET MASTER - METAL BLADE
KING DIAMOND - THE PUPPET MASTER - METAL BLADE
Early afternoon on a warm summer day, I dial a 214-area number on the hour. The phone rings twice before a voice answers, “hello?” Not knowing what to say I hesitate. How am I supposed to address the man at the other end? “Is this King?” Ali “The Metallian” interviews KING DIAMOND. - 1995
Anyone who has ever spoken to King Diamond will tell you the same thing. The man might have been in business for 25 years, but he has lost none of his enthusiasm, zeal or penchant to speak about his band. That is a great thing for an interviewer because one does not need to coax answers out of the singer. He gives without prompting. On the other hand, even six questions might be one too many given a 30-minute slot to talk to the legendary frontman. What to do? Press on and find out as much about the latest news surrounding King Diamond and the story behind the new album, Deadly Lullabyes Live, with as few niceties as possible. - 09.10.2004
METALLIAN: King, it is a genuine pleasure to speak with you again.
KING DIAMOND: Thank you! How are you doing, Ali?
METALLIAN: Let us get right to the questions because we have little time. If you will take me back a couple of years King Diamond and Metal Blade had a disagreement and all live activity was halted as a result. Can you take up the story from that point seeing how the current topic is a live album.
KING DIAMOND: When Abigail II came out we were ready to tour as we had done for every album. We had done that since the beginning. We had tour support and all of a sudden we were told "sorry guys, there is not going to be any tour support available this year."
We were asking for a reason why and were told that downloading was the reason for the funds not being there. Metal Blade and every other record company on this planet was losing between twenty and thirty percent of its sales to downloading. That made Metal Blade say they can't give us the money that is usually available when we go on tour. We were wondering what we were going to do then. Did we have to wait another year and record another album? That was not acceptable. That would not work. Then we started working with our lawyers in order to figure out what comes next. We had to renegotiate our contract (with Metal Blade). When you talk about renegotiating contracts it's usually not for the better. It's usually for the worse. You will usually get a slightly lower budget. At that time it seemed we won't have the budget to go into studio and record a quality product. If that was the case I was not going to record a half-assed record. We would have to stop. That is totally... never going to happen. I like to do the best that I can do or I am not going to do it at all. We didn't know what to do at that time. There was no way we could record the same way we had always done with a smaller budget. Then we started talking and wondered if there was another way to do things. We are still here today because we came up with a different way. Guitarist Andy La Rocque has a studio in Gothenburg, Sweden called Los Angered and he has done many top-quality albums there. He has top-quality equipment there. What we decided to try with the following album Puppet Master was to bring all the best equipment to my house in Texas and turn my living room into a studio and that's what we did. We recorded all the rhythm guitars, harmony guitars, keyboards and bass guitar here in my house. Then we went and spent time in the studio that we normally go to and recorded the drums and the vocals. Then we went back to my house and mixed the album. Many good things came out of it actually.
You will say that it must cost a lot of money to freight the gear from Sweden to USA, absolutely yeah. When you compare the cost of being in the studio for two months where you pay by the hour and being in the studio for three weeks that is a big difference in money. That big difference in money was not used up on the freight here and back. Even if we had less money available to record overall we found the arrangement works. The Puppet Master turned out to be a better product. We found a lot of positives about it. We were not sitting in the studio with our backs against the wall when the clock was ticking. sometimes it takes up to two hours to find the right reverb for just five words just to make the feel exactly right. You have to find the feel you are exactly after. The time is ticking and money is flying out of the window and that is time we are sitting there looking for the right things. It doesn't cost us anything in the new situation, except our own time, which meant we could explore all the ideas to the max. We could get the best out of it that we could. We also found that mixing here in my living room with the carpet and furniture is good because it's just like the homes of those who will listen to the music later. You can't buy the speakers here in any store. They are only available in professional outlets so we knew exactly what the fans would hear. None of the fans will listen to our album in a studio control room. These control rooms are very different sounding than a living room. I have found that out. I knew that beforehand and we had tried to work it out, but those rooms are designed in a certain way that makes the frequencies bounce in the right way, but no one else is going to hear it like that. You feel satisfied in the studio and you go home and the next morning before you go back into the studio you listen to the tape and get these surprises that make you wonder either why there is so much treble or where the bottom-end went. I write these things down and go back into the studio and tell them to address these things. It becomes difficult. You have to sit in the control room and guess what it will sound like in a living room. That is why it was so cool to experience the new way of recording because you know that whatever you do people are going to hear the same thing. It now seems like we can turn out an even higher quality product. The Puppet Master was the best sounding album we ever did. We learnt a lot there. We also mixed the live album here in my house.
METALLIAN: Did you negotiate with another label at that point?
KING DIAMOND: Well, it turned out that Metal Blade were willing to do quite a bit. It was also a matter of not just getting a recording budget that was acceptable to us. We got less of a recording budget, but some of that money was actually put into the tour fund of the contract so we never again have to experience a situation where we have finished recording an album and someone would come and say there is no tour fund. It's in the contract now. That made a big difference. That was very important to us. The same change was made to our European contract with Massacre Records. We also have a guaranteed tour fund with them.
Metal Blade had the worldwide rights to King Diamond for Abigail II, but that is not the case now, of course. Massacre gave us an excellent offer for Europe. They regretted bitterly having not kept up the bidding for the Abigail II album. There are so many factors involved in these contracts. It's not just that a label has a band or not. Reputation is also a factor. For Massacre having King Diamond on the label means that in Portugal, for instance, they can get a better distributor. They might be able to get a better distributor because they have King Diamond. The distributor there might say that because Massacre has King Diamond we will take the label and its other band on. That helps Massacre sell more albums of other bands through the better distributor. These things mean quite a bit to these record labels. It is important who they can say they have on their roster. They really felt the difference when we weren't there for that album. They told us. They really regretted it. We wanted to go back too. We had no problem with Massacre. Metal Blade had offered us a better deal, you know. Otherwise, the difference is not that big between the two labels. I couldn't tell you a bad thing about Massacre Records. The new live album has just been released in Europe as a standard double-disc, digipak double-disc and triple vinyl album. They are really thorough and go all-out with that stuff. We are in a very good situation now. We are very happy now. I wish the downloading stuff would go away though. It makes it difficult to survive. I have to say things are going well anyway.
METALLIAN: What is the rationale behind releasing a live album now? Live albums made more sense in the '70s and '80s because video technology was limited and if a fan didn't live close to a band's touring itinerary then a live album was the only way to experience the show. With the advent of technology videos are universally available and releasing an audio-only CD is not as smart anymore.
KING DIAMOND: Many bands still release live albums that are not accompanied by video. We would love to do a video part, so would Metal Blade and Massacre, but not of the US tour we did. It is because of the costs again. It can be done a little bit better and a little bit cheaper in Europe. Both labels want to be in it together. There are negotiations for a new DVD to be filmed during the next European tour. That's been the plan all the time. Given the price differences it can be the difference between shooting with eight cameras instead of six cameras. you get a better post-production, editing and so on. The company Massacre works with has its own in-house editing suite which makes things cheaper.
It makes all the sense in the world for us to have a live album out though. We have never had, what I call, a real live album. We never had a live album where we had control over mixing the levels of vocals, guitars, bass, drums and the audience too. That makes this record very special. You hear a lot of the audience even when the band plays. On live albums they turn the audience down and turn it back up towards the end of the song. Here you hear the album all the way through. It makes sense because at our gigs the fans sing along and respond to so many things happening on stage and you will hear these responses on the live album. Every time you hear the audience I know exactly what happened on stage because I was there. Those fans will also know because they've seen the show. That makes it very authentic. The music cuts through too very well and you hear the audience as if you were. It has turned out to be the second best thing to being there. You never get the feeling at home of being in front of a PA system, of course not, but it's as close to being there as possible.
The album is not meant as a 'best of' live thing either because there are songs that are not there, like Abigail and stuff like that, but that was not the point. That is the kind of thing you do when the career is about finished, you know. That's what I feel anyway. We documented King Diamond on tour in the US in 2003.
There are other DVDs that we are working on - two retro DVDs. One is for Mercyful Fate and the other is for King Diamond. They will feature old materiels from the early days. I call them official bootlegs. It is not a bootleg that has ever been out on the bootleg market though. No one has ever seen this stuff. There is some very good picture quality and the sound is acceptable for all instruments. These are things like Mercyful live in Copenhagen in 1982 which is even before Michael Denner was in the band. There is some very rare footage there, plus behind the scenes stuff. So in the next couple of months beside writing material for the next studio album I will be going through that stuff. I have 35 DVDs of material, but the majority is stuff people have seen and those I am not interested in. I don't want to release anything people have seen even on the bootlegs - even though not many people have seen them.
METALLIAN: When do you expect the DVDs will be released?
KING DIAMOND: Wow, that I can't say anything about. I have to go through these things. I have seen excerpts from these things, but I have now selected the ones I want to see fully to make sure the quality is good all the way through. I will first go through the Mercyful Fate material and then go through the King Diamond stuff. Then later in the year I will have Brian Slagel of Metal Blade come here, as he has a couple of times, and we will decide what has quality and would be interesting for the fans to watch. Is something too boring and what should go and what should stay. Then we will pick material for an interesting ritual DVD that shows a lot of the early stuff.
METALLIAN: Going back to the current release, the sound is excellent for a live album. Are there any overdubs on the album...
KING DIAMOND: No, the album is from different shows and if you really listen in detail you will hear that the sound is different from show to show. We couldn't get them to sound identical the whole way through. If you listen to the album from beginning to end it sounds like it's one concert, which is what we wanted, but the album is from a variety of different shows. So we used all the best takes for each song and then put in the right sequence. There is only one change. We edited the spaces between the encores because they were too long. We would leave the stage and come back after three minutes which is just too long for a CD. If you listen to different songs from the two discs you can hear that the guitars are a little too trebly here and there. Like I told you the first live album was off cassette tapes and so we could not mix them. Here we had the audience exactly where we wanted it. Listening to this material I realized things I had not realized before like if you listen to the solos, Andy has more of a tendency to do this than Mike, when a fast solo is finished Andy often has a long feedback note hanging there. It keeps hanging for a while. Mike does not do that so often. When I heard that I thought it to be so wild because now I know where I am on stage at that time because it is the same from night to night. Now I understand why on certain passages I am over at Mike's side for instance. I don't count beats because they always play the same solos. I never count. I listen to where they are on the solo and I come in on the verse when it's time. At the end of a solo if I am standing close to Andy I drift over to Mike. I guarantee you that every time. I now know why. Andy has that tendency to finish his solo with that hanging note until he finds the right spot to jump back into the rhythm. If I stand on his side I can't hear what to sing to! If I just have a note hanging there is no riff to sing to, there is no key really. There might be a key, but there is no riff to sing to and I need a riff to sing. That's why I automatically drift to Mike. I never thought of it before.
METALLIAN: So there are no overdubs whatsoever?
KING DIAMOND: No.
METALLIAN: Why is the album called Deadly Lullabyes and does it allude to The Spider's Lullabye album?
KING DIAMOND: No no no, there is no reference to Spider. It is called Deadly Lullabyes because of the cover shot. That is a live shot from our live intro and we were going through different pictures and picked that one. I am standing over the coffin and have taken the doll out of the coffin. You can see the blue light coming from below me. The cover shot came first. It's from Funeral. It looks like I am singing a lullaby to this infant.
METALLIAN: Is Merycful Fate on indefinite hiatus?
KING DIAMOND: Well, I can't give you an answer. I can tell you that Mercy has a contract for a studio album with Metal Blade for America and with Massacre for Europe. When that will happen I simply don't know. King Diamond has been so busy. Things are going so well for us. King Diamond always sold more and always got better contracts. To be quite honest, there must be a break in the workload of King Diamond to allow Mercyful Fate to do an album. Mercy does not have the budget. Mercy does not have Andy La Rocque in the band and we use Andy's equipment with King Diamond. Mercyful Fate would have to hire Andy to do an album if we wanted to do it the same way. That means that Mercyful Fate has higher expenses to do an album with less budget.
If there was only Mercyful Fate, I would not be doing music now. There is no chance. Mercyful Fate has become... you can say if I participate in a Mercy album I will not make a cent. So it would be for fun and to kill time. King Diamond is band we can live off of. So, of course, King Diamond is the first priority. I love doing what I do, but that's the hardcore truth of it. At the same time it's actually been nice not to flip back and forth between the two and actually stay with one. Things are falling into place and you can hear the results on The Puppet Master. That album has so many new things. King is more theatrical, but in a very positive way. That has a lot to do with us doing King Diamond without flipping back to Mercyful Fate. For me it's not a negative thing. It is nice to concentrate on one. At the same time King Diamond is more fulfilling because it's a bigger challenge. Every time the King Diamond stories work it is a big satisfaction. It is also more fun to be on stage with King Diamond than with Mercyful Fate. That's just a fact because King Diamond is so theatrical and there is so much to do. That doesn't mean I don't like Mercyful. I always have and I always will, but King Diamond was started by me and is my baby, you know?
King Diamond's new album is a live double-CD called Deadly Lullabyes and was released on September 21st.