Artist: King Diamond
Interview Date: 10/7/2004
Label: Metal Blade Records
Interviewer: Ken Pierce
King Diamond……..need I say more? King Diamond is truly the Master Of Terror when it comes to Heavy Metal music. The man is a legend in Metal and not only for his work with Mercyful Fate but also for the prolific solo career which he embarked on afterward. For years he has been weaving tales of despair and intrigue and like the mere mortals we are, we follow him into the Darkness on a continual basis. I had the sinister pleasure of speaking to King Diamond via the telephone about his recent release of “Deadly Lullaby’s – Live” and whatever else came to mind. Here is a transcription of that conversation.
KP – Hello King Diamond how are you today
King Diamond – Good how are you Ken
KP – Great man, I totally expected a different voice on the phone, you know something a little more sinister.
King Diamond – (changes his tone dramatically) Oh you mean like thisssss.
KP – So basically King it’s great to get a chance to talk to you today about the new CD especially which is called “Deadly Lullaby’s” and perhaps a couple of other interesting things. So how is the day finding you?
King Diamond – I am doing very well thanks.
KP – So I must welcome you to New York once again, even though we are by phone. Where exactly are you located these days? USA or back in Denmark?
King Diamond – I am home in Dallas Texas. I have lived here for the past 12.5 years.
KP – King I must send congratulations on the new CD it’s quite excellent and the CD to me has captured the real feel of a King Diamond live show in the best manner I could expect. Are you happy with how the piece has come out?
King Diamond – I really am, I mean thank you very much. I feel that it is of course always going to be different when you are there standing at a show in front of a blasting PA. You can never get that sound in your living room but I think this is the next best thing. I think you really get a lot of that feel in there that had you been at the show, that is what it is like.
KP – I agree, for I caught you on the “The Puppetmaster” tour when you played a few months ago at L’Amour in Brooklyn.
King Diamond – You now a lot of the theaters that we played was like you could almost here the size of the place and all. This is good for me you know because we didn’t go in there and smash it up with big delays and echoes to make it sound like we are playing in an arena or something like that. That is not what we do you know. One thing that I think is very important is that we got a very good sound for the instruments and all that. That sound also made it possible to let the audience speak
KP – I see you listed as part of the production team of this piece now obviously it’s you singing and everything but what I am interested in is how much of your hand is involved in getting this to the CD. I am speaking of mix down and fine-tuning. You have to be a perfectionist in this I am guessing.
King Diamond – Andy and I are involved in that all the way and have been like that for many years I can tell you. “The Puppetmaster” too, that was totally Andy and I and then we had some help when we recorded vocals in the studio for “The Puppetmaster”. This is the same studio we always go to in Dallas Texas. J.T. Longoria he is an excellent Engineer and his work was valued. You know Andy as well is an excellent Engineer and he has his own studio in Gothenburg Sweden. It’s that equipment we use when we mix the albums we do it here at my house. It’s turned into a studio and not like you would think of home studio equipment this is a full-blown recording studio in Sweden. It’s that equipment that we fly over here and turn my living room into a studio. I have these excellent speakers, I mean you can’t buy these speakers in any store you need to go to these professional outlets . Andy also has top professional gear and that’s what we do it on. So we are very much involved in that and I was even involved in the mastering and that was done together with the studio owner. It’s all the way, we mixed it and everything.
One of the things we did with this recording, was we left the audience channel at the same level because a lot of times when you listen to live albums you will notice that they turn the audience down as soon as the music has started. Then it comes back up when the music is about to end. Yet the fans at our shows, you know how much they sing along and they also respond to things. Doing this didn’t destroy anything and none of the music got muddy by leaving those tracks open all the way. So doing that I think gave it that extra feel of being there at a King Diamond show
KP – Well that is fantastic because especially since you are the main guy I feel it is good to have your hand in it that much. Now my question is what made you do this so soon after the release of “The Puppetmaster” had come out.
King Diamond – There was not a specific time frame for doing a certain live album we wanted to do a live album for about ten years I think. We’ve only done one, and in some ways I don’t consider it a real live album but in other senses I do. (King is speaking of “In Concert 1987: Abigail”) this was part of a deal to close an agreement with Roadrunner Records and all. What happened was, all we had at the time was cassette tapes believe it or not and they were recorded during a European tour in 1987. They were recorded through the big board straight to a cassette deck. You cannot really mix that stuff, you can’t raise or lower guitars compared to drums . So that album you can say that this is as live as can be but in other ways it’s not because its maybe not exactly how it sounds out in the audience because it does not have the right blend of things. The guy at the soundboard is just making sure the levels to the cassette are not overdone, he is not doing anything more to the cassette recording. So we have been pestering the labels for the longest time saying “Why don’t we do a live album now” Since we had not done a real one, we knew our fans would like it. It just didn’t happen and then lawyers got involved and then it got too late.
This time we changed our approach and just said “What about now”. So what we did this time was when they started negotiations we realized that we had a little money left over in the company so let’s go spend it on equipment so we can record this live whether they want us to or not. We might be in the situation where we don’t have a budget from the record label where we cant mix it or something, but at least we would have all the Master Tapes which would allow us to do this sometime down the road. That was the philosophy we went by and then before the tour it was 100% decided when we made up the set list. We stuck by it and didn’t change that set list at all because we were sure that we were going to record live. We didn’t want this to be a “Best Of” live because I feel that this is something we can do when we are finished (laughs) and we don’t have anything more to offer you know. Doing it like this just makes it all more true. This is King Diamond on tour in 2003.
KP – Yes this was a great tour to document in this fashion.
King Diamond – there was also a good amount of songs on it as well. Because there was definitely songs that if we were doing a “Best Of” live should have been in there. Stuff such as “Abigail”, “The Candle” and there’s a lot of songs we played on the last tour before that and there is nothing “House Of God” or “Voodoo” and “Spiders Lullaby” , just a lot of things left out if it was supposed to be perceived as that “Best”. Since it was not supposed to be that, and was supposed to be that event that was the tour for 2003 we made sure not to change anything. I think it is so much better that way so while those songs might come another time, we finally got a live album that we could actually sit and mix and control the levels between bass, drums and guitars and the audience too. Then to have a double disk because there are a lot of songs that you probably couldn’t cover on one disk. We could even have made a quadruple disk to get more material done.
KP – True, and given the amount of material that King Diamond has as a touring entity I wanted to mention that sometimes I hear from people that love your work still come out with the Fate questions like “he doesn’t play any Mercyful Fate live with the King Diamond band”. Can you just answer as to what the reasoning is behind that. Is it due to the size of the Diamond back catalog.
King Diamond – Well you can say that it is one reason but it is not THE reason. I know that in the older days we played Mercy songs all the way up until 1991-92 and pretty much until Mercy was reformed. King Diamond sang Mercy songs all the way up until there and that was because there was no Mercyful Fate at that time. I felt that it would be cool to throw in a couple of Mercy songs and it fit in live . We would put them in somewhere towards the end. Then when Mercy was reunited I felt that there was no need for King Diamond to dabble around in Mercy songs or vice-versa. Thought Mercy has never really done a whole lot, the only King Diamond song that Mercy has ever played was “Halloween”. This was because of the occasion when we were on the road on Halloween. Otherwise Mercy just played Mercy and King Diamond it was because I was co-writer on many Mercyful Fate songs and since I did all the lyrics and even some of the music like “Don’t Break The Oath” and “Come To The Sabbath”.
KP – Its good to know, and those songs are so much a part of peoples Metal Youth that we like seeing them done. Now I have to say that Metal Blade was talking about a DVD coming out around the same time as this CD. What is the news on this aspect because with you being such a visual performer, I remembered being rooted to the floor during your performance.
King Diamond – Well there was never any talk of doing a DVD from that tour however there was and still is talk about doing one when we do the European Tour. The arguments for that were both from Metal Blade and Massacre because you can do it a little bit cheaper and a little better quality in Europe. One of the reasons is that Massacre had a very good relationship with a DVD company in that you can get 8 cameras instead of 6 for the same price over there. You can get the editing afterwards to be better because it is done in-house. Its those kind of things where they had some connections and could beat any prices over here. This is a long time ago that we knew that so we were never going to do a DVD over here. I think it is also valuable to do a DVD of a different tour since that adds so much more value to it.
KP – One thing I speak very highly of when I am speaking about the show besides the music and your performance of course would have to be the Actress who you have working with you. Her actions during the course of the performance were excellent and just added to the show. Has she been with you a long time or no.
King Diamond – No, the first tour that she was out with us was the “Voodoo” tour and you cant recognize her because of the different costumes. She is awesome and is a totally nice person also and she has got it down. She knows what to do and its very easy to teach her and to show her what to do and then she builds on those things herself. I can notice from night to night in the songs when there are new things and afterwards I can tell her “oh that was cool when you added this and did that”. She is very good at that stuff and sometimes her additions to the plan end up staying because it comes out better.
KP – I found her especially interesting during the song “Burn” as the motions and lighting made it look like she was on fire.
King Diamond – Oh yeah and I get to pull her hair a little during that one.
KP – I also liked her portrayal of Grandma for “Welcome Home”. It was amusing to see her in the wheelchair rolling around on stage poking and waiving the cane at everyone in the band.
King Diamond – Can you imagine how quick she is too. She is sitting onstage with me at the end of “So Sad” as the lights go down then you have the tiny outro part from “Living Dead” which is about a minute before we start “Welcome Home” and she has to be from that outfit into the Grandma full outfit with the wheelchair one so you can see that she is fast. We had to practice to get that down as well, you must change within the minute and ten second whatever it is. She asked me if I was kidding, and I said, no you can do it, just work on it. The same with the crew when they had to take the fence down it has been so timed over and over again at rehearsals where they had the time from the “Abigail II” outro to get that done and that was it. Its like 50 something seconds and I remember the crew boss whipping the other guys at rehearsals “Come on guys you got to cut ten seconds off that because this thing has to be gone when the next song begins.
We are lucky to have such talented people helping out with even the most minor details. I feel that the lineup that I have is the best lineup that I have ever played with.
KP – Thinking about the lineup for a second is Hal Patino still going to be a part of the lineup still as I know he is also a part of Force Of Evil band that Hank Shermann recently formed.
King Diamond – Oh of course are you kidding – absolutely so, as he is just lending a helping hand. He is awesome too and its so great to have him back as he was always the favorite bass player that I had. He fits this lineup so well, and I can honestly say that I have never played with a stronger lineup ever. The confidence we get is so good, from the crew before we go onstage and with the band themselves it really feels so good. It allows us to better do what we need to do and interact with the audience. It really makes so much of a difference and I can feel it myself as I seem to have even more control over my voice today than I ever had during my career. Even in songs like “Welcome Home”, I am looking forward to some of the passages more than I used to. Sometimes in the earlier days I dreaded coming to those parts and I would yell at myself saying why did you place the high part on the album.
KP – King you are just proving to people that you get better with time.
King Diamond – You know not everybody does and I have certainly seen vocalists sometimes struggling at the latter part of their career hitting certain and having to choose a lower octave and all. I am happy that I am not in that because I don’t know if I would be able to do that. I would feel so bad if I couldn’t hit notes and all.
KP – I think the fan base is very happy about that. Thinking about some topics that you write about because King you always seem to place the audience and listener alike into such a frightful state and I used “Puppetmaster” as an example for it was a nightmare of a story as you watch it unfold. I was wondering if you have already started to come up with the next epic yet.
King Diamond – I have elements that I would like to have in my next story, but I will never tell anybody what my ideas are because I made the mistake doing it once before and it haunted me for awhile. It was when we did “Voodoo” for at that time I had already told people that I was pretty sure we were going to do an album that was to be called “The Plague” at the time. It was because I had a lot of cool ideas and I wanted to carry out in that but every time I started that story I felt that I got drawn back to what I was writing about on “The Eye” like the “Inquisition” and all, and I was like I will not repeat myself and seem like I am out of ideas. Then some of the music started getting written before the story was complete and I knew it wouldn’t work and then one of those music pieces was “Voodoo” and it just had these Tribal drums in it which made me say “oh this is like Voodoo stuff”. I have always been fascinated by Voodoo but I never really knew how deep it was until I went and got some books about it. I then read about the whole religious background and it’s a real religion and not just some fancy little rituals. The more I got into this, the more I felt that oh I can build a story around this – the basics of Voodoo and that’s what it turned out to be. When it came out I started hearing “oh when are you going to do the Plague” and “what happened to that album”. It was never an album and it was just an idea that I thought would work but it didn’t work. That is the long explanation but no, you are not going to get anything out of me right now (laughs).
KP – So where do you think it comes from, how do you always seem to keep people on the edge of their seats and a state of terror. You always manage to succeed.
King Diamond – I don’t really know but what I do know is that sometimes there are subjects that I would really like to shove in people’s faces. Especially if I think it is going to make them feel uncomfortable and make certain decisions within themselves. I’m not trying to make them take a certain decision but at least take a stand on certain things you know. Those become some of the major happenings in a story, then there are other things that are woven around those occurrences I mean why I chose one thing over another thing is not like I just do it one day or one night. That only happened one time when I got most of a story and that was “Abigail”. That has never happened again. It’s a lot of hard work of working a story in. What I have to make sure of is the story itself. Sometimes they can have a tendency become a little bit complex in what goes on in the story. For instance the whole thing about these puppets coming to life with the blood and all. I had to have reasons for everything to be able to defend any questions that might be thrown at me. You know what I mean like “why is it only the puppet that is you is not falling asleep “ or can’t see and hear . Victoria’s character is in that situation, I thought it was the same for you. No no no, there was a big difference during the ritual when I made these big jars of blood fall down on the floor and smash and I took the concentration away from the Puppetmaster and he actually spoke words to me that were not in the ritual he was in the middle of . That twisted the ritual into something else that’s why my eyes were given eternal life but the thing about the blood only working for a certain time….everything has to fit together . That’s one of the harder parts for me to sit and analyze every story so that I give myself the hardest questions that you could ever imagine. Why this, why that. How come this is possible because you can’t just tell them “ahhhh, its magic”. There has to be some kind of a credible explanation for it and that’s the hard part sometimes. You can sit there and be like “oh my god if I write this here as chapter 5, I can kiss chapter 8, 9 goodbye” . I have to be aware of those things so it becomes quite complex . It usually comes from writing the short story, then the music .
KP – King in speaking of writing the short stories, have you ever thought of putting some of this to the big screen in movies because I think some of the tales you spin would be great horror films.
King Diamond – Well without the connections its very hard, and I feel some of those stories have huge potential. In “Welcome Home” we have the story of “Them” and “Conspiracy” and Grandma and all that. The kind of stuff that has great potential as well as “Abigail” and “Puppetmaster”. I personally feel that there is potential in them but there you have to have a little bit bigger budgets because you are dealing with a different time periods and all. “Conspiracy” could take place in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s whenever you want almost and it would fit in so that would be something some one could do with a decent budget. It is one of my biggest dreams but without the foot inside the door it’s not something I can do. I cant simply call up some guy and say “hey I have an idea here and you should check out my album because I think it would make a great movie”. I would get to the secretary just like it is for the band that is trying to get a deal. Or it ends up in the trash can you know.
KP – I think you should talk to Stephen King .
King Diamond – If you don’t officially have someone on the inside you will get the “well, send us a script because we cant do this by listening to the CD”
– At this point the Record Company tells me I am down to five minutes. Lots of questions still as we lingered too long elsewhere.
KP – She’s is killing me King. I have to try and get these big ones now since we are so down to the wire.
King Diamond – It’s a huge dream of mine to see one of these stories on the screen, I think in the right hands they could really do something.
KP – I have to ask this, with a lot of the Black Metal bands out there today, you in particular seem to have moved away from the Satanic references in your music while the European bands are grabbing it more and more. What made you decide to move from that, was it a business decision or just personal growth as a musician.
King Diamond – There is a couple of things that are really funny in a way because most people don’t think of it that way. King Diamond when you get way down into it is much more Satanic than Mercyful Fate eve was and the thing is its depending on what you are looking at. Are you meaning traditional Christian viewpoint of Satanism or are you talking LaVey Satanism. It’s a huge difference you know. Mercy has always been very much into old legends and myths and the traditional look of the Occult. Whereas King Diamond has been so LaVey-esque that it is not even funny. In getting deep, deep into the root of the Human mind and soul. How we treat each other and why we do things. The LaVey Satanism is so much more about the human mind than anything else and logic. It’s about why we treat each other as we do and there is a lot of justification for being in certain ways.
That’s what you find all over the King Diamond albums every single one of them. Maybe even more on the latter ones because on “The Puppetmaster” for instance because it gets so far where you have the perfect love affair in complete opposite specters of life on that album. There is the one between my character and Victoria which has this horrible fate for an ending. Usually in my stories my character will win and I will get revenge or I win. Here it ends up being utter tragedy in the end. There is no solution and no salvation. The bad guys win this time and its kind of weird to look at this perfect relationship builds up between my character and Victoria within a year and you just say “they fit together so well” . Then you look at the Puppetmaster and his Wife, these two evil beings as they also have the perfect love going on between them. Even though they are super criminals you couldn’t find two people that could work together better. They also have kids later on who are actually going to take over another theatre that they will build in London. They work so well together they love each other so much and respect each other for the abilities they each have. Together when they combine these abilities they have so much success. So when the story ends they have the most success they ever had in their lives. Even though it is because of the crimes they are involved in. So again you get into this human mind and what we are like. What’s good for one person it doesn’t mean that it can be good for another person who is completely opposite of what you are.
Everything is so individual for human beings. Every single one of us even those that are couples we live in we live in our own little bubble, which is our universe and its amazing to think of actually that each individual on this Earth feels that they are the center of the universe. When you think about it there could be some guy that you don’t even know in Korea lets say. Whenever he gets up in the morning, whatever his trip is be it work or whatever he does he will wake up and eat certain things, smell certain things and everything from the course of his day. All of this, is completely different from yours and mine. Imagine that there is such a vast amount of feelings and impressions going on in this Earth at the same time. It blows my mind.
KP – It certainly does.
King Diamond – We have these things that to one person it is right but to another it is wrong. I mean it is wrong to send Little Jimmy to school in a pink t-shirt is something a lot of people would say. Yet there is no law saying its wrong. It might not be fun for Little Jimmy but there is no law saying its wrong. So right and wrong there is if the Parents feel it is right, then it is right to them. No one can come and say that it is wrong.
KP – True, true.
King Diamond – People can come to the Parents and say hey look people are making fun of him down at the school do you think that is right? The same applies in the handicapped parking with someone who says I was only there for five minutes, but to him it is not wrong and to someone else it is very wrong. In this case particular we have a law saying it is wrong.
To King Diamond, the Anton LaVey Satanism is ever so present there more so now than ever before. So it depends on what you are talking about. For me, I don’t care if its in there or not. It’s just the way I am as I think that way. I was thinking exactly the way that was described in that book by LaVey before I ever read the book. It was interesting for me to read it and see “Wow this is weird seeing how I feel and think written on paper by someone else”. Then when I finally met him that made a big impression on me it was amazing for me to actually confirm this and find it was not just a phony. The guy was dead serious about everything he did.
– the Record Company comes on and tells me we are out of time, as our 30 minutes is up
KP – King we are apparently out of time, but I want to thank you for everything and wish you success with the new CD and the next tour. We will be watching out for you as usual and look forward to your continued work.
King Diamond – Thanks a lot, you take care now.
While we did not get to all of the questions that I had prepared for him, I have to admit how cool it was to talk to someone as important to Metal as King Diamond. He is truly one of the more fascinating figures in the Music and it was very interesting to hear his thoughts on things. I hope we have featured a good amount of items that all his fans would enjoy reading.
Official Website: http://www.kingdiamondcoven.com/site/
Editor’s Note: This article was written for another medium prior to the 2005 launch of PiercingMetal.com and has been added to our content for your enjoyment.