When an artist or a band releases a new album there has to be the unavoidable interview promotion. Telling your the story over and over again until you get really, really bored with it. Sometimes this shows, and making it hard for an interviewer to get some nice answers. Not with King Diamond. “Abigail II: The Revenge” has been released on january 28th and like all artists mister Diamond also did the necessary promotion for his latest recording with an enhousiasm which surprised me. I even had to cut back the initial story more than a little… A lot of questions got answered when King extensively went on about the new line up, the how's and why's of creating a new story, innocent little girls and a lot more. An interview with a 'bite', because when I finally asked the man about any touring plans he rather unsuspectedly got worked up a bit. King Diamond tells his tale…
Text : Marco
Why Abigail II, the Revenge? What was your main motive for conceiving the return of Jonathan, Miriam, Abigail and the Horsemen?
“Three years ago there were a lot of questions about doing a second “Abigail” album. Unusually many people said to us that it would just be great to do another album just like “Abigail”. But as I said then, and still say today, 'we will not do an album just like an album we did earlier in our career!' It's too easy: no progression, just go back to the Abigail album and writing exactly the same style over and over again. But of course it brought a lot of thoughts to my mind about continuing the story. If it would be continued, it would be more evil and much more gruesome and exactly the way it should be!”
The first Abigail album was a rather complex piece of music and, to my feeling, so is “The Revenge”. And again the band's line up has changed significantly. Is this a coincidence or has the ability of the various 'new' band members a major influence on the songwriting?
“You're hitting it right on. When the idea about “Abigail II” started about three years ago, I pretty much had the story two years ago. The line up wasn't right. I am not saying that it was a bad line up, but they were a different kind of musicians. After the “House Of God” US-tour we had plans to write songs for the new album. It was the first time we entered the studio directly after being on the road. In the meantime things happened by themselves. It was a kind of fate in some way that the drummer (John Luke Hebert – M.) had a child with his girlfriend which was the main reason he left. And I understand that priorities can change. The bassplayer (David Harbour - M.) we had didn't work out on the tour the right way. He was a killer bassplayer but he wasn't on the same mental wavelength as the rest of the band. He went all and then we said 'OK, thanks for your time but we can't go on like this'. And then, a little later on, Glenn Drover was in the same situation as John Hebert. He got married after the tour and his wife had already a ten year old boy. So it wasn't the same band situation anymore.”
As we saw last year when the band toured Europe, Hal Patino has rejoined and is part of band's line up now, succeeding David Harbour. How did you two came back together?
“Hal Patino joined when we did “Them”, not “Abigail” as I heared was stated in de promotional bio. When the bassplayer left I spoke to Hank Sherman and he said, 'you got to do what's best for the band'. So Hal was in.”
“Abigail II” reminds me more than once of “The Graveyard”. It has a certain 'Graveyardish' feeling. A very 'direct', clear sound combined with some of the vocal madness of “The Graveyard”…
“I can imagine. I'm very proud with the vocal parts. Kol and I went into the studio for long periods of time just to create the right atmosphere. I felt so much in control this time. The album was to be released at Halloween last year but we couldn't make this deadline and so we experimented with the vocals, taking enough time for the perfect sound”
Speaking of Kol Marshall. You worked with him for the second time in a row.
I'd reckon he did a good job with “House Of God”?
“We 're very satisfied with his work. Kol did also the “9” album of Mercyful Fate. He took the time to create the perfect sound and as I said earlier, he got wound up with me to record the vocal parts as well as possible.”
“Abigal II”, apart from it's complexity, has this strange, sorrowful atmosphere. Something that I find lacking on for instance, “Voodoo”…
“You're totally right, that's what I've heared often. If I should describe it, even the music is more theatrical. There are much more extreme and more different moods that carry through the songs. It has something to do with having the story on your mind and the way things are written. Before now, I would write on a song and just finish it, then work on the next song and finish it. Not always, but most of the times. When I write a song, I'm in a certain mood and one thing I do on purpose is that I don't listen to any other music. I don't want to be influenced, I want the music to be from me.”
“For this album I recorded perhaps a minute of guitar and the next day I was in a totally different mood. I don't just continue that song, I go and listen to it. 'Am I in the mood for this song?'. I might not be in the right mood and then I maybe turn on my keyboard, play a little harpsichord...Every day had the same scenario but a whole different feeling. The third day I had three songs started and had a minute and a half of each of those songs. And then I came the fourth day and listen to those three things “What am I in the mood for? Ah yes, the harpsichord” So I stay in the same mood of that particular song when I started it in throughout the whole song. I doesn't mean that the song doesn't change, all King Diamond songs change. It isn't just that you have onbe and a half minute of a song and you repeat it 2 more times.” “But they stay within a certain feel. Each song has it's own feeling, or soul. I don't how Andy (La Rocque: guitar – M.) does his particular stuff, but he also puts in a certain feel. You really follow your inner feelings to the max.”
It's a more complete album this time?
“Very much so. That's really what I feel just now.”
And, again, we encounter a little girl, called “Little One”, who is the stillborn Abigail. Over the years we encountered Missy, Jeanne Dibasson, Lucy McKenzie, also characters that played an important role. Is there a deeper meaning behind the use of young, to some extent “innocent“ characters?
“Absolutely! There's nothing as haunting as a little girl in a horror story. It's more creepy when an innocent person is involved. I love children, but maybe that innocent person is not innocent in the end, because they're demon-possessed, have certain powers that you're not aware of at the beginning of the story. The things they do at the end of the story are not that innocent! For instance, when Lucy (character on 'The Graveyard' album – M.) takes my cut-off head and puts it in a backpack, saying to her daddy 'I got what I need, let's go home'. In my mind I can see her go home, putting my head under her bed, talking to it, getting ideas from it how to get back at daddy, to hurt him. Not innocent at all!” “Missy (one of the characters on “Them”- M.) was totally innocent. The poor girl got chopped up by her grandma's spirit friends and was ridden off in the fireplace. Just horrible At the end she had no chance at all.” “On “Abigail II” you hear a young girl screaming for her mommy and crying. It's heartbreaking. It's like 'oh my god, it's so real'. It's much more difficult to actually bring in a young girl into the studio to do this things than to do it yourself.”
You're known for being a very busy man. I believe you read a lot in the past…?
“I used to read quite a bit. One of my favorite writers is the English horror writer James Herbert. I bought a book of his' three years ago and I haven't opened it yet. The one before that I started reading five years ago and I still haven't finished it. I'm always so busy! The last time I had a holiday was in 1993. We had a week and I went to Jamaica. There's always work to do!”
One week in nine years time?
“I could just change it if didn't want it but I love playing! It's just who I am…”
How does a story actually develop? Do you suddenly wake up at night with an idea? Or do you sit down thinking 'Let's have a story'?
“Everything. There's so much of me in these stories. But it might not be in the way it is woven into the story. It can be some things I say, it can be certain situations. There's probably too much of myself in these stories. There are things in “Abigail II” that I can totally relate to. I'm always been inspired by the occult and horror. I'd like to put things in that setting because it means something to me. There has to be something supernatural in the stories, but the rest of it is really about very basic human instincts, although under certain stressful conditions. You can relate to the things these people do two hundred years ago because of the things people do today, but those two hundred years also create a certain distance.” “When you look at the inspiration, there's an ocean of inspiration if you just look around you and you see what people are doing to each other today. It's unbelievable!”
What possesses a man depending on his vocal cords to climb up a stage while having a severe cold, like last year in Holland?
“There is nothing more embarrasing, it's the worst feeling you can ever have.
I know I went up there to sound like a fucking amature. But there's the pressure from the record label so I performed. I catched a cold during the very first show in St. Petersburg. For fifteen minutes I stood outside with minus eight degrees. I went to a doctor in Kopenhagen and I don't what the hell he was thinking but he described children's penilline, one-third of the strength than the adult antibiotics. When the pills were up, my cold exploded. I got injections just to do the shows…”
Speaking of which. I believe there are plans to do a multiple tour, both in the States and in Europe. Are there any definite plans at this stage?
I'd reckon we will see quite a few visual effects during the upcoming shows…
“This question will take a long answer. It's a difficult thing to talk about but everybody is on to me about it so…” “Under normal circumstances I know what the band will be doing next year. But now I really don't. I'm not desillusioned or sad or anything but something has happened. Five months ago we went into the studio and we were ofcourse planning everything with the record label (Metal Blade – M) 'what will we do next year?' and the label wanted us to do at least two US tours because it's so important these days. They wanted to record a live album from that tour and record two shows for a DVD. Everything sounded awesome. Our booking agency went to work and the first show would be on March 14th 2002. We had all things worked out, like the effects and so on. It would be the best show ever. We wanted to present the Abigail story live, playing all the songs from the first Abigail album except one, then we would play an intermission set of three songs and we would go into the new album, leaving just two songs out. There were four intermission sets so we could record a triple live album so one could have two discs of the Abigail story live plus an extra disc of these twelve songs from the intermission sets.”
(sighs…) “then suddenly, two days before Christmas weird news came from the label that they could only give one-third of the toursupport we normally got! We asked for the same amount of support we ask every year and we don't get a lot I can tell you that. But what we do get is necessary, there's no chance we can do without it. 'Why is that?' I asked them. And they said 'well, these are tough times and we have to cut back on a lot of things and one of them is tour support for all our bands' Then I said 'I am NOT one of all your bands! I don't want to be 'bigheaded' or something but we all know there are 5 bands that really bring money into your label and those are Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Gwar (Gwar??? – M.), Mercyful Fate and King Diamond and you need to pay for those bands or you'll lose them. You'll need to stop signing new bands or wait to put someone in the studio, you'll have to get your priorities right in my opinion'
And they said that they still couldn't do it… And then I had to turn around asked myself, and them, 'what is it you want me to do now? What are your suggestions? Am I to go to my yard, sitting there to look to the sun for the next twelve months? Waiting for the company to feel better? No way! You're forcing me to do certain things here.' I'll had to look at my contract… what am I allowed to do next according to the contract? I had to do a Mercyful Fate album, but if they can't support us on tour they certainly can't pay for a Mercyful Fate album. So I said 'You have a two-week option to put us in the studio'. 'You know we can't do that' they said. That was Thursday last week (january 17th – M.)”
“They'll have to pass on the Mercyful Fate option because they can't take it… and I know that. I had to force the band out of there so that I can move on, so Mercyful Fate is free and we'll start looking for a new deal shortly. Maybe Metal Blade will change their mind. I got a hand-written letter from Brian Slagel (Metal Blade's CEO – M.) in which he said we wanted to talk with me as soon he was back in the States on the 27th of january.”
Then you'll know more about the future of King Diamond with Metal Blade?
“I will know more. Whether they've suddenly found their priorities so we can start touring maybe after the summer. It will be delayed but we can still do things the normal way. If not, we'll be gone…” “You can't do a tour across the States when in the middle of it you can't pay the expenses anymore. You'll be bankrupt!” “And I'm glad to find things out now. I feel this king Diamond album is the strongest as of yet, the band's going in the right direction now and it's not even a question about quitting now. It's important to get the Abigail tour done, preferably as the next thing we do!!!”
(As far as I know King Diamond is still with Metal Blade at the time of this publication)