King Diamond – King Diamond (Vocals)
King Diamond has been a busy devil lately.
He recently appeared on Guitar Hero: Metallica with the re-recorded Mercyful Fate song “Evil” as well being an animated character in the game, has had two songs on the Brütal Legend game soundtrack, and has remastered and re-released King Diamond CDs “The Graveyard” and “The Spider’s Lullaby,” with “Voodoo” and “House of God” on the way. But the most laborious project King has been involved with is the making of a three-disc DVD, due out this winter or early next year.
Speaking from his home in Dallas, Texas, King spoke about his latest endeavors, religion and his severe back pain.
With your new DVD in the works, what can fans expect?
The DVDs are King Diamond retro footage. It has old Mercyful Fate clips and private footage. It’s bootleg footage, but it’s ours. It’s our original files and it’s better quality than an Internet bootleg. It has computer-enhanced King Diamond shows from ‘86, ‘90 and ‘97. It has behind-the-scenes footage of our U.S. and European “Conspiracy” tour. There’s an old Mercyful Fate concert from ‘82 before Michael Denner was in the band. It has taken longer than expected, but there’s lots of stuff that will be on it that no one’s ever seen before. Fans have got to see this!
What made you and guitarist Andy LaRocque decide to remaster “The Spider’s Lullabye” and “The Graveyard,” as well as redo the cover artwork?
It was a combination of things. Licenses had run out and we wanted to continue the license, but those albums had a shitty sound. They were butchered, and we decided we must make them sound better. So Andy gave it a shot and I can hear things that I couldn’t hear on the original releases. I can hear more power and balance, and more details in the vocals. Andy did a killer job on “House of God” as well. The old artwork was on a computer that got destroyed and the artwork was gone. Nobody had the originals, so we tried to do something with the same feel, but we had to start from scratch. Only a few things changed on the “Voodoo” and “House of God” covers because we found the original artwork, and those will be out soon as well.
Did re-recording “Evil” and “Curse of the Pharaohs” prompt talk of a new Mercyful Fate album soon?
I would like to do it, but we would need a decent offer from the label. There have been no talks or negotiations with them. Record labels have been getting hurt because of Internet downloading, and they can’t give the budget like they used to. There’s no money to make on that budget. Hank and I are ready to do it, if the labels are ready, but the King Diamond band is my first priority.
Halloween just ended. Did you ever think the song of the same name from “Fatal Portrait” would be synonymous with worldwide metalheads and Halloween?
No! (laughs) I never had that in mind whatsoever. It was nothing like that all (when writing the song). It’s the same thing with “No Presents for Christmas.” But it’s cool to play that song live, especially in the middle of summer at a big festival in front of thousands of people on a hot day, singing “Halloween”!
How’s your back?
I have a herniated disc. It’s been over two years now. It was real bad. I couldn’t sit down for the first year; I had to eat my dinner standing up. It’s a pain you can’t describe. It hurt like hell, but it’s getting stronger all the time, and I’m seeing improvement. It’s been a long process, but I’ve had plenty of projects in between, like the DVD and the remasters, the video games and the Ozzfest show. I’m not worried about the actual performance, it’s the traveling. I don’t feel the back is ready yet. It’s all the traveling and bus rides and bumpy roads and airplanes and sleeping in different beds every night while on tour. That’s the hard part.
Early in your career, you were well-known for your Satanic and occultist views. What are your views on religion at this point?
Same as they’ve always been, they will never change. I’m not a religious person and never was. I don’t believe in a god, I have no religious beliefs. Religion has been the root of so much evil. It’s crazy that people can stoop to that kind of violence over religions. Even the Satanic Bible, I’ve met Anton LaVey, I’ve visited him and had a good relationship with him. But it should not be called the Satanic Bible because a Bible is about religion; this is a book about life philosophy. I already lived by that philosophy before I read the Satanic Bible. There’s no foundation for religion to attach myself to. One thing I can say is, it’s a fact that no one has ever been able to prove that there is “that” God. There’s no proof. I don’t say that there are no gods, I just haven’t been convinced that there is one. That’s why I’m not a religious person. “House of God” is all about that, I wish people would look at it that way. You can’t prove it to other people (that God exists). There could be many gods, but no one can prove anything. In my book, religion is a negative thing that creates divisions between people.
You were influenced by Alice Cooper, did you ever think you would be this influential on other metal bands?
I never thought that way. We had no plan of how we should present ourselves, it just comes from the heart. The stories, the music, the way we do things. Part of the reason we’re still here is artistic freedom from record labels. They gave us the opportunity. It’s a unique style we have, for both bands, to create our own niche. We’re not selling platinum albums, but we’re still here. We do our own thing and in our own way. We stand behind everything we’ve done, we will never “sell out.” I will never prostitute myself.
You have a distinctive style of singing. After all these years, is there a limit you have reached with your voice? Or do you feel it’s as strong as ever?
It’s absolutely as strong as ever, no doubt about it. In the old days, I felt like I was straining to sing. Now I have custom monitors designed just for my voice. All my vocals come out in them. Even if we’re playing in a shitty room with bad acoustics, I can still hear my vocals and will not strain to hear myself. I don’t have to start singing harder or straining, and I’m not going to fuck up the other guys. When safety is involved, you have more confidence on stage and you look forward to show people that you can do these things. It’s so much more fun these days.
How do you keep your voice in shape?
Smoke cigarettes and drink lots of coffee! (laughs) I don’t drink alcohol, maybe a beer every now and then after a show. Sleep is important too, but I never had voice lessons or musical training, and I only warm up a little before a show.
I know you’re still admired greatly in your homeland. Do you visit much or keep in contact with friends or family still there?
Oh yeah, my family is still there, my brother and his family. We usually stay in touch by phone. My brother and his family came out to Texas for two weeks last summer to visit. It’s mainly on tours overseas when I see them. We always start up with rehearsals in Copenhagen before a tour and start off there.
What does King Diamond have planned for the rest of 2009 and 2010?
I’m still working on the DVD, remastering the live concert versions. It’s a lot of extra work, but I’m in full-blast mode. It’s gotta get done. Then I’ll rest, write for our next album, tour. I’ve already told Andy an idea for a story for our next album and, no, I can’t give you any details! (laughs)
Any last words for your devoted coven of fans?
Stay heavy and be patient! We will be back with a vengeance! It’s impossible to say when we’ll be doing a U.S. tour. We hope to be playing live soon, but it’s impossible to know when. We need to talk to some booking agents when we’re ready. But it would be so stupid to take a chance and damage my back again.