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King Diamond – Vocals for King Diamond and Mercyful Fate

Date: 9/18/14
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. How is your health after the heart surgery, and also quitting smoking? How has that affected you performing live?

KING: Its very different in a positive way. A lot of things had to change in my lifestyle. I quit smoking right before the surgery and that has changed my voice dramatically. I mean, I have been doing interviews all day for hours and my voice still feels great. When I was smoking I would get hoarse, I would get sore throats, the dry air would dry everything out. My voice is stronger and its easier to do the difficult things In the songs. I had to develop a new way of breathing, because in the surgery they collapsed my lunges. So I had to go to rehab for several months to re learn how to breathe again. Taking a breath was difficult, imagine that? I had a real hard time adjusting. It was difficult even drinking a glass of water. So it took a long time to get my strength back. But now, my lungs have cleared out and I feel great. Nine hours of doing interviews I still feel fine.

The surgery took like seven hours, I was not here for a while. It was scary because things were borderline for a while, so I got a second chance and I’m very grateful for it. I really appreciate life, I don’t take for granted I can get up in the morning and still do what I do. I mean, I made a make shift will the night before the surgery just in case. I have a metal rod under the skin down my chest, I can feel it but it’s a very little scar. Now after the rehab I walk (power) regularly with my wife. I have a special diet. There are certain things I use to really love, like ice cream, I can have one once and a while, but can’t overdue it. Now my voice sounds better than it has ever been. Like many bands now that they are older their band tunes the instruments down, but I don’t have to do that.

2. I have been checking out some Youtube clips from the European festivals and your voice sounds great, clean, strong, you hit all the high notes. But also, the live mix is very clear and you can hear all the instruments. Tell us about that?

KING: Yeah, it sounds so vintage King Diamond. Our sound guy is the guitarist Pontus Norgren from the band Hammerfall and what he has done with our sound is incredible. I mean the whole new stage show and the way the band sounds, you feel so confident going on stage. The set at Wacken you will get for the American tour, ‘Cremation’, the whole thing.

3. When you started touring again in 2013, ‘Voodoo’ and ‘Dreams’ were in the set. For these 2014 festivals you dropped those, and added a couple others.

ING: Yes, they could come back. There are a list of others I’d like to add also, like ‘Black Devil’, ‘Help’, ‘The Lake’ which was only done in the old days. Fans always ask for that one. The reason why I took ‘Voodoo’ and ‘Dreams’ out is because we did a couple German festivals last year and we wanted to give the crowd something different. That’s why ‘Tea’ came back, I love singing it. ‘Neverending Hill’ is pretty difficult because there are some vocals that hang over each other, doing different roles, so it helps having Livia doing backing vocals. ‘Cremation’ is back, doing the whole coffin being burned, and the intro for ‘A Visit From The Dead’ is cool we use to do it back in the day. There is no more drum solo, so its 90 minutes of just music and show with effects. Grandma is back of course, and for ‘Cremation’. ‘Puppetmaster’ is back in the set, and Jodi is doing a great job in the costume for that song, its insane the way she walks. The set itself had a major overhaul from last year; the fences are really cool, the crosses with the lighting, shade lighting now, smoke, the backdrops, we have a couple moving pieces. And I’m up and down those stairs all the time.

4. Where are you at with working on songs for a new album?

KING: Actually right before going to Europe I built a studio in my house to do vocals. So I don’t have to go anywhere, top pro, insulated walls, floating floor. 1,800 pounds of materials. Pro Tools system that’s mind blowing, and Andy LaRoque (guitarist), has a lot of the same equipment at his studio in Sweden so we can really send things back and forth and collaborate. I want my new live sound engineer to come up with suggestions for the new material too. I will never sing with a hoarse voice anymore, I can do multiple voice choirs now where I couldn’t do that before. I can work on verse, chorus, go outside and relax, come back and work on the bridge. Its great. And we have all this new great gear to work with.

And Metal Blade got license to release on vinyl a couple old Mercyful Fate and King Diamond albums over the summer, but we didn’t have the gear, the speakers, to get it done the right way or it was not worth it to us because there is a bigger plan for the future. The plan was to release a two disc Best of, one disc is songs from the Roadrunner albums, the other Metal Blade. And for the first time Andy and I got to select the songs, all the previous compilations were done without our input with no say. The remasters done a long time ago we were not part of them, and it really just made them louder because they were early versions of the cds. So you really don’t get to hear the details. Like in the guitar theme Andy plays on ‘The Invisible Guest’ there is a keyboard run under it, but it is hard to hear. On the gold masters even its not very clear. So now with this new gear we have, we went back to the masters and we made enhancements to early versions of these songs. Like the version of “Abigail” coming out is from a 1990 Japanese release, “Them” there is a difference between the US and Europe versions. For instance, ‘Welcome Home’ and ‘Invisible Guests’ will have a bottom end now.

5. Now that you mention “Them”, I always wondered why "Them" had such a thin sound compared to “Abigail” and “Conspiracy”?

KING: Yeah, that is because the album was done in a different studio, and it depends what speakers you listen to in the studio also. I mean these two speakers that I have in my home studio now, they have sub woofers in the side of the cabinets, for mixing and mastering. Like I listen to old Uriah Heep albums now and it sounds amazing, one of my favorite singers is David Byron. I hear things I never heard before. I did the same thing with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon”, the top sounds great, bottom is horrid, it’s like they didn’t hear some things through the speakers used at the time. But I don’t have the remaster of the album, so there may be a better version out there now. So when it comes to our music you listen to the songs in the studio with one set of speakers, and listen in your car with another, and at home with something else, too much bass, or too trebly. Now, when we were working on these songs for this King Diamond Best Of we can equalize and balance out the song selection from all the albums. Hopefully it will come out in Nov/Dec. Imagine, you will be able to jump from track 3, to #8, to #5, and it is not a shock, it will be a consistent listening experience. Hopefully, we can do with this with all the albums, take all the masters and balance the settings.

6. Where are you at with the previously planned Mercyful Fate and King Diamond DVD compilations? Will you release one of the shows from the European festivals from 2013/14?

KING: The Wacken show was taped because they have all the cameras going. But the problem is it costs to put it out and get something back. Then, you need to go in and work on the footage, mixing the audio, so that takes time and costs money too. But I would like to release something like that in front of all those people, and it would be great for fans who don’t get a chance to see what we are doing live. You want make everybody happy. Like when I was working on the footage for those King and Mercy DVDs, do I spend more time editing bootleg footage for another year, or get on the road and play live? I wanna play live. We do have some great footage with five cameras, from Denmark, and maybe we can put it out as a bonus stuff.

7. Have you ever prepared any of your stories for a book?

KING: I did start writing a couple chapters for “Them” and “Conspiracy”, but it’s a matter of time. I mean I have dry cleaning to get done, makeup pencils for the live show, and mainly because we are very a part of things ourselves now. So there is so much to do, merchandising, shows, etc.

8. How often do you get offers to turn your stories into movies? Is that in future plans?

KING: If someone approaches us, yes. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Official website: www.kingdiamondcoven.com


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