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Friday 25 August 2017

The Spotlight: Interview With Karl Wilcox of Diamond Head (By Paul)

Email interview with Karl Wilcox drummer from Diamond Head

MoM: Hi, Paul here from Musipedia. Many thanks for agreeing to the email interview. Much appreciated.

Karl: No worries.

MoM: You've been with the band for a long time. What does being in Diamond Head mean to you?

Karl: Yes, I've been with the band almost 27 years. I was a big fan back in the day. It’s a strange feeling, singing songs from the stage you used to sing from the audience. Being part of the band that influenced a new generation of music and inspired the biggest Metal band in the world is very humbling. Having the responsibility of handling a lot of the backroom business is very satisfying although stressful at times.

MoM: The band appears to be as popular as ever. I've seen you several times in recent years at various festivals, what do you put the popularity of Diamond Head down to?

Karl: Perseverance and the will to keep going no matter what the naysayers have to comment on and the fans are starting to see and respect that.

MoM: Talking of festivals, I've seen you opening for the Big 4 at Sonisphere, at Hard Rock Hell and at Bloodstock. Every summer there seems to be more festivals around Europe. How does the band select which ones to play at, and when was the last time you had a summer where the smell of portaloo didn't permeate your senses?

Karl: There's over a 1000 Music festivals in the UK alone according to Radio 4 and almost 70 major Rock/Metal festivals in Europe. Some we are invited to play others our Agent or myself make an approach. *Laughs* it's par for the course portaloo smell. It's been a few years for sure. Hopefully there will be more.

MoM: I didn't get to see you at Amplified. The weather was pretty grim. What attracted the band to Amplifed, how did you find it and how did your set go?

Karl: We were invited to be part of the inaugural festival. The lineup was varied which suits us. DH are not a thrash band and we are at times put in with the Thrash Guys. The weather yes was horrible; our set was great we closed the show with a full roar.

MoM: You're always asked about the Metallica connections and there seem to be more and more bands who list Diamond Head as an influence. I know you weren't in the band in the very early days but I'm sure that Brian and the band must be proud of the Diamond Head influence. Which were the band's that influenced you to take up music?

Karl: Correct I was not part of the original line up. I've been working with Brian since 84-85 and I worked with Sean on the ill-fated Notorious project. I was part of the NWOBHM movement with a band called Requiem now Rekuiem. Being championed by Metallica is a humbling experience, at the same time a very rewarding feeling, it can be an albatross at times though. Lots of bands we meet state DH were a big influence on their playing or style.

Way back I played trumpet for 10 years. Made it to the county orchestra and big band. The drummer quit and I thought I would give it a go as he seemed to be getting all the solos and applause. So the Jazz Kats were a big influence on my playing. Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa etc. Slade as a youngster were a massive influence for me and I've had the pleasure of working with Jimmy Lea.

Once I got into Rock it was AC/DC I saw them 9 times on the Highway to Hell tour, UFO. Deep Purple. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath all the bands really from the late 60' through the 70's Tubular Bells. When I started I thought " this would be great to make a living doing. However, As a I was a trumpet player when I started my journey into rock my goal was The London Philharmonic or the BBC Radio Orchestra.

MoM: The last album was the first to feature Rasmus. I reviewed it for the blog and called it a solid slab of hard rock. What was the reaction to the album like?

Karl: The reaction has been phenomenal. Way beyond our expectations and thanks for the plaudits. We never imagined it would be so well received.

MoM: It was your first album for several years. I'm interested to know how the recording process had changed in that time. Were there any particular challenges which you hadn't encountered before?

Karl: This time we went into a studio as a band. On What's In Your Head? I put the drums down at my place in California and sent the files back to the guys; which is a way folks work these days. We wanted to make the album more like the old days when you get a smile when it starts feeling good or you drop a clam and the guys say, “you fucked up there but it sounded great keep that”. No real challenges only how we were going to work as a band in the studio.

MoM: And you've just laid down your work for the new album. What can we expect and when does it drop?

Karl: More of the same we hope and April / May next year. Again, it was old school in a room going through the parts. We booked Circle Studios in Birmingham and I nailed the drums in just under two days.

MoM: Congratulations on the Murat Diril endorsement. What does that mean in practical terms for you?

Karl: For me it's a crowning achievement. We played Bang Your Head Festival and it's the first time I've done a show as a Cymbal (Murat Diril) drumhead (Remo) drumstick (Vic Firth) and drum (Crockett Tubs) endorser. CT have just finished a 26" bass drum set for me in antique mother of pearl finish. Be using it in Vegas and the upcoming US / Canadian tour. I stoked about that. Old school baby

MoM: What music do you listen to? Is there anything that would surprise us?

Karl: I listen to most things. I'm a big Jazz (Big Band) fan. When you here the drummer swinging and driving the band it's like a freight train and nothing's going to stop it. Stuff with groove and a pocket. When I studied at the Drummers Collective in NYC I became exposed to lots of stuff. Afro Cuban, Fusion, Be Bop etc. I've always listened to Motown and RnB. There's a couple of Kats that I listen to for inspirational moments. When I was invited to be part of the Bonzo Bash which was a great experience. I got to hang with many of my peers. I started re-listening to Zeppelin. There's a lot of Jazz and RnB in Bonzo's playing.

MoM: I'd like to finish by asking you to tell us something interesting about Karl Wilcox.

Karl: I'm a huge Humphrey Bogart fan and a fan of Film Noir. I'm currently looking to buy a house in France and raise a few goats I enjoy 4 X 4 desert roaming in a jeep and listening to plays/audio books. I'm constantly working on improving my playing and technique. I enjoy talking and debating.

MoM: Good luck with the album. I really appreciate the time taken for this.

Karl: Thanks for asking Paul. Hope to meet up at a gig or festival in the near future.

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