King Diamond Planning Concept Across Two New Albums
King Diamond was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, discussing the recently-released and long-awaited live DVD/album Songs for the Dead Live. The release spotlights two concerts, one indoor and one outdoor, and the singer explained what made these shows so unique regarding the footage that was captured.
With the live set now out, fans are awaiting a new full length album, which will be the first from King Diamond since 2007's Give Me Your Soul... Please and King promises it is a massive undertaking, conceptually, musically and visually as the stage production is currently being built to accommodate the new storyline. Catch up on all of that and more in the chat below.
Abigail is the centerpiece of this new live album. What continues to resonate with you about that story and music?
Oh, there was such a special feel back in '87 when we did that album because it was first in the many different ways, not just for us but I think also for the music business. There'd been concept albums before, of course, but not a horror concept. That was a first in that respect, and it was something I wanted to do for quite a while. I took the big jump and just said, "Hey, either it's gonna work or it's gonna fail badly." But it worked, so that was where we took the chance.
There was a lot of things that came together there with the way the vocals were looked at and used and the way that the band played. There was a lot of great new stuff there and I think that's why it had such a heavier impact as well. There were a lot of things that people had not heard before — not put together in that way, anyway. So, it had a big impact for us, but so did some of the other albums coming after of course. So, it's not the only one, but it was the first one in that type of way to do it, and I think that's why it has that extra strong punch, you know.
This features two separate performances of Abigail in very different settings. What changes about the tone and delivery of these songs when you're performing them for several thousand people in Philadelphia compared to a hundred thousand people in Belgium.
We were supposed to record actually one show for that — actually, that was two shows picked from that 2015 tour: Philadelphia and then Detroit. There are a few clips from Detroit, but that's clips from many different shows actually in the way we used all these Go Pro clips. So, Philadelphia is full of these Go Pros that we brought with us. We had nine Go Pros with us that we situated in different places onstage every night. We didn't even know in the end — we didn't care anymore because they're like they're here now and there and there. They were near the coffin and put inside the lantern.
It's like, "Okay, okay, let's just play." Then you would see them while you were performing. So, I mean, you saw a Go Pro and thought, "Oh there's one there. There's one, okay." So, it worked like that and that's why it's very natural as well because in the end we did not even recognize that they were there. We just played, and they were there.
They added, if you can imagine, 25 shows with nine extra camera angles. It's insane that Denise [Korycki], who edited the whole thing together and produced all the stuff — I can't believe still today how she managed to do it. If you count from Philadelphia how many different angles there are within a minute, it's crazy.
It's almost every two seconds it changes. And it's like she played on the different camera angles lightly like a keyboard for the music, you know, so she really felt the music as much as we did I think. That's what I hear in it, how she features so many different things.
It's not like it's an hour of King Diamond footage then the other band members a little bit here and there. It's very evenly spread out the whole way, which is amazing and really gives great feelings, very, very dynamic. I don't think you ever saw a live concert while you had so many of the things that the drummer did right in your face. You get very, very close with all these camera angles right there on the stage placed everywhere, and you don't see camera people running around the stage trying to film all this stuff. So, it really worked and became very unique.
Since your last studio album you underwent very serious heart surgery and you also had a son. How have such major life events been influencing lyrical ideas for your next album?
Oh, the next album gonna be gruesome. Absolutely gruesome. The storyline is, well, it's in a way where I can't even put it into just one album. So, it has to be over two albums. And it's really planned out to work in a very special way with the show as well. So the show is being built right now in Denmark and built around that story so it really can go hand in hand.
Right now I already know how the production will develop for the next tour, after this tour so when we do part two of that story, I know how the whole thing ends already. I know how the production is going to change and how it's going to be culminating in one very big thing. It's a long project, several years, in fact the next three years are going to be very very intense for us. There are a lot of things that are in planning.
Also, we signed up with 5B [artist management] and a lot of good stuff is coming out of that, piece by piece. We are getting a player that is going to be amazing for our fans for the next three years. Something that's going to come that they would not expect, I think. So very very cool prospects.
I think it gives a second chance and that is what the album is also about, it has something to do with that. It has something to do with parallel worlds and punishment, stuff like that. You’ll see us torture our dear little Abigail, it's part of the story, you'll see it onstage - but it’s great to be here - it’s been almost two years now, it's incredible, but it hasn’t changed me very much when it comes to what I stand for and the stories that's coming, musical style that's coming. It's total utter King Diamond.
The next album is said to be a story set in a 1920s mental institution. What makes that time and place a good setting for a King Diamond album?
I chose that because it’s a very creepy scenario. Thing is I know that somebody has talked about that but that is not the setting actually. It’s a lot of things involved but the setting looks as if it's a 1920s asylum. That is exactly what it looks like and some of the things that go on onstage make you also think that certainly was going on back then. When medicine was beginning to take a beneficial turn in history and actually being able to help human beings live longer.
There was some experimentation going on too that was absolutely gruesome. Some of that was involved in the story but it is totally different. Once you get to the second part of the story you will begin to understand that and... what the hell is going on here? What is really about? Because there is a whole different story that will not come to you until second part. But in the first part you are going to get to know a lot people at a certain place. It's in the story, it's way too much.
But It does take place, I won’t say where or what it’s called because that is the title of the album and I won't let that out yet. Some of it takes place here, this world and some of it takes place in a parallel world. There is a correlation between what happened to me and what happens to some people in this place and where they suddenly appear. You will find out why they are there, how they appear there and what places down the road - I won't say too much right now but it is going to be very creepy.
The stage that we are building for this is going to be something else. Some of the things we are going to have onstage are also going to be very, very nice. We are adding an extra floor to the whole thing to what we had last time. We had stairs leading up to a second floor now there is going to be the third floor. I don’t like heights very much so this is one of those stupid things I like to do to myself sometimes. I test myself and how I am going to feel up there on the third floor — only a broken banister to make me feel safe, you know.
Guitarist Andy LaRocque has been a part of your band since the beginning. What does he understand about you that makes him such a good collaborator?
We always respect each other and we've always respected each other for what we’re capable of. We know each other so well, to where if one is not performing to where he should be, the other one can say something and there is no problem. He can be doing solos or have done something and I've said, "You're better than that, man. You need to do something." I can remember, after I heard it. "That's what you can do and you've done for so long. Do it again."
It’s like yeah, I felt a bit weird about that too. Things are going to be different now the way we are writing too. I have my own studio at home now for recording vocals and writing new stuff, and it makes a big difference. We don't have to go in with some songs that we now think are ready to be recorded and be in a studio where we have a month to get through the whole thing.
Then when it's time to do vocals, it's just vocals, vocals, vocals. You get worn down after a while, especially in the style of vocals that I do. It's very hard on the vocal cords. You've done five songs in five days back to back — there's not much left, but you have to continue because there's only you left to finish up the album. "Sing with a hoarse voice, do it, there's someone else coming in who has booked time so we need to finish up."
That's not the case now. I can go in and record when I want to. It can be 4AM, it can be whenever and I can spend 5 days on a giant choir if I want to. No one is going to stand there and tell me that the clock is ticking, we need to move on this is costing money and we don't have any time for this. There's a big difference there, if something is written that doesn't feel right to sing too, we change the music to make it right so it feels good. Same with guitar solos and stuff like that. So, it's much more deliberately written now than it was before where there was a lot of things you hoped would work when you entered the studio. For us now, we develop it into what we want it to be.
King Diamond Albums Ranked