Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Diamond Head drummer Karl Wilcox. Our regular readers will no doubt recall that I am a huge (and I mean HUGE!) fan of N.W.O.B.H.M. with Diamond Head being a particular favorite of mine. So, please know that when I say this was a privilege for me it REALLY was. I've been listening to this band for well over 20 years now and I've just recently started showing my own teenage son how great their music is. With the news of a US tour in the works I sat down with Karl to talk about the band and his own life.

Andy-First things first I just want to thank you Karl for taking time to answer a few questions for me today. I'd imagine that things are pretty busy these days for Diamond Head right?

Karl-No worries Andrew. Yes it's getting a little manic.

I have to sort out flights, hotels, van hire, Merch. Backline etc.  More importantly the work visa and tax ID's have to be sorted before I can book anything.

Andy-How are things coming along as far as Diamond Head's tour of the US?

Karl-Great. There's been a great response to us announcing the tour. The US was great for us in 2002 and our first ever tour in 2011.

Andy-When was the last time Diamond Head played in America?

Karl-2011. Sean and Brian Jammed with Metallica at their 30th anniversary bash

Andy-If I'm not mistaken (and please feel free to correct me if I am) you joined Diamond Head back in 1992. Can you tell me how that came about?

Karl-1990-91 but close enough I had worked with Brian on his 'Radio Moscow' project 85-87,  then with Sean on the 'Notorious'  project with Robin George 88- 89.

When they decided to get DH back together I was offered the gig. I am the first musician/member to join the band who was a fan an actual fan of the band

Andy-You were involved with the NWOBHM scene before you joined Diamond Head. Two bands that are often mentioned are Requiem and Chase. I know Requiem released a single. Was that your first studio experience?

Karl-We had done some demos prior to that single in a local studio in Walsall.  It was a great experience. In the mountains of Wales with a former member of 'Hawkwind' We had a massive band revolt on the night of going. 

Andy-How did you learn to play the drums Karl?

                                                               Karl Wilcox live and lethal!
Karl-My dad had a big band / dance band in the UK and used to watch him play. He never wanted me to be a drummer so I ended up playing the trumpet for 10 years before finally taking up the drums. The drummer in the county big band was leaving and the drum chair fell vacant.
He was a great player.. I took over and it was a disaster. So I took all the music home and practiced like a Mother came up with my own solos until I owned that drum chair.

Then I got into the Devils Music :-) 

Andy-I've always thought that you had your own unique style of playing. Who were some of your influences as you were just getting started?

Karl- My main influence when starting out where Buddy Rich and My old Man. He was more of a groove player..
As I got into the Devils music then I became aware of John Bonham, Ian Paice. Keith Moon, Terry Bozzio , Neil Peart.Phil Rudd
There really are too many very good players from that era before the drum machines took over.
I could go back to the 60's and list influence. But the main influence from them all was " I want to do that for a living"

Andy-This is a similar question Karl. Has any young drummer told you that they were inspired to pick up their first pair of sticks because of you? In Diamond Head you've been able to make your mark and you've become an important aspect to the band's sound. I'd be shocked if there wasn't more then a few young drummers out there that listed you as a influence!

Karl-Thanks Andrew. Brian's step son Dan who has his own band lists me as one of his top 3 influences. The other two are John Bonham and Lars.
If I can influence any drummer to leave the show and go right home and practice immediately as the guys who inspired me then I've opened the door for that Kat to develop. Whether they like what I have done or not.

I been blessed to work as a musician/entertainer

Andy-As I briefly touched on with the last question your contribution to Diamond Head's sound is well regarded. You've spent a large part of your career with the band in fact. How does it feel to be able to look back and say that you were involved with one of the true icons of the NWOBHM scene?

Karl-I was the first member who was an actual fan of the band and used to watch them play and say I should be up there with them.
And here I am. I give the utmost respect for the parts played by Duncan and I just embellish it what I can. Groove is very important to me and the band. 

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself. But I have know Brian for 30 years now and it's been a great journey. 
We did a show in Montreal with Kiss at a festival. 'Detroit Rock City' was the first album I purchased and I'm standing back stage with my niece and nephew looking on gobsmaked  talking with Paul & Gene. 

Keep believing 

Andy-This shouldn't surprise you guys, but I have firsthand knowledge that teenage metal bands (with even preteen members!) are playing covers of some Diamond Head classics. That says a lot about the lasting impact that Diamond Head has had on heavy metal. When the band is playing live It must be something to be able to look out in crowd and see several generations of fans right?

Karl-There's old folks and young folks in the audience and there singing the songs at me and I'm singing them back at them. It's great. DH has a great catalog of songs both with Sean and with Nick. Obviously the classics are the main course for the show.

Although we have done support shows and had the headlining road crew ask "why are you playing Metallica songs?" The look on their face was priceless..

Andy-Besides headlining a tour of the US this April, which is a big deal for Diamond Head fans like me, are there any other big plans for the band in 2013?

Karl-We we quiet last year due to myself needing an emergency blood transfusion during our summer European tour. We had to cancel two shows the I was back on the Tubs thumping away. We had planned on hitting the US late last year..

This year hopefully sees the band doing two US tours, an East Coast run in April and a West Cost run in October.
Also we play a Belgium festival and will putting a European tour around that.

We hope to make a DVD of this tour so you all got to come to the show and record with us. If you don't like what you did at the show come to another show and re-record with us, we'll love to see you again.

Andy-Thanks again Karl for checking in. As we wrap up this quick interview is there anything you want to say to Diamond Head fans? I'll give you the last word.

Get your street teams together and get folks who have never heard or seen us to the shows. DH fans have been a long standing crew and have supported us through everything. 

See you all soon 


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