KING DIAMOND Discusses New Live Album

October 13, 2004

KING DIAMOND frontman and namesake recently spoke to about the group's new live album, "Deadly Lullbyes Live", vocalist Livia Zita, his long friendship with Andy LaRocque, the Geraldo Rivera incident, and much more. Several excerpts from the interview follow:

On "Deadly Lullbyes Live":

"There are a lot of things we did that I think are a little different than maybe what you will hear on a majority of live albums. First of all, it's been long overdue and about time that we had what I call a real 'live album' out. You know, we had the one in '87, 'Abigail Live', which was something that we had no control over, really. Those songs that are on there were recorded back in '87, but they were recorded just for own pleasure — through the mixing desk, but going straight to a cassette deck. So, we just had cassette versions of those songs. We couldn't do anything; we couldn't mix the audience up or down or set the balance between the guitar and bass or anything, you know. It felt like it was really a half-assed live album but it was also part of getting out of a deal.… but it's cool for what it is, I think. It has its own charm.... but this time it's like 'Hey, now we can finally actually mix an album — control how loud we want the vocals in the mix and the guitars and all these things between each other. So that was nice and several things then suddenly face you. We haven't done this before. We are used to doing all these studio albums where you can have as many guitars as you want, eight vocals, whatever. Suddenly, now it's like 'raw' and 'bare' (laughs),because you only have those instruments that you have on stage.

"We listened to other live albums to see what they do and there was one thing that we didn't want to do, and that was to try and make ourselves bigger than we are. That was the first thing. We wanted to create those types of rooms that we're playing in on tour, which are, for the majority, theaters — 1200-1800 seat theaters. I think we really got that sound on this album as well. It really does sound like that, because that you can only control by how you would add reverb, because you just have dry recordings of everything. You don't have the 'room' in your recordings when you're recording live. It's as if you were in a studio recording and then you have to create the environment afterwards, and I think we really caught that environment there. Another thing that was very important for this album was asking the question 'How do you let the audience speak?', and I'm sure you have noticed that on many live albums too. Once the music starts playing, they turn the audience down and you just hear what sounds like the band playing in a hall. We didn't do that. We just felt that it would sound so wrong if we would try and mix the audience in and out of a song. There are too many places we play live where the audience sings along in choruses and responds to certain things that happen on stage. You can't just sit and suddenly turn up those places where you wanted (makes roaring crowd sound),and then it's back down to nothing again. So, we actually were more or less forced to leave the audience at the same level the whole way, which was a good thing. That is what makes it really rare — those who enter the shows, when they listen to it at home — this really has turned out to be the second best thing to actually being there. When you are at a concert and you're standing being blasted by a real PA, it's always going to sound different than it does in your living room, but I really think this is the second best thing because you hear the dynamics of the audience. There are certain choruses where they don't sing as loud as maybe we would have liked (laughs),but it was all left like that. It is as it is live, you know. They don’t sing along with the same strength in all choruses; they are a little louder in certain songs like 'Eye of the Witch' or whatever, and by just leaving the audience and letting them be heard throughout the music, it just made it even more authentic. When you're at the show, you will sometimes hear these weird responses coming out of nowhere. It doesn't seem like they fit, but when you're at the show it's like 'Ahh, that's where he got out of the wheelchair' in 'The Invisible Guest' for instance. I always make this gesture.... a hand up to my ear. I don't say 'Let me hear you!' Sometimes I do, but it's just a hand up to the ear. Then, you suddenly hear a response and it's like 'What happened there?', but if you are at the show, you know exactly what happened because it's all there. I think those are some of the things that are different from some other live albums that you hear, whereas this one is, in that respect, for the fans, very authentic. They can really picture themselves having been at these shows."

On his friendship and working relationship with guitarist Andy LaRocque:

"There is such a high level of both personal and professional respect between us and that's why it's still working so great. When we finished mixing this last album, it was the same feel again. You know, we work EXTREMELY hard when we work together — 12 hours a day! That's what we do when we are mixing or recording. It's 12 hours a day full blast ahead and go to the supermarket and get some food. That's how we've always done it and we still do it that way. We've both gotten better; we have better ears. Andy has his own studio in Sweden where a lot of albums have been recorded and we use his gear here at my house. It's not like we are recording on home studio equipment. It's top pro gear. We fly all his best gear over from Sweden to my house in Dallas and turn my living room into a studio, and that has proved to be very fruitful. The first time we did that was when we did 'The Puppet Master', where we recorded all written guitars, keyboards, and bass here at the house. Then, we went into Nomad recording studio to record the drums and the vocals, and then we mixed the album here at my house as well. The big benefit is we like to go into details and we will not sacrifice the quality by jumping low fences just because we are on the clock all the time in the studio, for instance. It can be frustrating to sit and fight with a reverb unit and not being able to find the right effect that you want it to be on maybe just five words. But we do it because it has to be right, and to sit down and spend two hours, you feel like money is just flying out the window, you know. You don't have that pressure on you. It doesn't cost extra. It's a matter of our will and how much of perfectionists we both are. We go all out! We research all our options for things that we want to sound in a certain way. That's been a big advantage, as well as the mixing process, and you hear that both on 'The Puppet Master' and the live album because they were both mixed here at my home. You're in an environment with top professional gear, but when you think about it, we are sitting here.... there are carpets and furniture — exactly like in the homes where people are going to listen to it later, and that means so much. Everything that we change.... every knob we turn when we hear the difference, I know that that's what people are going to hear in their homes. They're not going to listen to the album in a studio environment where there are hardwood floors, these special bass traps coming out of the wall or rooms that are designed so that frequencies will bounce in a certain way. No one is going to listen to it in that environment, you know. Many times I have experienced where we set up an initial mix sound for an album in the studio, and the next morning before you go back to the studio, you think you've got everything right. You listen to it on your home stereo and you feel like 'What??? Where's the treble? Where did the bottom go?'. You can get so cheated, and then you go into the studio with your notes and this and that. Then you listen to it and it's like 'Hmmm. No, it's all there!'. What do you do then? Make some sort of a compromise? It's very hard to sit there and turn knobs and guess what it's going to sound like at somebody else's place. But when you are in that home environment, we realized that when we did 'The Puppet Master', it was like 'Hey, man! This is exactly what it's going to sound like in people's homes!'. We were so confident. With ever very turn of a knob, we knew that what we heard, other people would hear too, and that meant the difference between getting a product that was exactly like we wanted it to be or something that we had just guessed our way in to.

"It also turned out to be the best-sounding KING DIAMOND album that we ever had in our career — 'The Puppet Master' definitely has the best sound that we've had. Also, with the live album, I think it sounds really good, frequency-wise, from top to bottom. It's all there in a pleasant way. You never get hit by sharp treble or it never gets drowned out by boomy bottom or something like that. That all comes back to doing it that way, and that's why, again, Andy and I have been working perfectly together. Put it this way — neither of us would have reached those results on our own. We could have done well on our own, but together, we just click. We really get the best result. It is amazing when you look at it because it has been a lot of years and we have never had problems of any kind. It's just actually gotten stronger and stronger, you know.... that friendship and relationship. It's just a mutual respect. It has probably everything to do with as being both people and professionals. We respect each other extremely highly. We can talk about anything, even if it's very close-knit family things that would normally not go outside your private four falls. Nothing has to be a secret there, you know. That is just like a very close-knit friendship, and when that carries into the professional aspect of it all, the work part of it, it's easy. It makes it a lot of fun, even when it gets tough and you are up against technical problems sometimes, and because of that relationship and cooperation, we solve them ever damn time."

Read King Diamond's entire interview with at this location.

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