In March 2012, Swedish metal blog Bara Metal conducted an interview with legendary Danish heavy metal singer King Diamond (KING DIAMOND, MERCYFUL FATE) (real name: Kim Bendix Petersen). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Bara Metal: You played live with METALLICA in December 2011, and you looked really happy!
King: Yes, it was great to get back on stage, and it was a big test, so to speak. I had not sung since the heart surgery. Well, I had had a test at a local place called House Of Blues here nearby. I went there to meet a band which members I know, some of them. I went there to say hi in the afternoon, and during their soundcheck I went up on stage to see what it felt like. And my old chest was rattling. I had to get the hell out of there; it was very, very uncomfortable. And right now I have a pretty thick metal string all the way down my chest, inside under the skin, that ties together the whole chest, all the bones. They sawed my chest, they pretty much open your chest up like a double door.It has to grow back together; that is why I have it there. So when I came up to the METALLICA show, I did not know if I would feel the same bad things as I felt in Dallas, and when they turned up the sound, I thought, “Oh my god, either I should just head home or it will work again.” And then the sound came up and I did not feel anything. It was like it had grown together really well. And I had been at the surgeons just three weeks before just to know everything was really good, he had done an X-ray and told me it was growing together really well. But that was just singing. Then comes the second part. I have stopped smoking, and changed all of my habits. No smoking for over a year. And I can feel that on my voice; it really changes a lot. It has become so much crispier, it is much easier to sing all of those difficult high things. You can imagine — I have never been a singer and not been a smoker. This is the first time I feel what my voice is like without smoking. And it is a big difference, I can tell you. It’s easier, it’s like a brand new voice. But this new one is much better than the old one ever was. I’m really looking forward to do the other stuff. I had actually one more test, because San Francisco was like a test. Also the breathing, because when they do the operation they collapse your lungs. And you have to work hard to get your capacity back to normal. There was a showcase here in Dallas [in January 2012] where bands were battling for prizes, and there I got the chance to sing three songs. No one knew about it, I was just there as a presenter. But we did three songs and I picked those songs particularly for a test: “The Family Ghost”, old KING DIAMOND from “Abigail” with lots of difficult high voices — it has never been that easy to sing it before. And “Burn” from “The Eye”, which… it is very difficult to catch a breath here and there. Such long lines to be sung. It was to test the breathing. And that worked fine, too. And then we did “Evil” in the end, simply as a safety if I got out of breath or something. Often, the people that are there, the fans will sing every line in the first two verses. But I did not need that; afterwards I was not out of breath, I have never felt that good about singing… I think that was the best I’ve ever sung, that I did here two months ago. So I’m looking forward to get everything up. It’s a big process for us, of course, because we have not done anything for five years, because I had a disc problem earlier, you know. But this might be a good thing, in the end, if everything goes well you might feel much younger than you really are. That is what the surgeon says. And I stick to a new diet and exercise every day. I go to an athletic center, things I did not do before. And the fact that I’m eating healthier and no cigarettes, I can feel it, you know.
Bara Metal: You mentioned your voice is much better. Before this better voice of yours, were you ever afraid to lose your ability to hit those high notes?
King: No, that I have never felt. Through the years, I have felt that it has grown slightly stronger and stronger and stronger. But other things play a role — it has to do with the overall… Not that I have never lacked confidence in being on stage, it is the whole surrounding, you have more professional crew through the years, and I know on stage, I know that they have got everything right when they put everything up, including monitor sound. I have hade the same lineup for a long time now and it is the best one I’ve played with ever in my life. I know exactly what they are doing. Something has to go really wrong, a broken string or something, for anything to be different. So it is a lot of confidence on stage, we have much more space and time for enjoying the whole procedure, having fun with the people who are there. Much more of that now. In the old days, when we came to like the end of “Black Horsemen”, there is an extremely high note, and those places in the old days were scary to get to, because if the monitor sound is not the best possible, you push harder, and then your voice gets a bit scratchy on top. But if you have the perfect great sound on stage, then you relax. You don’t put any more pressure on the vocal cords than is needed to take the notes. So there is a big difference there. But now – there is so much more of a difference. I felt some of that with METALLICA, but I knew that I could not quite judge that because METALLICA detunes very, very slightly. So that meant that those MERCY songs that were detuned, they would have been easier for me to sing. But the stuff we did here in Dallas. Our drummer was here and three other guys, super musicians, actually one of them is the guy who produce and records all my vocals for my albums, he is a multi musician, he can play all kinds of instruments. We rehearsed the three songs two times and that was it, but it was in normal tune so it would have been as hard as it has always been, but it was only pleasure. And I felt something that I had never felt before — that I sang perfectly. And those who were there they could certainly hear it too. That’s what they said.
Bara Metal: You sound eager to get on tour to do it live.
King: Yeah, yeah, we are building a new production now and there is so much stuff to do. We are, in some ways, starting from scratch, working on a new record deal. We got a new booking agent. We are working on a new Internet shop where the fans can finally be able to get some genuine KING DIAMOND merchandise, official stuff. For the first time in our career we are finally coming out and actually doing things the right way, the way we should have done from the beginning. But you never get too old to learn. Sweden Rock and then Hellfest one week later — it’s not a test, but it is a test. It will be the first full show we do since that happened. But I can’t see what would go wrong. I’ve already tested things that I needed tested for myself.
Bara Metal: You had a break that lasted a whole year. What did you do?
King: Well, we did keep up with people. A lot. We started a thing where… it’s a Skype website where people will sign up. And now and then I will call up fans and we talk. We have done that several times. We will call up three fans through that way, “King Diamond is calling you,” and it could be one from Puerto Rico, one from Sweden, one from Scotland. We pick them randomly, but not the same person twice. Then we sit and talk for an hour. They can ask anything. They usually have a lot of question that are the same as the fans ask in the fan club, the Coven. So we get a lot of info out that way, and we upload it so other can listen to it. We are certainly in touch with our fans.
Bara Metal: During that year, 2011 — you did not start writing your autobiography?
King: No. One day it would be nice because I have tons of cool stories. But it has to be the right time. Now everything is concentrated on getting set for the festivals. We might do something in the U.S. this year, I’m not sure. Not right now. We are getting everything right, the right contracts, than next year we will be touring, and start writing new material, probably already this year. We have a lot to do. And I am a million percent sure that a lot of those experiences which happened at the hospital will be in the lyrics for the next album. I have things that I have to get out of my system.
Bara Metal: So… there will be new music in 2013?
King: That is absolutely the plan. Something has to go totally wrong for us not to do that. We will write material this fall. Hopefully during the autumn, we might do something here in the U.S., after the festivals. But we will not be doing a long tour, it is still a test, we will see what happens. We do not want to take stupid chances, it has to be done properly. And we have a lot to do still, but things are looking good.
Read the entire interview at Bara Metal.
Photo courtesy of Metallica.com