King Diamond – The Graveyard – Interview

King Diamond

The Graveyard (Metal Blade)
An interview with King Diamond
by Bill “Zebub” Turjancik

In a biography of Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible, you were quoted as being, without exception, the only true Satanist in music. The Scandinavian “black metal” scene has inspired a movement referred to as “Christian Satanists” – meaning they adopt the actual worship of demons, living according to the opposite supposed creeds of Christianity. Many of these bands are ridiculing you for following the philosophy of Anton LaVey, calling you a “poseur Satanist.”
I don’t really care WHAT they feel, to be quite honest. They can’t stir up anything in me. I’m convinced about the things I believe in. I don’t care what other people say about that. I’ve always found that, when it comes to religion, it’s ridiculous to point fingers and actually judge each other. Unfortunately, that’s what’s going on in this world. That’s what people do. That’s why the world is such a shitty place. You find so many wars based around people from different religions who can’t accept each other – and here we are talking about religious beliefs – stuff that no one has any real proof of. You may have an experience that convinces you, “this is right.” But you can’t prove it to other people. If only we could judge each other by personalities, we’d have a much better place. That’s what I do. I don’t care if someone is a Christian or a Buddhist. We don’t need to talk religion. It’s an individual thing. Accept exactly what that word means. All these traditional characterizations of different religions and different gods – no one’s proven anything. I’ve had a couple of experiences with what I call “The Powers of the Unknown.” Definitely something that is there that has manifested itself in a way that people have felt – being touched, seeing things move when no one is near them, those kinds of things. I have high respect for different classes of people and different kinds of people. If somebody’s an asshole to me, I don’t need to be with them or around them. It’s my choice. But at least there, you have something concrete. That’s where you get into some reality. When they (Christian Satanists) talk about Satanism and ridicule life philosophy, it’s a whole other matter because Satanism, according to LaVey and The Satanic Bible, is not a religion. It’s Life Philosophy. If they’d ever read the book, they would know that. Nobody can ever change it into a religion.

Have your sales ever suffered from the activities of Jesus freaks?
We never really hear from them. I think they also know they’re not going to get anywhere starting a discussion with me because what I believe is very rational. It’s not some crazy belief in some fantasy demon. That’s not me. I’m very realistically bound. They couldn’t raise a finger on an album like “The Eye.” There was actual human sacrifice mentioned on that album, but it was mentioned in a way where they couldn’t point a finger because it was people who belonged to the Christian church who did that stuff back then. So how could they point a finger without attracting attention to themselves?

When Roadrunner bought the rights from Megaforce to the Melissa album, there were additional vocals on the Roadrunner version that do not appear on the Megaforce pressing. The new vocals are on the title track, “Melissa.”
I don’t understand that, because whenever we’ve recorded a song, mixed it, and sent the master out, there is only that mix of the master tapes. Whoever we dealt with never had the actual 24 or 48 track tapes in their hands. They had the final 1/2″ mix that they can’t change anything on.

How is that possible? There was also much more reverb on the Megaforce version.
I don’t see that being possible. There are no two mixes of them that any label has in their possession. If there’re other vocals, someone else must have recorded them.

If you were to play the beginning of “Melissa,” the part where you sing “Satan’s cross upon the wall” – if you were to play it backwards, you would hear very clearly “What message is this?” I know that it wasn’t intentional. I just thought that was incredibly bizarre. To think, of any message to hear backwards, it would be that eerie “What message is this?”
People asked us many times, “Do you have backwards messages on your albums?” I’ve always stated “No.” It’s all there if you play it the right way. We don’t need to add anything ne egative. It’s dark enough the way it is.

Every show I see, you hit the notes truer and truer.
When I do the vocals in the studio, I do them quicker than I did earlier, years back. It’s just become easier, especially doing these concept albums. Suddenly you want to portray the mood of a character in a certain situation. You have to try to take that out of yourself. Then you bring out voices.

Your background vocals are very classical-sounding. It seems only someone with a familiarity with opera could achieve that. Is that what you’re thinking when arranging vocals?
No. I like classical music, but when I’m in the studio recording, I’m going for a certain feel I want to get across. You can do so many background vocals. But I’m going for a feel that fits whatever’s going on in the story. If it’s a soft part, I’m not gonna use all powerful vocals going into the choir. It has to be nice, and then get some in-between notes to soften it up a bit.

Your song “Satan’s Fall” from the Melissa album is very complex. It’s almost like an opera. But I remember hearing you say that because you have matured as a songwriter, you have added more choruses to make the songs more memorable. Is this true?
You could say that to a certain extent. I would never say that “Satan’s Fall” is a poor songwriting effort.

No! Not at all!
No. But I would never say either that it’s a better songwriting effort than we do today. Not at all. That one song is a very unique song because it’s just a bombardment of different riffs, and it doesn’t matter how they fit together. We just stop, add a chord, and go into another thing. That’s what happens there. In that respect, it’s not that difficult to write a song like that. You have things that might seem complicated because there’s so much going on. There are enough riffs for four songs. But none of it is coming back, except the beginning and the end is the same.

Right. It resolves.
It’s a new progression into a different area. When you do it that way, it’s easy to write. It doesn’t make the composition great. What makes the song great, in my opinion, is not just that there’s so many different things, it’s the quality of those different things. You can stick a bunch of riffs together and none of them are really that cool. But I think every single riff that’s in that song belongs there and is a super cool riff. We had so many resources to pick from, we could afford to spend riffs that could have made up four songs, on one song!

Every time I try to get people into Mercyful Fate, I always play that song, and each time the person remarks that “Satan’s Fall” is incredible.
Absolutely, and I always say the same. That’s why we’re playing it today. We’ll be playing it ’til we die. It’s just a great song to play.

I think that the Melissa album would sell a lot of tablature. Do you see the possibility of sheet music for it?
That’s where the record label, and what they want, come into the picture. They have the rights to publish. They’re the ones who have to negotiate the deal, or put it out themselves. They might not have the experience. They probably have to go and license it somewhere else – if they found that lucrative and interesting. It’s a thing that is worth bringing up. I will certainly bring it up to them because it’s not a bad idea at all.

Especially for the integrity of that music. The tablature from bands today is really nothing new. Although the Melissa album was written a while back, there’s been nothing written like it since. It is definitely “new” by the standards of today. If only you were promoted by a huge label years ago…
I think both bands are timeless (Mercyful Fate and King Diamond) in the respect that there isn’t any band out there that sounds like us. And that’s made us able to say, “Fuck all trends!” Mercyful Fate does not play ballads. I’d much rather have my own style and not be as successful, but be able to be honest with myself and say, “Hey! We created this stuff! Nobody else has done anything like that!” The day fans don’t buy what we’re doing… then we’ll stop. I’m not gonna start writing something fake. I’ll find something else to do.