King Diamond '98
King Diamond
Line-up: Andy La Rocque, guitar; Herb Simonsen, guitar; Chris Estes, bass; John Luke Hebrew, drums
Album: Voodoo
Label: Metal Blade
Producers: Andy La Rocque, Sterling Winfield and King Diamond
Web sites: Many, in a lot of different languages

I've been a fan of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate since the first time I laid eyes on them. Then I really got into the writings of the King and was drawn deeper into his talents. The artwork on this album is incredible. I see every album he writes as a separate movie. Voodoo is a haunting, yet gruesome story of a family and its encounters with the supernatural. It was on Friday, the 13th of February, 1998 that I answered a call from the King. It was a day when I needed a plumber and his number was 594-8666. Yips. Every interview with the King brings on odd happening or two, but I look forward to the bizarre happening with each interview. This is not my best interview, but hopefully you'll learn something new about this talented man and take a listen to his writings.

Q&A with King Diamond

Sheila Rene': Hello darlin'. Who is the king of black magic or voodoo in your mind.
King Diamond: I don't think you could know the answer to that question unless you knew everyone involved.

SR: Have you ever spent any time in Louisiana?
KD: Not in respect to this project. I've read some books.

SR: The artwork is the first thing you see. It is so great. I'd love to have a poster of this cover. It has such depth.
KD: Kristian Wahlin really out did himself on this one. When you see the CD booklet you're going to be amazed. It's the best album cover we've ever had. It's the first time we've worked with this guy. He's also doing the cover for the new Mercyful Fate album right now.

SR: This album is set in 1932. Is this the furthermost you've traveled in real time with your work?
KD: We were closer at one point with Conspiracy. It's just finding the right setting and time period.

SR: How did Sarah and David come to you as subjects in this album?
KD: The whole thing came about because I had read some books on voodoo. All I knew was what I had seen --someone dancing around with chickens in their hands. I had never taken the time to really read up on what it means. This time it all fell into place for me. I spent a lot of time describing these characters. I didn't know how it should end while I was working on it. I was digging up characters and was putting them in different situations. It was pretty interesting to write this album. I would surprise myself sometimes as the story continued.

At this point Diamond begins to tell the story in his own words. I couldn't butt in so I just let him go.

It starts off with this couple Sarah and David Lafayette who've just moved into a new mansion north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana with Sarah's blind father. Sarah is pregnant and so they acquired a butler by the name of Salem, a Black guy who is six feet tall. He seems to know a lot about the area.

SR: They look to him to save them?
KD: No, not really. They don't believe what this guy is saying. That line you're referring to is said by Doctor Le Croix who is the leader of the voodoo cult. They don't have a big problem with the graveyard but they do have a problem with hearing all these people coming around singing, yelling and dancing every Saturday night. They talk to Salem about it and what he hears back he says no, no, no and warns them not to interfere. Salem goes straight out to have a meeting with Dr. Le Croix, the main priest who can't have anyone taking away his graveyard and calls upon Salem to put a spell on them. What Salem does is go to visit Madame Sarita who gave him the snake curse. He then scoops up some dirt from the graveyard so a spell can be made on the Lafayettes. Anybody who eats the ala carte will die. He takes it to the master bedroom and Sarah wakes up. Her husband David is hiding. The butler walks around the bed and sees a snake bite on his leg and puts some of the dirt into his leg. David doesn't want to hear about this voodoo stuff. Without the doctor's permission no spells will be successful. Salem gets his approval by bringing in a sacrifice. One of David's old friends who has now retired used to a very renowned physicist and he's at the Abby of the Saints. He manages to get in touch with the operator and explains the situation to his friend, who tells him not to do anything, just hold on and he'll be there soon to help. David says no way will he let them have his daughter. Sarah's father comes running into the room and realizes his daughter is possessed. You don't find out who Salem really is until the end. The baby is born and is speaking in unknown tongues backwards. Grandpaw Lafayette remembers his friend Father Malone was the Abbey of Holy Saints in New Orleans. He's brought in to clean the spirits. Baron Samedi's cross comes in to play and Father Malone goes down.

SR: Here again, this would make such a great movie.
KD: Oh, man that would be so great. As you know that's a big dream of mine.

SR: Why do you think drums are so prevalent in voodoo. . . because they were the first instrument?
KD: Probably so. Drums and voodoo go together big time. Drums pump the adrenaline through the body like a heartbeat.

SR: How is it you can jump instantly from the lower octave you use to the higher octaves. It's uncanny. So many different voices here.
KD: It's never been a problem for me. I sing extremely forceful. I sing the same way in the studio or live. Whereas most vocalists sing without a lot of force and that makes it much easier to go up the scale. When you sing very forceful with a normal voice singing high notes there comes a point when the voice would break. That's where the falsetto sets in. I sing so fuckin' loud, you have no idea. You can hear the power behind my singing.

SR: The last time we talked you were ready to start the next Mercyful Fate album. Michael Denner has left to spend time with his family.
KD: I finished the Mercyful Fate album on December 18. I mastered it myself for the first time.

SR: The sound on this album is so clear and so powerful. . . from the bells to hell.
KD: Great. I'm glad you like it.

SR: Coincidentally, you have a new member in King Diamond from Louisiana, John Luke Hebert on drums.
KD: True. He has been a big part of the album. It's recapturing the old energy and attitude of King Diamond. The song arrangements are more aggressive. The choirs and harmonies are much more elaborate than we've had in a while.

SR: Did you have any help on some of those voices? Or is it all you?
KD: There's a girl who says that one line in the beginning, but everything else is mine.

SR: You keep blowing my mind, you really do.
KD: We've created that aggressive feeling again. John had a lot to do with that feeling. Michael was in an accident and was having numbness in his body out of the blue. He's better now but he wasn't in shape to be playing drums. We had to find someone else. John has a lot of experience on the road and he is a huge King Diamond fan. We started writing right after a tour that had all of our spirits excelerated. It was bound to go in that direction.

SR: Nomad Recording in Dallas is a new studio for you. How did it stack up?
KD: It certainly had some influence as well because there's only one studio and we were all locked up together. It was intimate and it has better wiring and equipment. I remember when Andy saw the studio for the first time he commented that it was so much like the studios we used in the early Diamond days.

SR: The dreaded record company breaks in telling me to close it down. Damn, and I had so many more questions that now seem more relevant in retrospect. Okay, I'll just say goodbye for now. I will reiterate, this is a GREAT album and now we have to get you on the road.
KD: The end of March we'll kick off a tour.

SR: As always, I love you.
KD: It's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks.