It was almost 3 years ago, since the last time that I had the chance to talk with Andy La Rocque, it was on the DOKK´EM OPEN AIR stage, right after the soundcheck, many things happened since that morning, but I am still waiting for “The Institute”, the announced double KING DIAMOND´s last album, that we just know the song “Masquerade of Madness”, and we are very anxious about this album and the next steps of the band, so we took some time to talk about this and many other issues, please, c´mon in:
How are things going over there, in Gothenburg, Sweden?
No, I’m actually south of Gothenburg, about one hour south of Gothenburg in a city called Varberg, and well it seems like everything is kind of slowly opening up after the covid stuff so it’s slowly, very slowly going back to maybe a normal thing but it’s been rough because there’s a lot of bands who couldn’t even come here to record and stuff so it’s been a very rough year.
I must say that I thought that this covid era makes your business, like the studio stuff, get grow, but it’s not like that?
I’ve been working with a lot of local bands and Swedish bands of course, but I would say more than half of my clients are from out of the country like the U.S.A. or Germany, Denmark, Norway, and all that, and the border has been kind of close, so it has been rough that’s for sure.
The last thing I saw you about you were your neighbors of AT THE GATES.
Yeah, that’s right they were here about a year ago and recorded in the studio, right.
And did you play there, isn’t it?
I guess solo yes, I had to do that, they´re great guys and very talented.
What’s the situation there now, can bands come to Sweden now and record with you in your studio, or is it still closed to foreign?
It depends on where you come from, you gotta check that our neighbor countries no problem at all, and the western countries mostly, that’s fine it might be some countries that still are restricted to come in here but slowly opening up now, but before you book your ticket you should, of course, you know that first.
The bands that you normally record are they normally from Europe or are they also from the states as well in other parts of the world?
Yeah, States too and I’ve been recording bands from India and Japan, South Africa, and Australia.
There’s a bit of freedom on the horizon, it’s been rough as well for I guess for everybody the last year and a half?
Definitely yeah, so hopefully this year things will start to open up a little bit, so we can come out and play again of course definitely.
When was the last time that you played live?
That was in December 2019 we did the U.S. tour and that started at end of October and all of November and one week into December, I believe, so early December 2019 was the last time we were on stage actually.
Does that feel like a lifetime to you?
It does, but I’m still really busy with our other stuff so time just flies it’s crazy man.
Do you have any other musical projects?
Not right, now I’ve been busy just staying alive with this, and recording other stuff about nothing at this point even though I have a lot of songs, on the side for different projects but right now my musical focus is definitely on KING DIAMOND, we are writing songs for the next album, we’re writing lots of songs actually, so hopefully like eight or ten songs will be put on the next album, so we will have a lot to choose from, I believe when the time comes.
Talking about that, the last album it’s supposed to be “The Institute”?
The Institute, that’s correct.
We all know that “Masquerade of Madness”, for example, it’s a new classic. When we talk with Pontus, the idea was to have a double album, it’s still that idea?
Yeah, things can change of course but you never know what’s gonna happen but we have the plans to do “The Institute” album for sure and then maybe the musical direction and the ideas have changed slightly, but we’re gonna try to do what we have talked about and the initial plan and King’s got all the ideas in his head, so he’s got tons of ideas so we’ll see what direction it will take.
We are very anxious about a new album, it’s because it has been years since the last album.
Many years ago, when we think it was going to be ready, the plan is that we will have it released this year, which is soon, yeah it seems I don’t know exactly when, but around the corner, if you compared to the last album we did, that’s definitely around the corner.
I’m thinking about the tour of King with MERCYFUL FATE, which is postponed for a couple of years, so what’s the next plan for this year? It’s a priority the tour with them and all the postponed shows this year?
Yeah, they’re going to do some summer festivals, I don’t know the details about that how many shows or whatever, but they’re going to do some summer festivals mostly in Europe and then from October and on, we’re actually planning to go out with KING DIAMOND on tour they’re working on it, so I can’t really say exactly where and when, but you will see us out there that’s for sure.
What´s gonna happen with the postponed shows in South America (Chile and Brazil)?
I can’t really tell right now you know, they’re working on it, they’re working on all kinds of possibilities, so I can’t promise anything right now but they’re definitely working on all kinds of things.
Great to announce the big tours are back, for example, South America played KISS and METALLICA this April, for example, so it looks like we are getting open.
Yes, that’s really good and the plan for KING DIAMOND is like October, November, and maybe December, so that gives us a good chance to get away from the serious covid stuff and all that maybe hopefully everything’s gone by then, hopefully, everything’s back to normal by then.
Apart from being a guitar player musician, you’re also a producer, and a sound engineer as well, I was just wondering when you’re in the studio with a band and you’re listening to someone else’s music and you’re kind of focused on their music, how do you handle the transition between someone else’s music and your own music because I would imagine you’d really kind of get into it?
Yeah I get into it, but it’s more like in a technical point of view, when I work with bands in that sense, but of course I can pick up riffs here and there and harmonies and different things, usually I take a break between the bands I work with before I go back and write my own music, so it’s not that anyone accused me for like “oh you stole my riff” or something like that, that actually never happened but you can actually get inspired in a good way to get a transition to the music you write but it’s mostly like inspiration and copying riffs and stuff like that, but it’s very intense when you work in the studio with bands, it’s usually weekends and late nights and all that stuff so you definitely need a break in between, and too much music will definitely kill you haha, so it can also be very uninspiring to always work with music because in the end that you have no inspiration to write your own muse because you work and put a lot of energy into others, so you really need that break at least me, I need that break in between working with a band and writing my own music that’s for sure.
What do you like to do besides music, to kind of get away from it to maybe recharge your creative batteries?
I still believe it or not I like to travel, I love to travel actually in the pandemic year last me and my wife we bought a motorhome, believe it or not, and traveled around Sweden, the first year just cool places that we’ve never been to, meet a lot of people and then also, of course, down in Europe this summer that was a really great experience, places that you don’t get to see when you’re on tour and I’ve been in a bus for the last 36 years around Europe, but I still love to travel.
That’s cool, so almost all your career is like beside the King, isn’t it?
Yeah, I’ve been doing some guest things with different bands and I had a project going with Tony Martin, the ex-BLACK SABBATH singer, great guy, great vocalist, we had a project going down but then all involved got like real busy with other things so it never really happened and we still have the songs and we’ll see it’s not too late yet, and we’ll see man, I know a lot of musicians, of course, so yeah when the time comes.
This pandemic time gave us a lot of music, I was hearing some old music and I think that when you played in DEATH that was one of the greatest lineups. How can you see in retrospect your DEATH year with a Chuck Schuldiner?
All right, yeah, well that was a different thing for me, because we had a little break with KING DIAMOND at the time we didn’t have a record deal and we just wrote some songs for KING DIAMOND and that’s about it and then we were kind of waiting to get a new deal with KING DIAMOND so when Monty from our former record company called me and said “hey Chuck, from DEATH he wants you to come over and do some stuff with them” and I said “sure let’s do it” I didn’t really have anything else to do and this was like early 1993, so they sent me the songs and practice a little bit and I had a few ideas when I came to the studio and that was just a great experience, great guys and great songs and it turned out to be a really good album “Individual Thought Patterns” and then also they asked me if I wanted to join the band as a member and tour and all that, but at that time I was kind of busy with other things and I had my second child coming and I was at that time a little tired of touring, because the previous years had been very intense with KING DIAMOND so that was a period in my life where it just didn’t work out, but we kept in touch all the way up to Chuck’s death and he was just a great guy and of course the others guys in the band too, and very talented also.
You knew him as a creative musician, as a songwriter.
Yeah, I thought it was great and it seems like that album made a big impact on a lot of people too.
And you were there, man.
I was there, Morrisound Studios, Florida 1993, that’s where it happened.
Yes, that’s not a myth it’s a reality. Hey talking about the place that you travel to, do you really have some times to go and visit places when we’re on tour?
Yeah, when we’re on tour it happens, we get early to a place, in the morning or early on the day we have a few hours usually to explore things if it’s an interesting city and that can be anywhere, South America or Europe or the U.S. still and just a little sightseeing, I still love that so usually we have time to do that.
Do you have any favorite cities in Europe that you love to visit?
Oh no, I can’t really say that I like to explore new places but I live up in Sweden, and here is kind of cold and gloomy and dark now in October, so everything that’s warmer than here is actually better okay haha.
Hopefully you get down to Patagonia Argentina.
I’ve never been south, that long south but I know where it is.
I remember the last time of KING DIAMOND in Argentina were 1999.
I think it was 1996 with MERCYFUL FATE was there, the last time we’ve been to South America was 2017, played Chile and Brazil.
It seems to be like heavy metal is a lot more popular in South America compared to other parts of the world do you find that to be the case?
Probably, that might be, so it sure is a big thing it’s really hard to compare fans from city to city but they’re wilder in the in South America for sure.
Do you have any stories from the road that you could share with us?
No haha, what happens on the road, keeps on the road, we usually have a good time, not too much crazy stuff going on, but of course a lot of crazy stuff happened especially when we were younger haha.
Do you miss the road now it’s kind of like one of these things where maybe when you’re doing it you want to come back home and then when you’re home you want to go back?
Exactly, it is like a poison, when you’re on the road and you’ve been on the road for a couple of weeks or a couple of months whatever you want to go home and when you’re working in the studio for like six months or whatever you really want to go back out on the road again so it’s like you need both.
They kind of feed off each other I guess in a way.
I’m not complaining at all, it has been pretty good and created with a little break from the road too, even though we didn’t do it with purpose of course, but sometimes you just need time to calm down, write good music and all that, we really never had time to do that before because we played pretty intense the last couple of years so hopefully something good will come out of this too.
Do you have these last two years the chance to enjoy more time with your family?
I think in general it feels like people have been that stressed out, the tempo and everything has kind of calmed down a bit, which I think is good especially in the beginning because you can’t really do anything, you couldn’t travel, you couldn’t do anything and people started to work from home and everything just slowed down a bit which I thought that thing was good.
Have you started a collaborating with other musicians or other’s projects whilst being separated, have you done any of that yourself or started to adopt these kinds of practices into your own work and the way that you work?
No, not really, but you who couldn’t come here, they have been sending me files so I can mix for example and I would also say that I had more requests about being a part of different projects than before, so people are sending me stuff and “hey can you do a solo for this solo for that” so that’s a big difference I would say before the pandemic and now.
That it’s different when you’re with the person as opposed to them sending you a track but do you feel like there’s some merit in that, there’s some positives that will kind of stay with you or with producing music going forward people start to adopt these methods into their normal everyday practices?
Yeah, I think it’s a good thing because people realize that they don’t have to be here all the time when they can record back home or in a studio close to them and send me stuff and that has been the case of course before the pandemic too, but I think people really realize in a good way that it’s really easy to do that, they don’t have to travel very far too to be able to do it and they can just send me stuff and collaborations with other bands and projects is actually easier and I think a lot of people realize that too.
It’s quite amazing how people use technology, that was always kind of that’s been there for a while, but now it’s kind of more accepted and mainstream because we didn’t really have a choice.
Exactly, very interesting.
It’s like a film when you see the KING DIAMOND experience, I think it’s not just a concert. Do you active participate in all that?
Oh yeah, King’s got the idea of the story and all that and then we work out together, how the stage is gonna look and stage props and cool things and I think that’s really cool because I always been interested in that kind of things like when I was a young kid I watched a lot of horror movies and I always been interested in theatrical things especially horror, so to me it’s a dream to do all this on stage presenting a horror show with good music on stage that’s just a really good combination that I enjoy.
Did you feel like a fan of MERCYFUL FATE when you were a kid?
No, I didn’t really know that much about MERCYFUL FATE actually I just heard a few songs about I can’t really say I was a fan, even though I liked what I heard of course, especially “Don’t Break the Oath” album I thought there were a few really good songs on that album but that was mostly when I was about to join KING DIAMOND that I started to listen to MERCYFUL FATE too, but when I first heard the KING DIAMOND songs, because they already been in this duty for about two weeks when I joined the band and when I came down to the studio and heard the songs I just “wow this is really cool” because it was something more modern.
Do you have just quickly what do you have planned for the rest of the year?
The rest of the year I have a few bands coming in here in the studio and I just finished a Swedish band called LORD BELIAL I haven’t worked with them in like 16 years so I just finished them and right now I’m working with a Norwegian band called IMPERIAL CHILD after that there is another Norwegian band coming in because they can actually travel now, coming in a few weeks and when that’s done, we’re going to focus on KING DIAMOND and see what we can come up with probably hopefully start arranging songs and start recording as soon as we get a chance.
Are you gonna travel to see KING DIAMOND and work together or just virtually?
No, we just send stuff to each other so that’s a good thing you can actually send files and ideas to each other and put it up in my computer and listen to it and go through things and starting arranging things, so that’s an easy way to do it and then we just send out the files to the other guys in the band and they all have their own kind of personal studio so they record their stuff and send it to me then I’ll put it together and then we’ll see if I’m gonna mix it, mean KING or if we maybe have someone else to get their input on it.
Can we hope any new song before the end of the year of King?
I think it’s going to be released until sometimes this year but I’m glad that we actually working on it, we’ve been working on for a couple of years, but this sounds gonna be good and then we’re gonna start recording it as soon as we get a chance.
I saw many of the shows of the last European tour (2019), and I think now is the best version of the band, the best lineup, do you agree?
We go very well, we’re well rehearsed and we know exactly what to do on stage and all that and I agree, the sound of the band is really good too and we got a great sound guy and monitor guy, so we hear exactly what’s going on stage so we can actually hear everything that’s happening, which makes us play better too of course.
We had the chance to be in some sound check of the band, it´s crazy man how do you sound, 11 in the morning and then, the best version with all the scenography and the lights and everything, sounds perfect 11 AM and 10 PM also, I’m very anxious for your next tour.
Yeah, cool I can’t say any details now though, but we’re working on it so we’ll see what’s happening.
Thank so much for all your time, all your concepts and you always are so kind with us, with the fans, with the media also, so thank you so much.
Thank you guys, see you soon!
FOLLOW ANDY LA ROCQUE AT:
SONIC TRAIN STUDIOS: https://www.sonictrainstudios.com/
KING DIAMOND: https://www.kingdiamondcoven.com/