I think every writer of the modern age harbours a desire to write a piece which spreads like the proverbial wildfire across the length and breadth of the Internet.
I’ve been very fortunate to do this on a couple of occasions, mainly with the stuff I used to write for Lifehack.org, but the first time it happened was undoubtedly one of the best moments of my career.
It all started with a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band known as Diamond Head.
Despite still touring and playing new material, Diamond Head are best known among heavy metal fans as being the band that helped inspire a little-known outfit called Metallica.
See The Dreams, I Hope They Last…
James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, in particular, have gone on record on many occasions talking about the influence Diamond Head had on Metallica, with the band covering four of the band’s song on their 5 x Platinum selling album, Garage Inc.
You don’t need to have spent long reading through my website to realise that I’m a huge fan of Metallica, so you can probably understand how excited I was when I got the chance to sit down and interview Diamond Head guitarist, Brian Tatler.
This was the hero of my heroes, this was the guy who wrote that gnarly riff to Am I Evil.
This was the guy that wrote one my favourite songs ever – Helpless – and now I was going to be able to sit down and ask him anything.
I ploughed myself into my research, reading through past interviews with Tatler and realising that there was a lot of stuff no journalist had ever really asked him about before.
There had been a time when Tatler had stopped playing metal music and switched (if memory serves me correctly) to doing an acoustic, folk thing. In an interview from around this time, Tater had said that he probably wouldn’t play metal music ever again.
Now that Diamond Head were rocking stages again, I asked him about that and he told me to F-off then burst out laughing.
It was my favourite moment from the entire interview, even despite the fact that, at one point, we got on to my favourite subject: Metallica.
I’d read many interviews with Tatler but never really read anything where he’d fully addressed the role that Diamond Head had played in Metallica’s formative years.
So I asked him about it.
We ended up speaking at length about the Diamond Head/Metallica thing, with Brian telling me:
God bless ’em. If it hadn’t been for Metallica, and Lars [Ulrich, Metallica drummer], and the songwriter’s royalties that me and Sean [Harris, former vocalist] get, I don’t know what we would’ve done. We’d have probably slipped into obscurity along with, I don’t know, Angel Witch or something. But they’ve managed to keep the money coming in for us and raise our profile by covering four Diamond Head songs on an album that’s sold over five million copies, that’s just…you can’t buy that sort of thing you know? I must’ve seen hundreds of articles where Lars is raving about Diamond Head, and it’s just brilliant, more power to ’em.
You’re always trying to get out there and reach new people. You know your die-hard fans will buy your albums but you always want more. If somebody hears [Metallica’s version of] ‘Am I Evil?’ and then underneath they see it was written by Diamond Head and go out and buy a Diamond Head album then yeah, you know, that’s fantastic.
I thought that was a cool answer, but to be honest, I didn’t think much more about it.
Never Fade Away
The interview went to print and I went off to the next job.
Then a funny thing happened.
On what felt like every music site in existence, my name started cropping up in a story about Diamond Head and Metallica.
“Metallica Royalties Saved Us From Obscurity” read the headline, underneath which it said:
Chris Skoyles of Classic Rock magazine recently conducted an interview with Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler.’
This story seemed to everywhere, so much so that I even had friends texting me about it. Trust me, nothing I’ve ever written since has ever been so popular that my friends are excited about it).
Whilst that interview did open up some new doors in terms of taking my career to another level, that wasn’t the most exciting thing about this whole thing.
The most exciting thing was that it happened at all, that in some fleeting way which only mattered for a moment in time, I had spoken to the hero of my heroes and had my name connected -even as loosely as it was- to the mighty Metallica.
I’ve done a lot in my 13-year career as a professional writer but I’ve never done anything quite as cool as that time I interviewed the guy who wrote Helpless.
Helpless by Diamond Head is the 36th song on my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below:
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Queen – The Hitman
- R.E.M – Drive
- Pink Floyd – The Wall
- The Eagles – Take it Easy
- Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
- Coal Chamber – Loco
- Type O Negative – Everything Dies
- Monster Magnet – Space Lord
- Live – The Dolphin’s Cry
- Metallica – The Memory Remains
- The Prodigy – Poison
- Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
- Iron Maiden – The Angel & The Gambler
- Metallica – Creeping Death
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- System of a Down – Sugar
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Garden of Eden
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Mr. Brownstone
- Metallica – King Nothing
- The Cranberries – Zombie
- The Offspring – The Meaning of Life
- Muse – New Born
- Biohazard – Resist
- Rage Against The Machine – Testify
- Soil – Halo
- Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss
- Alice in Chains – Would?
- Pearl Jam – Alive
- Tom Petty – Free Falling
- Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
- Incubus – 11AM
- Selfish C*** – Britain is Shit
- The Hicks – Gravedigger