KING DIAMOND's ANDY LA ROCQUE: we've got a lot of songs written for 'The Institute' album
KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy La Rocque spoke to Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of Rock Interview Series about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band’s long-awaited new album. Titled “The Institute”, KING DIAMOND‘s first studio LP in 16 years is tentatively due in 2023 via Metal Blade. It will be made available as a two-LP horror concept story, with the second part arriving at a later date. Andy said: “Well, all I can say is that we’re definitely working on it. Let me put it like this. In January, I sent a bunch of songs to (KING DIAMOND frontman and namesake) King, actually, that were kind of ready to start recording. They were like a really good demo — eight tracks with rhythm guitars, keyboards, drum machine and demo bass and all that. But the structure of the songs were kind of finished. But then we, of course, had to rearrange a few things and move around things. And we actually started doing that this spring until King got busy with MERCYFUL FATE and they were doing this summer tour and now this U.S. tour. So we started working on it, and then we just had to take a break from it too, until he’s done with that. But we’ve got a lot of songs, and also he’s gonna come up with some songs too, of course, obviously. And he will do that as soon as they’re done with the MERCYFUL FATE touring stuff. So it’s in the loop, definitely.”
Asked if KING DIAMOND songs usually get written by Andy presenting King with the music first and King then writing the lyrics to the music that Andy sends him, the guitarist said: “Yeah, something like that. That’s usually how we do it. That’s the only way we have done it, actually. But, of course, he’s got some ideas — long ago, he’s got some ideas for this ‘Institute’ thing. And then we just try to match up the songs in the storyline, so they fit into the right mood and all that. But, of course, it’s quite different and difficult to do it that way too, because you’ve really got to hit that right mood into the songs. And it’s gotta fit with the lyrics and everything. So that takes a while, of course. But that’s usually how we do it. I send him a bunch of songs. He sends me some songs that he thinks would fit into the story of the album. And we talk about it. If there’s any parts that need to be changed, we just do it and send things to each other until we’re done. That’s how we’re gonna do it now too.”
At this year’s Bloodstock Open Air festival at Catton Park, Walton-on-Trent, United Kingdom, King spoke to Bloodstock TV‘s Oran O’Beirne about his plans for “The Institute”. “Something with KING DIAMOND, we have a very special thing (planned) for that album,” King said. “It’s gonna be a two-album story. The release will be next year. And touring in the summer is the plan. But KING DIAMOND, we are building something that you will never have seen on a stage before — not that way. And with the light guy, he’s never done it that way either. … It’s very different, very sick. You will not have seen musicians standing on stage in that type of light. It’s gonna be very dark. They have to learn to play in dark areas. It’s crazy. I know that our light guy, he can’t wait for us to do it. I showed him some pictures that have the kind of feelings I want, the kind of backdrops I want, stuff like that. … This is gonna blow people’s minds when they see it, I am a hundred percent sure.”
Back in November 2019, KING DIAMOND released its first new song in 12 years, “Masquerade Of Madness”. A month later, La Rocque told The Metal Voice that he came up with the music for the track first before passing it off to King, who “needed to arrange a few things and change just a small few things for making it work with his vocals. And then, of course, he wrote the lyrics for it,” the guitarist revealed. “So we (went) a little back and forth until he felt like, ‘Okay, this is cool, man. This is the right key to sing in,’ and all that.”
La Rocque, whose real name is Anders Allhage, discussed his vision for the new KING DIAMOND album with The Metal Voice, saying that it will be filled with great “melodies, of course. Super important. Without melodies, there is no music,” he explained. “I’m also envisioning a more organic sound of the album. If you look back to the older albums, when Mikkey (Dee) played (drums for the band), for example, it’s, like, a little bit up and down in tempo, and that makes it dynamic and also organic. So that’s one thing that I would like to hear on the next album, for sure. But building up a dynamic, kind of organic feel, the drummer is a really important thing here, of course. And I know that Matt Thompson (current KING DIAMOND drummer) is the right guy to do this, for sure.”
In March 2019, King told Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show that the next album from his namesake band will be “absolutely gruesome” with a story set in a 1920s mental institution. “I chose that because I think it’s a very creepy scenario,” he explained. “And some of the things that go on that we’re gonna show onstage is also things that certainly was going on back then, when medicine was beginning to take a beneficial turn in history and actually being able to help human beings live longer. But there was some experimentation going on, too, that was absolutely gruesome. Some of that is involved in the story, but it’s something totally different. Once you get to the second part of the story, you will begin to suddenly understand that, ‘What the hell is going on here? What is this really about?’ ‘Cause there’s a whole different story that will not come to you till second part. But in the first part, you’re gonna get to know a lot people at a certain place… Some of it takes place here, this world, and some of it takes place in a parallel world. And there’s a correlation between what happened to me and what happens to some people in this place and where they suddenly appear. And you will find out why they are there, how they appear there and the places down the road. I won’t say too much right now, but it’s gonna be very creepy.”
KING DIAMOND received a Grammy nomination in the “Best Metal Performance” category for the track “Never Ending Hill” off the band’s last album, 2007’s “Give Me Your Soul … Please”.
“Give Me Your Soul … Please” sold 4,500 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 174 on The Billboard 200 chart.
KING DIAMOND released a DVD/Blu-ray, “Songs For The Dead Live”, in January 2019 via Metal Blade Records. The set captures 1987’s seminal “Abigail” album in its entirety, twice, and in very different locales: Belgium’s Graspop Metal Meeting in June 2016 and Philadelphia’s Fillmore in November 2015. The performances feature KING DIAMOND‘s current band, comprising of guitarists La Rocque and Mike Wead, bassist Pontus Egberg and Thompson.