Andy LaRocque is one of the greatest Metal guitarists of his generation. There’s no argument there. The quality of the albums he has made with King Diamond is a testament of Andy’s work throughout the years. His capacity to make guitar melodies just as good as his shredding solos also shows how talented he is in multiple aspects of his playing style.
He has done it, he has seen it all and he is continuing, now with King Diamond’s upcoming new album, 2020’s The Institute. Due to many problems surrounding the band, the most notorious being the health problems King Diamond endured a few years ago, it has been a long wait since 2007’s Give Me Your Soul…Please.
I had the opportunity to talk with Andy and we discussed a bit of everything regarding his career with King Diamond, his influences and his brief period with legendary band Death. I hope you enjoy it.
It’s an honor to have you here, Andy. First and foremost, how are things going with you and your loved ones during this pandemic?
All good here, just trying to be careful and keeping the distance.
How much of a toll did this virus situation had on your plans for this year?
We only had 2 shows planned this spring that got cancelled and then we planned to write music and record an album and that plan we will still try to follow.
King Diamond’s upcoming album is called The Institute. After thirteen years of waiting for a new album of yours, what can we expect from this musical effort?
We are taking a short look back to the early albums to see if we can pick up some things from the past without copying things, of course, but just to hear how we did things back then but with an updated but still organic sound. Style wise, it’ll be totally King Diamond, of course.
A young Andy LaRocque and King Diamond.
How do you the writing process has changed throughout the years between you and King?
In the beginning we worked a lot of things out in the rehearsal room. Nowadays, or I would say after the first 4-5 albums, we send songs or files to each other so it’s mostly the technique behind it that changed, from cassette tapes to data files (laughs).
You guys obviously do concept albums, telling stories in each record. Does the concept has an influence on your playing style or that is a non-factor?
Well, you try to catch the mood in the song by playing parts different to enhance what’s going on and that goes with solos too.
My favorite King Diamond song is A Mansion in Darkness. I was curious to know how that song came to be.
I remember that pretty clear, actually. It was during the summer of ‘86 and all my friends back in Gothenburg decided to go up the coast to celebrate a holiday. What we call “midsummer”. And I just decided to stay home because I had this riff in my head. It was also right before our first US-tour so there were a lot of things to take care of, but staying home that weekend just felt right and out came that song.
After so many years as a professional guitar player, what do you think has changed in the way you play?
I calmed down a bit and focus more on melodies, feel and song quality than speedy solos for sure. Melody is the key.
Andy LaRocque with Death’s Chuck Schuldiner.
You also played with Death in 1993’s Individual Thought Patterns. Did you have a different approach to your songwriting in that band compared to King Diamond?
I flew in to the studio when most of the rhythm parts were done so was just doing solos in Death. No songwriting or even rhythm guitars
What was the experience of recording that album with bassist Steve Di Giorgio and drummer Gene Hoglan?
I had a great experience getting over to Florida. It was a time when King Diamond didn’t do anything so I just thought it be interesting to work with Death. Everyone was really cool to me, but Gene left the day before I arrived so I didn’t really had a chance to meet him. It took almost 20 years after that recording until I meet Gene at a festival in Europe.
Going back on King Diamond, which album do you think is the most underrated in the band’s career? The one you think deserves more credit?
I think The Spider’s Lullaby has some great songs, but the production could have been better, although it was a new studio, new musicians and new producer and engineer so everything turned out different to previous albums.
I once read that you were going to do a solo project with ex Hammerfall bassist Magnus and former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin. What happened to that project?
Well, we started out in 2011 I believe, and wrote a few songs together that turned out really good, but then we got really busy with King Diamond and the other guys got busy too so we had to put it on ice. Maybe we’ll pick it up again. We’ll see.
How was the experience of playing with Martin?
He’s a great vocalist, great guy and he definitely knows what he’s doing. I would love to work with him again someday.
One final question that I always make: Can you name ten albums that you think people should listen to?
Well, I can tell you what I got inspired from and it’s mostly stuff from the 70s and 80s. It’s all Black Sabbath albums including Ozzy, all UFO albums with Michael Schenker, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Ozzy’s first couple of albums, especially with Randy Rhoads, Uriah Heep, Blue Oyster Cult, Sweet, Slade, just to name a few!
Thank you for this opportunity, Andy. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media?
We can always hope for that the situation with Covid-19 calms down so we can go out and tour soon again! In the meantime, I’ll be writing songs for King Diamond and recording and producing other bands in my studio:
You can follow me on Facebook: