KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy La Rocque spoke to "The Five Count" radio show about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's long-awaited new album, "The Institute". The group's first studio LP in 15 years is tentatively due in 2022 via Metal Blade Records.
"Well, I don't know too much about the story yet, because most of the stuff is in King's [Diamond, vocals] mind and his ideas, of course, with the lyrics and stuff," he said. "But we've been planning on that for a very long time, and we're still composing and writing music to try to get the best out of it. Now we have a little time, and with this COVID stuff that came in between, that kind of stopped everything, even the music writing for a while. You heard one song ['Masquerade Of Madness'], hopefully, about a year and a half ago that we released, and it's gonna be in the same kind of direction. Well, not totally, but we're listening to, going back to the first albums, actually, to get back to the roots kind of a thing, and that's what we tried to do with this one. So, sound-wise, it's gonna be more organic and not so rigid, if you know what I mean. It's gonna be more organic and, well, not old school, but we're looking back a little bit to that original style we had. And, of course, the musicians we have, they're awesome, awesome guys and awesome players, so I'm sure it's gonna be really good. We have a few songs already that we're working on — mainly me and King, of course, since we write the music. And as soon as we agreed on all the ingredients in the songs, we're gonna start sending that out to the other members so they can also listen and start adding their things to it. And exactly when that's gonna be, it's really hard to say, but we're working on it — believe me, we're working on it."
Asked how it feels to be back in the studio with KING DIAMOND after such a long time, Andy said: "Well, at this point, we're still writing music, as I said, so we haven't really started recording anything serious yet except for that first song we released, which was 'Masquerade Of Madness'. But, of course, the last album we released was back in 2007, studio album we released last, so things have changed a lot since then — equipment-wise and the way you do it nowadays. You don't really have to meet nowadays; you just send files to each other. And King's got his own setup back home, so he can record all the vocals back there. And the same with the drummer, Matt [Thompson, drums] — he's got his drum studio where he records the drums. And, well, that's pretty much the same for all the musicians in the band. So, then we collect everything, get it to me and I'll mix it here to start with and see if we're happy with that. If not, we might ask someone else to do it, just to get the best product and the best mix out of it."
In December 2019, Andy told The Metal Voice that he came up with the music for "Masquerade Of Madness" 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, told told The Metal Voice that the tentative plan is to release "The Institute" as "a single album" as part of a two-LP horror concept story, with the second part arriving at a later date.
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 drummer Matt Thompson.