Andy LaRocque of King Diamond: Gear, Recording and Touring
Since the very beginning Andy LaRocque has been a defining part of King Diamond. His solos are melodic, full of harmony and include full use of the whammy bar. When a song comes on that he has played on you know whose playing that solo even if you don’t recognize the song. He has been featured on dozens of other bands albums and he owns his own recording studio and has produced a huge number of metal acts. Here’s Andy LaRocque in his own words on recording, gear and upcoming plans for King Diamond.
Any plans for a new King Diamond album being discussed?
We are out doing European festivals right now and when we get back in mid-August we will start planning for the new album which we hopefully start record beginning of next year or so.
Do you find that certain parts of Europe are more receptive to heavy metal?
So far it has been pretty equal but we play bigger festivals in Belgium, UK and Finland than we did so far on the tour but I dont really know if that is an indication that people are more receptive to metal in these countries – we have hardcore fans pretty much all over the world.
Haha! It’s busier than you might think; sometimes you have the meet an greet with your fans and its actually not very often you get to see other bands playing live on the festivals, especially not if you’re one of the last bands performing as we are this tour. To me personally it’s important to just relax and kinda “meditate” before the show and just focus 100% on the show. After the show if there’s anyone left haha, its really cool when you meet bands that played on the same festival, just hanging out having a few beers and talk.
You founded your own studio called “Sonic Train Studios”, how has having your own studio changed your approach to recording?
It changed a lot of things in my way of performing in the studio, nowadays I’m of course more relaxed when I record things opposed to recording with a recording engineer/producer, and you get a second or third try or 100 takes, compared to a live situation and I would like the bands that I record to feel the same way, and of course having your own studio gives the chance to try recording gear and different techniques without stress.
As well as being a guitar player for King Diamond and guest playing for over a dozen bands, you’ve also helped produce many albums. What advice can you offer bands that are going into the recording studio for the first time?
Practice, practice, rehearse! If it’s the kind of music that requires a clicktrack, practice with it! Check out what the other members of the band are actually playing, way too many bands come in the studio looking at each other with a surprised face saying “Oh, is that what you are playing? I have to learn that or you have to re-record you part.” Another basic thing before you go in the studio is to check the basic procedure of the recording with the guy who will record you, and last but not least: make sure your instruments are ok, wires, adjustments, intonation, new strings, new drumheads etc.
What gear, pickups and amps are you currently using?
I’m using Dean guitars, with Seymour Duncan Pickups (SH-1n, TB-4, TB-6, TB-11), there might be some of my guitars I just haven’t had time to change from the stock pickups yet. For live amps I use the Line 6 HD 100 mk II ,all tube amp designed by Bogner, sounds really good with built in fx, works great for me live! Just a pedalboard on stage, all connected with a ethernet cable. For cabs I use 2 really old 4×12 cabs with celestion Vintage 30 speakers, they rule!
How would you describe the tone you try and get both in the studio and live?
Well I always try to make the guitar “cry” and with the right guitar, pickups and amp you get that overtone distorted but still controlled sound, maybe you can call it a modern Michael Schenker sound. The best amp that does that is probably a Marshall JVM series, you dont need any overdrive pedal for that, just plug it in and you´ll hear what I mean.
There’s quite a bit of neoclassical influence in your playing, what guitar players have influenced you?
You know, I started out as a rhythm guitar player, listening to all kinds of heavy music from the ’70s , but when Ozzy Osbourne released the first solo album with Randy Rhoads I was just amazed ! He was probably the big kick for me, wanting me to become a good solo player. Other that that, I’ve listened a lot to Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, and Ronni Le Tekro of TNT has also influenced me.
For more information, please visit: