“They gave me the confidence to try anything in Diamond Head”: Brian Tatler’s prog passion is Gentle Giant (and Muse and It Bites)

Brian Tatler and Gentle Giant
(Image credit: Getty)

Diamond Head leader Brian Tatler has been an influence on most of the world’s biggest and heaviest bands. So it might be surprising that prog icons Gentle Giant were one of his own main influences. In 2012 Tatler – soon to be seen as a touring member of Saxon – told Prog about his passion for the experimental genre.

“There’s not another band in the history of music that sounded Gentle Giant. In those days a record company would let a band develop and not drop them if they didn’t have a hit. The first album of theirs I bought was Octopus, but my favourite was always In A Glass House; there’s something about songs like The Runaway and Experience.

“The fact they were so experimental and complex gave me the confidence to try anything in Diamond Head, and not be afraid to step outside of the rigid verse/bridge/chorus framework of rock and heavy metal.

“The first time I saw It Bites was at a tiny gig in Wolverhampton in ’88 at a social club. They sounded incredible, the tightest band I’d ever seen, and I always liked the drummer, Bob Dalton. He played simple, powerful drums behind the complex guitar and keyboard parts; he stopped it getting too muso. My favourite tune is Kiss Like Judas – that little guitar riff in it is amazing.

Frank Dunnery’s ultra- talented – it’s such a shame he left. I remember seeing them do The Ice Melts Into Water, and it looked to me as if he’d lost the plot. He’d sing the line then walk away from the mic ranting throwing his hands in the air. I don’t know if it was part of the show, but he looked a bit crazy.

Muse are fucking incredible, I think. I’ve seen them twice since they got big, but missed an opportunity in 1999. They were supporting Three Colours Red at the Irish Centre in Digbeth – I was on the guestlist and to my shame I didn’t watch them. I kicked myself later when a friend played me Unintended and Falling Down off Showbiz.

“I loved Origin Of SymmetryNew Born is still my favourite Muse track, but Absolution was the perfect Muse album – every single track was awesome. Matt Bellamy’s an incredible musician; unbelievable how he can sing, play guitar and piano and be such a good songwriter.

“These bands are all to my taste. Maybe some of what went into Diamond Head went into them too; maybe we think in quite a similar way.”

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.