Catching Up With Simon Wright of Dio Disciples
Simon, The Very Best of Dio Vol 2 due in stores October 9 covers the final 4 Dio studio albums plus some bonuses. You were a part of most if not all of these records correct?
Most of it yes. There are a couple of tracks that I’m not on but by and large I played on the bulk of the material. I was a part of the Dio magic for the last 13 years of the bands incarnation.
This record is a true testament to not only Ronnie but his brothers in arms who helped make Dio such a legendary act. “Metal Will Never Die” is included on this collection and is one of Ronnie’s final vocal performances correct?
It was his final performance that I’m aware of it. He did that song with his cousin David “Rock” Feinstein who used to be in a band out of New York called “The Rods”. This project was a reunion of sorts of that band.
Apart from being a band member in Dio you were very close to Ronnie on a personal level even living at his home for a few years correct?
Yes. He was very good to me. He let me stay with him while I was going through a rather messy divorce. I ended up staying there on and off for over ten years. We used to work on his place together and build stuff when we were not off in the studio or on the road. We became good friends and remained very close right up until his passing.
You are now currently a member of Dio Disciples a tribute consisting of former band mates and friends who carry on the tradition of Ronnie’s legacy. How did that band come together and does the band currently have lives dates booked for the remainder of 2012?
After Ronnie left us some of us that had played with him over the years felt a great hole or void much like the fans as well. We just felt that we had to do something to keep his music and legacy alive. We just couldn’t leave it alone. It just seemed like the right thing to do to all of us. Craig (Goldy), Scott (Warren), Rudy (Sarzo) sat down with Wendy (Dio) on numerous occasions and discussed whether it was a good idea or if it was a bad idea and it just came to light that we could not leave the idea of carrying on Ronnie’s music alone. It’s like when a family member passes way you never forget them and you often feel like you have to do something to keep that memory alive somehow. We decided that we should go ahead and do it with the greatest respect possible. We play Ronnie songs and it’s a celebration really of his spirit between us and the fans. The fans seem to really enjoy what we are doing so it’s a two way street from our perspective. Emotions run the gamut from tears to fist pumping rocking out at these shows. We have a US tour scheduled for the fall starting on October 20 In Anaheim, CA and ending on Nov 20 in Allentown PA. More dates are being added so keep checking our Facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/DioDisciples.
Do you think there is a chance this lineup could potentially record any new material together? Do you think there are more unreleased Dio tracks from these last four albums that could still see the light of day?
We have done a little bit of songwriting together but we are taking things rather slowly because we are not real sure what direction it’s going to go in. So there are a few things Craig and I have worked on together and at some point it will see the light of day but we have to be careful how he do it because we want to make sure it’s done out of the greatest respect possible and we want to make sure its quality material so the fans like it. We are not rushing it. We take that aspect of recording anything new one day at a time. Right now our focus is on touring and making sure we put on the best show possible. There are 3 or 4 demos from the Magica sessions that were left in an incomplete form. I do believe that something is going to happen with those tracks but that falls under the wing of Wendy who will make those decisions. At some point they will be released.
What is the single biggest attribute that you bring to the Dio Disciples band that you learned from your years of playing with Ronnie?
I played so many shows with Ronnie I just remember how he thought about things and how he approached each tour, each city, each crowd. He had the greatest respect for the musicians around him. He also listened intently to the musicians he surrounded himself with on a regular basis. He was the master at bringing the best out of the people he worked with. I think that’s probably what I learned the most. Listen to what’s going on around you. In years past I didn’t do a very good job of that. I just played the hell out of the drums in the middle of battle on the road and I just sort of turned a blind eye to others.
You were only 20 years old when you joined AC/DC in 1983 replacing Phil Rudd did you feel pressure stepping into such an established act?
I did but I didn’t let it affect me. The lads in the band are just so straightforward and unassuming that they made me feel very welcome from day one. The first two or three shows were very tough. You’re waiting to go on and the rush was just insane! I think my first show was in Vancouver, BC at the Saddle dome and the stage was huge..like looking at a football field in the dark. Then there is this roar like a jet engine and I’m just standing there frozen going Oh My God..what now? They made me feel so comfortable from that very first gig it was like playing at a large rehearsal with a few friends along to party.
Has there ever been a moment where Simon Wright, Chris Slade and Phil Rudd have all been in the same room together?
Yes, on the Black Ice tour when the guys came out and played LA Chris and I went down to the gig and hung out together. It was very cool. We got along great. It was great to see Angus, Malcolm, Cliff and Brian after not seeing them for quite a few years.
You also filled in for Andy Parker in UFO for a period of time did you record with them or just tour?
We were going to record while I was in the band and in fact we did rehearse two or three different tracks but the timing wasn’t right and it never came to pass. Michael was leaving just as we started to record so that put a halt to things. There is a Live CD Live on Earth and I did play on disc 1 and2 from a show in 1998 recorded in Austria that was part of 4 disc set also featuring two older gigs with Andy. Funny story about how I got the UFO audition. I answered an ad in a local LA paper. It pays to read these ads! It was called the Music Connection and it read: Michael Schenker-looking for musicians for project. I happened to not be doing anything at the time so I called. I was talking to his manager for weeks and it was on again off again. Finally I got a call back and it wasn’t for MSG (Michael Schenker Group) it was for UFO. I was thrilled. Count me in. I ended up in Phoenix, AZ with the guys and we started to rehearse and it just worked. We got along great..I think it was our British connection that did it.
Do you have any current projects that you are working on at this time?
I just finished an album with an Italian band I got to know called The Rocker. I was out in Italy doing a few gigs with an Italian cover band called Riff Raff and The Rocker is their original band. It’s 3 chord rock at its best and we recorded with a guy named Fabrizio Grozzi who engineered a ton of great records with Steve Vai and Glenn Hughes and also played bass on the record. http://www.riffraff.it/
Any messages to your fans Simon?
The new record is will be out October 9 – The Very Best of Dio Vol. 2. Come check out the Dio Disciples on the road this fall! The fans are the ones keeping the flame burning for Ronnie and as long as they demand it we will keep playing. New dates are still being added to keep looking for updates on Facebook.
Confirmed Dio Disciples Tour Dates:
10/20/2012 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
10/21/2012 San Luis Obispo Slo Brew
10/23/2012 Seattle, WA El Corazon
10/24/2012 Portland, OR Hawthorne
10/26/2012 Las Vegas, NV Hard Rock on Strip
10/27/2012 Tempe, AZ Club Red
10/28/2012 Ventura, CA Ventura Theatre
10/30/2012 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick
10/31/2012 Hollywood, CA The Avalon
The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund 2nd Annual Gala
11/04/2012 Dallas, TX Trees
11/08/2012 Ft. Wayne, IN Pierre’s
11/10/2012 Detroit, MI Harpo’s
11/13/2012 Portland, ME Asylum
11/15/2012 Sayerville, NJ Starland
11/16/2012 Pawtucket, RI The Met
11/17/2012 Amityville, NJ Revolution
11/18/2012 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
11/20/2012 Allentown, PA Crocodile Rock