Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an interview with drummer Simon Wright about DIO DISCIPLES, the new project featuring former DIO members Wright, Craig Goldy (guitar) and Scott Warren (keyboards) alongside bassist James Lomenzo (MEGADETH, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, WHITE LION) and singers Tim “Ripper” Owens (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, BEYOND FEAR, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH) and Toby Jepson (LITTLE ANGELS, GUN). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Classic Rock Revisited: [Ronnie James Dio‘s wife/manager] Wendy Dio has been doing great things to keep Ronnie‘s legacy alive. However, there are a lot of, what I call Jack Wads, out there who are saying mean things about her being a golddigger. Now, you are in the situation, with this band, where people can say the same thing about you. How do you feel about that?
Simon: [laughing] Everybody has an opinion, and it can either be a good one or a bad one. I’m trying to be very diplomatic about this. We are really doing this from the heart and if some of those naysayers would just give it a small chance, then they might just like it. We’re doing this for all of the right reasons. We all knew Ronnie, we really knew him. He was my best friend for a long time; that is not to take anything away from anyone else in the band. I’m not saying I am the holy best friend. I know why I’m doing this and I know why the rest of the guys in the band are doing this. We’re all doing it because we loved Ronnie. He wrote some of the most groundbreaking, classic epics in heavy metal. He was our leader and he was our boss. He was a cool boss at that. This is not brain surgery. We are doing this to honor him, so if you like the songs then come check it out; that’s all. If anyone out there does not think that this is a good idea, then don’t go to the shows. It’s that simple.
Classic Rock Revisited: Ronnie set up his business before he passed away in order to keep his legacy alive. Do you think Ronnie would give his approval on this band?
Simon: I believe it would have been something that he would have approved of. He approved of the record company and all of the things Wendy is doing. Everything that Wendy and he talked about has all come to light. It is really a shame that he is not alive to see it. He wanted the record company and he worked it all out before he died. I wish we didn’t have to do this project. I wish we were not having this conversation. I wish we were talking about a new DIO record, like you said earlier.
Classic Rock Revisited: There is some “Magica” music [from DIO] that has not been released and I have heard that there may be some songs in the vault… would DIO DISCIPLES be an avenue to play any of the unreleased music?
Simon: There has been a little bit of talk about that. There are some songs but we’re leaving that up to Wendy. Wendy is in charge of everything Ronnie. We’re not sure exactly when, and if, that will happen. There is a lot of stuff going on in this band. There could be some things we can do for Wendy and Ronnie‘s cancer fund that will probably happen. It has been discussed but it is not something we are doing at this point.
Classic Rock Revisited: It had to be hard to get a vocalist for this band.
Simon: We discussed it and we all had ideas. There were different vocalists that we thought about, I don’t want to mention names because I don’t want to detract from what we are talking about. Tim has always been a friend of Ronnie‘s. Wendy manages Tim. Tim got thrown right in the deep end with PRIEST. I think he handled himself well but he was in an opportunity to ask Ronnie for advice back then. Ronnie would talk to him and help him. Tim first met Ronnie in Cleveland when the band was playing with MOTÖRHEAD. They found a connection. You can’t help but get along with Ronnie. Tim‘s name was an obvious one to think of.
Classic Rock Revisited: We all know he sounds like Rob Halford. But Halford does not sound like Dio. Does Ripper have to sing in a different way?
Simon: He still is Tim. When we sat down to do the band we decided that we didn’t want to get a Ronnie clone because that would just seem like we were just trying to be a cover band or a tribute band. We’re not a tribute band as we were members of his band for a long time. Tim brings to the songs what it needs; not just trying to sound like him. He has great power and range and it is sounds really, really great. He is not trying to emulate Ronnie. The other singer, Toby, is also sounding great. They really work well together.
Read the entire interview from Classic Rock Revisited.
DIO DISCIPLES played its third concert ever on June 10 at the Sauna Open Air festival in Tampere, Finland. Fan-filmed video footage of the performance can be seen below.