Interview conducted August 04 2017
Interview published August 25 2017
"It was difficult for us, because from a business
point of view we were always shut out from it, but from a creative point
of view we all contributed to it."
Last In Line came to Skogsröjet
festival in Sweden and Metal Covenant seized the opportunity to talk to
original Dio members guitarist Vivian Campbell
and drummer Vinny Appice.
"It's the same exact formula as we did back then,
except we smoked a lot more pot back then."
Tobbe: A new record is in the works, I've
heard, so when will we see that record out?
Vivian: That's difficult to answer. We know that
we start to record in September and we know we'll have it finished by
the end of the year, or January, but we don't know when exactly Frontiers
will choose to release it, because we have to look at everyone's availability
for next year to tour and promote the record.
Tobbe: If you look at the songwriting: Is
it a little bit strange to try to find old Dio attributes, but at the
same time not, like, making a carbon copy of them?
Vivian: Well, I think there's a certain style
that you have, you know. Individually, and especially collectively,
like when Vinny and Jimmy [Bain, bass. Deceased in 2016] and I would
get together and play we have a natural tendency. We sound like the
original Dio band, because that's what we are, but we also have a certain
tendency to play in a certain way. I know I play guitar different when
I play with Vinny then when I play with Rick Allen [Def Leppard] or
Mark Danzeisen [Riverdogs] or any other drummer. You know, Vinny has
a certain style and
(Vinny:) Be nice.
and has a certain method to his playing that brings out certain
things in my playing, you know, that are obviously reminiscent of early
Dio, because that's what it is, you know. It's a little bit different
for the next record because Jimmy obviously is no longer with us. You
know, Phil [Soussan] is similar in style, but not quite as fundamental
a player as Jimmy was. You know, he's maybe a little bit more busy.
But, you know, so far writing with Phil has worked very, very well.
We were a little concerned about how it was gonna go, but it's been
very positive so far. (Vinny:) He comes
from the same school as us, you know. Same era, been there. We've been
friends with him for a long time. So he was a good fit, you know.
Tobbe: You know, by putting out records
you guys have really taken the epithet "Tribute band" to a whole
different level. If you wanna call it a tribute
Vinny: No, we don't. [Collective laughter] We
don't wanna call it that.
Tobbe: But still, is that, like, a statement
to all the rest of the bands who play old Dio stuff that you are the one
Vivian: Well, yeah. I don't think you can really
call this band
In fact, you can't call it a tribute band, because
a tribute would mean it's not an original band. I mean, around the same
time we started jamming together
And that's really what it was;
I just wanted to play guitar again. I called Vinny and Jimmy and we
went into a rehearsal room. I remember that day actually, 'cause that
was the very first day I heard about Dio Disciples. 'Cause we were talking
and it came up in conversation and I said "Who? What?". [Vinny
laughs] I never heard that these guys, who were all in Dio after, you
know, in different incarnations and
(Vinny:) After the fact. (Vivian:)
the fact, and are going out there and playing our songs. And that was
also a part of why I thought "Well, why don't we just go and play
them?" We wrote them, you know. [Laughs] We made the records, so
"Let's go do it!". But obviously a bulk of our set and in
fact, to be honest, the majority of the show is made up of Dio songs.
So yeah, in a certain way I understand why people view it that way.
now the band is at that stage where: When we first started out we were
only playing songs from the first three Dio records and then, since
we released the Heavy Crown album, we're sort of a hybrid band, you
know. I'm sure, once we get the second Last In Line album released,
you know, obviously our set will grow and we'll include more and more
of the newer material. (Vinny:) A good
way to look at it is: The Dio Disciples and all the tributes; they know
the songs; we know all the notes
'Cause we wrote them. [Laughs]
Tobbe: Isn't it a little bit odd that we're
having two well-known bands doing kind of the same thing? In the fans'
perspective, I mean.
Vivian: Well, I don't see it as being a bad thing.
I mean, I actually think that it's probably of mutual benefit. You know,
if Dio Disciples are out there playing songs that we wrote with Ronnie,
then that's stimulating interest in the genre and in the Last In Line
band. And vice versa; what we're doing I think will have a benefit to
Dio Disciples. (Vinny:) Keeping the music
alive. (Vivian:) Keeping the music alive.
Exactly, you know, so. I do think there's a remarkable difference in
pedigree in both bands. I mean, this is a serious fucking band [laughs]
and when you'll hear us play today you'll know exactly what I'm talking
about, you know.
Tobbe: But in the beginning, weren't you,
like, a little bit hesitant about what people were gonna say about this
Vivian: I think, you know, it was unfortunate
that my parting with Ronnie wasn't amicable and then that Ronnie and
I both made the same mistake over the years of talking about each other
in the press, which is never a good idea. It was well documented, you
know. [Laughs] There was a little bit of animosity there. But a lot
of things have changed, you know. I think when somebody passes from
this life you have to draw that line in the sand and you've gotta reevaluate
things. Ronnie is no longer here for he and I to have a discussion,
so I've let that one go.
But interestingly, as a side effect of that,
as a result of that, it did allow me to listen to this music and to
appreciate this music and this time in my life in a whole different
light, you know. I recognize this as being as much a part of my heritage,
and as much a part of Vinny's and Jimmy Bain's, as it was Ronnie's.
We created those records together. We wrote those songs together. They
would not exist without the four of us, so even though the band was
called Dio and, you know, after we were all let go, or fired, or whatever,
however you wanna describe it, the band Dio continued and they continued
playing those songs.
was difficult for us, because from a business point of view we were
always shut out from it, but from a creative point of view we all contributed
to it. It's like being disassociated from your child and then being
reunited many, many years later and celebrating that and embracing that.
This is very joyous for me, to play on stage, to play with Vinny again
and to play these songs again. A lot of people out there are ignorant
enough, and I mean that in the literal sense of the word, ignorant as
in they just don't know, that people actually think I'm doing this for
money. [Collective laughter]
Tobbe: Well, you play in Def Leppard. I
think you get your money that way
Vivian: Yeah, so I got the money part covered,
yeah. You know, all I can do is tell you, with hand on heart, honestly,
I believe that I'm here for the right reason. I'm here to celebrate
the music and to celebrate that creative period in my life, because
I genuinely, honestly, 100 percent believe that it was kind of taken
from us. It was certainly taken from me. I don't know how Vinny feels,
but it was taken from me and in the way that I just totally shut myself
out from it for literally decades.
But with the passage of time and I guess to a
certain extent with Ronnie's passing also, the Dio band no longer exists,
so I was able to come back to it and look at it in a different light
and we're keeping the music alive, more than anyone, because we are
the originators of that music and no one will play it better than Vinny
and I, you know.
Tobbe: And then there will be a full tour
now with Ronnie as a hologram. What is your opinion on that?
Vivian: I have never seen the hologram. I know
they did it at Wacken a year or two ago. I've never seen it. (Vinny:)
I've never seen it either. (Vivian:) But
again, like I said before, I think it's mutually beneficial. I think
both parties are gonna benefit out of it. They're gonna benefit from
what we're doing and we'll benefit from that, you know. (Vinny:)
Certain people are gonna like that and certain people are gonna find
eerie, and not like it. But that's good. It's good for all of
us. (Vivian:) It's all good indeed.
Tobbe: The more songs you put out with Last
In Line, the more songs you obviously wanna play live from that and will
it be hard to not cross some kind of thin line and play too many Last
In Line songs instead of Dio songs?
Vivian: No, no, no. There will always be certain
keystone Dio songs, I think, in the set. I mean, we'll always play certain
tunes. We'll always Rainbow In The Dark; I think we'll always play [The]
Last In Line. (Vinny:) Holy Diver. (Vivian:)
Holy Diver, yeah. I mean, all the big songs, I think, kind of have to
be there, you know. You gotta build your set around that. And also,
you know, when the next Last In Line album comes along we may drop one
or two songs from Heavy Crown. We'll see; we'll see how it comes out.
(Vinny:) Or play a little longer. [Laughs]
It's hard to do that on a festival though.
Vinny: Yeah, well, these things are limited,
but on our own shows we can get away with it.
Tobbe: So how far can Last In Line kind
of deviate from the original Dio sound and still come out valid?
Vivian: I think the sound is what it is. I mean,
that's just how we're like. (Vinny:) Everybody
misconcepts it; "How do you guys get that sound?", but it
doesn't work that way. Even when I'm with Black Sabbath; there's four
guys in a room. We were four guys in a room with Holy Diver, just playing,
and that's what it sounded like, and that's what it sounded like with
Sabbath, and whatever came out, all the personalities were there and
they created the sound. So when we play together, especially Viv and
I, it sounds like
Viv and I [Laughs] and it's got a reminiscence
of the old Holy Diver stuff, 'cause that's the way we play together,
(Vivian:) Yeah, I think we don't put thought
into it, you know. I mean, there's no preconceived sound, like "Oh,
let's make a record or write a song that sounds like this.". We
just play and like "Is that any good?" and "OK. That's
good. Let's work with that." or if it's not any good, we'll leave
it and go on to something else, you know. (Vinny:)
It's the same exact formula as we did back then, except we smoked a
lot more pot back then. Viv got contact high; he didn't smoke. Now,
we don't do that. We're already high.
Tobbe: But I would say that maybe it's possible
that you guys will be kind of stifled because you still wanna belong to
that kind of style of music and it's hard to widen your music style when
people expect still a little bit of a Dio sound? So is that stifling sometimes?
Vivian: The Dio sound is always gonna be there,
like Vinny said, because that's the sound we make when we're playing.
Yes, I understand that, but
Vivian: When we started jamming in 2011 it had
been 27 years or something since we played together in a room and as
soon as we started playing, it was the sound of the original Dio band.
It was like "Oh! That sounds familiar.". It's not like we're
trying to do it; it is what we do, you know. I mean, the chemistry of
a band is unique to that band and every individual plays differently
and you tailor your playing depending on who you're playing with.
When I play guitar with Def Leppard I don't play
guitar like I do with Last In Line. It's a very, very different approach,
you know. I use different equipment. I play differently. I mean, there's
still a certain essence that's always gonna be me, but I play very differently
when I play with Vinny. You know, all of a sudden it's like "Whoa!
I gotta turn up, I gotta be louder, I gotta be more aggressive in my
playing." and that leads back to the early Dio records. The chemistry
of the band is what makes the unique sound, so as long as Vinny and
I are playing together it's always gonna have that element of early
Tobbe: And then you have Andrew [Freeman]
on vocals too and he's kind of different from what Ronnie was, so was
that important for you guys to bring in such a vocalist and not a clone?
Vivian: Very, very. Yeah, we wouldn't be having
this discussion if Andrew sounded like Ronnie. That would be weird,
you know. (Vinny:) Some people think "Why don't you get somebody
that sounds like Dio?", and tapes are coming in and it's like "We
don't want that. It's ridiculous.". Andy sings from the heart.
He sings from the soul. He sings the shit out of the old songs and the
new stuff is unbelievable. Hooks and great vocal melodies and lyrics
and stuff. He's powerful. (Vivian:) He's
very powerful. You need to be a really powerful singer to sing in this
band because we are very aggressive and very loud. (Vinny:)
It's loud and we're doing four shows in a row and he's fucking singing
that shit, bam, on the top.
(Vivian:) He's bulletproof, yeah. But the fact
that he doesn't sound like Ronnie is what made this viable in the first
place, because when Jimmy and Vinny and I played, it sounded like, like
I said before, like the early Dio band, because that was what it was,
but yet you had this singer, who was powerful enough to sing on top
of it, but sounded nothing like Ronnie, and that's what made it an interesting
proposition, to me at least. I mean, like "OK. This is interesting.".
This unmistakable sound of early Dio band; singer: powerful, but sounds
nothing like Ronnie. That's what made it interesting and that's what
makes it viable.
know, Ronnie was the best singer of the genre, so it would be foolish
to even try and find someone who sounds a little bit like that and try
and pass it off. That would be cheap and it would be tacky and it would
be a waste of time, you know. Like I said before, everyone is unique,
whether you're a drummer, or a bass player, or a singer, or a guitar
player, whatever. We all have a unique thumbprint that we bring to our
sound and Ronnie had his and it would just be so misguiding to try and
replace that or replicate that. This is something similar, but different,
you know, with Andy.
Tobbe: And I gotta ask you Vinny about the
newly announced Sinister album. So, how did that come into realization?
Finally, you and your brother are doing a studio album together.
Vinny: Yeah, because we've been doing this forever
and we never did an album together. We started saying "Let's put
this together." and we just contacted friends and family and got
songs from different people. Carmine wrote a couple and I had some things
on the computer that I worked with other people and we started putting
it together and it came out great. It's unique 'cause the drums, I'm
on the left and he's on the right on certain songs. Certain songs we're
both playing together, certain songs he's playing one part and I'm playing
the next part. It's all different mixes; it's crazy. But the two drums
and left and right; the whole set's pretty unique.
Tobbe: When you're playing simultaneously
maybe it will be hard for people to perceive both drums at the same time.
Vinny: Yeah, it's pretty crazy. Although he
played a little bit behind the beat; I had to fix his stuff a little
bit. [Collective laughter] Like "Who's ahead there? Hang on!".
But it came out fantastic. So it's gonna come out October 27th and then
hopefully we'll do some dates at some point.