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HEAVY CROWN: Vivian Campbell On Crafting Last In Line’s Ferocious New Album

HEAVY CROWN: Vivian Campbell On Crafting Last In Line’s Ferocious New Album

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Legendary guitarist Vivian Campbell has spent the better part of four decades pouring his heart and soul into some of rock music’s most memorable projects. From Dio to Whitesnake to Def Leppard, his impact as a rock guitarist is undeniable. As an artist, he continues to forge ahead creatively, while continuing to inspire generations of fans, both young and old. His latest endeavor is quite literally a blast from the past. As part of Dio, Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain had cut their teeth as Ronnie James Dio’s co-conspirators and co-writers. The would work hand-in-hand on “Holy Diver,” “Last In Line” and “Sacred Heart” albums – the records that defined the classic early Dio sound and have gone on to become part of Rock History. In 2012, these three old friends would reunite in a Los Angeles rehearsal room for a casual reunion jam in a Los Angeles. During that first, highly-spirited jam, it was apparent the chemistry of the original band was intact – even after a 27-year hiatus.

The excitement generated by that rediscovery led to a second session, this time they called in vocalist Andrew Freeman (a friend of Vinny’s) whose credits include singing in the Raiding The Rock Vault production in Las Vegas and background vocals for The Offspring. Hearing Andrew’s interpretations of the songs was a revelation for Vivian, who immediately suggested they book local shows for fun. In Vivian’s mind, the fact Andrew could put a different spin on the songs made it an interesting prospect, and one that would justify taking things to the next stage outside of the rehearsal room. Over the ensuing years, a handful of local LA shows led to a handful of overseas shows in the UK and Japan, and eventually to an offer from Frontiers Records to record a new album of original material.

During 2014, the band wrote and recorded 12 new songs under the guidance of longtime friend and producer Jeff Pilson. It proved to be a symbiotic relationship with Jeff that captured the organic crunch of the band and brought out the very best in Andrew’s voice and delivery. After long last, Last In Line’s debut album, “Heavy Crown” was released in February of 2016. However, for the members of this band, the release was bittersweet for the band as Jimmy Bain passed away just weeks before the album’s release. serves as another tremendous example of the rock ’n’ roll spirit he brought to every project of which he was a part.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Vivian Campbell to discuss his journey as a musician, the making of Last In Line’s ferocious debut album to life, the impact Jimmy Bain had on him personally and professionally and much more!

I like to start at the beginning. What are some of your first memories of music?

Well, my folks listened to a lot of stuff in the car like Simon and Garfunkel and all of that. The first epiphany I had was when I saw and heard Marc Bolan and T. Rex on TV in the early 1970s on “Top of The Pops.” That was what did it for me! I was watching this guy and I loved the sound of the electric guitar. Basically, anything with electric guitar caught my attention but Bolan was the first one who made me want to buy a guitar, grow my hair long and wear my sister’s clothes!

You got started in music at such a young age. What impact has that had on you through the years?

It was definitely a blessing! I think I have been really, really fortunate that I have been able to have such a career. It is all I have ever wanted to do since that night in 1971, when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, when I had that epiphany, that was the dream that I followed. I have been extremely fortunate to have had such an extremely colorful career playing in so many bands and playing with so many great musicians. I so grateful to be able to do it! The only time in my life I ever had a real job was when I was a teenager trying to earn money to buy my Les Paul, so I have been very fortunate!

Your latest musical endeavor is Last In Line. What got the ball rolling when it came to bringing this amazing project to life?

Last In Line's debut album, "Heavy Crown'

Last In Line’s debut album, “Heavy Crown’

This all started by accident. In mid-2010 and early 2011, Def Leppard were on hiatus. I got a call from Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy asking if he could borrow me to go on tour for a few months in Europe as a second guitar player. I lept at the chance because Thin Lizzy were such an influential band for me in my formative years. When I was a teen and really honing my craft as a guitar player, they were my go to band. Being out on tour and playing the songs of my youth with the original guitarist Scott Gorham and drummer Brian Downey was just like a school boy fantasy. I really reconnected to my instrument and I found myself really wanting to play aggressive rock guitar again. I have been in Def Leppard for 24 years and it is a great, great band. I get to play a bit of guitar in Leppard but certainly not to the extent that I did in my early career with Dio. I just kind of wanted to get back to that and wanted to get angry with my Les Paul again. This was around mid-2011, when I came back from the Thin Lizzy tour. I called up Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain and asked them if they would like to go into the rehearsal room just to jam for some fun. That is what we did!

It grew from that but none of us were approaching it thinking, “Hey, let’s form a band and go out and do gigs.” It just happened very organically. Even when it did start to happen, our ambition was entirely limited to just playing local LA area shows and doing songs from the first three Dio albums. We had no intention to write and record a new album. After a couple years of doing things very sporadically, we got offered some shows in the UK and a festival in Japan in late 2013. Immediately after that, we got a call from Frontiers Records asking if we would be interested in writing and recording a new album. Up to that point, we honestly hadn’t thought about it but the fact that we were being offered a record deal and a chance to do this allowed us to take that step.

Did you have reservations about going down that path and creating new music?

No, no. None at all. You know, it has been a strange journey. Up until that point in 2011, I didn’t even listen to Dio records. It just wasn’t on my radar for various reasons. When Ronnie [James Dio] fired me, it had left such a bad taste in my mouth the way that it had happened and the reasons it had happened for, I just didn’t want anything to do with that. I really uprooted myself from that part of my career. For many, many decades I literally didn’t even think about it as my music and my career. Now, I look back at it in a very, very different light. I embrace it and realize that those records were as much my legacy as they were Ronnie’s. They were as much Jimmy Bain’s and Vinny Appice’s. We we wrote those early records with Ronnie. We didn’t get paid for them [laughs] but we created them! A big part of this project was to reclaim our ownership of our early history, ya know. It kind of had been taken away from us for years and years. All of us had been fired along the way for various reasons. I was the first one to go. It is nice to get back to that and look at it in an entirely different light and embrace it.

What can you tell us about the songwriting process for Last In Line? How has it changed and how has it stayed the same?

Well, it hasn’t! We went in to write this record in the exact same way we approached writing the “Holy Diver” album back in 1982. That is part of the reason Claude Schnell is no longer with us. When the original Dio band was formed and when we were writing and recording “Holy Diver” in late 1982, there were only four of us. It was guitar, bass, drum and vocals. Keyboards didn’t come in until after the record was done. I discussed this with Jimmy, Vinny and Andrew [Freeman] and we all felt stronger that we should go back to the original genesis of the original Dio band and just have guitar, bass, drums and vocals. When we were writing the “Holy Diver” record and the early DIo records, Jimmy, Vinny and I would go into a rehearsal room and would kick around ideas. We would start with something and, even if we didn’t have an idea to get the ball rolling, we would just jam. Within a little while, we would have something interesting. We would kick around an idea for a few hours in the afternoon. In the evening, Dio would come in and we would play him what we had. Sometimes, Ronnie would make suggestions like, “Change this part. Make this longer. Make this shorter.” Other times, he would sit there and look at his lyric books and eventually step up to the mic and start singing. It was a very quick way of writing and we did it the exactly the same way with this.

At the time we started making this Last In Line record, Andrew had moved from LA to Las Vegas, so he wasn’t always available to be in the rehearsal room with us, so usually it was just Vinny, Jimmy and I and we did things the same way. I’d have a riff or Vinny would have an idea or Jimmy would have an idea. We would just start playing and cobble together what we felt was an arrangement. We would record it as an MP3 and send it to Andrew that night. Andrew would email us back and would say, “This is great. I can write a melody and lyric to this.” Or he would make suggestions as to how to change it. Other times, Andrew would fly or drive to LA and be in the room with us. That was interesting because when he was with us it added a different dynamic that we wouldn’t have normally had, so we had the best of both worlds with that! The record happened very easily and very organically, just as those early Dio records did. There wasn’t any forethought to what we were going to write. We just started playing and shit comes out! [laughs]

You make it sound so easy, Vivian!

It is easy! It has always been very easy for Jimmy, Vinny and I to create something together and that is what made the early Dio records so great. We were quite literally creating them out of nothing. Like I said, even if we didn’t have an idea to start with, Vinny would lay down a monster groove! I get so inspired by playing with Vinny that I just come up with stuff and vice versa. We’ve always inspired each other!

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I want to talk about Jeff Pilson. What was it like working with him as a producer and what did he bring to this project?

Jeff was golden! I can’t praise Jeff Pilson on this record enough! He is such a talented engineer and producer. He totally got what we were trying to do. We cut the tracks live and did minimal overdubs, just like we did on the early Dio records. He totally got that! The technical way we recorded the record with very little compression at the tracking, mastering and mixing stages is something he totally got too. We wanted it to be a crisp sounding record that is sonically reminiscent of records of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and we think we delivered that with this album. Jeff really, really got it and where he totally excelled is how he worked with Andrew on this. Not many people know just how good a singer Jeff is, as well as a musician. He has such a great voice and so many years of experience singing. He really got inside Andrew’s head and I think he really helped bring out the best performance out of him.

We can’t talk about this album without mentioning the impact of Jimmy Bain, who passed away shortly before its release. I know he was a big part of your life and music. What impact did he have on you personally and professionally?

Yeah, Jimmy was a very, very talented man and very much the unsung hero. I owe my career to Jimmy, probably more so than anyone else. It was Jimmy who actually heard me play in Sweet Savage back in Ireland in the late ‘70s and it was Jimmy who recommended me to Ronnie [James Dio], which got me the audition. I have known Jimmy for that long and he was a very, very good friend of mine. Jimmy is one of those people who, when I look back at records he was involved in and when I think back to the records I made with him, I know he was never credited to the full extent that he should have been. He wrote a lot more music than his name appears on. Jimmy is one who always had an idea. It is very, very important in the creative process that you don’t get hung up, stop and start spinning your wheels. Jimmy was always the best one among us for keeping things going. He would constantly be sparking with different ideas. Some of them were great and some of them not so, but at least he was fearless in the way he created. There is a great quote by someone about the creative process saying, “Write without fear, edit without mercy.” That was Jimmy! He was fearless in throwing out suggestions. He played guitar, bass and keyboards and would come up with melodies and lyrics. He was an all around talent. Unfortunately, just being the bass player in a band, people generally tend to overlook you. I have played with so, so many great musicians in my career, I have been very fortunate that way, and Jimmy Bain is right up there in the top five. He was an uber-talent!

Vivian Campbell and Jimmy Bain in the early years of their careers.

Vivian Campbell and Jimmy Bain in the early years of their careers.

What does the future hold for Last In Line in light of Jimmy Bain’s passing?

We are at somewhat of a crossroads and we really don’t know what we will do in the long term. We had a tour planned, which was supposed to start about a week or so after the record came out, at the end of February but with Jimmy passing, we cancelled the tour. We didn’t feel it would be appropriate. However, we are going to play some of the more high profile shows we were booked to play. We will be playing the Frontiers Festival in Milan, Italy on April 23rd. We are also going to play at the Rocklahoma festival at the end of May. We have a couple of warmup shows in advance of those, a couple of club shows. Beyond those handful of shows, we have no long-term plans. I am not saying that we won’t but it is kind of a moot point anyway because immediately after that, I go back with Def Leppard. I will be busy until the middle of October. If anything does happen in terms of further Last In Line shows, it wouldn’t be before the end of this year. We may just decide to not do anything but, at the same time, we kind of do feel we owe it to ourselves, Jimmy’s memory and this record because this record did come out so, so well. It meant a lot to Jimmy. It is just a question of finding the right balance and being respectful to his memory or giving up. Somewhere in between there is the right path but, like I said, it’s not a bridge we have to cross yet.

For the handful of shows Last In Line will be playing, what can we expect from the band?

Obviously, now that the record is out, we are going to feature that as much as we feel is appropriate. It is a good feeling for us to be taking this step and not to just be playing early Dio songs, even though those are our songs as much as they were Ronnie’s. Especially for Andrew, I think it is a great relief to be focusing on new music and it is exciting to play that! We are going to start rehearsals the week after next and we will be playing a bunch of new songs. Our show will be an hour-and-a-half or an hour-and-three-quarters, so we will also heavily feature the early Dio records. Most of our set has been mostly comprised of “Holy Diver” and “Last In Line,” not so much “Sacred Heart,” although we have played some of those songs.

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Last In Line: An undeniable force in rock.

You mentioned Def Leppard. We know Joe Elliott had some vocal issues recently. How is everything going there?

Yeah, Joe saw a couple of doctors when we were doing shows in February. The second doctor he saw put a scope down his throat and told him he needed to stop singing immediately or he was going to do permanent damage. That is why we had to unfortunately postpone a few weeks of shows that we will be making up in May. The good news is that it doesn’t require surgery and just requires rest, so he will be fine! He will be grand!

Looking back on your career, how have you most evolved as an artist?

I started solely as a guitar player. Early on, my entire focus was just putting my head down and playing guitar, which is why I think I got be reasonably good at it. [laughs] Right from the time I first joined Dio, I was starting to become more aware of what goes on in the industry and wanting to expand my talents beyond just playing guitar. I wanted to be a better writer. When I was writing with Ronnie, I wouldn’t think of it as writing in terms of a whole song, I was just concerned with the guitar parts and riffs. I would let him, or Vinny or Jimmy shape it into a song and a melody. Since then, in my early 20s, I really started studying singers. I really wanted to sing and that is when I first started taking voice lessons. I started listening to other genres of music. More importantly, up until that point, I had only focused on guitar music. If it didn’t have guitar, I wasn’t interested. In my early 20s, I had this ravenous appetite for all sorts of music from pop to country to soul and Motown. I amassed a huge collection of cassette tapes in the process. I feel so blessed to have worked with so many great musicians in bands and producers over the years. I have learned a lot about how to make records, how to sing, how to play, how different instrumentation works. Along the way, my focus wasn’t always so much on my lead guitar abilities. It has been a very, very joyous rediscovery for me over the past several years of playing with Last In Line and really making that my primary focus. It is the one thing that I do best! I like to think I am a reasonable singer and a half reasonable songwriter but the one thing I undeniably do is torture the fuck out of a Les Paul, ya know! I do it in my sleep! That is my first love and it is great to get back to that, reconnect to it and have it be so important in my life again.

You always seem to have plenty of irons in the fire musically. What does the future hold for you?

Ya know, I do like to have a lot going on! Def Leppard, we worked a lot last year. We have a fairly busy year this year, as well. We probably won’t play too many live shows with Leppard, if any, in 2017. However, we almost certainly will go back into the studio and make another album. That is certainly going to keep me busy! As I said, I don’t know what is going to happen with Last In Line to be honest. I am enjoying it but I was enjoying it a lot more until Jimmy passed away. It has put us at this peculiar kind of crossroads. There is another band that I used to be in many, many years ago that I am getting together with next week to start writing for a new record. I can’t mention who it is yet but it is one of my past projects and we are kind of getting back together and we have been offered a record deal. I like to stay active as a musician, even if it just means going to the local club and playing. I have a little bar band that plays very, very occasionally. It is entirely covers from Thin Lizzy to early ZZ Top and early Fleetwood Mac from the Peter Green era and other stuff like that. It is kind of a quasi-blues rock band. Even if it was something like that, I really believe you are what you do. I have always been a musician, so I always try to stay busy!

What is the best lesson we can take from your journey as a musician?

Vivian Campbell

Vivian Campbell

Musicians always ask me if I have any good career advice and stuff like that. I always come back to the same thing. It is always more important to be true to yourself than to try and emulate someone else. I know that is a difficult lesson to absorb when you are young. I know when I was young, I was spinning my wheels constantly. I was frustrated, even when I was making the Dio records, I was very frustrated that I couldn’t play the guitar like Yngwie Malmsteen or Paul Gilbert. I didn’t have the technical chops that they had and the control that they have. Looking back at it now, through the years of experience, I am glad. That is what makes me unique, my lack of certain abilities that helped to shape my sound and style. I think that is more important. It’s more important to be unique than to be proficient, regardless of what your instrument is. I think that is what the world wants. That is what people hear in great art is that human connection. I think too often as musicians we spend a lot of time trying to perfect it. I also think, without getting too far reaching, it kind of speaks to a lot of modern music. Technology has made it too easy to correct everything nowadays. As a result, modern music is very homogenized and sterile because the human tone is being lost in the technology. If you listen back to great Motown records, those records were played live by real musicians in real time. That is what makes them still sound so great in this day and age. They are by no means perfect from a technical point of view but they have so much soul, so much heart and so much humanity that so many modern records are lacking because it is far too easy to correct the drummer or auto-tune the singer. Technology is doing the job for us. It is just important to be authentic is what it all boils down to. If you want to put it into one word — authenticity!

I think you hit the nail on the head, Vivian! Thank you so much for your time today, my friend. It has been a true pleasure! I wish you continued success!

Thank you, Jason! It has been a pleasure to talk to you! Take care!

For all the latest news on Last In Line, visit the band’s official website at www.LastInLineOfficial.com. Connect with them on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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REVOLUTION SAINTS: Jack Blades On His Career And Latest Music Endeavor!

REVOLUTION SAINTS: Jack Blades On His Career And Latest Music Endeavor!

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There is a new force rumbling across the rock ‘n’ roll landscape. It began when rock titans Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich have combined their musical powers to form an exciting new hard rock/melodic rock supergroup — Revolution Saints! You can tell by the name – and the names involved – that this isn’t your average rock ‘n roll band. Their new album brings back the classic melodic rock style to where it should be: inspiring, uplifting vocals, soaring melodies and musicianship to die for. It’s completely badass.

Superbly handling drums and lead vocals is Deen Castronovo. Already renowned for his drum talents and backing vocals in Journey, Bad English and more, Deen’s excellent vocal talents are in the spotlight on this release. On bass, and co-lead vocals on a few tracks,Jack Blades is well known for his melodic, yet hard rocking approach to songwriting and playing via multiple classic albums by his main band Night Ranger, as well as with the Damn Yankees and the Shaw/Blades releases. On guitar, Doug Aldrich was excited to lend his fiery blues guitar attack to such a unique and melodic band. Doug, who just left Whitesnake after a fruitful 12 year run (including co-writing 2010s critically acclaimed “Forevermore” release) and also of Burning Rain and formerly of DIO, has a deep pedigree and is one of today’s most respected guitarists.

The project is the vision of Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino, who for years had hoped to work on a project where Deen would be the lead vocalist. Having previously worked with all three artists on different projects on Frontiers, having Deen, Jack and Doug on board together was a dream come true for Perugino. With production overseen by in-house Frontiers man, Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also contributed to the songwriting and played keyboards on the album), the recording process took place in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 2014.

Revolution Saints’ music is played with a heart and soul and that highlights the passion and the enthusiasm of three of the best rock and all-around musicians in the game today! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Jack Blades to discuss his amazing career, longevity in the business, the musical magic captured by Revolution Saints and much more!

I wanted to start by asking you about your early years. When did music first have an impact on you as a kid?

Jack Blades

Jack Blades

When I first heard the Beatles, it was like, “Oh, my gosh!” I was about 10 years old. I heard them and my dad, of course, said, “You won’t hear anything more about these guys in six months.” I thought that was pretty hilarious. From that moment on, all I wanted to be was a musician and I was always in bands or doing things musically. I had an illness where my left leg was up in a sling for four years. Second grade through fifth grade I wasn’t able to run around or play baseball or football, you know, all the things that kids do growing up. My parents gave me this dollar ukulele when I was about 8 years old, so I had been sitting in my room and playing with that and it really became my passion. My guitar was my go-to when I was anywhere from 8 to 10 years old. When I heard the Beatles, it blew my mind. I started singing and playing even more. In high school, I played in bands like everybody does. When I was 13, it seemed there were tons of rhythm guitar players and no bass players. I said, “OK! I’ll play bass.” My parents sprung for the bass amp and bass guitar. By default, I ended up being the bass player in the band when I was 13 years old. I continued through high school and college. When I was in college, I left in my fourth year at San Diego State University to move to San Francisco to join a rock band because I really wanted to give it a run. I was convinced I could do it and really it was who I was. I was young enough and I felt if I didn’t give it a shot, then I would never know! “I coulda been a contender!” [laughs] I didn’t want to be one of those guys who would always wonder what could have been.

You have been very successful in your career. What do you consider the key to your longevity?

I have always had a certain stick-to-itiveness. That is the whole thing! FIrst, you have to believe. When everyone said, “Oh, you can’t do that. It’s a million to one!” I was like, “If that’s the way you want it. I will be the one in a million then!” Constantly pushing and sticking to it has been the secret for me. Here we have all of the success we had with Night Ranger and the band had been passed on by every record company twice between 1980 and 1982. Finally, one cat decided to say, “I will take a chance with these guys.” We knew we could do it. I knew with songs like “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” that people would love this stuff and we could be a good band that contributes. In the end, it just took one guy taking a chance. After Night Ranger broke up, we formed the Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw and myself. It was the same thing! Guys were like “Eh, this stuff will never get played on the radio.” How many times do you have to prove yourself?! [laughs] It’s pretty funny!

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Your latest project is Revolution Saints. How did you get involved with the project and what has you excited about it?

Deen [Castronovo] called me up and said, “Hey, I’m doing this record and I want you to be involved.” The whole brainchild for this was Serafino Perugino, the owner of Frontiers Records. He said he always wanted to have Deen be the lead singer on a record. Deen kind of played around with that a little bit on one of Neal Schon’s solo albums. On “So U,” he sang a bunch of the songs on the record and, coincidentally, I co-wrote a lot of the songs on that record with Neal. I have been friends with Neal since he was in The Wild Dogs in 1983 or 1984. Night Ranger’s manager was the manager of The Wild Dogs back in 1984, so I have really known Deen forever! I have played with him a lot, we’ve done projects together and recorded together. We know each other really well, so I said, “Sure man! I’ll sign on! I would love to be involved!” Then they got Doug Aldrich to do it and I couldn’t have been more excited because I have always loved the way Doug plays. I think he is a tremendous guitar player. I have been so fortunate that I have been able to play with people like Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw, Brad Gillis, Jeff Lawson, all great, great guitar players! Neal Schon is another one! I have played on records and we have written Journey songs together with Neal. Doug just knows how to lay it down! We said, “Let’s do this!” And with that you have Revolution Saints!

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

Did you have particular goals or expectations in mind for this project from the start?

Yeah, we wanted to kick some serious ass! [laughs] The aspirations were to have Deen to be the killer lead vocalist that everyone knows he is but hadn’t had the shot to do it yet. In addition, Doug had just gotten out of Whitesnake, so I wanted him to just be blazing! I said to him, “Dude, do anything you want! This is your first statement out of Whitesnake, so make it a statement! Go for it!” That is exactly what he did.

What can you tell us about the writing process for Revolution Saints. How did it differ from what you have done in the past?

It was completely different. All of the songs were pulled together for Deen. Doug and I were getting together to write some stuff but we never had time because everything was so busy. Night Ranger was on the road and Deen was constantly on the road with Journey, so there was a lot going on. The songs were pulled together by Alessandro Del Vecchio, who produced the record. He is a great songwriter, producer and singer. I contributed on a couple of things but the majority of it was Alessandro.

To get a little off track for a moment, how do you typically go about putting a song together? What is your process?

Songs hit me wherever they hit me. Sometimes the music will hit me first or playing a riff or a big hook. It all depends and I am open to whatever flows into my mind at the time. It’s funny because it is like there is a song in my head all of the time. There is always something always going on in my head and sometimes that can be really irritating! [laughs] Like right now, the chorus from Revolution Saint’s “How To Mend A Broken Heart” is playing over and over and over in my brain. Sometimes, it’s like, “Wow! Get this thing out of here!” [laughs]

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

Speaking of the songs on the Revolution Saints album, what songs resonate with you the most right now?

I love “How To Mend A Broken Heart.” “Dream On” is another great one. I love the first track that we came out with, “Turn Back Time.” “Here Forever” is a great song. I have to say, it is difficult to choose just a few because there is a lot of great stuff on this record.

Looking back on the process of bringing this album to life, what stands out as the biggest challenges you faced?

The challenge was being in different places with everyone recording different things. That was not a challenge but an odd thing. If I had my druthers, I would rather have us all in one room to record and that is probably what we will do next.

That is cool to hear. With that said, I assume it is safe to say that Revolution Saints is more than just a one-off and you have plans for moving it forward in the future?

Yeah. We are hoping that the music will resonate with the fans and so far there has been a good reaction to it. That is a positive thing! People aren’t saying, “These dudes suck” or anything like that! [laughs] It’s a lot of fun. I think it is fun for the fans, it’s fun for us and it’s fun for the classic rock community. I think it is a good thing to shake the tree every once in a while and make people nervous. I think it is a really good thing.

As a fan, I think the album has a real energy to it and you really are enjoying the process of bringing this music to the fans. In turn, I think that is why the fans are responding to it so well.

That’s the whole thing, man! This thing wasn’t something we had to do. This is a project that we really wanted to do. It is one of those rare occasions where you don’t feel like you are obligated to do something. The three of us really want to do this. We wanted to do this album and now we want to play live and have fun. It is all about having fun and hanging out with people you like at this stage in the game. Otherwise, why do it?

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What are you looking at in terms of touring? I imagine there are quite a few moving pieces to contend with at this point.

It’s funny you should ask. We are getting everyone together in the next few days with conference calls to discuss how to attack this beast. We are getting offers from all parts of the globe to play shows with this thing. We have offers from Japan to the UK to Europe to the USA. We have to figure out how to put all of these parts together because I think it would be a real shame if we didn’t play live. I think the fans would really love it.

You have been a part of so many great projects through the years. Looking back, what is your biggest evolution as an artist and player?

Wow. That is a good question. Wow, I think that is one of those questions after 60 million interviews I haven’t gotten. That is a good one. Good for you! Ya know what? I think the biggest evolution of my whole thing was when we formed Damn Yankees. I came out of Night Ranger wondering about everything and questioning everything. I was questioning music and everything else. I got together with Tommy [Shaw] and we really hit it off. We started writing up a storm and then we linked up with Ted [Nugent]. Ted came in and was the way he is, just so straight ahead. They really broke the mold when they made The Nuge! He is his own unique character. The way he plays, the way he attacks music and carries everything is pretty rockin, dude. That really taught me a lot of lessons and was a big step in the evolution of me.

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future? Is there still ground you are eager to explore?

I think that the world is always a wide open place to experience so many things. There are so many different directions that one can go into nowadays. There are so many opportunities and there is so much going on. Yeah, man! I feel like I am only mid-way through this journey. That is what I’m thinking!

I wanted to ask you quickly about one of my favorite projects from your career — Shaw Blades. “Influence” came out in 2007. Do you see yourself revisiting that project in the near future?

Yeah, that is a great record. Actually, we are about three quarters of the way through another one at the moment. If Tommy and I ever get our shit together to sit down and actually finish this thing up, it would be another two weeks and we would have another record done! [laughs] We are just trying to find a time we can actually do that!

One more question for you, Jack. You have seen so much in your time in the music industry. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to aspiring musicians looking to make their career in music in today’s climate?

I think persistence is the key. Keep your eye on the ball and never take no for an answer. By the time a person says no for the fourth time, you never know, they might say yes the fifth time. For me, it is all about persistence and stick-to-itiveness. That is what I have done all of my life, what I will continue to do and the lesson I have imparted upon my sons. That is what this life is all about, man!

Great advice, Jack! With wisdom like that, is there a chance we might get some type of autobiography out of you in the future?

Yeah, ya know what? Several people have asked about that. I think a great way to look at that would not just be a book about music but about the life lessons I have learned along the way! That is what this whole thing has been. It’s been about music, learning life and life’s lessons. Trust me! There have been so many lessons I have learned over the years! Rock ‘n’ roll is a good teacher! It’s just that a lot of people don’t listen! [laughs] That is when you get into trouble!

Thanks so much for your time today, Jack! I hope to catch you and Revolution Saints on the road in the near future!

Thanks so much, Jason! Great talking to you!

Get the latest information on Revolution Saints via their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RevolutionSaints. Be sure to check out all the new releases at Frontiers Records!

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Revolution Saints Release Video For “Turn Back Time,” Album To Drop February 24th!

Revolution Saints Release Video For “Turn Back Time,” Album To Drop February 24th!

revolution-saints-2014-1

Three icons of rock music are combining their talents for the creation of one of the most anticipated new projects of 2015. Revolution Saints is the newest power trio to arrive on the scene and features guitar skills by Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), bass and co-lead vocals by Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, Shaw/Blades) and drums and lead vocals by Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English). The band has just released the video for the song “Turn Back Time” from their self-titled debut that is being released in North America on February 24th via Frontiers Music SRL. The video was directed by Devin DeHaven known for his work with Rick Ross, Whitesnake, Kiss and R. Kelly. The video can be seen below!

From the opening notes of “Back On My Trail” to the piano outro on the album-closer “In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song),” it is clear Revolution Saints is a musical force to be reckoned with. Songs “Locked Out Of Paradise,” “Dream On” and “Here Forever” showcase the diversity that permeates throughout the entire album. Deen’s band mates from Journey also make an appearance on the album with guitarist Neal Schon showing up on “Way To The Sun” and vocalist Arnel Pineda singing on “You’re Not Alone.” The album’s 80’s vibe is reminiscent of some of the biggest hard rock tracks of the day, butwith a modern feel, backed by top-level musicianship. The album is available for pre-order at Amazon in standard CD at http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZReg and deluxe edition with bonus DVD at http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZDlx. Fans who order the album digitally via iTunes at http://geni.us/RevSaintsiTunes will receive an automatic download of “Turn Back Time.”

“It’s a fun record. It’s not safe. It is a musician’s record,” states Castronovo.

Revolution Saints have released an EPK discussing the new project that can be seen here: http://youtu.be/xOKjuLhUkKs.

Alessandro Del Vecchio produced the album.

The track listing for Revolution Saints is:

  1. Back On My Trail
  2. Turn Back Time
  3. You’re Not Alone (Feat. Arnel Pineda)
  4. Locked Out Of Paradise
  5. Way To The Sun (Feat. Neal Schon)
  6. Dream On
  7. Don’t Walk Away
  8. Here Forever
  9. Strangers To This Life
  10. Better World
  11. How To Mend A Broken Heart
  12. In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song)

 

https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionSaints

http://www.frontiers.it

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REVOLUTION SAINTS: Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich For New Supergroup!

REVOLUTION SAINTS: Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich For New Supergroup!

revolution-saints-2014-1

Deen CastronovoJack Blades and Doug Aldrich. Put these three rock titans together in a band and you have the exciting new hard rock/melodic rock supergroup REVOLUTION SAINTS.

Superbly handling drums and lead vocals is Deen Castronovo. Already renowned for his drum talents and backing vocals in Journey,Bad English and more, Deen’s excellent vocal talents are in the spotlight on this release. On bass, and co-lead vocals on a few tracks,Jack Blades is well known for his melodic, yet hard rocking approach to songwriting and playing via multiple classic albums by his main band Night Ranger, as well as with the Damn Yankees and the Shaw/Blades releases. On guitar, Doug Aldrich was excited to lend his fiery blues guitar attack to such a unique and melodic band. Doug, who just left Whitesnake after a fruitful 12 year run (including co-writing 2010s critically acclaimed “Forevermore” release) and also of Burning Rain and formerly of DIO, has a deep pedigree and is one of today’s most respected guitarists.

Revolution Saints

Revolution Saints

You can tell by the name – and the names involved – that REVOLUTION SAINTS isn’t your average rock ‘n roll band. The new album brings back the classic melodic rock style to where it should be: inspiring, uplifting vocals, soaring melodies and musicianship to die for. It’s completely badass.

The project is the vision of Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino, who for years had hoped to work on a project where Deen would be the lead vocalist. Having previously worked with all three artists on different projects on Frontiers, having Deen, Jack and Doug on board together was a dream come true for Perugino.

With production overseen by in-house Frontiers man, Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also contributed to the songwriting and played keyboards on the album), the recording process took place in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 2014.

REVOLUTION SAINTS’ music is played with a heart and soul and that highlights the passion and the enthusiasm of three of the best rock and all-around musicians in the game today. Truly, this will be a release that you cannot afford to miss. Lovers of melodic rock will fall in love all over again with REVOLUTION SAINTS.

Order the regular edition here: http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZReg

And the deluxe edition here: http://geni.us/RevSaintsAMZDlx

REVOLUTION SAINTS
Deen Castronovo: lead vocals, drums
Jack Blades: bass, vocals on Turn Back Time and Way To The Sun
Doug Aldrich: guitars
SPECIAL GUESTS
Alessandro Del Vecchio: keyboards, backing vocals, vocals on Way To The Sun 
Arnel Pineda – co-lead vocals on You’re Not Alone
Neal Schon – guitar solo on Way To The Sun

Produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio

Check out the official Facebook page of the band at this location: facebook.com/revolutionsaints

ALBUM TRACKLISTING

  1. Back On My Trail
  2. Turn Back Time
  3. You’re Not Alone (Feat. Arnel Pineda)
  4. Locked Out Of Paradise
  5. Way To The Sun (Feat. Neal Schon)
  6. Dream On
  7. Don’t Walk Away
  8. Here Forever;
  9. Strangers To This Life
  10. Better World;
  11. How To Mend A Broken Heart
  12. In The Name Of The Father (Fernando’s Song)

 

Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Edition only)

  1. You Are Not Alone (Arnel Pineda version)
  2. Way To The Sun (Doug Aldrich version)
  3. You Are Not Alone (Deen Castronovo Version)


DVD Content (Deluxe Edition only)

  1. Making of the Album documentary
  2. Turn Back Time (promo video)
  3. Back On My Trail (promo video)
  4. Here Forever (promo video)
  5. Way to the Sun (lyric video) 


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RONNIE JAMES DIO: “This Is Your Life” Covers Album Celebrates His Life and Legacy

RONNIE JAMES DIO: “This Is Your Life” Covers Album Celebrates His Life and Legacy

ronnie-james-dio-2014

Ronnie James Dio is one of the most beloved figures in rock history. His gifts, both as a singer and songwriter, are instantly recognizable, whether he was with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, or leading Dio. Sadly, Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2010, but his towering voice and legacy live on.

To celebrate one of rock’s most powerful voices, an all-star group of his friends and fans recorded 13 of their favorite tracks for a tribute album that will raise funds for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund (diocancerfund.org). Produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio, the album includes contributions by such metal heavyweights as MetallicaMotörheadScorpionsAnthrax, and Rob Halford, as well as appearances by many of the musicians who performed with Dioover the years.

This Is Your Life will be available from Rhino on April 1, 2014 for a suggested list price of $18.98. A digital version will also be available.

Although the songs featured on the album touch on the different eras of Dio’s career, several spotlight his time with Rainbow, including Metallica’s epic, nine-minute “Ronnie Rising Medley,” which combines the Rainbow songs “A Light In The Black,” “Tarot Woman,” “Stargazer,” and “Kill The King.” Scorpions add a scorching take on “The Temple Of The King” whileMotörhead is joined by Biff Byford from Saxon on “Starstruck.” Rob Halford teams with frequent Dio collaborators Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, and Scott Warren for “The Man On The Silver Mountain.” The final line-up of Dio’s solo band – Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo and Scott Warren – are joined by Glenn Hughes (Deep PurpleBlack Sabbath) for “Catch The Rainbow,” a track from Rainbow’s 1975 debut.

Anthrax and Adrenaline Mob honor Dio’s memorable stint with Black Sabbath with their takes on “Neon Knights” and “The Mob Rules” respectively, as does a group, led by Oni Logan on vocals along with Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, and Brian Tichy, which performs “I” from Dehumanizer.

This Is Your Life also includes songs from Dio’s back-to-back platinum albums Holy Diver (1983) and The Last In Line (1984), with Doro’s take on “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, Halestorm tackling “Straight Through The Heart,” Corey Taylor (Stone SourSlipknot) covering the classic “Rainbow In The Dark” and Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Glass) putting their signature spin on “The Last In Line.” Killswitch Engage’s cover of “Holy Diver,” a hit in its own right when released in 2006, is also included here.

Fittingly, Ronnie James Dio provides the finale (and the album’s title) with his moving performance of “This Is Your Life.” Originally released on Angry Machines (1996), the song’s lyrics explore mortality and are backed by a stark and beautiful arrangement that features Dio accompanied only by his longtime keyboardist Scott Warren on piano. The song serves as a poignant reminder that we will never hear a voice like Dio’s again.

The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, co-founded by Wendy Dio, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable fund dedicated to supporting cancer-prevention research, raising awareness and educating the public about the vital importance of early detection and prevention when dealing with this deadly disease.

RONNIE JAMES DIO: This Is Your Life Track Listing:

  1. “Neon Knights” – Anthrax*
  2. “The Last In Line” – Tenacious D*
  3. “The Mob Rules” – Adrenaline Mob
  4. “Rainbow In The Dark” – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher*
  5. “Straight Through The Heart” – Halestorm*
  6. “Starstruck” – Motörhead with Biff Byford*
  7. “The Temple Of The King” – Scorpions*
  8. “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” – Doro
  9. “Holy Diver” – Killswitch Engage
  10. “Catch The Rainbow” – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren*
  11. “I” – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy*
  12. “Man On The Silver Mountain” – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren*
  13. “Ronnie Rising Medley (Featuring A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King)” – Metallica*
  14. “This Is Your Life” – Dio

* Previously unreleased

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Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider Launches Two New Websites

Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider Launches Two New Websites

Dee Snider

Legendary Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has issued the following update:

“Fans of (my) early 2000’s morning talk radio show in Hartford, CT and Richmond, VA and of (my) Philadelphia night time radio show in 2005 and those who have been curious about (my) talk radio years will be please to discover DeeSniderRadio.com.

I was going through a closet in my studio and discovered literally hundreds of hours of recordings from my DSR morning show and an entire external hard drive filled with bits from by Philly night time show. So many fans have expressed to me how much they miss my shows, that I decided to create a free site for their listening pleasure.

DeeSniderRadio.com is extremely user friendly. You can either listen online – with no buffering issues whatsoever, or you can download shows as podcasts. Every week there are new shows posted. Whether you’re a Dee Snider Radio peep or just want to hear some great talk radio, be sure to check out DeeSniderRadio.com.

TakeBackTheHorns.com is a fun, yet serious site dedicated to the reclamation of “the metal horns”. Having noticed the rampant overuse and abuse of the horns by non-metalheads, (I have) decided to take it upon (myself) to rally the troops and shine a powerful light on this growing injustice.

TakeBackTheHorns.com not only explains the origin of the metal horns, but defines their proper use, shows “bad examples”, explaining in detail what’s wrong with each of them and there’s a killer “Metal Or Not” photo rating section where you can vote on the “metalness” of posted pictures and/or post your own to be rated.

Very addicting. True metalheads will love this fun, yet inspired site. Join (me) in (my) fight to Take Back The Horns.”

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