Tag Archive | "Vinny Appice"

Last In Line To Unleash New Album In February of 2019, Unveil New Video For “Landslide”

Last In Line To Unleash New Album In February of 2019, Unveil New Video For “Landslide”

Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice, Phil Soussan, and Andrew Freeman collectively known as Last in Line, are set to release their second album,”II” via Frontiers Music Srl on February 22, 2019.  The band has announced the impending arrival of their new album with the release of the first video and single, “Landslide“. Watch it HERE.

Pre-order IIon CD/LP/Digital and stream the singles here:

http://radi.al/LastInLineII

Pre-order “II”on PledgeMusic and gain access to exclusive and unique merchandise bundles and experiences with the band, plus behind the scenes access with exclusive photos and videos from the making of the record HERE: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lastinline

Last In Line was formed in 2011, when Vinny AppiceJimmy Bain, and Vivian Campbell, (Ronnie James Dio’s co-conspirators and co-writers on the “Holy Diver”, “Last In Line” – the album from which they took their name, and “Sacred Heart”albums) teamed up with esteemed vocalist Andrew Freeman. The debut album “Heavy Crown“was released in February 2016, landing at #1 on the Billboard Heat-Seekers Chart. Initially, the release had been preceded by tragedy when bassist Jimmy Bain unexpectedly passed away at the age of 68 on January 23, 2016.  Last In Line, honoring what they knew would be Bain’s wish to keep the band moving, brought in renowned bassist Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourne) and committed to sustained touring in support of the album, hitting festivals, headlining clubs, and sharing the stage with metal luminaries such as Saxon and Megadeth.

In late 2017, the band gathered in L.A. to start the recording of the second album, which was produced by the band members and Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, The End: machine, ex-Dokken), who also produced the debut album. Having really gelled as a band while touring in support of the debut album, the songwriting came readily to the members. They’ve created a record thatshows a big progression in sound, while immediately being recognizable as Last In Linethanks to Vinny Appice’s rhythms, thunderous bass from Soussan, amazing vocals from Andrew Freeman, and the roaring guitars of Vivian Campbell.

“The musical style of ‘II‘ is different from ‘Heavy Crown‘, but it wasn’t something that we planned to do,”explains Vivian Campbell. “Phil is a more intricate player than Jimmy was and that, together with the natural growth and development of the band led us to the songs on the album. As always, we simply started to jam on ideas and see where they led us. But it’s fair to say that the songs on this album sound more developed, with more parts and more experimentation than the songs on ‘Heavy Crown. The first album set a tone, but on ‘II‘ we developed that idea and took it to the next logical stage.”

Drummer Vinny Appice, on the sound of the new record and song writing process, says “I always sound like me. Viv and I have been playing together for years and have the same feel and pulse and attitude. Now with Phil on bass, he allows a more melodic approach on the bass parts making the songs even more interesting. He fits in perfectly being from the same musical family and time as me and Viv. Mr. Freeman sings from his soul and completes the band’s sound with his melodies and amazing range.”

He continues, “the songwriting process was the same as DIO’s ‘Holy Diver’. First, we have fun writing together. We get in a room and jam on riffs and chords until we hit on something good, then continue to build it into a song. Andy puts his magic on it and it all works out very well.”

Asked about first single ‘Landslide’, Vocalist Andrew Freeman says, ” ‘Landslide’ was the first song we wrote for this record. It was really easy to write as all of the parts fell into place quickly.  The title ‘Landslide’ is a metaphor relating to the day to day struggles that we all go through as people. Trying to keep on course when dealing with adversity, manipulation through media and leadership. It’s meant to inspire strength and resolve.

Phil Soussan says about how it was joining Last In Line and the development of the songs, “[i]t was refreshing to be able to write songs in such an organic fashion – by jamming and developing ideas as a group, without bringing in preconceived songs – something I haven’t done for ages. The result was a true collaboration, a concept that is so rare these days! Vinny has a unique style of drumming that, beyond keeping beats, inspires riffs and arrangements and Vivian has a way of playing that has a conviction to every note. He is able to turn every riff into a signature. Andrew was creative and unrestricted, focusing his contemporary influences into vocal stylings and hooks that are outside the classic rock clichés. He is very much a perfectionist.  Beyond trying to remain true to Jimmy’s playing and to the heritage of the relationship between Viv and Vinny, everyone was completely open to exploring any possible idea. I am honestly prouder of our efforts on this album than anything in which I have been involved in for a very long time.   With ‘II‘ I would like to think that we have stretched out from ‘Heavy Crown‘ to test some uncharted waters…. the evolution of Last in Line!”

Tracklisting:
1. Intro
2. Black Out The Sun
3. Landslide
4. Gods And Tyrants
5. Year Of The Gun
6. Give Up The Ghost
7. The Unknown
8. Sword From The Stone
9. Electrified
10. Love And War
11. False Flag
12. The Light

Lineup:
Andrew Freeman – Vocals
Vinny Appice – Drums
Phil Soussan – Bass
Vivian Campbell -Guitars

Catch Last In Line On Tour In 2019
January 
17 -San Jose, CA (The Ritz Theater)
18 -Fresno, CA (Tower Theater)
20 -Sacramento, CA (Ace of Spades)

February
1 -Hollywood, CA (Whisky A Go Go)
2 -Ventura, CA (Majestic Theater)
13 -Lubbock, TX (Jakes Backroom)
14 -San Antonio, TX (The Rock Box)
15 -Dallas, TX (Granada Theater)
16 -Houston, TX (Warehouse Live)

March
22 -St Charles, IL (Arcada Theater)
23 -Westland, MI (Token Lounge)

April
5 -Golden, CO (Buffalo Rose)
6 -Colorado Springs, CO (Sunshine Studio’s)
26 -Las Vegas, NV (Golden Nugget Casino)

More dates to be added!

For More Info Visit:
https://www.facebook.com/LastInLine/
https://www.instagram.com/lastinlineofficial/
https://twitter.com/lastinline
http://www.lastinlineofficial.com

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BROTHERS IN DRUMS: Carmine Appice On The Making of Appice’s ‘Sinister’ Album!

BROTHERS IN DRUMS: Carmine Appice On The Making of Appice’s ‘Sinister’ Album!

You’re unlikely to find a phenomenon like Carmine and Vinny Appice a second time in the history of rock music. For more than 40 years, the brothers have been among the most sought-after and renowned rock drummers worldwide. Carmine and Vinny (each of them on their own) can be heard on numerous legendary albums and have toured countless times with some of the world’s greatest acts. Carmine embarked on his musical path in the 1960s with Vanilla Fudge, manning in the course of his illustrious career the drums for superstars such as Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne. His brother Vinny, who is 11 years his junior, looks back on an equally spectacular career, having worked with acts such as Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and Dio. With the exception of the live album “Drum Wars Live!” (2014), there has been no direct collaboration between the two so far. That’s about to change! “Sinister” is the first joint studio album by Carmine and Vinny and was recorded with the support of a number of prestigious guests. The album is scheduled for release on Steamhammer/SPV on October 27, 2017 and marks a long-overdue development for fans of these two outstanding drummers.

Although the brothers have played live together on many occasions, they had never planned on making an album together until last year. Once their schedules opened up, they decided to team up and have some fun in the studio doing what they love. The result is a great-sounding, spine-shaking rhythmic foundation, along with big giant melodic guitars from hell, and on top blazing vocals and melodies that will tear it all up! “Sinister” features new songs and classic tracks from their long history in a crazy music business. “Sinister” consists of 13 tracks, recorded by Carmine and Vinny with distinguished colleagues. “Killing Floor” and “Future Past” feature the Craig Goldy (together with bassist Tony Franklin), Franklin resurfacing, together with Paul Shortino, on “Suddenly” and on “You Got Me Running.” Shortino also lends vocals to “War Cry” and the programmatic “Monsters And Heroes,” the latter also featuring Bulletboys guitarist Mick Sweda, while Shortino teams up with Whitesnake stringsman Joel Hoekstra on “War Cry.” “Sinister,” “Danger” (bass: Phil Soussan), “In The Night” (guitar: Bumblefoot) and “Sabbath Mash” (guitar: Erik Turner, keyboards: Erik Norlander) are sung by Jim Crean, while Chas West recorded the vocal parts for “Killing Floor,” Scotty Bruce featuring on “Future Past” and Robin McAuley on “Riot.”

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Carmine Appice to discuss his life in the music business, the lessons\learned along the way, the making of Appice’s new album, ‘Sinister,’ and much more!

Music played a huge role in your life. How did it begin to take hold early on?

I would say it was probably due to my cousin, who was eight or nine years older than me, who had a drum set. Every time we went to his house for the holidays, I would start banging on his drum set. When I would go home, I would get inspired and start banging on anything I could, be it pots and pans or anything else! [laughs] That’s really where it started for me. After a while, my parents realized that I kind of liked it and they bought me toy drum sets when I was a really young kid. I really didn’t even play them at that point as much as I just banged on them. When I was about 12 years old, they saw that I still had the bug, so they bought me a bass drum, snare drum and a cymbal. That was the beginning of an actual drum set and that was the thing that I actually played my first gig on! It was a couple of years later when I was around 13 or 14 years old. On my father’s side of the family, we ended up with seven drummers. I was number two and Vinnie was probably number four or five. That’s where it all started and, as I grew up, I was listening to the pop songs that were around at the time. A couple of those songs were drum-oriented like Sandy Nelson’s “Teen Beat/Let There Be Drums,” Cozy Carl had “Topsy Part 2” and you also had the Surfaris’ “Wipe Out.” These were all drum songs, ya know? That really inspired me. My mother used to tell me about Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, which were from her generation. Everyone asks me, “What was your first album?” They expect me to say The Beatles or Led Zeppelin but it was Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa! That was my very first album!

At what point did you decide to pursue percussion as a profession?

Carmine Appice

I was doing it through my teenage years. When I was 17 years old, I was working all kinds of gigs from weddings to bar mitzvahs to sweet 16 parties to parties for the Mafia! [laughs] I was doing all kinds of stuff! I saved enough money to buy myself a brand new ’64 Chevy Super Sport 327! That’s when I realized that I could do this and make money! The teacher that I had used to make a great living teaching and playing, so I knew I could do that initially. I never really thought about making it big, although when I was 12 or 13 years old I practiced my autograph! [laughs] Like every kid, I wanted to be famous! I was looking at Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and “The Gene Krupa Story” came out in the movies and it really inspired me. Again, I wasn’t really looking to make the big time at that time in my life but I was making a living! When I went to high school, my first year of high school was in a vocational high school, to become an electrician. My parents had said, “You can’t make a living in music … blah, blah, blah … You have to have something as a backup!” I gave them the benefit of the doubt and that’s what I did with my first year. On the second year, I didn’t like it so I transferred high schools to another school where I majored in music. It was there where I learned theory and harmony. I was in the Glee Club and the choir and I played with the orchestra, the school band and the football marching band. I did all that stuff in addition to your regular stuff like social studies, language and all that. That really helped me when it came to writing songs later in life. I got out of high school and had two or three jobs that were useless jobs. I would work all week, get up in the morning and take a train to Manhattan. I’d work the job and my paycheck was $45 after taxes; this was in 1965. I’d work on the weekend and I would make $200! I finally said to my parents, I go, “Look, it seems to me that I’m better off working on the weekend for 200 bucks than busting my ass all week for $45.” It almost wasn’t enough to make my car payment, ya know. They said, “OK, but you have to really work it!” So, I did and I did well! I started playing around a lot in New York and eventually I got into a band called The Pigeons, which changed their name to Vanilla Fudge. Years later, here we are! [laughs]

Obviously, you made it work but I’m sure it was no easy task. What are the keys to longevity for a career in music?

I can speak from my experiences. What it takes today? I don’t really have a clue how the bands today make it without radio. There are bands that are all of a sudden playing Madison Square Garden and they’ve been together for 10 years. I’ve never heard of them but they’ve sold out two nights at The Garden! I don’t know that part but for me it always came down to reinventing myself. When Vanilla Fudge broke up, we immediately started Cactus. We reinvented in Cactus and then we reinvented with BBA (Beck, Bogert and Appice) and then I reinvented by doing clinics and writing a drum book. I joined Rod Stewart and got into a huge pop outfit. While I was doing that, I was also developing my educational chops and doing clinics worldwide and setting attendance records with those clinics. I was actually the first rock musician to do a clinic! It all comes down to reinvention, that’s the key.

How, if at all, has your view of rock ‘n’ roll changed through the years?

It’s gone so many ways now versus when I was a kid. When I was a kid, it was just one thing — rock ‘n’ roll. My first show was one of those Alan Freed Rock & Roll Shows back in the 1950s. That really turned me on and made me say, “Wow! How cool!” It had a big band with two drummers and I loved it! That was inspirational to me, as well. Seeing the Ronettes singing on that stage was amazing. I loved Ronnie Spector’s vocal and I loved her vibrato, which I tried to copy. Rock ‘n’ roll has gone through all kinds of changes. Nowadays, there are so many variables! You’ve got heavy metal and then you’ve got thrash metal and death metal and whatever you call the bands who have that “Hurrrrgghhh” type vocal … Cookie Monster metal! [laughs] In the ‘80s, it really surprised me because back in the 1970s, Cactus and Black Sabbath came out together. We did it together and we both used the same amount of amplifiers. It was very loud and very heavy. In the 1980s, there was also Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and everything else, formerly known as hard rock became known as heavy metal. [laughs] I said, “When did that happen?!” [laughs] Now, I’m not a hard rock drummer, I’m a heavy metal hard rock drummer! When the hell did that happen?! If you look at it, Blue Shield was heavy back in 1968. They might have been the first heavy metal band.

We heard stories from you today but people can find more in the book you recently put out titled “Stick It: My Life of Sex, Drums and Rock ‘n’ Roll.” What went into putting your life to paper?

Carmine Appice’s “Stick It!: My Life of Sex, Drums, and Rock ‘n’ Roll”

It took a long time! It started with tapes in 1982 that I did when I was on the road with Ted Nugent. I did a dozen tapes and my manager somehow lost eight of them. He kept the four that he had and put them down as a manuscript. I had that for years. Every couple of years, someone would come along and say, “I can get you a book deal.” I’d give them the manuscript and nothing would happen. In the early 2000s, there were a lot of books coming out from people in my age bracket. I thought maybe it was a good time to start trying to do it again. It was something I would always put on the back burner. I got real serious with it around 2004. I hired different writers to write stories and put it together and had an agent. Just as I was getting ready to start shopping the book deal, the country hit that really bad time in 2008, where they were firing everybody in publishing and record companies. I said, “Now’s not a good time to be looking for a deal.” If I was a David Bowie or a lead singer with millions of hit records, it would be easy to get a deal but I wasn’t! I knew my place! Being a drummer, you are used to getting the back seat, ya know! It took me awhile but finally I got a deal on VH1 Books. They gave me the writer I had, Ian Gittins, who wrote Nikki Sixx’s book. He said, “This is going to be a great book!” We wrote it and by the time we finished it, VH1 Books went out of business, so I had to get another book deal but it wasn’t lucrative or with as good a company. I said, “Well, we already have it written. We’ve got to release it.” I was a little disappointed with what the book company did for it but at least it’s out there. Through it all, I learned a lot. As kid we were young, wild and horny! [laughs] Nothing really mattered to us! We would wreck hotel rooms. We had hotels that we were banned from where we would wreck different rooms or abuse women. We had accountants pay for all that crap. It’s like that line in the Joe Walsh song, “We have accountants pay for it all … ” I still haven’t made a house payment in my life and I haven’t made a car payment since 1968. I’ve had my accountants do it and I’ve had the same accountants since 1978! I’ve truly lived the rock star life in that way, where I’ve had houses, cars, ex-wives and the whole bit. I taught my brother how to do the same thing! [laughs]

Speaking of your brother, you teamed up for a new album titled “Sinister.” What got the ball rolling on this collaboration?

We have been working together, doing clinics since the 1980s and then we did a “Drum Wars” DVD. We put that out and supported that a little bit with the clinics. When Ronnie [Dio] passed away, Vinnie had more time. I said, “Maybe now is the time we can experiment and do this ‘Drum Wars’ thing,” which we did. Over the past few years, we ended up doing about 80 shows. We ran into this manager who is managing us now, Jeff Keller. He said, “Let’s get some gigs set up!” We had always tried to do 20 or so gigs a year with that just for fun, ya know. He said, “Ya know, you could get a lot better gigs and we can really build this thing if you guys had a record. We could do a PledgeMusic campaign, get some seed money and then after we make some demos of the record, we could maybe get a record deal. It would build the act into a much better place than it’s in now.” We said, “Yeah, that would be fun!” We had released a live album on my own label a couple of years ago just for fun. We never really took it that seriously. After he mentioned doing this and we said OK, we did the PledgeMusic campaign. We reached the goal we wanted and said, “Wow! This is crazy! Now we’ve got to do an album!” [laughs]

Did you have a vision of what you hoped to achieve with this album when entering into the creative process?

We wanted to have the same kind of vibe that we had on stage. On stage, we played together and we played by ourselves. We wanted to go with the same idea except when we play together on an album, instead of being in the middle of the mix, where drums are usually down the middle of the mix, Vinnie is on the right and I’m on the left as we play together. There is only one song that is a little different. We experimented with a song called “Suddenly,” where Vinnie started the intro, then I did the verse and so on. You can hear the difference in the drums sound because my drums are analog and Vinnie’s are digital. We did a lot of experimenting like this for the album. That’s what the old drum masters like Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Max Roach did when they did drum records, had one on one side and one on the other so you can distinguish what’s going on. That was the idea but finding the material was a little different.

That’s my next question. What went into finding the right mix of tunes for the album?

We just started reaching out to our friends. I brought the title track, “Sinister,” which came from a show I used to do called “SLAM!,” which was like a Blue Man Group or “STOMP” kind of show with trash cans and all of that. It had five drummers and a guitar. “Sinister” was one of the songs from that. I said, “You know what? I’m going to rearrange it with the guy I write it with in ‘Slam!’ and we’re going to do a demo and make a really cool drum song out of it.” That’s exactly what we did! The song that I made, “You Got Me Running,” was something I completely wrote and had on my iPad. I wrote all the melody and words when we were on tour with “Drum Wars” in 2012. I had done the demo vocals on the iPad in the room next to Vinnie when he was sleeping! [laughs] We made that one fit in heaviness-wise. Then we reached out to our friends. Vinny had some friends and I had some friends, we reached out and put some songs together. We wanted to do something from my history, which was “Riot” from Blue Murder because everywhere I go people want to hear Blue Murder! We played those songs live recently at gigs and they went over great! Then we did the “Sabbath Mash” which we had also been doing live. We made a unique section of that by putting the classical piano piece in the middle of the solo on “Paranoid.” That happened by accident! The two girls that play with us on the West Coast are Japanese sisters who are piano teachers. They are amazing! We didn’t know that and we were in the studio and they started playing! We were like, “Wow! What is that?! Let’s do that in the ‘Sabbath Mash’ on ‘Paranoid.’ We will put some cellos on it and stuff!” It made a whole different thing happen there. It was great. We tried to add our touch drumming-wise to all the stuff. We also had Craig Goldy and Chas West who had the song “Killing Floor.” We rearranged it and put it together. Craig had this song, “Future Past,” that started out as a Vinnie drum groove. That’s how it happened. We also brought Paul Shortino in. I had “Monsters and Heroes” written with King Cobra. In 2001, after Ronnie passed away, we were doing our first album for Frontiers. We did this song and while we were doing “Monsters and Heroes,” Paul said, “I want to write this song about Ronnie.” I said, “Well, if you’re going to do that, let’s not put it on the album. Let’s give it to Wendy [Dio].” They were doing different things to raise money for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. We gave them that song to release and all of the money for the songwriting and artist royalties went to that foundation. I realized a couple of years ago that there was no way to hear that song. It wasn’t released on any platform. So, when we started doing this, I said, “Vinny, I’ve got this great song. Maybe we should do it for this because Paul used to be managed by Ronnie and Wendy. You played with Ronnie. Ronnie was my friend before you met him — I knew him from ELF. This might be a cool song to get you into. We will re-record it, remix stuff, add stuff and take away stuff. We’ll make it our own!” I played him the song and he loved the lyrics. He said, “This is great!” That was the song that got us the SPV deal! We redid it all and remixed it. What’s on that song is all the King Cobra guys, Paul Shortino and Vinnie. It’s a cast of thousands! [laughs] I was also doing some stuff with Bumblefoot, so I asked him if he would play on the “In The Night” song, which is another song where I wrote most of it on my iPad. I needed a really cool, heavy guitar player, someone people knew, to play really well on it. Then Jim Crean, our singer, rewrote some of the melodies I had. I had the chorus and he rewrote some of that as well. That’s how that song came to life and it came out great! This is how everything happened! “Brothers In Drums” was a song Vinny did with Tony Franklin and a young guitar player from Europe but they never had any vocal. When I heard it, I started hearing [sings] “Whooooa-ooo-ooo-ooo-oo-o-o, we’re brothers in drums!” I thought, “Wow! That’s pretty cool! You know what? I’m gonna write the lyrics as the story of me and Vinny!” That’s what I did! I said, “It started on 41st Street … ” and that’s where we lived in Brooklyn. Before I was playing, there was no Vinny! There was just me. Eleven years later, I hear him say that he wants to play drums and I left a drum set at home. He was really talented! I sort of nurtured over him and gave him a bunch of lessons. By the time he was 12 years old, he was great! My mother said to me, “He’s driving me crazy just like you did!” [laughs] All of those elements are in that song and it’s in our blood — we’re brothers in drums!

Vinny and Carmine Appice are making beautiful music together.

You two work well together. Has that always been the case or was there sibling rivalry?

I don’t think there was ever a sibling rivalry. People always say, “Well, who’s better?” I say, “Look, I’m the original!” [laughs] I was out 11 years before Vinnie! I created a style that he picked up on and he added other elements to it like Billy Cobham, a little Bonzo and a little of this and a little of that. He came up with his own style. At the beginning, he started playing double bass drum but then he decided he shouldn’t do that, which was a good move because I play double bass drum. In the long run, it worked out great because he’s got a tremendous right foot now. I always bust his balls and say, “I should’ve dropped you when I was holding you at 11 years old! You took all my gigs!” [laughs] But seriously, we get along fine and have a lot of fun on stage! We really have a mental telepathy when we are playing. We will be playing a song and he will look at me and do a fill. He will look at me a certain way and I’ll know I’m going to finish that fill. It’s really, really fun! We just did two gigs to introduce the album on the West and East Coast. It was so much fun playing the new songs, the old songs, the songs that we had been doing and adding to them and making the show better. It’s really been a lot of fun! Now, we’ve added glowing drumsticks, moving lights, black lights and strobes to the show. Once we do more of that, more shows here in America, it’s going to develop and the production end of it’s going to be better and better. The better the album does, the more shows we can do!

How have you evolved as an artist over the span of your career?

At my age now, I’m 70 years old, I’ve had some physical ailments that have happened to me. My rotator cuffs went and I had to have surgery. It affected my playing, ya know. As a stage performer, on a whole, I’m very comfortable and very confident in what I’m doing. I learned how to work audiences from some of the best frontmen in the business like Rod Stewart. I learned how to work with the audience and how to get an audience going! As a player, I’ve had some amazing moments in the different projects I’ve been a part of. Obviously, I don’t expect myself at 70 years old to play the way I did at 26. I’m playing the same style and I still have a lot of energy but, in all honesty, I’m seeing things that I’m going for that physically isn’t there as much as it was.

The important thing is you are still out there doing it!

Yeah, ya know, I’m going to play until my body says I can’t play! When I play with Vinny, we push each other to extremes! [laughs] It’s ridiculous but it’s a lot of fun! It really is.

You inspired a lot of people through the years. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?

I think the best lesson is to try and find something you love, that you have a passion for and when you are doing it you don’t feel like you’re working. Everyone says, “You’re a workaholic!” I’m not a workaholic, I’m having fun! I don’t think when I’m on stage working my butt off that I’m really working! [laughs] I’m having a good time! Working is when I’m getting up early and traveling to the fuckin’ airport and getting on a plane! That’s when I’m working! I always say that I get paid for the travel not for the gig! The gig is free! Really, that’s the truth! I’ve been blessed! I’ve had a career that’s lasted 50 years and I’ve been doing something I enjoy all of my life. The playing has been, other than my wife and kids, my number one priority! Even more than my cars! [laughs]

You have your priorities straight! [laughs] Hopefully, we will see another project like this from Vinnie and yourself in the near future!

I’ll tell ya, I already have some song ideas for the next one!

That’s great to hear! Thanks so much for your time today, Carmine! We love this record and can’t wait to help spread the word!

Thanks, Jason! Take care!

For the lasted news and dates for The Appice Brothers, visit their official website at www.appicebrothers.com. “Sinister” will be released via SPV/Steamhammer October 27th.

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DUNSMUIR: Neil Fallon Discusses Breathing Life In The Band’s Epic Debut Album!

DUNSMUIR: Neil Fallon Discusses Breathing Life In The Band’s Epic Debut Album!

neil-fallon-2016-2

Every once in a great while, when the timing is right, great players assemble, the stars align and a great rock record is born. Such is the case with Dunsmuir’s self-titled debut album, which is set to be released July 22 via Hall Of Records and will be released digitally via iTunes only. This powerhouse outfit was born back in 2013 when Neil Fallon (Clutch) joined forces with Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell), Brad Davis (Fu Manchu) and Dave Bone (The Company Band). Over the past few years, this motley crew of gifted musicians have poured their heart and soul into a concept album, which tells the tale of the various fates met by the survivors of a 19th century shipwreck. What was intended as a voyage of scientific discovery, quickly devolves into a struggle to survive the natural world and the supernatural. Offering a wild and satisfying ride both lyrically and musically, the album is nothing short of a heavy metal masterpiece. The LP, a true labor of love by the band members and a testament to the DIY spirit of all involved, the album will be limited to a pressing of 1,000 copies with a signed lithograph poster of the album cover and available only at this location – Click here. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with fellow Maryland native Neil Fallon to discuss his musical roots, the lessons he has learned along the way, what went into bringing Dunsmuir’s debut album to life and what the future may hold for this amazing new musical endeavor.

neil-fallon-2013-1

Neil Fallon in the wild.

Let’s start at the beginning. What turned you on to music early in life and impacted you?

I think my dad’s record collection was what got me started. In hindsight, I can say it wasn’t anything exotic. I think it was probably typical of people his age. It had a lot of Beatles, Roy Orbison, Fleetwood Mac and I listened to a lot of that. Later on, when I got into junior high, I got introduced to the bad kid down the street who listened to Black Flag. That was a bit of a revelation. I listened to a lot of that and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on.

Was there a point when you knew music was something you had to pursue?

I knew, at best, what I had to pursue was something creative, whether it be music or something in the arts at any capacity. That is where my passion lies, creating something from the imagination. Music was not something I was schooled in. I think, early on, I certainly joined the band because it was fun. I didn’t have the slightest inkling I would make a living doing it.

I enjoyed watching you as a frontman for Clutch all these years. Who impacted you and what you do in that capacity?

I think as far as bands go and the impact they had on me, I think Bad Brains really blew me away at a very impressionable age, along with [Henry] Rollins. I never really knew what to do with myself and, still to this day, I am a bit self-conscious about it. I don’t envision myself as the frontman who puts his foot up on the monitor and thinks of himself as a golden god. I show up on stage with a great deal of humility but Clutch music is meant to be danced to and I think I just end up doing that by default.

What went into finding your creative voice early on in your career?

Starting out coming from a hardcore punk rock background, I had never tried singing anytime prior. I certainly wasn’t in the school chorus but I listened to a lot of Chuck D and Public Enemy. That may be counter-intuitive but I realized rhythm is something I could do and I had a knack for that as opposed to melody. The other character that kind of split my wig was Tom Waits because his voice at first glance seems very gruff and dissonant but he is a master of the character voice and that is something I have learned a lot from over the years.

Making a career in the music industry is not easy in any era. You have been very successful with Clutch and now you have a new project with Dunsmuir. What is the secret to your longevity as an artist?

One is to appreciate it. I know a lot of friends who have bands who can’t get out of the garage. This band has taken me to places and I have gotten to see things that I never imagined I would. It is the idea of us writing a song together in Frederick, Maryland and kids sing it in Athens, Greece and that will never, ever get old! Also, approaching it as a student has been a big thing. The notice of arriving somewhere or making it is false. It needs to be treated with respect and humility, while always trying to better one’s self.

Dunsmuir in the studio creating their self-titled debut album.

Dunsmuir in the studio creating their self-titled debut album.

Let’s talk about this new project. How did the ball get rolling when it comes to Dunsmuir?

Dave [Bone] had said he had been writing riffs with Brad [Davis]. They are out in California and said they were thinking about getting a drummer. I asked him about the music and he said it was pretty metal. Kind of half-kidding, I said, “Well, if you want me to sing on this metal stuff, give me a call.” Then they did. They said they were going to e-mail Vinny Appice about doing the drums. I thought they were out of their minds. I mean, you don’t just e-mail Vinny Appice! [laughs] But that is what they did and they got together shortly thereafter because he lives in California as well. By and large, a lot of this was done over the internet by sending files and me coming up with ideas. I was only with Brad, David and Vinny, face to face, for four days. The rest of it was done swapping files.

How did you initially cross paths with Dave and Brad? Any stories behind how you first met?

I probably met Brad close to 20 years ago when we toured with Fu Manchu. That was a long time ago! It was probably over 20 years ago come to think of it. Dave I met through Jim Rota from Fireball Ministry and they were doing The Company Band together, which I sang on. That is how I met Dave.

Even though you worked long distance, what did these guys bring out in you creatively?

I think the album, by and large if you were to compare it to Clutch, is largely a metal affair. It’s not something I am entirely accustomed to singing on, so it was challenging but at the same time fun to get out of my comfort zone. Being metal, it gives you license to sing about things that I might dismiss for a Clutch song. I know that is not fair but that’s sometimes how the mind works. The other thing was that most of these songs came to be, at least in rough ideas, came to be very quickly and I found myself with a lot of riffs. I didn’t know what to do with them all, so I decided the easiest thing was to come up with a very loose, unifying theme and then write 10 chapters on that theme. Not that it is a rock opera but it does have a bit of a plot arc to it, I guess.

How did you focus on this theme and what can you tell us about it?

If you have seen the movies “The Island of Dr. Moreau” or “Call of Cthulhu,” imagine if you can, around the turn of the century a scientific expedition getting washed ashore on a mysterious island in the South Pacific and finding all sorts of supernatural occurrences. You come to learn that members of the crew are sort of dark horses and try to tap into this darkness they encounter. There are really no named characters, except for one or two, because I wanted to keep it loose so the listeners can put their two cents into it. That is sort of the backdrop of all the songs.

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This started in an unusual way. Did you have goals or expectations for the project?

If anything, we wanted to keep it simple. I listen to all kinds of music. Metal is one of them. I think sometimes nowadays, if there is anything I had to criticize about metal is that it is tending to get a bit complicated and heady. I think we all have a bit of nostalgia for the era of Iron Maiden’s first record or early Judas Priest, where metal was kind of more first in the air and not as proggy as some tends to be these days. Like I said, that is all well and good and I love listening to those bands but we wanted to do something that was much more, as Dave describes it, denim.

What were the challenges of bringing this record to life? Any hurdles you overcame along the way?

I wanted to get it done because I did not want to work on the Clutch “Psychic Warfare” album at the same time because that would have hurt both of those albums. I pressured myself quite a bit and I went a bit batshit crazy once or twice but that can be a good thing! The other challenge was more accidental. Right before tracking these vocals, I broke a rib. Singing with a broken rib is a real pain in the ass!

I am sure some songs come easier than others. Which came easy to you and which were the hardest to nail down?

I think the hardest ones were the slower songs like “What Manner of Bliss.” I say that because I am not accustomed to singing on a tempo that is that slow, for the most part. “Crawling Chaos” was hard because it is such a circular riff that it was hard for me to come up with a melody. I just decided to do almost a spoken word approach. The rest of the songs were, I won’t say easy but, more familiar territory for me.

What can you tell us about the songwriting process for this album and how it might differ from what you have done through the years with Clutch?

The process is really getting a riff in my inbox, hearing it and wondering what types of images it will evoke. Then I came up with 10 of those very, very rough ideas. I went out there for four days and we rehearsed these songs and basically got skeletal compositions. They recorded them again in a demo form and then I started putting lyrics down on them. Then they recorded all the tracks out in California and then sent them to me. Technology is great and I am glad we were able to do that but nothing can replace getting in a room with human beings because things can happen much more organically, whereas the way this thing was done presented a lot of challenges and hurdles because if you change your mind about something, you kind of have to start from scratch. If you change your mind in a room with people, you can do it right there on the fly.

Obviously, everybody involved with this project has a lot going on. What are your thoughts in regards to touring the material at some point?

That is a tough nut to crack. I’m looking at Clutch dates for the rest of this year. I know Vinny has his Last In Line thing that he is doing and Fu Manchu has some shows. I would love for us to be able to do some shows but it is hard to see when those stars are going to align. It might be beneficial for us to write another record because, at this point, we only know how to play 10 songs.

That was my next question. Do you foresee making another record with these guys? It sounds like this is definitely more than a one-off.

Yeah. I love making music, as does everyone else in the band. It beats digging ditches! It will be a slow process because, like you said, everyone has their own thing going on but if we can come up with that and one day do a run here in Europe, that would be awesome!

Has there been discussion of where this project may lead sonically?

I don’t think so. I think it is a similar philosophy to Clutch’s where you don’t want to put the carriage in front of the horse and engineer these changes. They should happen instinctively. This record was written and recorded a while ago, almost a year-and-a-half ago. It has taken a long time for it to come out because we are putting it out ourselves. Because of that, I think we are all anxious to do something else but we also have to realize this is the first time people have heard this and it is going to take awhile for people to have time with it.

What are the challenges in putting out the album on your own? Obviously, everyone involved has a name in the business but what obstacles have you faced in launching a new project?

We all have names but the name Dunsmuir is so new to everyone. Putting it out yourself requires a great deal of patience because you have to put up your own money for it and cross your fingers that you will get reimbursed. We didn’t approach this as a money making endeavor. It was a creative endeavor, so we have approached it very conservatively. We are only pressing 1,000 records. It will be available in a digital version as well but we aren’t doing any CDs. Everyone knows, selling CDs these days is like selling water to the drowning; no one needs it or wants it. It will be interesting to see how this does just on vinyl and digital. The other challenge is that we don’t have a manager because we don’t really see the need for that because we are not touring and don’t have immediate plans for another record. We are all kind of splitting up the work among ourselves, as far as the things a manager might do.

You have seen the industry go through changes through the years. What is the best part of being a working musician in the current climate?

It always kind of irritates me when I hear bands bemoan that they have to go on tour to make money because they can’t sell records. Ya know what? That is what it is all about to begin with. Records and all of that is a new thing. I wouldn’t want to be in a young band trying to make an impression because even though the internet is a great way to get new fans, the same thing can be said for all the other bands. There is a lot of noise out there. I also know that because of things like streaming services or YouTube, we have reached a multitude more fans in the past 10 years than we did in the previous 10 when we had distribution deals and were selling records in record stores. I think it is, all in all, a positive thing.

What’s happening in the world of Clutch at the moment? What does the future hold for the band?

We have touring until the end of the year and then I think next year we are really going to start thinking about writing a record. We have been kicking around some riffs, kind of slowly. “Psychic Warfare” only came out last October, so it is only eight months old. I think we are going to start thinking about that over the next three or four months. Hopefully, a year from now, we will have some semblance of an LP to record.

You created one hell of a body of work. How have you evolved as an artist?

I think I have learned to respect songwriting as a craft and hopefully have learned that melody and pitch are not a bad thing. It took awhile for me to accept that. Punk rock and hardcore will tell you, “No. You’re not supposed to do that because that is commercial.” That is kind of a juvenile attitude to be honest. Hopefully, I have learned some of that and will continue to. I have also learned to play a bit of guitar. I’m not going to win any awards anytime soon but that has been an education for me as well.

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

I think you have to treat the music as its own reward because if it is treated as a vehicle to get somewhere or to get something, then you have pretty much set yourself up for disappointment. Our music has brought us to great heights and has also got us through times of, I hesitate to use the word darkness, but through lean times. No record label, manager or empty club can ever take that away from you, if you honestly, honestly, honestly enjoy making the music that you make and that is your best asset!

Thanks for your time today, Neil. Thanks for all the hard work you have put in over the years and we can’t wait to see where the journey takes you.

Thank you, Jason. I appreciate that. Talk to you soon.

Check out the latest and greatest from Dunsmuir at www.dunsmuirband.com. Follow their continuing adventures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The self-titled debut album will be released on July 22nd, 2016.

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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!

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