Early in in life, Craig Goldy (ex-Dio, Giuffria) set his sights on making it big in the music industry and never looked back. A true rock warrior, he spent years cutting his teeth in the business by playing the music he loved. His passion for music took him around the globe, to the highest heights of the music industry, and allowed him to forge life-long friendships with some of the most remarkable performers in the hard rock and metal genres. Most importantly, Goldy never stopped learning and is now pouring his years of rock ’n’ roll experience into his most ambitious project to date. Conceived after a brainstorming session with the President of Frontiers Records, Serafino Perugino, DREAM CHILD was born! Goldy’s vision for the project was to pay homage to two of his favorite bands, Deep Purple and Rainbow, but in a unique and ferociously cool way. Joining him in the line-up are some of rock’s most dynamic players, including Simon Wright (drums), Wayne Findlay (keyboards), Diego Valdez (vocals) and featured guest, Rudy Sarzo (bass). Dream Child’s debut, “Until Death Do We Meet Again” instantly conjures up images of both Goldy’s iconic musical heroes. However, it’s important to note that this album is more than a mere tribute. Painstakingly handcrafted by Goldy and producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, this amazing collection of songs resurrects an era of music that most had thought was gone forever. Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Craig Goldy to discuss his life in the music business, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and it all culminates with DREAM CHILD!
Music played a huge role in your life. How did you get involved with the arts early on?
I can draw like a photograph and paint really well. Because of that, music makes me see colors and images. Everyone wanted me to become an artist but, when I did, it ended up giving me migraines, so I went the music route, which nobody in my family liked. It was a very abusive family where I was in and out of the hospital with stitches, injuries and surgeries. At the age of 14, I left. I bought a car that I was too young to own and lived in it on the streets. A friend of mine’s father gave me a job that I was too young to have to support myself. I had a wind up clock, clothes in the trunk and water bottles to wet my hair or shampoo and rinse. I would shave out of the side view mirror, change my clothes and go to work. Sometimes I would give lessons by driving to the people’s houses. Music was my outlet. Ronnie James Dio was my favorite singer but prior to that I was in search mode.
I loved music and I love the way it made me feel but I could never really zero in on just one style. By search mode, I mean I could listen to jazz, but I couldn’t sit on one station all day. I listen to classical, rock, blues and R&B. When I heard the Deep Purple “Burn” album, I was like, “Wow! This is all of my favorite elements rolled up into one band!” It made me see colors and images that no other band had made me see. All other bands had made me see brown, red and orange but never blue, purple or black with castles, dark clouds and skies. To me, that meant something! They had lyrics on the album that you could read along with on the first listen and that was a big deal for me too. There was Ian Paice on drums, which was jazz based. John Lord on keyboards, who could play classical but rock stuff too. David Coverdale had the rough, rock/bluesy voice, Glenn Hughes who sounded like a white Stevie Wonder with these really cool bass lines and Ritchie Blackmore who was on another planet! That was amazing, and it made me say, “I’ve got to learn to play like Ritchie Blackmore!” That was my mission in life and it changed my life completely. When Ritchie left Deep Purple, it turned my world totally upside down until I was sitting in my car, talking to a friend of mine, getting ready to put a band together when “Man On The Silver Mountain” came on the radio. I was like, “Who is that?!” Ronnie James Dio was and still is my favorite singer! Deep Purple and Rainbow were and still are my favorite bands.
Ever since then I’ve been trying to write music and create music that influenced me in the first place, I’ve always wanted to have my own “Stargazer,” “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” or “Catch The Rainbow.” Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ronnie’s voice, Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale is what got me started. I wanted to create something that might hit someone else as hard as those songs hit me. That’s where Dream Child comes in.
You built an incredible career playing the music you love. That’s not something that happens overnight. When did you come into your own as an artist?
As far as coming into my own, I’m a late bloomer! [laughs] My first solo album, Craig Goldy’s Ritual – “Hidden In Plain Sight,” is probably the closest. With the Ritual guys, not the stuff with David Eisley. Half of it was done with the singer of Giuffria and the other half was done with a band called Ritual. Ritual had a really gruff singer and that stuff came really close to me coming into my own. “Resurrection Kings” was the first time I was given the opportunity to record the way I wanted to record my guitar. That’s when my painting side that had laid dormant for so long came into play because I learned how to paint with my guitar on that album. I like to compose my solos. I like to think as solos as paragraphs where there is an opening statement, the closing statement and supporting facts in between, beginning with “Hello” and ending with “Goodbye.” It’s the physical interpretation of the subject matter of the song. I was able to do a lot of that in Dio but it was under Ronnie’s guidance. I’m not trying to complain! It was a dream come true to work with the master! It was his band, so a lot of the stuff that I played was really at his suggestion, so it wasn’t totally me but at the same time I was in learning mode.
Vivian [Campbell] had it all together when he first joined the band. He was great and is the iconic, true Dio guitar player. Rowan [Robertson], as young as he was, had it all going on as well. That was a fantastic guy! The way he played on that album is superb! Same goes for Tracy G. I was really jealous of that album because I wanted to be able to do that kind of dark stuff that Ronnie never let me do. Same goes for Doug [Aldrich]. I was in learning mode and Ronnie could tell that. He poured as much information into me as I could soak up! He really pulled back and showed me what was behind the curtain. He brought me to record company and radio station meetings. Even when I was in Rough Cutt, Ronnie and Wendy [Dio] would go to meetings with Warner Bros. and none of the Dio band members were invited; it was just me! Wendy was a paralegal and taught me how to read contracts. Ronnie’s lawyer, Stan Diamond, would spend hours with me teaching me how to read and interpret contracts. They really took me under their wing and I really learned a lot from them. Their network was really big, so I got the chance to work with people who had engineered and produced John Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. With those first four albums with Ronnie and Angelo [Arcuri], I was able to watch how they would use such unorthodox methods to get the sounds that they wanted. I just kept all that information inside of me, so I’m just now having the opportunity to utilize it.
It’s cool to hear you talk about lessons you learned along the way. Were there lessons you learned early on in the business that helped chart your course moving forward?
A lot of it is staying true to yourself. Quite honestly, a lot of my greatest achievements came from my worst failures and trying to learn what I did wrong. When I wrote “Dream Evil” with Ronnie, Warner Bros. was really impressed because usually the guitar player didn’t write that much with Ronnie. It was mainly Jimmy Bain. Even Ronnie said that. He said he would work with Jimmy first, then bring in Vivian and then bring the band in. Ronnie and I had such a great working relationship which started back when I was in Rough Cutt. Even then, in a late-night session, he said, “Goldy, if Vivian ever doesn’t work out, you’d be my first choice.” That’s why there were no auditions — Vivian was out, and I was in.
Going back to what I was saying, it’s somewhat difficult to explain. I was trying to be true to myself and learn the business. At that time, I was signed by Warner Bros. as a songwriter. I was in a position where, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, it’s just an empty theater. It’s just a star of the film, the director and producer. They’re smoking cigarettes and watching clips of the film. That was me! They would send me in to meet the star of the film, the director and the producer and they would have me look at the screen. They would say, “OK, we need a song like this here. We need a song like that there.” All I would have to do is write and record the song and submit it. There was a list that will come out with all the people that didn’t write their own lyrics most of the time. It was people like Barbra Streisand and Ozzy Osbourne, for example. They will tell you what type of song they were looking for and from what era. All I had to do was write, record and submit. I kept getting turned down, so I had to figure out why.
I began to study hit songs and what they were made of and eventually got to the point where I could program the drums, play the bass, play the keyboards and do the background vocals. I know where the melody lines were, what the song structure was made out of and what the lyrics were made of as far as if it was a metaphor, simile, personal or global. Little by little I would start noticing these patterns. I would create these empty templates of the song pieces just by description alone. I would have to feel those pieces with my original music. Doing that made me work 10 times harder and, little by little, it became my regular process. The next thing I knew, my girlfriend was looking at the phone like the president of the United States was calling! [laughs] She handed the phone over to me and said, “It’s David Lee Roth!” [laughs] He was calling me at home and saying, “Hey, man! I love your shit! Can we get together and do some writing? Here’s my producer … ” It was the producer of Pink Floyd. I got called to David Lee Roth’s house every day for three months. They treated me like a king! He would go through my ideas and had his band downstairs. As soon as he would find something he liked, he would send it downstairs for them to learn. The next thing I know, I’ve got my first gold record!
So, I thought, “Hey, I’m on to something here!” When I tried to get a band together with people who had also made names for themselves in the ‘80s, their egos were so astronomical that they didn’t want to be bothered. So, I turned it onto my students and they started to flourish. It’s just now that I’m starting to find people who are willing to work with the same work ethic that I found, and Ronnie had all along. I found what I was missing and was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It took a long time to be able to do that but here we are!
I’m very fortunate to have had Rudy Sarzo as a special featured guest; he’s playing with The Guess Who right now. For him to give his name to this project gives it a lot of credibility. Simon Wright plays his ass off on this album! Everybody brought their A-game. Everybody I wrote with like Jeff Pilsen, Doogie White from Rainbow, Alessandro Del Vecchio and Chaz West truly brought their A-game, so it’s a wonderful collaboration. Ronnie taught me the method he used for songwriting and his approach to writing lyrics, so I was able to utilize a lot of that as well! It was invaluable. You know, when we lost Ronnie, I was totally destroyed. So, it’s been a long time for me to feel inspired to do original music again but now here we are!
Tell us a about the writing process for Dream Child and what you hoped to achieve.
I did the album a lot like the way Ronnie and I would write. It’s a very tedious method. Just like anybody else, I start off with a song idea for a premise. For example, with “It Is What It Is,” I kept hearing that phrase. I thought, “That’d be great to write a song using that as a title.” The same is true with “Until Death Do We Meet Again.” I thought it was a great title. I would go to weddings and they would always say, “Until death do we part.” I believe in the afterlife and found myself thinking, “Shouldn’t it be until death we meet again? Wow! That sounds dark! That’s what Ronnie would do.” He would always find something dark that had a positive message to it. So, it’s a positive message but it sounds dark as hell! [laughs] I just waited until the right music and melodies came along for it to it. It has to be melody first, lyrics second. The song is really a story or a conversation that you’re having within a musical environment and if you do melody first and lyrics second, it makes it hard because the melodies dictate how many syllables you have to tell your story. You have to try to get people engaged.
The Internet has changed things drastically. However, the process that’s involved with reaching people’s hearts through your music and trying to pierce their soul in order to make them unable to contain themselves to the point where they might be able to go out and buy that music is still the same. Unfortunately, we live in a world where they can go out and steal your music. So, I’m hoping this will also start a new era and bring the balance back. Bands are now charging $500 for nosebleed seats and $1,000 for meet-and-greets. That’s just ridiculous! Ronnie never made people pay to meet him, so we have to restore balance. I’m also hoping this album will bring back an era that was thought to be long lost but also sounds new. Again, I hope it restores balance, because a lot of the musicians are very resentful. It’s a difficult proposal to say, “Hey, let’s get the best musicians in the world to give us their best ideas and performances, only to have it stolen.”
You hit the nail on the head with this release. Not only does Dream Child’s “Until Death Do We Meet Again” serve as a link to the past but also brings a fresh feel of its own.
Cool! Thank you for that! That was one of the bullseyes we aimed for!
Thank you! There is also a third song, “Weird World,” which just came out recently. Diego is a monster and he’s one of the nicest guys in the world! It’s really cool to know that this band is not only made up of high-caliber talent but also made up of high-caliber people. Rudy’s a great guy. Simon’s a great guy. Wayne’s a great guy and Diego is an absolute sweetheart! He’s a very strong, powerful man but also a nice, kind and gentle soul. Even before I met Ronnie, I was always searching for a guy who could sound like Ronnie, which is basically asking for the impossible. We’re not trying to replace anybody, steal somebody’s music or sound. This is just the music that I love, so the music that I love is the music that I’m going to want to create. I was always looking for someone who had the same type of power and inflections. What Ronnie sang, the stuff that made him mad was the stuff that made us mad. The stuff that made him sad was the same stuff that made us sad. He could go from clean to gruff and he had power but also had feel. You could feel with him. That’s what Diego does here. He’s got a lot of power. He can go from clean to power, but you can feel the stuff! When we write about something that is supposed to bring about anger, he sounds angry. When we write about something dealing with sadness, there is a sadness in his voice. There’s even a little bit of sense of humor to this album here and there. So, Diego is an absolute monster!
Years ago, a friend of his sent me an MP3 of him doing a Dio cover. It was a song Ronnie and I wrote together called “Push.” When I heard it, chills went up and down my spine! It sounded like Ronnie had covered his own song, that’s how close it is! [laughs] I got in touch with Diego and told him how amazing I thought he was but that it was just too soon for something like this. I said, “One day you and I are going to do an album together.” We waited seven years but, luckily, that day has come!
What are the biggest challenges you faced and obstacles you overcame through the course of the project?
That’s a good question. There have been challenges at every turn. The album before it was behind, so that cut into the time that we had to write and record. We had to record demos for the songs to be approved. Fortunately for us, every single song got approved on the first try, which is very unusual. Luckily, we were smart enough that many of the demos were master recordings, so we could use a lot of those as masters. Because I come from an era where it’s better to write songs in the same room, we were able to do some of that. I was in the room with Simon when he did the drums. We talked about how we wanted to treat the songs and he did a great job on that. Chaz West and I were in the same room together when we wrote “Under The Wire” and “Midnight Song.” Some of the stuff was written through sharing MP3s back and forth but it was with guys who knew how to write in the same room, so the way we wrote kind of recreated that process as if we were in the same room together. We know how to do it in the room, but we also knew how to do it through MP3s. A lot of times there are so many things that get lost. By that I mean, if you don’t know how to write a song by sitting in the same room together and you only do it through MP3s, a lot of things are going to get lost. A lot of the challenges came when it was time to mix. Because people are stealing our music, we have to do 10 different things at once just to make the equivalency of one. So, I’m doing Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp and we are mixing the album at the same time. Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp is typically a 12-hour day. Those days can start as early as 10 o’clock and go as late as midnight in Los Angeles. I live in San Diego, so I’m listening to mixes on the way up there, making notes and then emailing them. On the way back, I’m listening to the fixes! [laughs] Sometimes, by the time I got to San Diego, I would only have 32 minutes to make my notes before turning around and driving back! [laughs] Alessandro Del Vecchio is a great guy to work with when it comes to mixing. I’ll dial in and go as deep as, “OK. At 2 minutes and 2 seconds to 2 minutes and 24 seconds, this needs to come up … ” or “We need to make this intro sound like you’re walking down a dark alley, you’re scared but you see light in the distance beckoning you. You know there is hope and safety at the other end.” I give him that explanation and he turns around and mixes the intro to try and match that description. We really work well together that way!
You brought your vision to life and have the right people in place. What does the future hold for you with this project?
You often hear, “They don’t make music like that anymore.” Like I said, I’ve been very, very fortunate to learn what I have from the information that was stored long ago and with the people who were involved bringing their A-game. The president of Frontiers Records called me and said, “Craig, this is your band. I want to make this as successful as possible.” He loves the album too. You know, Ronnie did an interview back in the “Dream Evil” days, when they were recording the concert to air on MTV for “Headbangers Ball. “At one point, Ronnie is talking about me and ends with, “ … and I look forward to Craig being the leader of his own band someday.” I’m on my own path now! I want to make this my band, not because of, “Look at what Craig Goldy can do,” but because of, “Look at what we can all do together.”
Your work can inspire many people. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?
I think the best lesson is that you need to be brutally honest with yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Record yourself. I’m so shocked about how many musicians don’t record themselves these days. You need to record yourself and listen back to it to make the proper adjustments. What’s going to happen is something that I discovered accidentally. You need to become the listener and performer simultaneously. It will happen simply by recording yourself. When I first joined Dio, Angelo [Arcuri], the studio engineer, was also the front of house mixer. He would record every night, so I would be on the bus in my bunk listening to that night’s concert on the way to the next show. I would be listening to recordings and going, “OK, this is going to be great!” Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t so great! [laughs] There were also times where I said, “This is gonna suck.” But it turns out it wasn’t so bad. My point is that my expectations didn’t match up to my performances. I would listen back and tell myself, “OK. I really rushed that part.” I knew I needed to slow down there. I might say, “That vibrato there sounds really nervous.” Well, I was nervous. I knew I had to pull it together for the next night. Then I will do the exact same thing the next day by listening to that night’s concert. I just kept going and going and going until one night that I will never forget. I was on stage and my minds showed me a picture of me in the bunk that night listening to that night’s performance. At that point, because I was so driven, my body showed me a picture of me in the bunk listening to what I was doing at that exact moment. It was at that moment that I became both the listener and the performer simultaneously. That was the first night that I went back to my bunk that I listened to the performance and my performance matched up to my expectations the closest.
That’s great advice and I know you have a lot to give. Hopefully, we will hear more from you in the future!
Let’s stay in touch! I’m actually starting a program to help unknown musicians because it’s just so damn difficult. I was certified by the state of California to teach the music industry, songwriting and all that. Later, educators approved my curriculum to be part of the bachelor’s degree program but then the college got sold. Even though, like I said, the Internet has changed things drastically but the process that’s involved with writing music successfully remains the same. I want to teach that to people so this type of thing can live on. At the same time, I hope to help people with their opportunities and teach them how to become unique and develop their own style. There are colleges and post-secondary schools available if you want to become a doctor, lawyer, plumber, electrician or computer technician. There are places to go to learn everything you need to know to start. Bartender’s school gives you a job placement for life if you graduated the top five or 10% but there’s no such place like that for musicians. We’re trying to start that now!
That’s exciting! We will keep in touch and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes you!
Thanks so much for your time today, Jason! Take care!
For more information on Dream Child, please visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DreamChildRock. The band’s debut album, “Until Death Do We Meet Again,” will be released on September 14th, 2018 via Frontiers Music.