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Ronnie James Dio needs no introduction. From his work with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and with his own band Dio, and now with Heaven and Hell, Dio is a musical legend.
Komodo Rock's Mike Elliott had the chance to speak to Dio just before the start of Heaven and Hell's UK tour about what fans can expect, a new Heaven and Hell album, and what his feelings about current Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell are.
Mike Elliott: Youve just got off tour with Alice Cooper and Queensryche in America. How has that gone for you?
Ronnie James Dio: It was great. It was wonderful. You are talking about 3 headline acts there. It was quite a show. It was very and enjoyable and went very well.
ME: You worked with Queensryche last year on the Operation Mindcrime II album. Was it good to get out on the road with them?
Dio: The very first European tour that they did, they supported us, so Ive known them for ages and ages. It was great to have them out there because they are friends, plus all the Alice guys as well, we are all friends. It was very enjoyable because there was no animosity at all.
ME: Thats got to be good when you are out on the road.
Dio: Oh yeah. Its great to see familiar smiling faces for a change.
ME: So you are heading to the UK tomorrow. What can the UK fans expect from the Heaven & Hell show?
Dio: Its visually a very good show. We have production with us and its done very well. Its very interesting, we dont try to blow up the world or anything, we try to do that musically. Thats where people will be the most satisfied. I mean the band is just so good, it just never lets up. There has not been one bad show in the almost 9 months that we have been on the road. Not even close to a bad one. Theyve all just been absolutely stunning. Each one of them.
If people do have expectations of seeing something good and listening to something that is really amazing then I think that is what they are going to get.
ME: They are going to get a full on musical experience?
Dio: Absolutely yeah. These are songs that we havent even touched for fifteen years. They are a hundred times better than they were ever played before or ever done before. Its been a real revelation.
ME: Do you think that is because coming back to the music fifteen years later technology has improved, sound equipment has improved. Do you think that has played a part in that?
Dio: No not one bit. Its all down to how good everyone is and how we had probably forgotten how good the songs were all those years ago. How much more intricate they are than we remembered, and how satisfying they are to play. Because each song is an adventure in this kind of music and a departure in what most people do. Its just been absolutely wonderful to play these songs because everyone is so good in what they do and everyone has the same attitude. We just refuse to be bad!
ME: And go out there and have a good time night after night.
ME: I think thats really important. You put out Live At Radio City Music Hall recently, and its just been certified gold in America, have you been impressed with how that has turned out?
Dio: Oh yes, extremely impressed. I thought that the people who shot the show did a wonderful job. They captured the show very well and I think that their editing, their camera movement and what they did with the finality of it was wonderful. I was very happy with the musicianship and what it sounds like.
Its a great product and from what Ive heard from everyone else so far, fans especially, then its probably correct. It was a great show, and it shows the band in such a good light, and shows us for exactly what we are, and that we enjoy what we do and that the audience enjoys it with us.
ME: And captures the live feel of what you do in the arenas?
Dio: Yeah it really shows the band at the level that its supposed to be at. And once again the performances are pretty flawless.
ME: So with it having gone gold there has been talk of maybe a new studio album from Heaven & Hell next year. Is that something that could happen?
Dio: Yes, we have decided to do that. When it would be, I couldnt tell you. This is the last part of the tour after about 9 months on the road. Its time for us to take a little breather. When the time is right we will get together and start writing for the next album, but as far as the release date goes it will probably be later next year.
ME: Does that mean that you wont be going back to the solo Dio stuff for a while then?
Dio: I will. I plan on doing some touring around March or April. Sometime like that. I want to keep a hand in on that one. I love this band that I play with as well, and its another career, another career with a lot of great music as well.
You will see that a lot in the shows that we do play. When people ask if we are going to be doing any Dio material. Thats always a nice compliment. But of course we dont. It would be wrong to do that.
Its nice to know though that people dont forget and its something that they want to hear again so much like we are doing with Sabbath now those songs live forever and they become kinda classics of their own. There is always that path to go down and I will.
ME: With touring with Dio, the band, and recording another album next year does that mean there is unlikely to be another Heaven & Hell tour next year?
Dio: I dont know if there will be one next year. It depends on how long it takes us to do what we do. When you do an album you have to tour with it. When it is I dont know but Im sure we will.
ME: So it will be a tour when the album is ready?
Dio: Yeah. When we have that all finished and we can take our time and do a proper job of it then touring will certainly be in the offing.
ME: Taking time and getting things just right is obviously important to you?
Dio: Oh yeah. We are always on top of that anyway. We refuse to play badly in concert and we refuse to put out a bad album as well. What we write will be what makes us happy, and usually what makes us happy is what people want to hear from us. I dont know how much time we will need. Sometimes you can take too much time. You can just wallow around and all of this should be perfect and that should be perfect. You have to have the ability to know when naturalness has to take over because everything isnt perfect, because if its too perfect then that is what it sounds like. It has no heart. It has no soul.
So we know very well how long it will take us and how long it should take us to do it. We are not going to go for the perfectionist, but we do have enough time certainly to give ourselves some choices.
ME: I think thats very important. If you write things that are too perfect then people wont respond to it in the right way.
Dio: Thats right.
ME: We talked earlier about Queensryche. How did the collaboration on Operation Mindcrime II come about with you playing Dr X?
Dio: Well Geoff called me and said We are doing Operation Mindcrime II. Please come and sing and play the part of Dr X. And at that time I had the time to do it. I was between things, luckily.
So knowing Geoff as long as I did and knowing him as well as I do it was really a no-brainer for me to say yeah ok, Ill do it. And you know Mindcrime I was such a great piece of work, and to be included on the second part of that was really flattering for me. So it was something that I wanted to do. Especially for Geoff, and the rest of the guys as well, but especially Geoff, who is such a good friend.
ME: You had the one live performance in L.A. with them that appeared on their DVD. Is that something that you would like to reprise at some point perhaps?
Dio: Well I could at some point. They have released it now so everyone has seen it. I dont know how much more important it could get. Unless we played on the moon or something! Other than that, as far as reprising it goes, you know, if it was the right situation, and it was important to the guys to do it, then I would. It was really a lot of fun to do that with them live. It was like a magical kinda night.
ME: When Tenacious D put out their debut album they had a song that was dedicated to you. How did you feel about that at the time and more so now?
Dio: Well I was very flattered. I was a fan of Jacks anyway, certainly as an actor. I had not heard their material and someone told me that this band, Tenacious D released a song that was about me and told me that it was time for me to retire. They kinda put it in a very negative way and as always I thought Ill listen to it myself and I thought it was great.
I knew exactly what they were talking about, and of course when I met Jack and spoke to him about it he was very reverential and very respectful about it. He said I hope youre not mad and I thought it was great. So he was very happy about that and I was very flattered that Jack cared. A guy of Jacks stature cared enough about me, you know, a singer.
ME: Thats superb. Just one more question for you. Youve had press recently regarding Vivian Campbell. Is that something that you are quite passionate about?
Dio: No Im not passionate about it. I think that the lowly vermin that captured that on his cell phone at a moment when you are saying something that perhaps you would never say to the press, or something that you didnt really mean that much, but you know, sometimes situations dictate what you say. And once again that was something that was completely off the record.
Apparently I said something bad about the band as well, about Def Leppard, and once again all of things that were said were said in the heat of the moment. No reference to them at all, and I would like to apologise to those guys. I like them. It wasnt fair to them, but as far as Vivian goes, all I can say is check out the source, and then see what that source has been saying and sometimes you reply. Most of the time I have been taking the high road on all of it and I have not said anything on it. I have praised Vivian so much and I think that he deserves praise for as great as he played, but you know that was just a retort to the things that he had said about me first, and once again in an unguarded moment, I feel that I was very unfair, but I said what I said.
But I am not passionate about hating him, no. I have better things to do with my life than to think about revenge or being a horrible person. Of course I dont want him to die! What I said was, once again a heat of the moment thing. Those thing can not be explained unless you speak to the source which is me I guess, like you are doing. So no, I have no passion about that whatsoever.
ME: I wasnt sure how you would take it but I thought it was worth asking. To sort of clarify it.
Dio: Well if I say something I will certainly explain what my motive was and what my method is. So thanks for giving me the opportunity to say it.
ME: Your very welcome. Thank you very much for talking to me.
Dio: Thank you Mike.
You can catch Ronnie fronting Heaven and Hell this November in the UK. The bands schedule takes in the following shows:
4th - Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
6th - Glasgow SECC Hall
7th - Sheffield Hallam FM Arena
9th - Manchester Evening News Arena
10th - London Wembley Arena
11th - Brighton Centre
13th - Birmingham NEC
14th - Cradiff International Arena
15th - Nottingham Arena
17th - Plymouth Pavilions
18th - Bournemouth BIC
DIOsweden said:Lovely interview Mike.
Ozzy said:I rule Dio still drools report abuse vote down vote up November 15, 2007 02:29
Bill Ward said:I cant beleive they didnt call me. Bastards!! :cry :? report abuse vote down vote up November 15, 2007 02:30
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