DIO DISCIPLES, the new project featuring former DIO members Simon Wright (drums), Craig Goldy (guitar) and Scott Warren (keyboards) alongside bassist James Lomenzo (MEGADETH, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, WHITE LION) and singers Tim "Ripper" Owens (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, BEYOND FEAR, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH) and Toby Jepson (LITTLE ANGELS, GUN), has begun rehearsing for its first-ever European tour, which will kick off next week.
On June 2, Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal of Metal Assault attended a DIO DISCIPLES rehearsal in North Hollywood, California and conducted an interview with Owens and Wright. You can now watch the chat below. Photos of the rehearsal can be found at this location (courtesy of Carsten Steinhausen).
On how the DIO DISCIPLES rehearsals are going:
Simon: "It's going well. It's been, obviously, a bit strange at first, but we're getting the job done. It's starting to sound really good. It's different and it'll never be the same as it was with Ronnie, obviously, but we're becoming a band. These are the first real hard rehearsals we've had. It's an exciting and weird time at the same time."
On whose idea it was to do DIO DISCIPLES:
Simon: "I think it was a combination of all of us. We talked long and hard and discussed 'Should we or shouldn't we? Is it right? How do we really feel about all this?' And it just became apparent that we just couldn't let it go. We've been in Ronnie's band for such a long time and he taught us so much, he was an inspiration and we learned so much from him about being on the road, being in the studio We just came to the conclusion that we just couldn't let it go and we needed to keep the songs going for the fans; that's the most important thing we're doing here. We're not trying to kid anybody here; we're just doing it from the heart and continuing his legacy. It's really as simple as that."
On DIO DISCIPLES' touring plans:
Tim: "We picked Europe first and the main reason is the summer festivals. So we go there first and we're working on U.S. dates [for September]. We're trying to take it one step at a time; we're trying to build this thing and [do it right].
"I tour a lot during the year solo seven months out of the year and once I was asked to do this, I moved anything I had scheduled; I had Australia scheduled in the summer I moved those instantly and I put anything [that would prevent me from doing this] on hold. 'Cause once I was asked to celebrate Ronnie James Dio's legacy and his music, there was nothing that I had that I wasn't gonna move to somewhere else in the future or lose; which I had lost a few thing as well because [doing DIO DISCIPLES became] my main [focus]."
On the DIO DISCIPLES setlist:
Simon: "The problem that a lot of bands have is that they've got a strong batch of hits, so we still have to do songs that are like that we have to do 'Heaven And Hell', 'Rainbow In The Dark', 'Holy Diver', 'We Rock' So we're doing those, but we're trying to throw in as many curveballs as we can at the moment. As we progress, I think we'll be throwing in more songs from Ronnie's catalog, which should be a couple of surprises songs that maybe were never played live, or that were played live but a long, long time ago. Because, like I said before, we wanna make it something special for the fans and they all have everything different songs that they love. We can't do them all, but we're gonna try and fit as many of them in as we can."
Tim: "I don't care what band you're in, it's hard to make a setlist. And when you have someone like Ronnie [whose recorded work] goes back a long ways, you're not gonna please everyone, but every day we rehearse, we've added another song in there, trying a different song."
On their favorite Ronnie James Dio songs to play:
Tim: "I've been fortunate through the years to sing quite a few [of Ronnie's songs]. I've been singing 'Neon Knights' for the past 20 years, I think, in different bands; even on BEYOND FEAR tours I always did 'Neon Knights'. Right now I think I enjoy singing 'We Rock', because I've never sang it, really. And now, not only did I never really sing it, but to sing it with Simon and Craig and to do that, there's just something about it. I can feel the crowd singing their part as I'm doing it. Listen, there's beautiful songs to sing there's 'Don't Talk To Strangers' but 'We Rock', there's something about it; it's not my typical one that I would do, so I enjoy doing it."
Simon: "Even after so many of years of playing 'Rainbow In The Dark', it does get a little bit boring in the rehearsal studio, but when you play that live and the fans start singing and you see them, it just gets you going. It never ends like that with songs. I like them all; I do. And it's especially good now, because, like I said, we can start bringing in other songs that [people] haven't heard so much, so that'll be cool to do, too."
German "metal queen" Doro Pesch will be filling in for Owens on the following DIO DISCIPLES tour dates:
June 29 - Milan, Italy @ Magazzini Generali
July 01 - Bilbao, Spain @ Rockstar Live
July 02 - Madrid, Spain @ Heineken
July 03 - Barcelona, Spain @ Bikini
Owens will be unable to make the Italian and Spanish shows as he will be attending his daughter's wedding.
Wright (AC/DC, DIO, UFO, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, RHINO BUCKET) played drums in DIO for 1990's "Lock Up The Wolves" album. He left the band in 1991 when Ronnie James Dio rejoined BLACK SABBATH. Wright returned to DIO in 1999 and remained the band's drummer until Ronnie's death. Vinny Appice was the DIO drummer from 1993 to 1999.
On guitar is longtime DIO member Craig Goldy (ROUGH CUTT, GIUFFRIA, DAVID LEE ROTH, DIO) who made his DIO debut on 1987's "Dream Evil" album.
On keyboards is 15-year DIO and HEAVEN & HELL veteran Scott Warren. Scott made his DIO debut on 1996's "Angry Machines" album.
On bass is the multi-talented James Lomenzo (MEGADETH, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, SLASH'S SNAKEPIT, HAIL!, WHITE LION, DAVID LEE ROTH).
On vocals is Tim "Ripper" Owens (JUDAS PRIEST, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN'S RISING FORCE, BEYOND FEAR, ICED EARTH, HAIL!, CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED).
Joining Owens on vocals from Manchester, U.K. is Toby Jepson (LITTLE ANGELS, FASTWAY, GUN, TOBY AND THE WHOLE TRUTH).
Photo credit: Carsten Steinhausen