In a recent interview conducted by Rock N Roll Universe, vocalist Mike DiMeo (RIOT, THE LIZARDS) discussed RIOT's upcoming album, THE LIZARDS' recent tour with hard rock legends UFO, the rumors that he'd quit RIOT, as well as the differences between European and American audiences. DiMeo also offered his opinion on the state of American radio. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Rock N Roll Universe: Both RIOT and THE LIZARDS are more popular in Europe and Japan than in the United States. Why do you think that is?
Mike DiMeo: "Well, I've commented on this before, and some people don't like what I've said about it. (Laughs) I think that, for a long time I felt like… I've been touring in Europe with RIOT since '95. The metal fans over there, it's a whole different ball game with hard rock and metal. Hard rock and heavy metal music, it seems to me, being someone who's gone there, I can't even count how many times I've been there to play. It just seems that it's more of an accepted type of music. It's a legitimate type of music over there. There's people that grew up listening to hard rock, and just love hard rock, and that's just how it is. Now, it's like that here in the States too, but it never seemed to get the kind of mainstream sort of acceptance that it did over there. That's how I feel. But, I must say, we just did this tour of the States with THE LIZARDS, and on the other hand, the tour here was so good, the people were so into it that I spoke to, that it kind of changed my mind a little bit. One thing I do think, American fans are, they seem like they're a little starved for music over here. We played in Philly, in Cleveland, we played a lot of places, and the fans that came out were just telling us how into the music they were. They knew a lot about RIOT, about the history of the band, the players in the band. It seems to me like so many bands have been making their living in Europe that it seems that the States are kind of getting a little left behind, as far as touring. It was really refreshing to see the American fans as sort of happy to see us playing with UFO. UFO has a long history here, and they were really psyched to see the band. It was cool, because Europeans have seen so many bands, so many bands go there, they just seem like they're getting a little spoiled, and the American fans are really kind of starved for music. I shouldn't categorize the European fans as being spoiled, because they're not, it's just that there's so many choices. If they don't go see THE LIZARDS on Monday, they'll go see MICHAEL SCHENKER on Tuesday, they'll go see AXEL RUDI PELL on Wednesday. It's just that so many bands play there all over the place every other night, they have the ability to have more choices. In the States, I can't tell you the last time a metal band has come through my neighborhood. I think METAL CHURCH played somewhere near my house like maybe a year ago. (Laughs)"
Rock N Roll Universe: Logistically speaking as well, in Europe it's just not far for people to go to clubs and venues, but here in the States, you have to drive a long way in a lot of cases, and it's more spread out. I don't think those fans ever went away, all the corporate decisions to bury metal and hard rock has had a lot to do with it.
Mike DiMeo: "Yeah, you know I shouldn't categorize it the way I do, because I think you're absolutely right. I think there's a base of hard rock fans here in the States that never lose faith, that always are into the music. I have to tell you, I live here in New York, and New York is so, I'm not going to say trendy, because it doesn't really seem trendy anymore. It's just that there's hip hop, and there's pop stuff, and that's all you ever hear on the radio. I grew up in New York, and I've lived in New York my whole life, I have never, ever heard MICHAEL SCHENKER on the radio. I've never heard RAINBOW on the radio, maybe 'Stone Cold', but I've never heard 'Rising', anything from those records. American radio has completely neglected a whole history of hard rock. There's a whole era of hard rock, bands like NAZARETH. BAD COMPANY gets played because they had a couple of hits, but there's FREE, stuff like that. I don't see how you could be a program director at a radio station and completely neglect that whole era of hard rock music. It makes me really disappointed with the whole way radio is run. Everything is a profit industry I'm sure, but if there was a hard rock radio station in New York, like Eddie Trunk, he's got a show and he's great, it's really refreshing to hear. But if there was a station that was dedicated to that type of music, I'm sure it would do great. But, they don't give it a chance. And you know the hip hop stuff, I'm a fan of music, I like everything, but I can't stand to listen to someone talk over a beat. To me, that's a lot of things, that's talented in a lot of ways, but music it's not. You have to be able to rhyme, you have to be able to do it in time, which some guys can do, and some guys can't. But musical, that's not what it is. You're not going to tell me that that's music. It's really cool that they can rhyme words, yeah, and I grew up on black music. I grew up on OTIS REDDING, MUDDY WATERS, so it has nothing to do with a cultural thing. It's not like I can't relate to black guys, or black music, that's not the case. I have every STEVIE WONDER record ever written. Those songs are like my bible. His singing, to me you don't get better than that. I listen to gospel music, some of my favorite singers are gospel singers, I have old JAMES CLEVELAND records. So, when people tell me 'Oh, it's a cultural thing,' it ain't no cultural thing man. You put a 4/4 beat, which is great that they can rip off JAMES BROWN records, that's great, but listen to the SONGS, listen to what JAMES BROWN did with those beats. I'm not trying to knock anyone, it's just that they put things on the radio, and it's like having a comedian on the radio, it's a lot of things but it's not music. To me, you know what I'm saying? It's my opinion."
To read the entire interview go to www.rocknrolluniverse.com.