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Talking Dio and AC/DC with Drummer Simon Wright

By: David E Gehlke

Blistering.com: I’m trying to get the mental picture of you and Ronnie doing yard work [laughs].

[laughs] I’ll set it up for you: Around 10:30 we’d have a beer. Around 10:45 we’d have another beer [laughs].

Blistering.com: Like you said, it was probably a great distraction from the music and the album-tour cycle.

It was! It was a great escape, but music was always on Ronnie’s mind, even when we were doing bricks and stuff. We were always talking music and whatever.

Blistering.com: After Ronnie’s passing, you formed Dio Disciples. Doing those shows and playing the old songs, was it tough to deal with at first?

After he did leave us, it was difficult to figure out what to do. We all felt that we needed to do something. When somebody in family passes away, you can’t forget them – you have to go out and do things to remember them. Me, Wendy, Scott, and Craig talked and finally, we couldn’t let it go. With Wendy’s blessing, we created Dio Disciples. People seem to like what we’re doing. There will be some people crying, some people rocking out…there’s a lot of mixed emotions. It works both ways. It’s good for us to do it, and it’s good for the fans to see it because it’s a release. A lot of people never got to see Ronnie play live. We’re not trying to replace him, but we’re trying to keep his music alive. He meant so much to us, and it’s great that we got to keep going and doing this for his fans.

Blistering.com: It’s probably therapeutic for everyone involved.

It was, yes. Ronnie always had a great work ethic. He was like, work, work, and give 100%. So we feel like we’re just carrying on and keeping his business going. His business was his songs and stuff, and we try to keep it going. And the fans seem to get it. We’re doing it with total respect and a lot of love for them. We all feel the same way. We’re all on the same page, doing this for the right reason.

Blistering.com: From you work with AC/DC and Rhino Bucket, Dio’s style of metal always suited a drummer like you. Has it always felt natural to be playing his stuff?

I wasn’t sure, actually. There is a difference in style in AC/DC and Dio. It’s nothing against AC/DC, but that’s straight four-on-the-floor, but after so many years, I found myself playing other things, slightly more technical things. You know it how goes – you’re at home messing around with drum kit. It did work out. When I went down for rehearsal for Lock Up the Wolves, I felt completely confident. I just went in there and did my best and it seemed to work out. I have a different style than Vinny and I do try to emulate a lot of the fills Vinny did because I think they’re important to the songs and fans. I try to keep the songs as true as possible drumming-wise, but I did try to put my own stamp on things.

Blistering.com: Did you meet Ronnie while you were in AC/DC?

First time I met him was ’85. We were headlining the Monsters of Rock at Donnington Park. Up until then, they had only done it England, but for that particular year, they took it to Italy and Greece. Dio was on the bill when we did the Italian show, and I got to meet him after they finished the set. I sat with him and thought, “Wow, he’s such a smart guy.” I have the utmost respect for him and I thought his singing from Elf, Rainbow, and Sabbath was great. Just talking with him was a real treat; he’s such a smart guy and we had a good laugh. That was the first time, but after that, I’d see him at social gatherings and parties.

Blistering.com: When you were in AC/DC, you were awfully young, like your early 20’s. What do you recall from that period?

That’s one thing I do remember – is being young [laughs]. It didn’t faze me in anyway because I was so hungry. It’s every kid’s dream to be in a successful band and I was just blown away when I found out it was AC/DC I got the job with. But you get over that, and you got work to do. You can’t just “Oh, I’m in AC/DC” and float around. It was a great period; I think was eight years. Sometimes it was like being in a blender, like you stuck your head in a blender because there’s so much stuff going on [laughs]. You don’t know what’s coming next. I just did my time. To move on from that band to hook up with Ronnie was just incredible. I’ll never forget it. To actually go on and do something else…I wasn’t sure what I’d do after AC/DC, but I ended up in Dio.

Blistering.com: Do you stay in touch with the AC/DC guys?

I don’t stay in touch, but I did see them on the first leg of the Black Ice tour. A friend of mine who was doing lights for the tour coerced me to go down and see them. My tech – well, it was Phil’s [Rudd] tech – was still there. I went down and said hello, and got to talk to Malcolm and Angus [Young]. It was nice. There’s no animosity. There were doing their thing and I’ve gone on and done my thing. It was a nice time and they sounded awesome.

Blistering.com: What’s next on the agenda for you and Dio Disciples?

We have an American tour which starts up on October 20 in Anaheim. There’s a couple of other California shows; they’re working on dates. It ends up in November 21 in Watertown, NY and all points in between. Should be a good time, so come and check us out!


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