Listen here: Talking Metal 422
On this epsiode of the podcast Mark and John welcome Matt Snow from Magnus Rising and Vivian Campbell. Vivian speaks about his time in Dio and his new Last In Line band. He also provides an update on his health and Def Leppard. The interview with Vivian starts at 29:45 into the podcast. For a transcript of the first 3/4th of the interview see below.
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BELOW IS A TRANSCRIPT OF THE FIRST PART OF TALKING METAL’S INTERVIEW WITH VIVIAN CAMPBELL. TOPICS INCLUDE DEF LEPPARD, THIN LIZZY, THE LAST IN LINE BAND’S AUG 3RD GIG IN CALIFORNIA, JIMMY BAIN, VINNY APPICE, THE LAST IN LINE ALBUM AND TOUR, HEAR N AID AND OZZY OSBOURNE. TO HEAR THE FULL INTERVIEW CHECK OUT EPISODE 422 OF THE TALKING METAL PODCAST
Talking Metal: I wanted to, first of all, check in with you on your health. A little over a month ago on your Facebook page you announced that you Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How are you doing health wise?
Viv: I’m doing very well all things considered, you know? I am taking it as it comes and the treatments are doing their job and they are not adversely affecting me too much. I had to get a radical new hairstyle and it’s coming out fast still but other than that no real problems. The two or three days around the chemo treatments are a little rough but nothing I can’t handle.
Talking Metal: I saw a picture of you on your Facebook page in front of the plane somewhere and I thought you looked great with the shorter hair.
Viv: Oh yeah, in a few weeks it’s going to be no hair <laughs>, I am leaving most of it on my pillow in the morning. It is coming out fast. Anyway, it’s all good. I needed a grown-up haircut.
Talking Metal: Right. You have been out playing with Def Leppard so you are obviously well enough to go out on the road with them. I believe you’re playing upstate New York tonight. How have the recent Def Leppard shows been going for you?
Viv: The shows have been going great, ya know. It all happened a little haphazardly. We weren’t supposed to work this summer at all but we got offered a festival date in France and, um, we agreed to take that on and then of course the management and the agent said “while you’re over there, why don’t you play shows in Spain.” And then we went, “okay will do that” and then “we got this great offer from Scandinavia so why don’t you go up there and do a few shows and on your way back why don’t you…” It was kind of never ending so we had to draw a line under it at some date so, yes, tonight is the last show. We are at a place called Canandaigua in upstate New York. it is near Rochester. We’ve never played here specifically before. Were at the hotel and we are going to head over to sound check in a while. That’s the story, it’s been going great. The band is sounding good but that is it for this year. We will be active again next year and in the meantime we might even get our proverbial finger out of our proverbial ass and write and record a few new songs. It’s long overdue.
Talking Metal: That would be great. I wanted to get into your band Last in Line and talk a little bit about that and talk a little bit about your history with Dio. For me and many other metalhead kids growing up in the 80s, those first three Dio albums were such an important part of our formative years and we all know that you and Ronnie were not on the greatest of terms post your time in Dio. Was his passing something that helped you maybe finally be able to revisit and rediscover how special the work you did with him actually was?
Viv: I think so, yeah. I don’t think that in and of itself was the only reason but I definitely think that contributed to it. I think that the fact that Dio as a band were no longer active and then I looked and I saw an advertisement somewhere for Dio Disciples, who as it turns out our going out and playing Dio songs and they are none of the guys from the original band and I thought why should those guys be doing it? I wrote those songs, I played on those records. The main catalysts for all this for me personally was playing with Thin Lizzy. I did a stint in 2011 for several months. Scott Gorham called and said “I know you’re in Def Leppard but do you fancy playing with Thin Lizzy for a while?” That was such a big, big thrill for me because Thin Lizzy were so important to me, so influential to me as a guitarist in my formative years when I was a teen, ya know the Jailbreak album, Johnny the Fox, Live and Dangerous, Black Rose, Renegade, Chinatown. Those records were very, very, important to me as a guitar player so it was a real thrill to be able to go on tour with Scott and Brian Downey and play those songs. It really kind of reignited a passion for me for guitar playing that I had kind of lost for a while, you know? Talk about Def Leppard, my gig with Leppard is very challenging to me as a singer, we’re on the mic every song and the guitar parts in an of themselves are challenging enough I suppose but not compared to the stuff I did in Dio or even later with Riverdogs. I kind of hadn’t really had to exercise that muscle for a few years with Leppard and then having to go out and play Black Rose every night with Thin Lizzy got me back into shape and I came off of that tour thinking this is what I do, this is what I wanted to do. I actually just called up Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Claude Schnell and said hey do you want to get together and just play? So we did. We rented a rehearsal room for a few hours and we were in their planning for about 30 minutes and Vinny said “this would be even better if we had a singer.” He said “I know a great singer, a guy called Andrew Freeman, he only lives 10 minutes away, let me give him a call and see what he’s doing.” So about an hour later, Andrew walks in, I’d never met him, we say our hellos, he steps up to the mic and start singing and it’s just… It blew our socks off. It was so amazing. He has such a powerful voice and such a passionate range and yet he sounds nothing like Ronnie and he can really bring his own thing to this. So it kind of took it to another level, so we all kind of just looked at each other and said let’s do this some more, let’s take it to the next stage, let’s go out and do some gigs. I suggested, let’s call this Last in Line after the album and, um, so here we are. That was over a year ago. It is taken this long to get it together but we are finally putting the wheels in motion. We have some UK shows coming up in early August. We are going to do a warm-up show in Southern California on August 3rd and that will be our first outing. We are booked for a festival in Japan in October and were hoping to take it beyond that and do a more comprehensive tour of the states. It is great fun and it is great excitement to play those songs again and for me it was a big hurdle to overcome because for literally decades, for 20 plus years I did not even listen to those albums, never mind trying to play those songs. There was so much hurt involved in that situation for me and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I didn’t even want anything to do with it but with the passage of time and maybe with Ronnie’s passing as well, that’s part of it, I certainly look at it in a very different light now. It’s my heritage, it’s Jimmy’s and Vinny’s. Jimmy and I wrote those songs with Ronnie. We made those records and we are out there reclaiming our heritage, basically.
Talking Metal: Right. You guys have a site up, it is LASTINLINEROCKS.COM which we will link to in today’s show notes. Any discussion about what the actual set list will be?
Viv: Well, we haven’t completely finalized it yet but it’s basically going to pick itself. There are only nine songs on Holy Diver and I think there’s only nine songs on the Last in Line album too. The thing about this band was that the Sacred Heart album
was very difficult for us all. That’s when things really started to go wrong with the band and no one wanted to be in the studio with Ronnie. We would literally just come in and do our parts and we wouldn’t really hang where as with Holy Diver & Last in Line we were in the studio 24/7 and everyone was committed to making those records. So the Sacred Heart record, we don’t look upon it as favorably. We probably won’t play too much from that.
Talking Metal: Over the passage of time those first two records have become such classics among the metal fan base that they are probably what people want to hear the most anyways.
Viv: Well, exactly. If we are doing our own headlining shows we are going to have to play, need to play about a hour and a half at least so we are going to need to play basically everything off those first albums. We will for sure play everything off of Holy Diver and probably the majority of Last in Line and a couple from Sacred Heart.
Talking Metal: Now when you go back in time and think about first teaming up with Ronnie Dio, I wanted to ask you about Ronnie’s status in Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi mentions in his book that Ronnie was actually working on what would become the Holy Diver album while he was still in Black Sabbath, Ronnie & Vinny for that matter. Is that how you remember it?
Viv: When we first got together Ronnie had two songs. He had Holy Diver, the title track itself and he had Don’t Talk to Strangers so yeah I suppose Tony’s right in that regard because he didn’t offer those songs the Black Sabbath. Ronnie was keeping them for himself but that’s definitely all we had. The band first meant in London in a rehearsal room in October 1982 or maybe September 1982, somewhere around then and then about a month later we relocated to LA and that is what we started writing the rest of the album.
Talking Metal: Holy Diver is such a classic album and you mentioned you will be playing almost every song, if not every song off of that album which is amazing. What about Last In Line? That came out in 1984 and just exploded, selling over 1 million copies. What are some your favorite songs off of album?
Viv: Evil Eyes is a hidden gem off of that record, I always thought that would do a bit more. The title track, Last in Line, that did set the tone for it and it was one of the early ones, it was one of the first ones we came up with. Once we had that under our belt it was smooth sailing for us. We knew we had this epic title track for the record and, uh, other songs were actually finishing one we were in the studio. I remember I Speed at Night was one that we cobbled together actually in the studio towards the end of the album. I don’t know there’s a lot of great songs on that record, you know? But probably the title track is the standard, for me especially.
Talking Metal: When you were with Ronnie would play Mob Rules, Man on the Silver Mountain. Do you envision playing those songs in the set list?
Viv: I don’t think would be legitimate for us to do that. Obviously the original Dio band we played Man on the Silver Mountain, Stargazer, Long Live Rock ‘n Roll. We played Mob Rules, Heaven and Hell & Children of the Sea. We kind of filled out our Dio set with those songs. Those were legitimate enough for us to do cause Ronnie was there and he had been in those bands but without Ronnie there I don’t think it’s very legitimate to play Sabbath or Rainbow songs so we won’t be doing that.
Talking Metal: What are your memories of the Last In Line tour? You guys did a super, super long tour for that record. You took out a lot of bands that later would explode. Twisted Sister, Queensryche and Dokken. Any memories of the opener bands from that tour?
Viv: Yeah, I remember certain shows more than others. I specifically remember touring with Dokken. I actually just saw Jeff Pilson the other day and we were reminiscing about that. The whole production for Dio had gone to a different level. Ronnie was always big on presentation and a stage set and whatnot. Even Holy Diver we tried to do something but with Last in Line he had a bit more money to spend on it in a bit more time to put it together and he came up with the big old pyramid. For the first time we started using lasers and pyrotechnics and stuff. It definitely had taken it to a whole different level. On the Last in Line tour we went from playing theaters and opening for other people to headlining arenas in the states. It had definitely been a step up for the band, you know? It was rather a long tour. The band was really on fire, that is something I remember about those first two tours. The chemistry within the band was so good and it was so tight. It was very, very magical on a musical level and then unfortunately the wheels started to come off from there on out.
Talking Metal: I guess it was after Last In Line, you wrote a song with Ronnie and I believe Jimmy called Stars which was known as the Hear N Aid project. As a kid that was such an amazing moment in heavy metal history, seeing all our favorite hard rockers and heavy metal guys get together for I guess what would have been the music video and the recording of that. Any memories of when you shot the music video and had so many different people from so many different bands there?
Viv: Yeah, I remember that well. I remember be exhausted. It was really hard work putting all that together and contacting all these people. I didn’t know them and I was calling, I remember talking to Jon Bon Jovi. In the end we didn’t get him for one reason or another but I had never met the guy in my life, I just happen to track down his phone number and I called and I talked to his mother and I talked to him. The same with everyone who was involved, I didn’t know any of these people. I tracked down their phone numbers with the help of a publicist we were working with at the time and ya know, begged, steal and barrow. I was on the phone for weeks and weeks leading up to it to try to get people to commit to do it and um… It all basically happened out of a joke. Jimmy and I were at a radio station called KLOS and we were doing an interview about something and the We Are the World, the whole Michael Jackson had come out around then and the DJ said to us that it was a real shame that no one from the hard rock community was invited to participate in it and we were like, “yeah, yeah, we get no respect, blah, blah. We just sort of jokingly said we should do our own and Jimmy didn’t miss a beat. He came out with the title Hear N Aid. ..
TO HEAR THE FULL INTERVIEW, LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.