Last summer the Americans played at the Bang-Your-Head festival, a great show! Also their album Sons Of Society been released last year on Metal Blade records. Actually the band should hit the European roads late last year... Now they are one of the first bands who tour in Europe in the new millennium. Even if the album been out for quite a while I used the chance to talk to Riot singer Mike DiMeo about the album, the tour and the future. That day I was joined by a colleague from a local radio station. He's doing the Metal Roundup Radioshow. His name is Dirk and he throw in some questions... All that took place at Essen's Zeche Carl where the package incl. Agent Steel and Riot stopped.
The last time I saw you was at the BYH open-air, then the album been released and now you're on tour. What happen in the meantime?
A lot! Our drummer left!
Yeah, I heard something like that...
Let's see... Bang-Your-Head festival... The record came out and we went to Texas to play there at a festival. Then we did some shows, that went very well. We had a tour planned for December, but it been canceled. Just before we came here our drummer left to play with Rob Halford. We got someone to fill the spot with 2 day rehearsal!
Great, otherwise we might have had to wait even longer....
How is it going with him?
Great! He is an amazing drummer. He didn't had the time to learn the stuff... His name is Pat McGreth.
(Beg your pardon, if the name isn't correctly written. - editor).
Is he known for something?
He played with Killing Culture.
I heard about them, but I think they never made it to Europe...
They did tour here, they actually played in this club! But... So after that we still have to wait and see.
So will he stay or just jumped in for the tour?
I don't know, I don't know what'll happen in the future with this band yet.
So it depends on the tour and decide afterwards...
The album is out for several months. The critics been pretty good. How are the sales? The reactions?
Metal Blade hasn't given us any sort of projection about how the sales are.
That keeps you hungry on tour... *laughs*
Very hungry! I'm not happy with Metal Blade right now. I mean they haven't told us anything! How the record is doing...
I mean, I called them to get some details about what time the interview should take place, etc. And they gave me a wrong name and said that there is no schedule for interviews.... That's not the best way.
... I'm not happy with Metal Blade.
So, do you think about changing the record company?
I don't really know, because... I don't really know what the future holds for the band! It's very hard, because ... It's hard for this band to tour. I mean Mark hasn't be well lately. He took the last 2 nights off, because he was so sick. And... it's hard for him to tour. I don't know it's really hard to project for the future right now.
In the past you had to cancel tours several times, we talked about the reasons last time. Then you released the album, a tour was announced and been canceled and now you are on tour and don't know if there is a future for the band. That's not a pretty good basic to work on...
Exactly,... I like making records with the band, just that we don't tour and I wanna tour! So I'm thinking about doing something on the side now. Actually with some guys from Europe... over here! I'm staying after the tour to do some recordings with them.
I heard that you and Agent Steel will exchange the headlining spot each night...
We're not doing it.
It was announced before the tour...
We were supposed to.
So you doing headlining, or what do you do?
We are going on right before the last band which I think is the best spot. I don't like to go on too late. So we've been going on the best time...
Who's doing the last spot? Agent Steel?
Yeah, but I think they're not pretty happy with that.
I think that even on this tour some things went wrong... First that the rotation thing was announced, then due to the circumstances Agent Steel are headlining. They haven't been here for years! And have just one album released in the last couple of years. To let them headlining isn't a good decision of their company, okay for you it's cool, but... How it works to tour with these bands so far?
It's cool! Yeah, it's cool. I don't mind touring. You know what happens... I don't smoke, every time I come on tour here, the bands smoke in the bus. And I get bronchitis, I can't take it! That's just constant. Between the cold weather and smoke I've gotten so sick, so I'm trying to get over that now. But I don't care, I rather tour!
What about the canceled US tour? Will you do it later?
The one you wanted to do in America in December.
That tour was scheduled for Europe.
Sorry! What about touring in America?
I've heard rumours about it. That Metal Blade wants to put us on the road... Metal Blade says a lot and does nothing! I saw Brian Slagel at the Bang-Your-Head festival, he said he's putting us on tour. He got this new booking agency and he's putting us on tour... I haven't heard from him since!
Did you get some mention from the fan base due to the fact that you played on the BYH festival? Where there some reactions from the fans afterwards?
All the fans just always loved when we came over here. I never heard anything bad about it. Everyone is always very supportive of the band. That's never been a problem! When we come over here, it's great for us! We need to do it more! That's the problem!
How is the audience so far on this tour?
It's hard to judge on this one, because the first night was very rough for us. We only had two rehearsals with the drummer and the first night of a tour is rough anyway! And than the next two nights Mark Reale don't play, because he was sick. And so... still when we played some place in Belgium the fans came up and said that they are so happy that we didn't cancel, because we don't wanna play without Mark. They were so happy that we didn't cancel. So they appreciate it! It's very hard, this band is reared with bad luck. I think so, it's bad luck!
I think it must be very frustrating that tours been canceled again and again. So many things went wrong and you stick to the same level and can't go on. Just because there is not the right business support. You said that their is the support by the fans and you want to tour...
So for me it sounds like if you can't figure out the problem and solve it that there is no future for the band!
Exactly! That's how I think, me personally! Personally there is no reason to... I don't make money out of this. We can support ourselves when we came out of here and... Our goals are to make living from music. If we don't tour more and stay in the public eye, this never gonna happen! That was one of the reasons why Bobby wants to leave the band, because we didn't tour.
I mean Riot is around for a long time and many people know you, but not very much happened through all the years. I think it's the same for the States and everywhere else. Back to the album Sons Of Society... Sure, it's different to Inishmore. Inishmore was a conceptual album, this one is for me a typical album for Riot. If someone...
What do you mean? It's a typical album, he?
A typical Riot album *smile*
I slap her for you!
A typical album? I'll just hit her. (and he tussles my hair, which I actually hate!)
That was the kind of album I expected from Riot.
Is that a compliment or not? (Mike addressed that question to Dirk)
It's a compliment, coz it didn't disappoint me!
I think it's a good record!
It's great album!!!
I think On The Wings Of Life is one of the best songs of Riot! It's one of my favorite songs!
I agree and I love Twist Of Fate.
Do you play On The Wings Of Life live tonight?
It's one of my favorite songs on the album as well, so... If the band is going to exist any longer, this a future standard! Definitely! Please tell a little more about the setlist of tonight. Will we have a cross section of all albums or what? Or will you focus on a specific era?
No, we have too many songs to do that.
Enough songs to play 3 hours or more each night!
Let's not talk to her... *laughs*
That was a compliment, too!
I just talk to you! (The words were directed to Dirk, but his glance kinda hit me).
About girls in general and her in particular.
(I couldn't stop laughing! And everybody started laughing!) After the tour with Virgin Steele you always ask me to come with you to Paris!
I don't remember this...
(Ingo, the tour manager told me not to touch the artist, even if I just kinda do self-defence... Mike tussles my hair again and start kinda pushing me, but not too hard... Dirk was translating what Ingo said in German to me and to Mike that he should stop annoying me and that I'm a journalist and not a groupie, so he should take his hands off me... But all that wasn't serious, just joking!)
So you are happy with the tour management this time?
Yeah, well... he's my very good friend. He just comes with us to do me a favour! But there is another tour manager on the tour....
So that's the name I got...
Solve the big mystery what's the name of the tour manager!
I don't know!
Never be seen before...
You know Ingo?
I met him several times!
Back to the album.... On the cover you have again the seal. How you came up with the idea to use it again?
We thought it will be funny to bring it back.
Okay? What? *laughs* Well, because of... really...
Just because it would be funny to bring it back!
Yeah! It was with the band for soo long!
So, why you dropped it?
I don't know.
Fashion of the time, maybe....
In the past it was kinda trademark for the band. Then it was gone for a while.
I mean, on Inishmore I wouldn't fit, but... Now it's back. It was a surprise seeing it on the cover!
If you have the chance to do another album in the future with whatever record label... What would it be like? Any ideas? Or is Sons Of Society to fresh in your mind...
No, no... I think Riot definitely needs a change. That's one thing we did talk about. I don't know, we kinda get lumped in with a lot of different type of bands that I don't think we fit in with. I don't know. Not to say it would be any better... We came from different backgrounds. We came from like blues rock, Deep Purple / Rain;bow type of school and I think we wanna try to get away from the real fast, heavy stuff we're do. A little more hard rock orientated, you know. Like Time To Bleed, you know the song?
Yeah! (I know the song, too. No doubt, it's great!)
Something more like that.
So Inishmore was more a reference to the style you want to do?
Would a concept album be an option for you?
Inishmore had this red fathom, but didn't focus on one specific topic.
Yeah. Definitely, if we could find a cool topic! I'm always into writing about cool things!
But there is always a big question mark over your head about the future.
You have the money for the ticket back?
You can't tell much about the future of Riot, but can you tell anything about your side-project so far? Or is that not so far that you wanna talk about?
Yes, ya know... Because of we are just doing some writing. I think one of the members was in the band China and some other bands... You know, I... They sent me some tapes. And it's more like blues rock like Bad Company, like Led Zeppelin... That's the stuff I like to sing, so... Whitesnake type of stuff. So we'll writing and then we'll recording.
So you stay for a while in Europe?!?
Is that type of music fashionable nowadays in the States? Something you can get air play from?
Well,... It's kinda heavy, too. It's no just like straight blues stuff. It's heavy and I think anything it's good get air play. It's not very fashionable now, but I don't really worried about it anymore. I just wanna sing that type of stuff! I don't know, we'll see!
Same situation like you're in with Riot... Wait and see! That seems to be your answer for almost everything!
Yeah! It's a lot of question marks!
So I think we should go on with this conversation later this year. Than there might be some answers...
Maybe there'll be more answers *smiles* Who knows?
Hopefully then there are more answers!
I wish I had a crystal ball... *smiles*
...If you future is as bright as your past was.... Then you might won't see it...
That's true! But things can only get better I think! I don't know, we'll see. I have fun being on that tour, so...
That's how it should be!
The show we saw later from Riot was amazing and make me hope that their is a future for Riot!!! Even if Mike sounded down and frustrated when he was talking about the band's future. On stage it was obvious that he really enjoys being on stage. We all should keep our fingers crossed for Riot and hopefully Mike's side-project will turn out positively! I hope to hear from the boys soon! It would be a pity, if a given band like Riot had to stop due to business reasons...