Kill The Dragon
Interview by Todd K. Smith
Join us for our interview with Dio bassist Jimmy Bain:
The Cutting Edge: Thank you for meeting with us today Jimmy. If you dont mind lets get right into it. Dio has been plagued by a number of lineup changes over the past 18 years. Once again you have changed guitar players and brought in Doug Aldrich (Lion, Hurricane, Burning Rain).
Jimmy Bain: For the record, I was never a big Craig Goldy fan. He was adequate but never brilliant. Not like Viv Cambell who, to me, was brilliant! I was working on a Metallica tribute album for Bob Kulick and that is where I ran into Doug. Doug had tried out for Dio once before when he was in Lion. He actually got the job but eventually decided to stay with them. That kind of chafed Ronnie so there was some bad feelings. But Doug meant no harm he was just being loyal to the band he was in at the time.
Any way I took his number just in case something came up somewhere down the road. Well, when we started to work on Kill The Dragon we started to have trouble with Goldy. We had a break in the writing and wanted to do some shows in South Africa. Craig informed us that he couldnt go because he had other commitments. Now heres this guy we are relying on backing out on the band. Thats when we were going to get Rowan Robertson to come back into the band. But after 9/11, the trip gone blown out - so we never went.
TCE: But the tension was already established with Craig?
Bain: Oh yeah, It just got worst after that. He would come over when we were writing and he wouldnt have any ideas. He even pawned his guitar at one point. He got hooked up with this gal who, in my opinion, wasnt too great for him. He went from being so enthusiastic with Magica to having no enthusiasm at all. So Ronnie and I moved ahead with the song writing without him. Whats funny is we wrote Guilty kind of about the situation and he would come in and work on it and not even know it was about him.
TCE: Did Craig write anything on the new record?
Bain: The only thing that Craig and Ronnie wrote prior to us starting the album was Through Away Children mainly because it was written for the Children Of The Night foundation. It wasnt upbeat enough for them so we put it on this album. The rest are me and Ronnie with Doug Aldrich filling in towards the end.
Like I said, Doug was really keen to come into the band. He had done a solo record and just wanted to come into a band and be the guitar player. With all the problems with Goldy escalating Ronnie just let him go. And it ended up being the best thing for the band. I mean when you go over to Dougs house there are guitars all over the walls. The guy is really into playing the guitar. Its his life and you can tell by not only the way he plays but how much hes into it. Not only that but hes really down to earth and gets along with everybody. Hes brilliant and doesnt have an ego that gets in the way.
TCE: So its like starting out again.
Bain: Yeah, in a way. We feel its the right lineup for us now. We just want to go forward. We feel there are a lot of albums left in this band.
TCE: Killing The Dragon is very similar to Magica. Very Rainbow-esque. You seem to be taking what critics have been sarcastic about and rubbing it in their face.
Bain: Exactly. Were tired of people taking pot shots at what we do. This is Dio like it or leave it. This is what we do.
TCE: How has your relationship with Ronnie changed over the years?
Bain: Ive been playing with Ronnie since 1975, and this is the best its ever been. We started as friends and remained that way for years. I went through a rough spell there for awhile that almost cost me my friendship with Ronnie but luckily I came back. I missed talking with him about the day-to-day issues in life. When we started writing Kill The Dragon I was over at his house everyday. So we got to know each other as real friends again. We were able to get back to what really mattered between the two of us and that is the music.
TCE: Within the band structure is it flexible enough to branch out into solo efforts and still maintain your position in the group?
Bain: Oh yeah, as long as Dio is the main thing. Weve all been in other things and been involved with other bands. We are still trying to find a place in our schedule to work on the Children Of The Night project. A project weve wanted to finish that will help homeless children. But its trying to find the time that is always the hard part. We also have the Stars Hear-N-Aid anniversary coming up where we will be re-issuing that on CD.
TCE: Tell us more about the Children Of The Night foundation (www.childrenofthenight.org).
*Excerpt from the Children of the Night foundation web site: We are dedicated to assisting children between the ages of 11 and 17 who are forced to prostitute on the streets for food and a place to sleep. Since 1979 we have rescued more than 10,000 girls and boys from prostitution and the domination of vicious pimps. More than 80 percent of these children have remained off the streets. And we have done all this with private donations.
We are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children each year. Our commitment to rescuing these children from the ravages of prostitution is shared with a small but committed group.
Bain: I wasnt aware so much had been done for the Children Of The Night foundation since I left the band. (ed. Bain was out of the band from 1988 2000). Wendy, Doug and I went down to the Children of the Night building, which is an old ff ire station in LA. We met some of the young kids that are in there. It was a phenomenal experience. To see these 13 and 14 year old kids - and some younger than that who had been grabbed off the street and forced into prostitution by pimps. Through the organization, these kids are given a place to stay, clothes and education and they are taken care of for as long as they want - in a safe environment. They have a great staff opeople there to help the kids as well. It blew me away.
TCE: Not everyone knows youve had quite a battled with drug and alcohol abuse yourself. How has your life change since youve cleaned up?
Bain: The most important thing is that Ive got my family back. My mother and father both passed away in the last three years but they were able to see me clean. I have a wonderful woman in my life and my beautiful daughter. I was happy that they were able to see that I could do it. Ive come to appreciate life more on a day-to-day basis. Everyday that I have, as long as I stay clean, is positive for me. Im very active now in helping others. I visit hospitals and jails and I do panel discussions to help others recover. Not as a member of Dio but as a guy whose been through it and can shed some light on the recovery. You do it because you want to help people who are in the same position you were at some point.
TCE: What was it for you that turned you around?
Bain: A judge. He saved my life. When youre taking drugs you are spiritually bankrupt. Youre like the walking dead. Youre not committed to anything accept getting high. Since I got clean I feel Im a better writer and player now. I can focus. Ive recorded over 60 albums and only made two clean. The last two.
TCE: How has your writing changed?
Bain: Well Ronnie writes the lyrics but I do some of the melodies, the hooks, sketches of ideas. We both play, albeit, badly on the guitar. Ronnie does play bass very well and we both play keyboards. So we have enough instruments between us to build the skeleton of a song. We would work on one thing at a time. It was quite an enjoyable process. Wed build a song up to where we felt comfortable and then Ronnie would write some lyrics. Wed engineer the demos ourselves and go from there. It took two and a half to three months to do the whole album.
TCE: Was that enough time?
Bain: Well we were a couple songs short. So Doug and I got together and worked up Scream and A Long Came A Spider. I went over to Dougs studio and we worked them up there. Actually they were the first two riffs out of six that we ended up going with. We did the whole thing in an afternoon.
TCE: When you brought those to Ronnie what did he say?
Bain: He liked them immediately. It felt like it used to when Viv Cambell was in the band. Doug is a very talented and experienced player. He made the whole process smooth.
TCE: Is it hard to come up with new ideas these days?
Bain: Oh, yeah. Weve covered so many different aspects in our writing. Lyric-wise too. If your not careful you could become really repetitive. There is a bit more respect now. I get asked my opinion more these days. I think, because Ive cleaned my act up, there is a lot more respect there than ever before. I feel Im more committed and so Im used more. I feel I have some value to the band.
TCE: What about your own solo pursuits?
Bain: I have a solo thing Ive been working on for awhile called The Key. Its a collection of songs that dont really fit in the Dio camp. I did a song back in the 80s with Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) which was re-recorded by the Corrs called Old Time. The song did very well for them going to top of several European charts. I have a lighter side thats not really for Dio - more melodic that type of thing. So Im open to writing for other people. Id like to spread my wings a bit more on the song-writing side. Ronnies got a lot of those kinds of songs as well. Who knows maybe well get around to doing them under a different name?
Websites: Ronnie James Dio or Spitfire Records