Tagged: Dio

 

One of the most interesting doom metal bands to watch the progress of over the last decade has been Denver based band Khemmis. Over that time the band have gone from being one of Denver’s best kept secrets through to a band with a record deal with Nuclear Blast. When you also consider that they have delivered three sensational albums over that time there is little wonder that this is a band that has well and truly one over the doom genre.

Now they return with a mini-album to keep their fans more than happy while they are in lockdown. Doomed Heavy Metal see the band serve up some live traps that capture the true essence of their first three albums while serving up some rarities including a Dio cover and the sensational “A Conversation With Death” which would be instantly recognisable to anyone that has played The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man Of Medan.

“I guess the reason that it came about was because we had a couple of songs that had been recorded for different projects,” explains Daniel Beiers when I get a chance to talk to him about Doomed Heavy Metal. “One of those was recorded for Decibel Magazine which is the metal magazine in the US. They have a series where they send out magazines with flexy-discs which are little plastic discs that you can put into the magazine. They asked bands to do singles and we were really honoured to do one so we did that and then we did a split 7” with one of our good friends Spirit Adrift, a good band that we love here in the US and we did a song for that that kind of fit the theme we were doing with that as well.”

“So we had these two recorded tracks,” he says continuing. “One that was only available on a 7” and one that was only available in a magazine so we were looking for a vessel to put those two songs out on a record. So that was kind of the impotence for all of it. And then when we realised that we had these two songs and the rest of a record to fill the idea of doing one side live and one side recorded was really appealing to us because we are all super fans of ZZ Top a Texas blues band that released an album called Fandango in the seventies that was so great and did the same thing. There was a lot of motivation there and I think this has turned out really cool.”

As we talk about the motivations of the album I begin to ask Beiers about “A Conversation With Death” which is their cover of an old folk song. “It really was quite liberating to do because you don’t have so many constraints,” he explains. “Most of the versions of that song were really basic, some of them were even acapella and some were even just done with a single guitar. So it was cool because we got to do the arrangement really on our own and then Ben our lead guitar player really just nailed it the first time.”

That steers our conversation to begin talking about how Khemmis go about making a cover their own when so many bands these days just seem to deliver a cover that sounds the same as the original. “That really is a fine line,” he agrees. “That is the trick. How do you make it your own? How do you add something to it without taking something that people love away? Because “A Conversation With Death” was such a folk song for a lack of a better word, I mean it wasn’t a Black Sabbath song, so it was a lot easier to do and really you could only enhance it in many ways or even improve it.”

“When it comes to the Dio territory though that is when you are heading into that tricky territory,” he continues. “You have to tread that wisely. You have to make it yours but good luck making it better, right? Because Dio is Dio! That one was a little bit tougher.”

 

Doomed Heavy Metal is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

 

 

 

If you are a fan of Dio then you are about to be in for a very special treat indeed. BMG are about to release some very special remastered versions of Angry Machines, Magica, Killing The Dragon and Master Of The Moon in memory of the tenth anniversary of the passing of Ronnie James Dio.

BMG have made sure that the deluxe editions of these remastered albums have some very special items for true collectors, and to make sure that everything is authentic they have worked with Wendy Dio Ronnie’s widow who was also his manager. We recently chatted to Wendy about what fans can expect from these releases.

“Well the re-releases are coming out through BMG and they haven’t been out for almost ten years,” says Wendy as we begin to talk about the releases. “They have been re-mastered by Wyn Davis who worked with Ronnie on many, many records and there are some very special CDS that go with them that has some live recordings on them. I am so excited about them, and we even some great new artwork to go with them that has been done by Marc Sasso. I am so excited about them because they are great.”

Wendy says she was also very happy with the entire process of when she was working with BMG saying they had the passion that labels all used to have. “They are very passionate about what they do,” she explains. “They were very excited about this… they wanted to do this for the fans. They came here and saw some of the T-Shirts that we have and they just said ‘can we get some? Can we get some?’ They were great, they didn’t feel corporate at all, in fact they felt like the way record labels used to be in the beginning when everybody was excited and they wanted to do it because it was fun and because they loved music.”

“That was the feeling that I got here,” she goes on to say. “It really felt like they were loving what they were doing and that they wanted to make the best possible product.”

Thanks to Wendy’s dedication to Dio’s work BMG also didn’t have to go very far to find exactly what they needed to make these releases so special. “Everything was here,” says Wendy with a hint of sadness in her voice. “We have everything in a big vault, we have so much stuff. So, we just went through everything that I could find. Then Wyn Davis went through to find what was the best quality because we wanted this to be a good quality product that Ronnie would be proud of.”

Of course Wendy admits that going back through the material also brings up memories for her as well. “It is kind of bittersweet,” she says after she pauses trying to find the right words to describe how she feels. “It is one thing to find the stuff but then I found myself wishing that was here to listen to all the stuff and to put his stamp on it. I mean his stamp is on it but for me I still feel that he isn’t here. It was like when we won the Grammy for Last In Line by Tenacious D that was the one thing that I wished for everything that Ronnie could have been there to see – that success at the Grammys.”

As our discussion goes on Wendy admits that sometimes as she finds herself going through a lot of the stuff that has been kept she finds things that she believed were long lost. “Yes, that happens all the time,” she says. “Everything s kept in a climate controlled area and it is all labelled. But I am finding stuff all the time, I’ll suddenly be like ‘oh look there’s that… that is wonderful.’ Then of course there were also a lot of unfinished songs that perhaps in the future we could look at a way to put them out, but it would have to be perfect and it would have to be the way that Ronnie would have wanted it. I don’t want to just flood the market with any old crap, I am very particular about what we find and then I get somebody with professional ears, like Wyn Davis, to listen to it and make sure that it is fine before I ever put anything out.”

As we finish up the interview Wendy tells me that Ronnie also had a soft spot for Dio’s Australian fans. “He just loved the Australian people,” she says. “His favourite places to play were the United Kingdom and Australia because he said he had great fans there. Of course there were critics but they were always fair, and Ronnie would always listen to the fans. It was a pity that Australia was so far away because he would have loved to have toured there more often.”

 

The remastered Dio collection will be released by BMG on the 20th March.