SIMON WRIGHT is a powerhouse
amongst drummers, highly acclaimed for his work with AC/DC, UFO, Dio etc. GET READY TO ROLL! caught up with Simon a few days into his tour with the hard-rockin RHINO BUCKET to talk about the 'pain and suffering' of being 'on the road'.
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Hi Simon - you've recently teamed up with Rhino Bucket again, after a gap of a few years. How did this come about, and who's currently in the band?
I have kept in touch with Georg over the years - he's a big Man Utd fan like myself. With time off from Dio at the moment, he asked me if I wanted to do some shows with them, so I agreed. The line-up is Georg Dolivo on lead vocals and guitar, Brian Forsythe on lead guitar and vocals, Reeve Downes on bass and vocals, and myself on drums.
You played on the Rhino Bucket album Pain back in 1994 and this has just been re-issued with bonus tracks under the new title Pain And Suffering. Which songs from this cd are in the setlist, and how does it feel being back in the rhino saddle?
In the set at the moment is 'I Was Told', and 'Bird On A Wire', but we will probrably add some other tracks as the tour progresses. It feels good to be doing these songs again. When 'Pain' was first released we didn't tour it very much for one reason or another - just California and Texas.
How have the Rhino Bucket shows been going so far?
They've been great! We've done just three so far and there are another twenty or so to go, with more being added.
The USA dates stretch into November. Any plans for a UK/European tour, or a new album?
No plans at the moment to tour in Europe, but there might be some dates in Australia with The Angels. And we may be recording some of the shows for a live album, which should be good - Rhino Bucket are a great live band!
You're currently getting a long break from Dio, whilst Ronnie goes out on the road with Heaven And Hell. How did you feel about that, when the idea was first discussed?
I felt fine about the idea, really - the thought of those musicians being on the same stage again after all the years, well, it had to be done! You see I look at it from a fan's point of view, and there are a lot of fans who never got to see it first time round, so as far as I'm concerned it's all good!
In the 90s you toured with UFO for the Walk On Water tour, and earlier this year you stood in for Andy Parker yet again, after Andy tried to walk on water and ended up breaking his leg! How did the two UFO tours compare - the first being with Michael Schenker on guitar, and then this recent one with Vinnie Moore?
Well first of all you're talking about two incredible guitarists, with different personalities. In 95/98 the band had just kinda reformed again, so I think there was more pressure around, for all - but we managed to do some great shows. Michael was outstanding. So was Vinnie this past year. Things seemed a lot more relaxed this time, but still very tight and professional. Vinnie is an exceptional guitar player and a great bloke.
Going back to earlier times... AC/DC - what are your favourite memories?
Lots of good memories with AC/DC. Brian is the funniest bloke I have ever met. Ten jokes a minute! He would have you crying with laughter. As for the shows, well there were some massive shows that would make your hair stand up. All great memories and I'm proud to have been a part of it.
And even earlier.... how did you get started in the music business in the first place?
I started work in the construction industry and enjoyed some of the work, but I could hear the drums along the motorway calling me in the distance, ha! So off I went, left the job and joined a Manchester band called AIIZ.
And how did your career progress from there to playing wth AC/DC and then Dio? Is it true that you answered an ad in Sounds magazine for a drummer?
I have been asked this question a few times, and yes, that's exactly how I got the job in AC/DC! It's always worth looking in the classified section of your local music paper under Musicians Wanted! As regards joining Dio, I got to know Ronnie back when we were doing the Monsters Of Rock festivals in the late 80s. I loved his work in Rainbow, Sabbath, and his own band Dio. What a voice! So powerful, and a brilliant songwriter. My time with AC/DC was coming to an end, and as a drummer I needed to stretch out a bit. I still enjoyed the music, but it was a mutual thing that I move onwards - and onwards I did move, as luck would have it, to start rehearsing and recording for the Dio album Lock Up The Wolves - and we've been great friends ever since.
Who are your top three musical heroes - and why?
1 - Ronnie James Dio. I have worked with a lot of musicians throughout my career, but none has had the same standards and self-belief as Ron. He's smart, savvy, there's no bullshit, he has a relentless work ethic, and he has a wicked sense of humour too. For me, he's the king of rocknroll. He's not a bad singer either. (Did he bribe me to say that? You decide!)
2 - Malcom Young. When I joined AC/DC, I was basically a kid, 18 going on 19 years old. I thought I knew it all. Haha, I didnt have a clue. How could I - I'd never been in one of the biggest rocknroll bands in the world before! Anyhow Malcom (who would definitely hate the word 'hero') always had time for me to ask what the fuck is going on with this or that. That helped me out a lot... So, thanks mate!
3 - John Bonham. Many things have been said about Mr. Bonham. Why? Because he redefined what drums were about. There were great drummers around, but.. in The Song Remains The Same, and in Dazed And Confused, when they go back into the main riff, after the middle section - there is a note he hits on the bass drum which I have never heard any other drummer get close to. I keep trying to of course! Yes, the late great Mr.John Bonham. R.I.P.
What is the proudest moment in your career?
There are three actually. When I was in AC/DC my family came to see the show at Castle Donington. All my hard slog had finally paid off and I'll never forget that day... marvellous. Also playing six nights in Chicago with UFO... and thirdly, Ronnie receiving his lifetime acheivement award at Wacken festival - we stood there on the stage, with 40,000 fans singing Dio. A very proud moment for us all!
What has been your most Spinal Tap moment on the road?
There has been the odd funny moment, [the guilty shall remain nameless!]. Picture this if you will... a very sick, flu-ridden bassplayer somewhere in Scandinavia, laying down resting on the couch before the gig, when suddenly all hell breaks loose, the singer and the guitarist start screaming at each other, face to face, full on, fists are about to fly. The bassplayer pulls himself up off the couch saying 'C,mon guys, stop it, c,mon guys....' Totally ignored, he hobbles back to the couch, coughing and sniffling, sits down, whereupon the couch collapses and swallows him up, and all we can see is a pair of legs sticking out - and all we can hear is a little voice weakly wimpering ''HELPPPPP.....''
Talking about being on the road with Simon Wright, that brings us neatly to your dvd, which is called.... On The Road with Simon Wright. What's that all about?
My dvd was filmed in 2004 with Dio on the Scorpions/Deep Purple tour in the US. It's an overview of what it's like being on the road. There's technical stuff and some not-so-technical stuff, haha. I answer some often-asked questions, my drum-tech Scott gives you a guided tour of my drum-kit and also answers questions. It turned out well, I think! I didn't want it to be a serious drum dvd, so it's light-hearted but informative as well. You can order it from my MySpace page. I hope you like it!
When I first met you, you didn't know one end of a computer from the other. And now you have your own MySpace page which you contribute to with bulletins, blogs and butterflies. What happened???
I am really enjoying my time now on the old computer. I finally crawled out of the dark ages of pencils and paper, candles, abacuses etc... I guess I just got hip, hahaha! I'm not too keen on the butterflies or the sparkling hamsters though!
As we already mentioned, Manchester United Football Club is quite important to you. Do you get to see many of their matches? What was the best match you saw them play? And what are their chances in Europe with the 2007/2008 squad?
I love watching Man Utd! I've been a fan since I was a kid, used to have season tickets back in the day. Lost track for a couple of years though when I moved to the USA in 1988. There is a channel from Canada that I watch most of the games on called Fox Soccer Channel which is like a lifeline for me! The best games were when they did the treble - outstanding achievement! What a team! They were a little shaky at the start of this season, with new players needing to find their feet, but the more games they play they should get stronger for the Champions League. Glory Man Utd!
Now that you're based in LA, how much of the Mancunian Simon Wright is still there? Apart from being able to go to Man Utd games, what other things do you miss about Manchester?
Even though I've lived in the US for about 20 years now, I still feel Mancunian. It's my heritage. I do miss the obvious things - my family, the pubs, great fish n chips, haha. I don't miss the bad weather, high prices, dog shit everywhere and the unemployment though! I guess every city and country has its problems. Every time I get back to Manchester I'm amazed at the changes. It's a fantastic city with great people and a brilliant football team - sorry, I'm talking about Man Utd again! Mine's a pint of John Smith's - all the best - cheers!
What would you like to be doing in five years time?
© Get Ready To Roll - 16th September 2007