LAST IN LINE — the band featuring DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell alongside fellow founding DIO members Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain, plus singer Andrew Freeman, who has previously fronted HURRICANE and LYNCH MOB — will release its debut album, “Heavy Crown”, on February 19 via Frontiers Music Srl. The CD was recorded at a Southern California studio with producer Jeff Pilson, a veteran bassist who has played with DIO, FOREIGNER, DOKKEN and T&N, among others.
LAST IN LINE recently filmed music videos for the songs “Devil In Me” and “Starmaker” with director Jamie Brown of Smoking Gun, Inc. and co-producer Thomas McNeely. Behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the “Devil In Me” clip can now be seen below.
What started as a casual and fun reunion jam in a Los Angeles rehearsal room in 2011 has, in the ensuing years, grown into a fully-fledged recording project that has taken on a life of its own. LAST IN LINE, the band, takes its name from the second DIO album released in 1984. Appice, Bain and Campbell were Ronnie James Dio‘s co-conspirators and co-writers on the “Holy Diver”, “The Last In Line” and “Sacred Heart” albums — the records that defined the classic early DIO sound and have gone on to become part of rock history.
During that first jam, it was immediately apparent that the chemistry of the original band was very much intact — even after a 27-year hiatus. The excitement generated by that rediscovery led to a second session, this time they called in vocalist Andrew Freeman (a friend of Vinny‘s), whose credits include singing in the “Raiding The Rock Vault” production in Las Vegas and background vocals for THE OFFSPRING.
Hearing Andrew‘s interpretations of the songs was a revelation for Vivian, who immediately suggested that they book some local shows for fun. In Vivian‘s mind, the fact that Andrew could put a different spin on the songs made it an interesting prospect, and one that would justify taking things to the next stage, outside of the rehearsal room.
Over the ensuing years, a handful of local L.A. shows led to a handful of overseas shows in the U.K. and Japan, and eventually to an offer from Frontiers to record a new album of original material.
During the course of 2014, the band wrote and recorded 12 new songs under the guidance of longtime friend and producer Jeff Pilson. It proved to be a symbiotic relationship with Jeff that captured the organic crunch of the band and brought out the very best in Andrew‘s voice and delivery.
Says Campbell: “When we started this project a few years ago, the initial idea was to reunite the original DIO band to play the songs we wrote and recorded with Ronnie in the early 1980s. Joined by Andrew Freeman on vocals, we played a handful of shows in southern California, the U.K. and Japan. It was a limited ambition, but it brought us great joy in reconnecting to this great music, to each other, and to our collective history.””
He continues: “When we first got together as the LAST IN LINE lineup, our ambition at that time didn’t extend to writing and recording any new music, but when we were offered the opportunity to do so by Frontiers, we decided to enter the studio to write this new album in the very same spirit as we did the ‘Holy Diver’ album. Back in 1982, Ronnie, Vinny, Jimmy and I went into Sound City studios to kick around ideas and riffs, and about six weeks later we started laying down the tracks for what was to become the ‘Holy Diver’ album.”
“Heavy Crown” CD track listing:
01. Devil In Me
04. Burn This House Down
05. I Am Revolution
06. Blame It On Me
07. In Flames (bonus track; deluxe edition)
08. Already Dead
09. Curse The Day
10. Orange Glow
11. Heavy Crown
12. The Sickness
DVD track listing:
01. Devil In Me (video clip)
02. Starmaker (video clip)
03. Making of “Heavy Crown”
As previously reported, LAST IN LINE recently parted ways with keyboardist Claude Schnell. Campbell explained in a statement: “When we started this project a few years ago, the initial idea was to reunite the original DIO band to play the songs we wrote and recorded with Ronnie in the early 1980s. Joined by Andrew Freeman on vocals and original DIO keyboard player Claude Schnell, we played a handful of shows from southern California to the U.K to Japan. It was a limited ambition, but one that brought us great joy in reconnecting to this great music, to each other, and to our collective history.
“Our ambition at that time didn’t extend to writing and recording any new music, but when we were offered the opportunity to do so by the Frontiers record label, we took that step forward. At that time, it was decided that we enter the studio to write this new album in the very same spirit as we did the ‘Holy Diver’ record: In autumn of 1982 Ronnie, Vinny, Jimmy and I went into Sound City studios to kick around ideas and riffs, and about six weeks later we started laying down the tracks for what was to become the ‘Holy Diver’ album. It was after ‘Holy Diver’ was written and recorded that we brought in Claude to embellish certain songs in a way that the guitar just couldn’t do. From that time forward, Claude became an essential part of the band’s live shows.
“In retracing our footsteps, we again started to write this new album as a four-piece band — thus keeping the emphasis on guitar-driven songs. In the course of doing so, we have decided to continue on that path and remain a four-piece band.
“We wish Claude every success and he remains a very close friend and confidant to all concerned.”
Asked if the LAST IN LINE material sounds like the classic DIO albums, Vivian told Eddie Trunk in a recent interview: “The majority of it… Well, actually, I wouldn’t say the majority of it… I would say a good 50 percent of the songs would sound right at home on those first three DIO albums, and the others have a bit more of a modern edge to them. I mean, when you get Vinny and Jimmy and I playing, it sounds like the early DIO records, ’cause that’s what it is. Obviously, Andy is a very, very different singer, he’s got a very different instrument, and he writes lyrics very differently. I’m very, very impressed with where Andy has gone lyrically on the record, too; that’s another thing. So it’s great. It is so epic sounding. We’ve got some amazing songs on this, and I’m hyper excited about it, as you can probably tell.”