The People>>Green Tea>>RIOT>>Riot V - USA

Rock City - 1977 - Fire-Sign/Victor/Ariola/Attic
Narita - 1979 - Capitol
Fire Down Under - 1981 - Elektra
Restless Breed - 1982 - Elektra
Born In America - 1983 - Quality
Thundersteel - 1988 - CBS Associated
Riot Live - 1989 - CBS
The Privilege Of Power - 1990 - CBS Associated/Sony
Riot In Japan - Live!! - 1992 - Sony
Nightbreaker - 1993 - Sony/Rising Sun
The Brethren Of The Long House - 1995 - Sony
Inishmore - 1997 - Roadrunner
Shine On - 1998 - Metal Blade
Sons Of Society - 1999 - Metal Blade
Through The Storm - 2002 - Metal Blade
Army Of One - 2006 - Metal Heaven
Immortal Soul - 2011 - SPV

Riot image
  
 
Members
Vocals
Guy Speranza>>Guy Speranza Project - Rachel, Hitman, Thrasher>>Rhett Forrester>>Jack Starr, Thrasher, Solo, Badlands, Mr. Dirty, Dr. Dirty - Tony Moore [Anthony Morabito]>>Faith And Fire, Big Muff Pi, Immortal Soul - Kameo, Josie Sang, Deep Purple>>Michael DiMeo>>Masterplan, The Lizards, Tommy James And The Shondells, Ilium, Tenpoint, Gate Three, Bonnie Tyler, Johnny Winter, Creation's End, Vinnie Moore, Midas Fate - Faith And Fire>>TONY MOORE [ANTHONY MORABITO]>>Faith And Fire, Big Muff Pi, Immortal Soul

Guitar
Kon Tiki, Mark Reale Project, Narita, Bonnie Tyler, WestWorld>>MARK REALE>>Mark Reale Project, Narita, Bonnie Tyler, WestWorld - Smoke, Harlequin, Diamond, Faded Blue>>Louie Kouvaris>>Satelite, Sweetalk, Special Forces, The Hots, Riot Act - Rick Ventura>>Silent Partner, Riot Act - Faith And Fire>>MIKE FLYNTZ>>Faith And Fire


Bass
Phil Feit>>Billy Idol, Adam bomb, Joan Jett - Jimmy Iommi - Marshall Law, Mistress, Tank>>Kip Leming [Cliford Leming]>>Tank, Harter Attack, RKs - Seance, S.A. Slayer, Mark Reale Project, Narita>>Don VanStavern>>Pitbull Daycare, The Devil’s Jukebox, Evil United, Iron Allies - Karion, Syrus, Spastic Ink, Reverend, Leatherwolf>>Pete Perez>>Spastic Ink, Reverend, Leatherwolf, Terrestrial Exiled - Seance, S.A. Slayer, Mark Reale Project, Narita, Pitbull Daycare, Evil United, Iron Allies, The Devil’s Jukebox>>DON VAN STAVERN>>Pitbull Daycare, Evil United, Iron Allies, The Devil’s Jukebox

Drum
Kon Tiki>>Peter Bitelli - Best, Adam Bomb>>Sandy Slavin>>Adam Bomb, Harter Attack, Ace Frehley’s Comet - Steeler, Solo, 3rd Stage Alert, Lion>>Mark Edwards [Mark Edward Schwarz]>>Lion - Juggernaut, Happy Kitties, Spastic Ink>>Bobby Jarzombek>>Spastic Ink, Halford, Painmuseum, Arch/Matheos, Cheap Evil, John West, Rob Rock, Iced Earth, Sebastian Bach, Fates Warning, Zierler, Blaze Bayley, Juggernaut, Ace In The Hole, George Strait - Essex, 13 Candles, Powermad, TNT, Alex Masi>>John Macaluso>>Alex Masi, Ark, Yngwie Malmsteen, Mullmuzzler, Jorn, Holy Mother, Fool’s Game, HolyHell, MCM, Masterlast, George Lynch, Lynch Mob, Mistheria, Starbreaker, Vitalij Kuprij, John Maculso & Union Radio, Stygia, Mastercastle, Stone Leaders, Symphony X, Labÿrinth, Unwritten Pages, Artlantica, Antonello Giliberto, Tore St Morten, Tiger Stone - Juggernaut, Happy Kitties, Spastic Ink>>Bobby Jarzombek>>John West, Spastic Ink, Halford, Painmuseum, Rob Rock, Iced Earth, Sebastian Bach, Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos, Cheap Evil, Zierler, Blaze Bayley, Juggernaut, Ace In The Hole, George Strait - Sickness, virgin Steele, Holy Mother>>Frank Gilchriest>>Feanor, Liege Lord - Juggernaut, Happy Kitties, Spastic Ink, Halford, John West, Painmuseum, Rob Rock, Iced Earth, Sebastian Bach, Cheap Evil, Arch/Matheos, Fates Warning, Zierler>>Bobby Jarzombek>>Cheap Evil, Sebastian Bach, Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos, Zierler, Blaze Bayley, Juggernaut, Ace In The Hole, George Strait


Keyboard
MARK REALE




History & Biography
Riot is often considered the quintessential American power metal band. Like many true and trustworthy bands, Riot has never broken big, but the band has persisted despite the problem of operating without its original talent or founding members. The remaining members have had the decency to modify the monicker however.

The Riot boys came together in 1975 and Riot was founded in New York, USA in 1975. The founding members were guitarist Mark Reale (a fan of Montrose), who also penned the majority of the music, and drummer Peter Bitelli who also came from Kon-Tiki. The Asia-related name is important because Riot would show an inexplicable Asian bias with upcoming titles like Tokyo Rose and Narita. The drummer and guitarist were school-mates. The two started jamming in Mark’s basement using The People and then the Green Tea monickers, but they needed more members. Also joining for the early line-up were first bassist Phil Feit and second singer Guy Speranza. Phil was found through an ad he had placed at a New York record store called King James looking for a band. Guy was singing at a block party and was noticed by Mark’s father who lived in the neighbourhood. Phil Feit would be heard on a couple of the debut’s songs. He disliked the contract the band had signed and exited, but would marry Mark Reale’s cousin later! Iommi completed the bass work on the majority of the album. He would go on to join major pop acts like Billy Idol. The members had played cover versions before and jammed on covers, but Riot wanted to pen originals. Peter Bitelli suggested the ‘Riot’ monicker after noticing one character telling another she was a “riot” in The Honeymooners sitcom. The band played several local clubs like CBGBs.

Mark Reale presented the band’s early demo of four songs to producers Billy Arnell and Steve Loeb, who owned the Greene Street Recording Studio and established the fledgling Fire-Sign Records and obtained a record and publishing deal. The two businessmen had seen Riot on stage in New York City in 1976. The new contacts would also take over the group’s management as part of the deal. The band found favour with Japanese major label Victor and issued a single called Warrior (b/w Tokyo Rose) in 1977. This was culled from the Rock City full-length, which introduced the band’s equally strange half furry baby seal, half human mascot. The band’s logo had been simplified into a straightforward typeset and dropped the axe. The cover idea was that the seal was striking back at humans for hunting and clubbing them to death. The mascot was later dubbed Johnny, The Mighty Tior, which is clearly an anagram. Speranza was on the microphone, Reale was on guitar, Bitelli was on drums while Jimmy Iommi played bass and Louie Kouvaris (who would die of COVID-19 in 2020) became the second guitarist. Steve Costello contributed keyboards, and was originally deemed a member, but the band opted to hire a second guitarist instead. Attic Records licensed the record for Canada. Whatever would come next, the band’s early music had established Riot as an influence on many heavy or speed metal bands to come. The band opened for Journey at a gig in New York State following which management fired Louie Kouvaris. Management asserted it was doing Mark’s bidding. UK DJ Neal Kay became an admirer of the act and would later offer further assistance to Riot whether it is booking a festival appearance or petitioning the record company.

The band was picked up by Capitol Records next. The mascot came back, as did the Japanese motif (Narita is a city in Japan with an important Buddhist temple, which is a site for pilgrimage every New Year day), characters and even an album title. Narita is also the site for the new Tokyo airport, which adds sense to why there is an aeroplane on the cover too. Mount Fuji makes an appearance as well. Rick Ventura was on second guitar here. He was a friend and admirer of the band, who had become the act’s roadie, and was picked to replace Louie Kouvaris. The group snagged a few gigs opening for AC/DC in Texas. The rhythm section was Kip Leming on bass and Sandy Slavin drumming. Reale had fired the earlier rhythm section. The group was finding a following in the UK and was given the opportunity to open for Sammy Hagar (Ex-Montrose) in the UK in 1980. Sammy Hagar was looking for a real metal band to open for it, acknowledging that metal was a hot commodity at that point. The bands were both on Capitol eventually. Bassist Kip Leming was drafted three weeks before the start of this tour. The band appeared at the Monsters Of Rock festival in Central England alongside headliners Rainbow, as well as Scorpions, Judas Priest and April Wine and consequently appeared on the Monsters Of Rock LP compilation.

Many consider Fire Down Under the band’s masterpiece and certainly songs like Swords And Tequila (which begins with a riff that sounds close to Iron Maiden’s 2 Minutes To Midnight from 1984) and Run For Your Life deliver. Swords And Tequila would become the band’s best-known song, which is amazing as, at this stage in life, Reale was not a drinker. The band’s fluffy mascot takes up the entire LP cover here and adds to the mystery. Amazingly, Capitol Records did not want to release it, deeming insufficient commercial, and sold it off to Elektra Records instead. The band’s management and the label were not friendly and so Capitol did not wish to release a record by a band that was not selling a lot anyway. The band’s management had organised petitions and solicited the assistance of the editor Geoff Barton of Kerrang, which at that time was metal-related, to force the issue and put pressure on Capitol. Things turned around when Elektra put the record out instead. Fire Down Under sold half a million records. Still, the band’s singer Guy quit citing religion, getting married and a change of lifestyles. The band was in the middle of touring with Grand Funk Railroad. With a present label, a successful album and concerts booked, it was bad timing for Riot to lose its singer. Nonetheless, Guy left after the band opened for Rush. Guy Speranza became an exterminator.

Riot Live was a stop-gap MLP in 1982 before the Restless Breed album. The cover had the act’s mascot in front of the fictional Tromaville from Toxic Crusaders. The big news, however, was the departure of Guy Speranza in favour of Rhett Forrester. The new singer was auditioning for several bands having come from an act called Hitman. The new man soon had a reputation for drinking alcohol in the extreme. Anthrax would later ask Speranza to audition, but the man was uninterested. Interestingly, the singer would attempt to put together a band called Guy Speranza Project later. Riot opened for Scorpions and Whitesnake. 1982 ended with a Halloween show with Anvil and Raven in New York City. The concert was organised by Johnny Z of Megaforce. The new singer was voted singer of the year by Japan’s Burrn! Magazine. The old singer had been told by Jesus, and his new wife, that metal and religion and metal and steady income are incompatible. Fair enough, but the band’s delivery is watered down and gone West Coast hard rock. Matters were improved slightly next with Born In America. This album was released in 1983, which was a full year ahead of Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A. No matter because both titles scream crude crud, but at least Springsteen’s album was not through Quality Records, which is best known for late night infomercials hawking useless compilations by poppy syrup. Incidentally, Born In America, in addition to its title, sported an American flag, but the band’s mascot still insisted on its sumo pose. Go Figure. Forrester was occasionally unreliable and a no-show. Ventura departed. Still, there was a tour opening for Kiss.

Experimentation having failed, the line-up underwent an overhaul and the group issued Thundersteel, which to everyone’s surprise hit a homerun in Japan. There is a song here called Run For Your Life, which was also a song title from Fire Down Under. The track was called Kiss Of Death in the studio, but the band changed it to Run For Your Life regardless of the redundancy. Ironically, the sumo loving Tior was missing from the cover artwork. Still, the band had actually split up between 1984 and 1986 due to tension with management and the record company. Reale had founded the Mark Reale Project, which changed its name to Narita quickly. At first, however, he had sought to do nothing and get away from the music industry. He was based in Texas now. The new projects featured Don Van Stavern who would join the reformed Riot soon. The reformation in 1986 was possibly with Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer and Carl Canedy of The Rods, who had joined the band, but they ended up not making the move to New York City with the other two guys. Harry and Mark had quickly had a falling out. Reale and his new band-mate would both move to New York and Reale attempted to bring first Guy and then Rhett back, but both refused. Guy remained uninterested. Rhett was not interested in the band’s newer material and was focused on his new project. The line-up on the latest Riot record, in the meantime, had been Reale on guitar and singer Tony Moore, who would eventually quit citing a lack of income and health concerns, on vocals. Don VanStavern was on bass and alternately Bobby Jarzombek or Mark Edwards were on drums. Tony Moore, who was introduced to Reale through Steve Loeb, had a higher pitch than most. In fact, he had studied operatic vocals.

The band travelled to Japan to support Thundersteel, which showcased a new band logo, in 1989. Another Riot Live - this time a full-length - appeared in 1989. The material was from 1980’s Monsters of Rock and London in the same year! Rhett Forrester was murdered during a carjacking in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1994. The band may have lost its moment, but the group delivered and secured its integrity at least. This was solidified with the follow-up record, The Privilege Of Power, which the band wrote collectively while staying at Van Stavern’s parents’ house in Texas. Unfortunately, management and the band added a horns section to the music in order to be different and expand commercially. Predictably, the label pulled the plug. Van Stavern left and Pete Perez came in.

Having toured Japan again in 1990, the band released a MLP called Riot In Japan - Live!! In 1992. A European tour with Saxon for 1991 ended up with Riot pulling out. Tony Moore left now, again unhappy with the lack of money. Some thought management was taking all the money. Others thought the label was keeping the money recouping its expenses, which was more peculiar than usual because the management owned a studio. Guy Speranza called Mark Reale showing interest in a reunion. Guy was experiencing difficulty in his marriage. The two began jamming before Guy and his wife reconciled and relocated to Florida.

Nightbreaker featured Michael DiMeo on vocals and sported different cover artwork depending on the territory. Mike DiMeo had a more melodic or bluesy tone. The Brethren Of The Long House is the only album featuring drummer John Macaluso. It was an album about the erosion of native culture in America. Reale moved to terminate the band’s longstanding management contract with Steve Loeb in order to take direct control of the group’s affairs. There were concerts with Skyclad and Whiplash in Europe. Bobby Jarzombek returned for Inishmore and had, in fact, begun recording for Brethren as well. Shine On was a live record taped in Japan. Bobby would leave again later to join Rob Halford.

Sons Of Society had a jagged logo, was on Metal Blade and saw DiMeo arrested in Germany, while on the subsequent tour with Anvil, after someone had thrown an object at him during a concert. Through The Storm was on Metal Blade and featured session drummer Bobby Rondinelli of Rainbow fame. Japanese artist Kayumi Yoko would contribute violin as he had on Inishmore. Guy Speranza died of cancer in 2003. The band would return to Metal Blade, but in the meantime Army Of One appeared on Metal Heaven. Frank Gilchriest was on drums here. The band had taken a couple of years off again due to a lack of funds and backing. Bobby Jarzombek was on drums for Immortal Soul. Mike DiMeo was replaced by singer Mike Tirelli (also ex-Jack Starr's Burning Starr) who ended up performing live with the band only. Tirelli had cancer in 2008, but has happily done well since. Confused yet? Well, here is another: The year 2008 into 2009 brought a reunion. It was a reunion of the Thundersteel formation with Bobby Jarzombek, Don Van Stavern and Tony Moore with the two guitarists. The band appeared at Sweden Rock Festival in 2009 and recorded Immortal Soul. The biggest news, however, was that Mark Reale had less involvement on the guitar here. He suffered from Crohn's disease and would die at age 56 in January 2012. Reale had undergone surgery and much treatment to no avail. This would be his last album and subsequently the act was left orphaned. A tour with fans of the band, Hammerfall, had earlier not proceeded as singer Tony Moore was experiencing dental issues and was not ready to sing. The band had been booked to play at 70000 Tons Of Metal and did so without Mark Reale who died while the rest of the act was at sea. The four had also conducted a mini-tour of the USA in January and Reale had missed the NYC concert.

It was never an elegant solution, but again the members opted to forge ahead without founding member Reale. The name was changed to Riot V, singer Tony Moore left and the act forged ahead. Still, certain markets insisted on keeping the Riot monicker for the band on releases.


Reviews

RIOT - THUNDERSTEEL - CBS  
Riot’s musical style has undergone three different phases so far. They started as a heavy metal act with singer Guy Speranza (R.I.P.) and later Rhett Forrester (R.I.P.), then had a two-album power metal stint with Tony Moore at the microphone, and nowadays play hard rock with vocalist Mike DiMeo.
Thundersteel was the first album with Tony Moore and begins with the fast title track. It contains the characteristic rhythm and trioles that are typical for Mark Reale’s guitar style. He is the one constant that the band has had over the years. Fight Or Fall is up-tempo and sounds like a battle hymn. Sign Of The Crimson Storm, a slow song, has a great chorus. Flight Of The Warrior features the lyrical theme of the 'shining warrior,' which the band has also used in the song Warrior from the Rock City album and in Shine from the latest album Army Of One. On Wings Of Eagles is a fast, rhythm-oriented song again. Johnny’s Back begins with only bass and drums before a Judas Priest-like riff sets in. Tony Moore’s vocals are excellent here. Bloodstreets is a real anthem and the lyrics are reminiscent of the old Mad Max movies. Run For Your Life has a touch of Saxon, and the final song Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart) is over eight minutes long and seems to be based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart. Power metal fans can’t go wrong with this album. - Andreas Herzog

RIOT - THE PRIVILEGE OF POWER - CBS  
The Privilege Of Power could be the only power metal album with a brass ensemble (??? - ed.). The ensemble is called Tower Of Power and led by Randy Brecker. Although the horns only appear in two songs, On Your Knees and Killer, they create a unique sound - and it fits! The album features a loose concept about the power of the media, but not all of the lyrics submit to the topic. The opener On Your Knees begins with the sound of a person zapping through various American TV channels. After he or she has switched off the TV and left the room, the TV switches itself back on and we get to hear some more sound samples that are accompanied by a variation of Al DiMeola’s instrumental Racing With The Devil On A Spanish Highway until the phrase “What happened in China in April and May? Whatever the government says happened.” Then the song is off to a fast start, with horns and guitars. The lyrics deal with different ways of addiction: “A slave to a business, a mistress, a wife/A slave to the bottle, the needle or knife.” Metal Soldiers is an epic song in the tradition of Manowar and starts with dialogues from a war movie. The ballad Runaway would have made a great single. Killer features Joe Lynn Turner as a guest singer and sounds much like Whitesnake. The brass ensemble goes wild in this one. Dance Of Death is a fast and aggressive track about political murders in China. Storming The Gates Of Hell makes fun of American television evangelists. Maryanne is another great ballad, while Little Miss Death could be a song about a prostitute. The song quotes an Alcatrazz title in varied form: “Too drunk to live, too young to die/That was our battle cry and our alibi.” The original is called Too Young To Die, To Drunk To Live. Black Leather And Glittering Steel is a double bass hammer, and the full version of the aforementioned instrumental closes the album. It may be Riot’s best, though some argue that Fire Down Under deserves that honour, but this album is certainly the band’s heaviest recording. - Andreas Herzog

RIOT - THROUGH THE STORM - METAL BLADE
Active for 25 years, Riot is a true veteran of the metal scene. Even though listening to Through The Storm is clearly a journey with a band which is much about AOR and heavy rock, Riot is still of interest to heavy metal listeners. Album opener Turn The Tables is also the one track Metal Blade had made available in advance. The song has a great rhythm and sounds classy. Lost Inside The World has the album's sharpest guitar attack. One could almost puncture his ear drums with this one. In fact, the lead and rhythm guitars are the highlights of this storm. The guitar solos of Mark Reale are hardly a surprise of course. Clean, fluid and full of vigour, the lead on Turn The Table, for example, is of high quality. What is disappointing is Rondinelli's lacklustre drumming, probably the only bad thing about the album. who has cut his teeth propelling acts like Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult, which is probably the album's only disappointment. His performance might be a function of a lack of practice time with the Rioters. Mike Dimeo belts out his vocals with a lot of feeling; occasionally taking the band into Reo Speedwagon and Foreigner territory. Listen to Chains as an example. Then again he sounds more attuned to Rainbow circa Joe Lynn Turner most of the time. Through The Storm also takes the listener through two covers and two ballads. Through The Storm will appeal to hard rockers and AOR fans.


Interviews
Mike DiMeo is an atypical vocalist. He comes across as modest and honest when we speak on the occasion of Riot's new album Through The Storm. He has an unassuming manner and does not mind listening to the interviewer. When asked a question most musicians would not want to contemplate, DiMeo answers it with surprising candour instead of getting defensive. He is interested and will even surprise you by asking you questions. No, DiMeo is not your typical heavy metal vocalist -23.09.2002

Mike, thank you for agreeing to speak with us at Metallian. I have positive and negative remarks about the new album. Which would you like me to bring up initially?
Well, I would like you to decide which to mention first. I do not mind.

Through The Storm impresses me in the vocal and guitar departments. The former is soaring and emotional, while the latter is, unsurprisingly, faultless. The drumming, on the other hand, is dull and monotonous.
OK, let me address the drumming issue. As you know, our drummer Bobby Jarzombek left our band to join Halford. That presented a huge problem for us because Bobby is an amazing player. Not many people on this Earth can play like him. To find people that can cop that kind of a feel would have been hard for us to do. We went with someone who we believed to be one of the best drummers around. I grew up listening to Rainbow. He has played with Black Sabbath and he is with Blue Oyster Cult now. I know what you are saying.
You know what it is? It's more of a rock approach as opposed to a power rock approach. Be honest with you I like his groove. I like his feel which is laid back. It's not as in-your-face as the previous Bobby. He got the point across. I am getting a lot of mixed reviews. I think people are used to very heavy drumming in this band from the past and it's hard for them to accept this huge change. Have I answered the point?

One thing you can clarify is whether the drum parts were written by Rondinelli or were pre-written for him. That is, could the drumming be due to a lack of practice time?
No, he came in and wrote his own. That's a good question though. I think he had the time. I think that its how he felt comfortable. That's how he heard the songs. Mark Reale (guitarist) rehearsed the songs with him and they recorded them together. The basic tracks on this album were rhythm guitar and drums. When Mark and Bobby put the tracks down that is how they heard it. They didn't hear more busy or more fills and so they went with it.

Will Rondinelli be a member of the band on the next album?
He is not a member of the band. Right now this is a problem for us because we don't have a permanent drummer yet. We are not sure what is going to happen.

Who will accompany you on the road?
It's still a question. Once we decide which tour we are going to take and how the record is doing we will know.

Has the band considered using John O'Reilly the drummer of Reale's other band Westworld as an option?.
No, definitely not.

Will you elaborate on the vocals and guitar playing on Through The Storm?
I always try to be consistent with my vocals. I always try to write melody lines that are going to stick out.
It was questionable whether or not we are even going to tour on this record! So I wasn't afraid of singing high on this record. I wasn't afraid of going for it. More than any album I have ever recorded with this band, on Through The Storm I had that sense of wanting to go for it. I wanted to do something that when I look back at it I would be really proud. I think on this record I did that as far as vocal performance. When I listen to some of the songs on this record, I can be objective, sit back and say 'vow this is a good song.'
I listen to a song like Chains (Revolving) and I am really happy with the vocal performance as I am with the song. That's a new thing for me; I am trying to do both. I am concentrating on the collusion. I recorded the vocals in two parts. I recorded one part at Bruno Ravel's house who is in Danger Danger. The other songs I recorded at Milbrook Sound Studios in Milbrook New York.
As far as Mark's guitar playing I think you are absolutely right. This is one of my favourite records that Mark has played on. He did a brilliant job. His solos are amazing on this record.

When writing and recording this album, did the band have the sense that the material is going in the direction of Rainbow?
Well, we have the drummer for Rainbow in the band. It's funny because when Bobby Rondinelli heard the CD a couple of weeks back he said, 'Jesus Christ this sounds like Rainbow!' You know the expression 'you are what you eat?' I grew up listening to that stuff. In 1993 Ritchie Blackmore asked me to join Deep Purple! That's the stuff that I like to sing you know. I was supposed to sing on Deep Purple's The Battle Rages On. I had started to work on that record with Roger Glover. I only worked with them for about three months before BMG pulled the plug. They decided they wanted Ian Gillan to do the 25th anniversary. I have those same songs on a CD with me singing on them.

Will those ever be released?
No, never. That would never come out.

Seeing how you agree with the Rainbow comparisons, how do you view fans who only like older and harder Riot?
I have heard that - several times. It's a strange thing because anytime you join a band that has a twenty year history you will hear something from someone who likes the direction and something from someone who hates the new direction. Now you get someone like you who loves and hates the new direction! But seriously you always run into people who have a different opinion. That's the beauty of music. When you compare it to the old sound I am definitely not a Guy Speranza-type singer. My vein is more the David Coverdale, Paul Rodgers and that type of blues-based singing. For the most part I hate positive things though.

You earlier mentioned that Riot might not tour for this album.
The music we play is not the flavour of the month. There is not much radio support and there is definitely no TV support - there is none of that with us. It makes it really hard, for a band like us, to go on the road and support ourselves at the same time. This music, I love it to death, does not make a living for any of us. It's really hard for everyone to drop everything and just go on the road and come back broke.

Is that why you are only doing interview after five o'clock in the afternoon?
(Laughs heartily) no we are all doing interviews and are splitting them up. Mark is doing them during the day and I am doing them in the evenings.
I am a piano player. I play blues and jazz almost every night. I play with many different musicians all over the place. As far as music, that's my main income.

Does the album title refer to the hard times and difficulties of being in a hard rock band?
That's a good question... You know, this band is difficult for many different reasons. There have been many difficult times. I guess you could say that about the title.
That's not what I had in mind when I was writing the song Through The Storm though. When Mark asked me about a title for the album I thought of the song Through The Storm. Not only I thought of what's going on with the band, but also what is going on nowadays and in these times. It really summed up a lot of angst that people are feeling.
The song Through The Storm... it's hard for me to tell you what the songs are about. When I tell you that I don't know what the songs are about I truly mean it! I write these songs and the words just come out. When I go back after getting the CD and I read the words, I try to figure out what I was thinking of and often it has to do with my feelings. A lot of is metaphoric too.
Originally when I wrote the title track I tried to make reference to Napoleonic history. I tried to make it about him, but as I was writing it I began to drift away from it. There wasn't an influence from a book or film. I had spent a lot of time in France last year and was actually going to move there. The song tries to imagine what he was thinking and feeling as he goes to war. It was a first-person account at first, but it always ends up being a reflection of myself.

Elsewhere some wonder why the band's logo seems to be a moving target? You seem to have several different ones from which you draw?
I think it's a way to continue and be new. There is no specific intention in mind, but we try to be continuously inventive. I have to tell you that after the last album the band was essentially broken up! After our European tour, and after Bobby left, we weren't sure we are continuing Riot! I was also arrested in Europe and it was a mess. No one knew what was happening. After all that, we tried to go for something new.
I was arrested in Hamburg, Germany, or detained rather, because someone decided to throw things at me on stage. It hit me in the face. After the show I decided to hit him in the face. There were rumours that the guy is working for our old record company. It was really really pathetic, especially because it was a rough tour man. We were on a bus in Munich, Germany and the heater broke. For four days we were driving through Europe with no heat in the bus! I remember being huddled in the back with the band Anvil. We were in the back of the bus trying to stay warm. I remember when we pulled up to the venue in Munich everyone was so relieved to be at the gig so we can warm up. Then we went to the show after that and this guy decided to be an arsehole and no one was in the mood for it. This was in January and it was freezing.
After we got home Mark and I had been talking. We went through some more problems. There was a question of whether or not I was going to sing for Riot anymore. We had gotten an offer from Dio to tour through North America and Mark thought we shouldn't do it and I thought we should. He felt that if the record company is not giving us enough support, then if we broke down somewhere we would be in big trouble. I thought that it does not matter. We should do the tour. I respect his opinion, but think we should tour wherever we can. It's the only way this band can be visible. We had a huge difference of opinion about that. We finally decided we will do another record. The main reason is that I love to write music with Mark. It's just a great feeling listening to the albums we make.

What are the band's plans going forward?
We are looking for a tour. We are hoping one will come. Everyone knows how important it is. The tour has to help the band though. We have done tours in Europe we have accomplished nothing - like playing to 30 people in Belgium. We are hoping for a package with several bands. That seems to be the plan in Japan right now.

How is Riot's fan base divided geographically?
Of course Japan is our income right now. We are still on a major label there, we are On EMI. We have been doing well in Europe as well. We are building our base in Greece and Italy. A couple of spots like Texas are also good for us. It really varies. Then there is Belgium where only 30 people show up.
It's hard for me to know exactly, because there are fans of metal everywhere. Metal is like a disease. People don't want to admit that they have the disease. They might buy the record, but they don't want to tell their friends that they have the record. I was just at a friend's house on Saturday night when he introduces me to his friend Jay who is a really big fan of Riot. I talk to the guy and he starts telling me how none of his friends like the band so he doesn't even talk to them about it! It's really hard to tell. I would say Japan is fifty per cent of our fan base, the other half is divided between Europe and North America.

Riot is Mike DiMeo on lead vocals, Mark Reale on electric and acoustic guitars and keyboards, Mike Flyntz on electric guitars, Pete Perez on bass guitar and guest drummer Bobby Rondinelli on drums. The band's new album is entitled Through The Storm and is now available at better musical outlets. For more information please visit www.riotsweb.com.






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