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I had the pleasure of talking to Alan Nesbitt of the DIO tribute band RISING. If they come to a town near you make sure to check them out live and just close your eyes and you might think it's really Ronnie James Dio your seeing live. (I know if your eyes are closed how can you see?? ) Check out any of there videos to see the proof. Here is my interview with guitarist Alan. rising3

THE METAL PIT:  My first question is why did the band choose to tribute DIO??

ALAN NESBITT:  Why NOT Dio??  J If you think about who has had a larger impact on Hard Rock / Metal you’d be hard pressed to think of anyone.  His incredible career spanned decades with bands that are the gold standard in terms of influence.  Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven and Hell…It’s a testament to his talent that he was involved in that many incredible bands.  All of us in this Tribute are huge fans and that is something that we share with everyone that comes to the show.  We aren’t former band mates or people that knew him on a personal level, we aren’t that lucky, but his music influenced our musical paths as individuals and together we want to honor that influence and who he was a person…that is something that we share with every fan that attends a show.  Ronnie has the most loyal and passionate fans that I’ve ever seen and his music made a difference in people’s lives.

How long has been the band around and introduce yourself and your band mates?

The band has been around for over 5 years in different forms.  The only original member left from the original “Stand Up and Shout” is Jericho, our bass player. 


Chad McMurray-Vocals

Jonathan Sindelman-Keyboards

Jericho Hankins-Bass

Michael Robson-Drums

Mark ‘X’ Xavier-Guitars

Alan Nesbitt-Guitars

rising5From the small sample I checked out of your band and one of your videos it sounds very much like the original. How are the crowd reactions at your live shows?

Well thanks Blake.  We look at it as a musical responsibility to bring to the stage EVERYTHING a diehard fan would expect to see and hear, mainly for the reason that we ARE diehard fans.  Ronnie brought such intensity and passion to every single song he performed that if we didn’t try and replicate that, it would be a limp version of something that all of us as fans consider sacred! All of us were blessed to have an artist like RJD that lived with that amount of artistic integrity.  Rising’s aim is to bring that same conviction to each performance because again, his fans are RABID and if you go up and half ass a solo or vocal line, everyone in the audience is going to know and you’ll  probably get your ass kicked.  I’d hate to see anyone do a half assed version of any of these songs because they mean so much to me.  I know each of the guys feels the same, so there is a very high level of accountability.

As far as crowd reaction, what can I say?  We’ve had the extreme pleasure of sharing his music with people all over the place, including Ireland and it’s just been amazing.  From small kids to Grandparents, everyone has been just incredibly supportive. We’ve encountered people crying during a show because they can remember what RJD meant to them.  Talking to fellow fans after a show, we hear so many stories of how generous he was with his time…he’d make time for everyone and make them feel like they were the most important fan in the world and it was sincere.  My favorite part of a show, aside from playing, is talking with fellow fans and hearing the stories that each of them has about Ronnie. 


For you personally why did you choose to be in a tribute band?

Because of a series of cliché’ musical experiences, I had pretty much  quite playing.  I had a few large things fall through professionally and I was disenchanted with the business of music.  But, I’m a guitarist…I love the guitar and I wanted to begin playing again, but didn’t really know anyone in the Seattle music scene at all.  I saw an ad in a local music paper and thought about it.  My focus had always been original music projects so I thought about it.  For me it was all about really loving the music first; Could I play the music with absolute conviction? Because Ronnie’s music was so influential on me, I knew that I could.  I sent in a couple of instrumental pieces that I recorded and was offered the gig.  Outside of this Tribute act, I could not see myself doing any other because I just don’t have the passion for any other artist or band.  Possible exception might be a Randy Rhoads era Ozzy, but that’s it.  I’ve got to feel what I play and I don’t feel shit for “Pour Some Sugar on Me”!

 Initially, when I found out that there were to be 2 guitarists, I was a little confused given that Ronnie always played with one and truth be told I had almost always been the lone guitarist in the projects I was involved with as well (same for ‘X’), but when we understood what the objective was, which was to sonically reproduce the songs as close to the recordings as possible and also bring a “live” energy to the experience,  X and I immediately “got it”.  We were okay with sharing duties because we were attempting to capture the sound of the recordings, which is hard to do with only one guitarist. 

What are your favorite Dio songs to perform live?

Tough question!  When I was an awkward teenage kid in Alaska that dreamt of being a guitarist one day, Holy Diver was one of two albums that changed my life (2nd was ‘Diary of a Madman’) and ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ always moved me when I listened to it.  Just the ferocity of Vivian’s solo and the way Ronnie sang it…beautifully articulate in the beginning and so angry during the faster sections.  It’s a fave now because of its importance to me when I was a kid.

“I” is another one that I connect with on every level-Just brutal

“Kill The King” and “Stargazer” are just ridiculous as far as energy.  Chad nails the vocal lines in “Stargazer” and people are just blown away. 

What were your thoughts when Ronnie James Dio was taken from us? rising1

I guess some people would think that it’s strange that a man I never met had such a HUGE impact on me…I wasn’t fortunate enough to ever had played with him or know him on a personal level but he was in fact responsible for me becoming a musician.  His voice, words and music hit me on a level that only a couple others can even come close to.

I always thought that he was bigger than life-that he would out live all of us because he was such a giant! When you watch video of him singing in what is his last show with Heaven and Hell, he was SO strong.  He sounded phenomenal.  When I heard that he had cancer, I was like “No biggie, he’ll be back in no time”. I followed his progress on his website and it looked as though things were getting better.  ‘X’ and I had been in the band for about 3 months and I remember coming into rehearsal and our former singer saying that Ronnie had passed away that very day.   I was in shock, but the magnitude of the loss was something I didn’t fully recognize until a little later.  The man, who had inspired me to be brave and follow my dreams with a guitar in my hands, was gone.  That is something that all of us as fans can share; Ronnie’s music allowed us to know that someone was there with us when obstacles or setbacks occurred.  He was a once in a lifetime artist and I hope that somehow he knows how many people his music and life have touched.

Your band covers all bands that Dio has been a part of. Do you have a favorite band that he was involved in?

 No, they all have their place and each is phenomenal in their own right.   

As a guitarist who were you influenced by?

The first time I heard Randy Rhoads, something clicked.  I had no idea what he was doing but I knew I had to be able to do it.  Still chasing that goal!  Hahahaha!

Vivian Campbell’s work on the ‘Holy Diver’ album was lightning in a bottle and was hugely influential for me.

In no particular order:

Al DiMeola, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray, Steve Vai, Malmsteen, George Lynch, Ace Frehley. I was in band in LA that had Doug Aldrich had recorded with and I think he’s superb!  I’m an old school player but a few newer guys are exceptional to me: Synyster Gates plays effortlessly and just tears shit up.  Tosin Abasi on his 8 string is mind boggling.

Have you or your band mates ever discussed doing your own thing with your own songs?

Ya know, not really.  We’ve discussed things in the past but we are having a great time playing these songs, so why mess with it?  Some of us are involved in outside projects and that takes up time.  Jonathan is involved in some heavy stuff working with the likes of Frank Gambale and Mike Keneally. Chad can sing like Dio and then pick up any instrument you hand him, and he plays it perfectly so he has a few outside projects as well.  Rising is what brings us all together at this point. 

rising2Your band donates money from concerts to charity organizations that you feel it’s needed. Why did the band decide to do that?

Anyone that knows about Ronnie, knows that he was extremely charitable.   We started giving proceeds from donations at shows, for the Stand Up and Shout Cancer fund.  From there, we felt that charities focused on music and helping kids would be the ones that he most likely give a nod too.  We are fans and never wanted to have it seem that we were trying to cash in on playing his music.  We’ve recently become a Non-Profit (Which is no small under taking) which allows us on giving to charities that focus o

n cancer research and social programs for at risk youth. 

Tell us about some of where the money is going and helping out?

Our last show (first since becoming a non profit) was focused on helping Northwest Youth Services which has helped homeless or at risk youth since 1976.  Those proceeds will go to help with whatever they see fit. We will also be looking to align ourselves with musical programs that offer the chance for kids to learn to play a musical instrument. 

Covering the Dio musical life features different guitar players and different styles. Is there one guitarist that he has worked with that proved to be the hardest or the most challenging for yourself to re create?

Blackmore!  ‘X’ does a much better job of getting Blackmore than I do…note for note.  He’s amazing at picking up Blackmore’s subtleties.  I do more of Aldrich playing Blackmore than actual Blackmore!

Do you have any current touring plans?

We do!  We are currently working out the details for a Texas Tour that will most likely happen in Sept / Oct.  We will be hitting theater type venues so that we can use our stage props and all of the things that make it a “SHOW”.  Focusing on the experience for people coming to the show is really our focus now.  We want it to be something special and not easily forgotten!

We are also setting up dates in Feb / March 2014 to return to Ireland and head over to Scotland and England.  We are so stoked to get back to Ireland.  People there LOVE Dio and we had an incredible time there last year.  People there were crying and telling us how much they loved Ronnie..it’s beyond words to be able to play to fellow fans like that.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for THE METAL PIT. Any closing thoughts for the readers? rising4

A couple of things-We recently played a show that was shot by a 6 HD camera  video crew that we should have edited and have parts of on our site soon.  Excited about that, because it will give everyone a glimpse of the entire show that we feel is really important.  

Really want to thank you, Blake for the opportunity to be a part of The Metal Pit!  You’ve got a great site!  Hope to meet you at some point!