Las Vegas welcomes back Andrew Freeman after a brief European tour with Last In Line, the newly re-formed Dio band. Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Claude Schnell reunite as Last In Line with Andrew Freeman on vocals. Freeman is best known for his time in Lynch Mob and The Offspring, and is currently in the lineup for Raiding The Rock Vault in Las Vegas at The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. “Andrew Freeman here! I’m good, I’m busy, I did a radio interview about an hour ago. I feel like I’ve had a proper media day today. I am very happy to be back in Vegas. The tour was just kind of a whirlwind, it went so fast. It was a lot of driving between shows. It was a lot of traveling and I’m just not used to the traveling.”
The reformation of the original Dio band mates caused a bit of a stir in the rock world. Reforming almost a year ago, they had planned on going out to do a few shows. “We were actually to go out and do some shows after Leppard finished, but things just didn’t pan out. Vinny has a really good way of making me do things with his passive aggressive comments,” he says laughing. “We had talked about him and Viv a few times when we were in Lynch Mob, but it was just in passing. At that time I was talking to one of my idols who is now one of my very best friends. When Vinny called and asked me to join in on their session, I jumped at the opportunity and put it into perspective for me and said ‘sure, of course!’ I love playing with Vinny, and Dio was one of my favorite bands. Just the idea of the two of them together and to be a part of that history and what was going on was pretty attractive to me.”
The band would gather every couple of months and jam for a few hours, and the jams would eventually turn into talk sessions. “When we would get together, it was like we would play a few songs and then sit around and talk for a couple of hours. How my Dio obsession started is kind of crazy. I stole a cassette tape at a party once, and it happened to be Dio’s Last In Line,” he laughs loudly. “It was just sitting there and I took it!” Laughing, he says that was what started the whole cycle. “I know all the Dio songs, but had to brush up on a couple. Songs like Evil Eyes, Rainbow In The Dark and Last In Line, you know they are in my DNA. Like Vivian says that all the Thin Lizzy stuff is in his DNA, all this stuff is in mine. These guys basically taught me how to play music.”
Although Freeman had been chosen as the vocalist for Last In Line, the announcement had not been made official, and the rumors began to fly and alleged hard-core Dio fans began to sling words. “I had made an off the cuff comment on my personal Facebook page, and I kind of have to punch Claude in the balls for making that an even bigger thing. I put something up before they had even announced they were getting back together. They hadn’t thrown me to the wolves yet, but there was a story on some other site that said they were back together and had chosen a singer. I posted on my page something to the effect, ‘Man, I would hate to be this guy. He’s about to become the most hated singer in the world.’ Of course I was joking. A few friends knew what was going on, but not everyone. A litany of people started leaving negative crap and saying no one could ever replace Ronnie among a few other choice comments. Then Claude did another an interview and he actually said something in passing that I was going to become the most hated singer in the world. I really do have a trophy in my dressing room now that says Most Hated Singer In The World,” he claims as he laughs.
Last In Line had only two days of rehearsals before a warm up show at The Slidebar in Fullerton, California. Over 150 people packed into the venue for a two-hour set featuring a set list of 16 tracks that rocked the house. The set list featured Stand Up And Shout, Straight Through The Heart, King of Rock And Roll, Don’t Talk To Strangers, Sacred Heart, Evil Eyes, Holy Diver, Caught In The Middle, Egypt (The Chains Are On), I Speed At Night, The Last In Line, Invisible, Shame On The Night, Rainbow In The Dark, Gypsy and We Rock. All the songs were from the infamous Dio albums that the group had been cheated from in so many ways. “The warm up show was a lot of fun. So many fans turned out and made the night even better. The tour was amazing, very well received yet pretty nerve-racking. I think the first four songs of every show was probably the scariest place I’ve ever been in my life as far as on stage. I wasn’t just replacing anyone. I have replaced Don Dokken, I have replaced Kelly Hansen. They are great singers, but Ronnie was a god in that world; he was an icon. He’s the best singer there was in metal, I think. I was fully aware of what it was going to take to do this venture. As a fan, I knew that if somebody came in, I would be very hyper-critical of them. I don’t know how accepting I would be; the guy would have to be really good. There are a lot of cynical people out there, like myself, who just aren’t going to accept bullshit with some guy coming in, putting on the frilly shirts and the elf boots, crosses and throwing out the horns like Ronnie used to do.
Concerned about interpreting the songs in the proper way, Freeman took the stage each night wondering how the fans would react. “I thought about it and just really didn’t know what I was going to do. Up until the time we started the show in Belfast I had no clue. I finally just went out and did it my way instead of trying to be this eloquent man on stage. Ronnie was a very eloquent man on stage and I’m far from eloquent. I drop the F-Bomb left and right,” he laughs. “No, I’m a high energy performer, as so was Ronnie but in a different way. He was poetic with his stage presence, almost like watching an opera. For me at the beginning of the shows, I was very anxious and I was more nervous than I’d ever been. By the middle of the set everyone was into it, accepting and happy.” The four cities covered on this tour were Belfast, Glasgow, Derbyshire (Bloodstock Festival) and London. “Every show was the same and I think we got one boo,” he says laughing loudly. “One boo from one guy at Bloodstock out of 6000 people. I have my favorite moments from each show; like head butting dudes in Glasgow was a pretty hot point, because I think I’ve always wanted to do that. London was probably the best response we’ve gotten, but were all equally energetic and accepting. It went a long way as we didn’t know what to expect as it was just a test run. We didn’t make any money, it was great because it was like five guys in a new band going out doing a van tour like you do when you first start out, except four of the guys are legends, and I’m the odd man out,” he says again laughing.
The group will board a plane again in October as they fly to Tokyo for a show before doing a few West Coast pop up shows. “We’re just taking it slow and see what happens. Everyone’s busy and has jobs. Vivian has the greatest gig in the world, my gig is pretty solid right now and Vinny’s always busy. There are still the people out there that focus on the reason of this band simply being a cash grabber. Nothing could be further from the truth–my band mates just want to play their songs again. They’re an incredible band with an incredible chemistry that just came right back immediately. I just seem to fit right into the picture now. I knew everybody before I came in except for Vivian, and it was really easy to walk in and do the songs, and the pieces just fell together very easily. Viv is doing great! He’s playing in top form. He’s the best I’ve ever played with, and I’ve played with some good guys. These guys deserve to be together playing their songs and if they are accepting of me and the way I’m doing it, then fuck, why not? Why not do it?”
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