ON THE WINGS OF A HURRICANE: AN INTERVIEW WITH CRAIG GOLDY
The highly talented guitarist Craig Goldy hardly needs any kind of introduction at all; the great man was an essential part of the Dio band for years and co-wrote the superb “Dream Evil” (1987), “Magica” (2000), and “Master of the Moon” (2004) records by the legendary outfit. All of them still stand tall and proud as utterly impressive pieces of work. On top of that, Craig was a member of Rough Cutt and Giuffria back in the 80s and there is no getting around the fact that the latter’s self-titled debut (1984) rules beyond belief. Other noteworthy and interesting bands of his include Dio Disciples, Resurrection Kings, and Black Knights Rising. A strong and memorable album by Goldy and vocalist David Glen Eisley entitled “Blood, Guts and Games” was released late last year by the Italian label Frontiers and has garnered a lot of positive reviews as well as praise from fans. Needless to say, Eternal Terror Live simply had to have a chat with Craig about this latest endeavor of his as well as the other bands and activities that he is (or has been) involved in. Read on, folks, and do not forget to check the Eisley/Goldy album out afterwards!
Greetings Craig, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions of mine. I really appreciate that. How are you feeling? How did the recent Dio Returns trek through Europe go?
Craig: Well, there are some things that need to be fixed with the hologram, but it was mainly a grand gesture on Wendy’s behalf to the fans! Given in the same spirit in which Ronnie gave them those stage sets during the “Sacred Heart” and “Dream Evil” tours. It was surreal for me because hearing Ronnie’s voice coming out of the monitors was both heart-wrenchingly overwhelming and like being at home! The thing that I liked the best was the comradery and unity with the audiences. After nearly each concert, I got to go out on the floor and just hang out with the audience who were and are basically Ronnie’s fans, which makes them Ronnie’s family…which in turn makes them my family! No paid meet & greets, just doing things like Ronnie would’ve done as best as I could. There were a couple of generations of fans there, especially meaning when I saw an older man with his hands on the shoulders of another man in front of him (which must’ve been his son) and that man standing with his hands upon the shoulders of a young teenager and/or child in front of him. Seeing their faces…the youngest never even knew about Ronnie had it not been for his father standing behind him and what was obviously his grandfather standing behind his father. But the young teenager and/or child’s face watching what could only be like PlayStation 4 coming alive with a live rock band…and they were just mesmerized! That was really cool to see.
Growing up in San Diego, I was wondering what the music scene in your area was like when you got into music. Was there a thriving club scene in San Diego back then?
Craig: When I got into music, I was too young to know about anything other than trying to learn Deep Purple songs and how to try and play like Ritchie Blackmore. Once I became a bit of an OK player in my earlier years, the bands that I got into were always made up of guys older than me. We would often play clubs that I was too young to be inside of and needed special authorization for me to be there. Then once I was old enough to play the clubs, it was time for me to try and get up to Los Angeles, but there were a handful of nightclubs in San Diego where many of the 80s rock bands and/or musicians got their start. I’ll never forget seeing Jake E. Lee playing in such a nightclub here in San Diego…and he scared me because he was so good! I had to go home and practice! I just knew he’d become famous. It was all over him even then.
Were there any specific (classic) rock records that changed either your perspective on music or perhaps how to approach the guitar and eventually inspire you to craft songs of your own?
Craig: Most definitely! The first was the album “Burn” by Deep Purple. I was listening to the radio at home and couldn’t pick just one radio station to stay on. I loved classical music, jazz, R&B, blues and rock, so when I heard the song “Burn” come on the radio I knew that I had to check that album out. That was the beginning of the rest of my life! I didn’t know about the other Deep Purple line-ups before this. Then came “Stormbringer”; it was everything that I liked about each genre of music, all wrapped up into one single band on one single album instead of having to listen to bits and pieces of 5-6 separate albums just to get “fed”. Then I went back, dug into Deep Purple’s earlier line-ups and found another completely different world there too. And then all of a sudden, Ritchie Blackmore leaves Deep Purple! I was devastated! Until I heard “Man on the Silver Mountain” on the radio…and the world made sense again. The “Rainbow Rising” album was and still is a huge influence over me. Many bands had bits and pieces that I liked and loved as well like Genesis, Foreigner, Journey, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, Al Di Meola’s “Elegant Gypsy” album, Van Halen and so forth. I’m still picking up on things that other bands like Whitesnake and Foreigner had done that were building blocks for a guy like me. I never went to school and was self-taught, so I actually just sat down and learned a bunch of songs from other bands that I liked and dissected those songs to the point where I could re-create them piece by piece. That is when I developed like a sort of “song template” where it was modeled after a certain song by definition of its parts only and I would have to fill in the song portions with my own original music. This made me work ten times as hard as before, but it paid off and I got my first gold record out of it!
It is awesome that "Blood, Guts and Games" has been so well received by fans and the press and so on. How satisfied are you with the album yourselves and what about the promotion campaign and your cooperation with Frontiers and all of that? Are things going according to plan?
Craig: Hey, I can finally give you a short answer: yes!
“Blood, Guts and Games” is a very diverse and dynamic album and it possesses this unique atmosphere that brings to mind some of the finest hard rock acts of the 80s. Were all the songs written specifically for the album from scratch or had some of the ideas for certain songs been lying around for months or even years?
Craig: A bit of all three. The song that had been around for years was Dave’s song called “Believe”; then he re-titled it “Believe in One Another”. There were other songs that he had started and I finished, some that I had started and we would finish together and some totally from scratch.
I am curious as to how the songs on the album were composed and arranged. Did you send files and ideas back and forth between each member of the band or did you meet up in rehearsals from time to time to try different things out?
Craig: Some were written and/or began with the two of us in Dave’s home studio and then I would finish them. I would then e-mail MP3s back and forth. This could only work with another guy who knows how to write a song well and then learned how to write in rehearsals as a band long before the new era where MP3s got sent around as the only means of songwriting. Some people can successfully do the MP3 thing without any physical contact or being in the same room as one another, but it’s usually the kinda guys that I described before that know how to do this MP3-only-thing successfully!
Are the lyrics in any way personal to you guys and what inspired them? Some of the lyrics have a lot of depth to them, especially “No More Prayers in the Night” and “Lies I Can Live With”.
Craig: I helped with some lyrics and melody lines for “Wings of a Hurricane”, but Dave is the kinda guy that can do the melody lines and lyrics on his own brilliantly…as long as he’s not in charge! He’s a great collaborator when he’s forced to be. On his own, he’s too generic. As a team, he thinks in more “commercial” terms and I think in more “obscure” terms. At first that could seem like “oil & water”…and it is at first, but if it was with any other person other than Dave, it would’ve stayed that way throughout the entire process. He gets me thinking in more “commercial” terms and I get him thinking in more “obscure” terms and that is when things really can take off well. Some songs were still mostly Dave’s and I would re-write large portions of the generic music beneath his melody lines and lyrics with completely different chords and sometimes replace his basic chords with cool guitar riffs, thereby giving them more depth, substance and atmosphere. For some reason he decided that those were still his songs and didn’t give me any writer’s credit! Melody and lyrics are 50% of a song and the music is the other 50%, so if the only thing that is the same are the melody and lyrics and the music beneath those is now entirely different, it’s basically the same thing as him having written to my music. But that is how a lot of singers worked in the 80s…and some guys never change!
Were there any leftover songs from the "Blood, Guts and Games" session that might end up on an EP or perhaps a follow-up album some day?
Craig: I don’t think so, but you never know. There are some song ideas that never got attended to, but I’m not sure what the future holds for another E/G album.
“Dream Evil” by Dio happens to be one of my all-time favorite albums. How do you feel about that album nowadays? Do you think that it has stood the test of time well?
Craig: Well, I go back and forth with that album and I’ll get into all that at some point in the future, but for now it’s just nice to hear that the “Dream Evil” album is some people’s favorite Dio album.
Do you recall the first time you got together with David Glen Eisley and the others to rehearse and write material for the “Giuffria” album? There was a certain chemistry and magic present on that one, I think. Are you still fond of it and does it hold good memories for you?
Craig: That was a magical time! We were all from totally different worlds and for one moment in time we all found common ground in which to operate within…and it became a very special album for me, the guys and the listeners whom eventually became our fans.
What bands and albums do you typically listen to when at home? What are some of your all-time favorite albums?
Craig: I still listen to Deep Purple and Rainbow mostly. There are a few new bands that I like; there’s one here in San Diego, California, where I now live called Symbolic that are really great. A lot of the new music that is great often goes by me so fast that I never get a chance to find out who the heck that was!
Has it ever been difficult for you to find the time for Resurrection Kings, DIO Disciples, Black Knights Rising and now Eisley/Goldy and to attain some sort of balance between them? Following your career is highly rewarding from a fan’s perspective in that there is always something going on, be it tours, one-off-gigs, or new music being written. You are always keeping busy!
Craig: I don’t like to do things just for the money; I need to have some sort of element in there that I can believe in. But with the internet basically allowing people to steal our music, many of us are forced to do a number of projects all at once, just to make the equivalent of one. I do understand when someone has bought the vinyl, then the CD and after they move a couple of times into different homes or apartments they lose them and feel entitled go onto YouTube and listen to the music that they’ve already bought twice and has now gone missing. I can certainly understand that. Some people have paid to see a movie in the theater based off of the advertisements and promotional scenes they see during the commercials and then later find out that all the best scenes were in the commercial and the movie sucked! Many people have bought albums and feel they only got three good songs. I can understand that too. iTunes will let you listen to a portion of the song before you purchase it, but the band or artist that wrote and recorded that music doesn’t get to pick that promo portion of their own song and that can often be misleading too. A lot of this also rests upon the shoulders of the musicians; we all need to do our best and not just put out the same old, same old, but getting people off of their butts to work hard only later to have their hard work stolen is a difficult proposal. Meanwhile, those very same people that have stolen our music sit back and complain that we can’t commit to one band and they don’t even realize that it is because of them that we do this! And many musicians don’t realize that music fans are tired of forking over $15 for a CD and getting maybe 2-3 good songs…and those musicians don’t realize that this is a huge part of the reason why people feel entitled to basically steal their music! I believe we are in another “If you build it, they will come” era. So, this next record that I’m working on for Frontiers now has what I and they consider to have an album that is full of great songs and performances with some great surprises. I’m hoping that the fans will think so too and maybe we can start all over again and work together as bands and fans once did in the 80s.
Thanks once again for taking the time to answer these questions of mine, Craig. Any final words to our faithful readers?
Craig: I think I made that kind of statement that’s in the question just above this one, but to be more specific, my next album on Frontiers is a band called Dream Child. We were fortunate enough to have bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen, GT’s Queensryche, Dio and Dio Disciples), drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, UFO, GT’s, Queensryche, Dio and Dio Disciples), keyboardist Wayne Findlay (Michael Schenker) and a surprise discovery vocalist from Argentina, Diego Valdez. He is just amazing and chilling! The songs are supposed to take us back to the days of Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio’s “Rainbow Rising” era, Deep Purple and even some Whitesnake, Van Halen and Genesis influences. It started out during a phone call with Serafino (the president of Frontiers Records) and I discussing other matters and I happen to mention in passing that a lot of people that love the “Rainbow Rising” era and Deep Purple often say “They don’t make music like THAT anymore”! And Serafino simply asked me “Well, can you?”…and I said “Yes”! And here we are now, mixing and mastering the album as I type this interview. Alessandro Del Vecchio did a fantastic job in mixing, mastering, co-producing and co-writing with me. He’s gotten a very aggressive sound with this album. I am very happy, proud and grateful to him and all over at Frontiers to have been given this opportunity. Rudy, Simon, Wayne and Diego brought their “A” game and it shows!