For nearly three decades, Timothy DiDuro has been bashing the skins for bands all over the central, FL area and beyond. After a brief gig drumming for Skid Row in early 2004, he went on to play with Slaughter for seven years as their touring drummer before also blasting out Motley Crue hits as a member of Vince Neil’s solo band (much like another ex-Skid Row drummer Rewind It Magazine has interviewed in the past did, DiDuro’s predecessor, Phil Varone).
DiDuro keeps things a little more locally these days, lending his talents to the metal act Rising Up Angry, as well as cover supergroup The Beautiful Bastards, an act that RewindIt Magazine was also on hand to see perform live in DeLand last year (which is also what this article’s photo is from). Timothy has also almost single-handely taken on a new project in the form of JettRacer, a creative outlet that finds him also singing and playing guitar in addition to playing the drums, with Seether bassist Corey Lowery being the only other musician involved in the mix.
I was recently able to speak to Timothy, and one of the first things I wanted to know was about his brand new project with Lowery, which he tells me, “A few years back, I started writing and stockpiling my own material after years of being a ‘hired gun’ drummer. I was working with a guy named Zach Vick at the time, who had a studio and basically able to go there and do some pre-production, as well as write a bunch of material myself. I sat on a lot of the stuff for awhile, but then the whole thing with Corey came about when I decided to reach out to him one day and tell him I had this material that I’d like to work with him on as possibly a producer. He was instantly up for it, so I sent him a couple of tracks, and he happened to pick the track “It’s Not the End” (which you can also check out right now on YouTube) to re-work with me, and it turned out great. I thought the timing to release this single would be perfect, not only because of the state of the world and how we’re living right now, but I thought it might actually be something somewhat inspiring. Brandon Goldthwaite also did such an amazing job producing the video.”
He goes on to elaborate regarding stepping out from behind the drum set to the microphone/songwriter’s seat and says, “It’s not what people normally expect from me musically, but I just kinda wanted to do something on my own, so I just kept pushing myself to do it. There are guys out there who have went from drummers to writers, and I always found that inspiring.” I also asked what was in store for the future of JettRacer, and Timothy tells me, “I haven’t even really thought about a live, physical band yet, but like I said, I have a stockpile of material, and I’m going to absolutely continue writing.”
DiDuro also informs me that once things blow over in these current quarantined conditions that he will definitely be picking back up with his other projects, such as The Beautiful Bastards, saying, “I just enjoy playing with those guys so much, we always have a great time together.” He also says there should be more stuff to look out for in the near future from Rising Up Angry, another local outfit he had previously gotten involved with shortly before the days of social distancing.
And I’m not sure what kind of Skid Row fan I would be if I didn’t ask at least one question regarding how DiDuro did time in one of the biggest bands to ever emerge out of my home state of New Jersey; “I basically got a phone call from a drummer friend of mine, Will Hunt from Evanescence, and he’s the one who pretty much put me in that driver’s seat and basically told the band about me…so kudos to Will (Laughs)! It was super brief to be honest with you, though. I didn’t really have a lot of time to do my homework, and they had a full world tour booked, so I think a lot of that really came down on me. I ended up doing just a couple shows and videos with them, and ironically enough when I ended up being with Slaughter, we ended up doing a lot of co-headlining shows together! So for years and years I was actually able to still hang out and see them play, and they’re still friends of mine to this day.”
You can check out the video for DiDuro’s new track here;
Last year Rewind It Magazine was there to bring you coverage of former Skid Row front man Sebastian Bach’s show at The Plaza Live. This past Wednesday night, October 30, at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Bach seemed to be full of a sense of rejuvenation as he plowed through a set that consisted entirely of his former band’s music, and the crowd ate up every minute. It was no small feat for him to pull off such an epic show, either, considering he was dealing with personal issues, having just learned of his family’s home in California being under evacuation due to wildfires shortly before going on stage.
Newcomers Kobra and the Lotus kicked off the night with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm expected from a lesser-experienced act. Front woman Kobra Paige was easily the center of attention as she slinked around on stage in a blue jump suit, belting out numbers like “Burn!” and “Let me Love You.” It also didn’t hurt she had immense talent backing her, including the dual guitar work of Jasio Kulakowski and Ronny Gutierrez.
Vixen were up next, and have been on my radar of bands to see for awhile now. Although something did feel like it was missing without former vocalist Janet Gardner and of course founding guitarist Jan Kuehnemund (R.I.P.), former Femme Fatale singer Lorraine Lewis and Jaded guitarist Britt Lightning did more than admirable jobs in their shoes (especially Lightning, whose looks first caught my eye when I saw her play with Jaded back in 2005). The band opened their set with a number from Lewis’ previously mentioned former band, “Waiting on the Big One.” More songs from throughout the band’s career followed, including “Cryin’,” “Runnin’ with the Devil/I Want You to Rock Me” and “You Ought to Know,” before of course ending it with their most recognizable hit, “Edge of a Broken Heart.”
Finally Bach hit the stage, opening his set curiously with a more obscure Skid Row number, “Forever,” before going into the first Skid Row album in it’s entirety as promised. And as soon as the familiar riffs of “Big Guns” kicked into gear, it was clear it was on! The rest of the album’s first side – “Sweet Little Sister,” “Can’t Stand the Heartache,” “Piece of Me,” “18 & Life,” and “Rattlesnake Shake” – relentlessly followed.
Before going to “Side 2,” a turntable was actually wheeled out on stage, and the band even briefly segued into the theme song of “WKRP in Cincinnati” before Bach literally dropped the record’s needle to signify the start of “Youth Gone Wild.” Pandemonium quickly ensued, as that lead to two more of the album’s heavier tracks in the form of “Here I Am” and “Makin’ a Mess.” Things of course slowed down a bit for “I Remember You” before closing the album portion of the set out with “Midnight.”
Of course the band wasn’t quite finished yet, and came back for an encore of tracks from the Slave to the Grind album, including “Slave to the Grind,” “The Threat,” “In a Darkened Room,” “Monkey Business,” and even ending with the once-controversial “Get the Fuck Out.”
It was definitely a treat to hear so many songs that normally would not have been included in his set list, and about the only other thing Bach could’ve possibly done to make the night even more complete would have been invite his former Madam X bandmate and Vixen drummer Roxy Petrucci on the stage to jam “We Reserve the Right to Rock.” Still, I’ve seen Bach live multiple times on his own, and I’ve seen his former band Skid Row play without him as well. I can honestly say that watching Bach perform a full set of Skid Row music, with photos and videos of his former band being displayed the whole time on screens on all sides of the stage, was by far the best night of Skid Row music from start to finish I’ve ever witnessed.
It’s not often we feature a cover artist or band here at Rewind It Magazine. But when the group happens to consist of rock royalty such as former Brian Howe (Bad Company) guitarist Dean Aicher, former Skid Row/Slaughter drummer Timothy DiDuro, and former Pat Travers Band bassist Rick Navarro (who has also shared the stage with the likes of Steven Tyler and the late Eddie Money), we’ll make an exception for the likes of The Beautiful Bastards.
Immediately upon arriving at O.B’s in DeLand this past Saturday, September 7, one could here the unmistakable chords from a familiar Beatles song. After taking a seat at the bar, my assistant/photographer/wife and I were instantly greeted with a warm welcome from the friendly bar keep, and after just one quick look around, it was apparent we were in the right kind of establishment.
Some members of the crowd even danced as the band ripped through tracks like Free’s “All Right Now,” Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar,” Led Zepplin’s “Dancing Days,” The Who’s “Squeeze Box” and “Behind Blue Eyes,” The Beatles’ “Come Together,” and Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” before taking a break. Unfortunately, parenting duties caused us to call it a night earlier than expected for us, and we were unable to hang around for the band’s next set afterwards. But still, it was the perfect excuse for a night out filled with classic rock music (even if it was only for a short time).
Phil Varone’s lengthy career as a drummer began over 30 years ago, when he made the switch from New York to South Florida in the early-’80s and eventually became a founding member of Saigon Kick in 1988. The band would go on to achieve some moderate success (best known for their 1992 hit power balled “Love is on the Way”) and release a few albums in the mid-’90s before Varone would move on to other bands such as Prunella Scales, Skid Row, and briefly, Vince Neil’s solo band. He’s also done his share of acting, produced and starred in a documentary revolving around his touring lifestyle, and released a memoir in 2013.
Last year, Phil hooked up with legendary guitarist Jake E. Lee’s current project, Red Dragon Cartel, who released their most recent album, Patina, shortly after. This past March, he officially announced he was hanging up his drumsticks for (most likely) the last time. Last week, I spoke to Phil from his Vegas home regarding how it feels to be retired now, after playing what may be his final show ever with Red Dragon Cartel in Japan last month. Even after saying goodbye to music, Phil’s outlook was undeniably upbeat.
“It’s bittersweet,” he instantly tells me before saying; “I’ve just been going back through my career and remembering the good times, trying to keep everything as positive as possible. When you’re in this business there’s a lot of negative stuff, and I didn’t want to dwell on any of that. But things didn’t really hit me until the last note of our last show in Japan, which was a little sad, but overall I’m happy the way things have turned out.”
From there I asked Phil what he’ll occupy most of his newfound free time doing, to which he tells me; “There’s a couple reasons why I wanted to stop drumming, one of them is health. I turn 52 this year, and in all honesty, it hurts. I don’t remember drums being this painful, but they just put a lot of wear and tear on my body after all the years. And the second reason is I’m about halfway through a book I’m writing about my father as well, and have a couple of screenplays and other things I’m working on, too. So it’s going to be a lot of writing for me, which I really enjoy doing. I expressed a lot of my anger and happiness on the drums; what you hear through drumming, is an expression, a therapy. I’m able now to use words in its place instead. And plus it doesn’t hurt to type (laughs). I’ll still be busy doing things, I just won’t be playing drums on tour and stuff like that anymore.”
Throughout our conversation we also took a trip down memory lane, going over many of his most memorable milestones. I asked Phil what it was like being in a rock band during the ’80s in the unlikely place of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to which he replied; “It was kind of weird. We had never been to L.A. or anything, we were just a bunch of punk kids who had this dream of getting a record deal…when I think about it now, the fact we ever got one is still astounding! There was no scene there, especially when we started. The only band that was doing well around there at all was Miami Sound Machine over in Miami. But we came on to the circuit and just destroyed it, because we were different, so we just took over the music scene within our first year. Brian Warner (who would later go on to be known as Marilyn Manson) was also a huge early supporter of us at the time, too.”
He goes on to elaborate more on the early days of Saigon Kick, which would include crossing paths for the first time with future band Skid Row; “Our first show was for maybe 30 people -which was mostly just our friends and family – and within a year we were selling out the biggest club there at the time called The Button South. By doing that, we had every slot opening for all the national bands coming through town, like Bonham and Faith No More. There was another club called Summers on the Beach, and ironically, Skid Row was playing there back in ’89, and we tried everything to get ourselves on the opening spot! As it turned out, (Skid Row bassist) Rachel Bolan’s tech Ronzo would tell Jason Flom at Atlantic Records about us. Around that same time, we won the South Florida Music Awards, and because of that there was a blurb of us in Billboard Magazine, which ended up on Jason’s desk. And the rest is history. ”
I also wondering how performing power ballads such as “Love is on the Way” was from a drummer’s perspective. Phil informs me; “As a drummer, I learned a long time ago that it’s not what you play, but what you don’t play within a song. “Love is on the Way” is a prime example. I tried different grooves and nothing seemed to sound good until I just went simple. A song like this live might be boring for a drummer, but for me, it gave me a few minutes to rest. Any song that is a hit like that or “I Remember You” will always connect you with the audience. I would get goosebumps during those songs seeing fans with lighters in the air, or the arena singing back to you. It’s an amazing feeling.”
When asked how his relationship with his former bandmates was these days, he informs me; “Some of the guys I do still talk to, like (Saigon Kick bassist) Chris McLernon, who is by far one of my best friends in the world. And I’ll speak to (former Saigon Kick bassist) Tom Defile sometimes as well, but the other guys…I’ll just say we’re cordial. There’s no hatred there or anything, but I try to keep everything as positive as possible, and think about the good times, because there was so much good stuff throughout my whole career, from Saigon Kick to Skid Row, which was the best part of my life.”
Seeing this as the perfect segue to talk about his years with Skid Row, I asked Phil how the gig with them was originally offered to him; “I first met them (Skid Row) when they came down to South, FL to record in 1990. Michael Wagner, who produced their first record, also produced our (Saigon Kick’s) first album. Then years later, (Skid Row bassist) Rachel Bolan and I had a band together called Prunella Scales in 1997. Not long after they had gotten back together in ’99, their drummer at the time, Charlie Mills – who’s just a tremendous guy – was having problems with passports and getting out of the country, and they had a lot of shows booked outside of the U.S. So it just wasn’t working out for them, and they ended up calling me. I basically did a crash course, learning 20 of their songs in just a few days, and flying out to hop on their tour with KISS in Canada. I went from sitting around my house wondering what I was gonna do next with my life, to Rachel calling me, which kind of saved my life. My mother had just passed away shortly before that, too, so joining that band was kind of like my therapy in a sense.”
During a break with Skid Row, he even toured briefly as a member of Vince Neil’s solo band, which he reflected on to me; “Vince was a good bud, and he called me to do just like a three week tour for him. I just saw it as like a paid vacation, because it was just fun to play Motley Crue songs and hang out with my friends!”
Fast forward to 2018, when, after being out of music for several years, Phil was invited to play in his most recent position with legendary guitarist Jake E. Lee’s band Red Dragon Cartel. He explains how that came about; “That was through a buddy of mine, Scott (Wilson, bassist of Saving Abel). He gave me a call one day, asking me if I could play like this drummer or that drummer. It was actually kind of funny, but eventually I just said, ‘Look, who’s it for?!’ (Laughs). He finally tells me it’s RDC, and before I know it, their bassist Anthony (Eposito) sent me two of their songs to learn to play. I immediately bought a plane ticket, because I was hungry to play, and Jake would later tell me that was what impressed them most, how eager I was to learn their songs. And Jake is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever played with in my life, he’s just so damn good, that it’s intimidating going in. But he’s still one of the nicest, most down-to-Earth guys I’ve ever met, and I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Although he’s put down his drumsicks, at least in the sense of a live setting, Phil’s not completely ruling out the occasional ‘one off’ show or album guest appearance. He tells me, “I think 30 years of playing drums is long enough. I’m really proud of what I’ve put out there, and I’m forever grateful for that.” Be sure to follow Phil on social media, and at https://www.philvarone.com/ to keep up to date on future endeavors.
Tony Harnell may not be as big of a household name as fellow rock frontmen like Ozzy Osbourne or Axl Rose, but he has no doubt earned his own rightful place among the best of them. In the mid-80’s, Tony began his on-again-off-again relationship with Norwegian headbangers TNT (with whom he recently severed ties with again in 2017). Fans may also remember he briefly fronted New Jersey hard rockers Skid Row for some time in 2015 as well.
But Tony has also built a large portfolio of solo work and side projects from over the years too, including Starbreaker, a project he started alongside Primal Fear guitarist Magnus Karlsson in the mid-2000’s that was recently resurrected for a brand new album, Dysphoria. Last week, I had the pleasure to speak with Tony via telephone regarding his current, past, and even future projects.
When I spoke to Tony last Wednesday afternoon, he had just gotten back from playing some shows in Europe and was battling a cold he caught while there. Still, he describes the trip as “amazing,” having just played a rock cruise with fellows icons such as Joe Lynn Turner and Michael Monroe.
When asked how he felt the reception has been so far for Dysphoria, Tony tells me, “The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is always really great. ” I also asked if one could say there was a running theme throughout the album, for which he tells me, “Yeah, it occurred to me there was to a degree. When I write songs I just write what I’m feeling on any given day, and the emotion of that moment is what comes through in the lyrics. It definitely has a strong theme to it, and I like to kind of leave that open to interpretation. I think the record has got this beautifully sad quality to it. It’s definitely not a downer record by any means, but I think it has a theme on it that a lot of people can relate to. It does focus heavily on things that were going on for me at the time, and those things are definitely there and can’t be denied.”
I asked Tony if Starbreaker would become his main focus now that he’s no longer with TNT, to which he responded;”Outside of the fact that I still want to put out solo stuff and tour for that, I’d have to say “yes.” At this point Starbreaker’s what I’d call an important project to me for sure though. I would love it to become a full-on band, because I do think the demand is there for us to play shows, and I can see us performing maybe twenty, thirty shows a year, so we’ll have to see. But this record was really important to me because I haven’t released any new material in over 6 years (which is the longest I’ve gone without releasing new music), since I put out the acoustic EP I did with Bumblefoot from Guns N’ Roses called Tony Harnell and the Wildflowers. I guess in some ways you can say Dysphoria’s – and I hate to use this word – a comeback album, at least recording-wise, since I’ve still been touring a lot.”
I also wanted to known how he felt regarding his tenure with Skid Row in hindsight; “I think I would take my time more to just absorb what it was first, and I think I’m in very different, much healthier place in my life now than when I went into the Skid Row situation. So I think I would make better decisions from beginning to end if that type of situation were to present itself again.”
Aside from the new Starbreaker album, Tony tells me there’s a few more things to come in the near future; “TNT has a new DVD coming out in March which will be the last thing with me on it, which was filmed in Italy in 2017. But more than anything I’m focused on making new music right now, and getting out and playing shows.” Be sure to follow Tony on social media to find when and where he may be coming to a city near you (you do NOT want to miss the chance to catch him live!).