Dietrich : Dietrich (a.k.a. Red Alert) (EP)
This four track EP of the American band Dietrich is one of those hidden treasures that'll make any Hard Rocker with an interest in the eighties a happier person if he ever manages to find a second hand copy of it.
Information about this band is extremely hard to find. All I know is that they were featured on the 'Metal Massacre 2' album, a sampler from Metal Blade Records with for the most part American Heavy Metal bands on it. The song on that sampler ('It's alright') sounds a lot more Metal than what's on this EP. It's not a bad song, but just not as interesting from a song writing perspective as any of the song's on 'Red Alert' who have more personality and originality.
The title track of this EP kicks off in a strong fashion. The style is somewhere inbetween Hard Rock and Metal and the most remarkable thing about it is that rather strange drum rhythm. It creates the basis for an original sounding song. The left & right panned guitar solo "duel" also showcases guitarist Brad Dietrich's skills. Another thing about this song is the somewhat surprising chorus. Kirk Olson may not be one of the most impressive vocalists I ever heard (probably also because he has a merely adequate production working against him), but he does interesting things that add extra flavour to all four tracks.
The Hard Rock song 'Money' is the second five star piece on the EP. Again a special role is set apart for drummer Bob Dion, who introduces a somewhat tribal sounding drum pattern. It demonstrates for the second time how Bob Dion and Brad Dietrich had a good symbiosis going, because the muffled guitar riff (in unison with the bass guitar riff courtesy of Mark Capestany) fits the drum pattern just perfectly.
The remaining songs are not as good as the two aformentioned tracks, but they are still way above average material. The first one is a rather laid back Rocker. Thanks to the low tones of a synth and the restrained guitar work it has an atmosphere that fits the title ('City of night') well.
Finally there's a pretty decent and simple ballad called 'Just weren't meant for me'. The production is too thin to make it work to the full, but it's still better than many of the ballads I have heard over the years.
Mark Capestany wrote:
It’s Mark Capestany, bassist from the 80’s California power foursome Dietrich, writing to you from SF California. Just wanted to personally thank you for the posting of your review of our 80’s debut EP 'Dietrich'. You’re right. Info on us is hard to find. In return for your support, I’d like to give you some early history on the band Dietrich and events leading up to the release of this very cool and unusual rock and roll creation. I’m sure Bill (Metoyer) can remember more than me, though. He was the only one with much sanity back then, eh Bill? =)
The band was originally established by the Dietrich brothers from Santa Barbara, CA, in the late 1970’s. Influenced by such greats as early AC/DC, Kiss and Yesterday & Today, Brad and his brother Alan wrote 3 of the 4 songs on the EP, along with another dozen or so songs that were equally as interesting and original, slated for recording and release on a full length LP soon after. I joined the brothers after receiving a referral from the then Rock God of Santa Barbara, Rich Stillwell, after hearing the brother’s songs and seeing them perform a free concert in the now legendary Dog Shit Park in Isle Vista, the college town of UCSB. I immediately dropped out of college to join them and build our vision of a monster rock legend. The 3 of us searched for and found our frontman, vocalist Kirk Olson working in a local theater production company. Kirk was a cross between a Shakespearean actor and a wild, leather wearing biker, as well as a dead ringer for Jim Morrison. Within 18 months we formed the band and crew, polished the act and moved the band, with roadies and manager, to Hollywood, CA in hopes of getting a break in the wild rock and roll music industry of LA.
The night before the move to Hollywood, with the truck starting to be packed, Alan Dietrich, drummer and co-writer and brother of Brad, announced to the band he would not be making the move to LA after all, leaving us with half of the band’s songwriting duo and no fucking drummer either - a bass player’s worst nightmare. Shit! We had a meeting and took a vote and decided nothing was going to stop us at that point, so on we went without Alan, cursing him all the way.
Once settled in Hollywood in our infamous 5 person studio apartment, Brad and I landed jobs working for the Music + warehouse, distributing LP’s and tapes to the whole LA area, where we met Bill Metoyer, an aspiring recording engineer and lover of all things Heavy Metal. After hearing a few of our recordings, Bill decided to independently produce the bands promo EP using comp time he had accrued 2nd engineering at Track Record Studio in Hollywood. We would be his 1st pro project. Bill later went on to do years of phenomenal work and produce wild acts for Metal Blade Records under founder and fellow metal head Brian Slagel’s direction. (As a side note, Dietrich was slated for inclusion on the 1st Metal Massacre album (with Metallica on it) but got bumped to the 2nd disk just before it’s release.
This was high times in Hollywood’s rock history with amazing stories and famous encounters happening weekly as we shared studios and stages with bands like Metallica, Guns & Roses, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ratt, Dokken, Great White, Malmsteen, Poison, Armoured Saint, Lizzy Borden and a long list of metal hair bands all trying to capture that elusive Hollywood record deal. The music business was in a tail spin at that point though, and the only option for aspiring bands was to self-produce their own records. Even Motley Crue’s debut EP came out on their own label during that same period.
After moving to Hollywood, we immediately started auditioning drummers and found Jerry Silvie, an Ian Paice-type stickman who kicked ass but, sadly enough, had some serious drug issues he couldn’t resolve that caused him to drop out before we could get him into the recording studio. After putting an ad in Music Connection magazine shortly after meeting Bill Metoyer, Bob Dion auditioned for and secured the drummer spot for the recording project. We had a blast making this EP! It came out 4 months later, thanks to long hours putting up with drunk singers, lots of Space Invaders, dedicated engineering by Bill M. and partial sponsorship by Lydia Lombino and her 3 daughters, who had taken a liking to us after a business proposal we made to their loving mother for sponsorship of the post production costs for the EP.
The band finally found a permanent drummer shortly after the EP came out - Joe Quatrinni “The Godfather” as his crew referred to him. He came equipped with a 14 piece monster drum kit and as many crazy roadies, and was featured on the 'It’s Alright' track of 'Metal Massacre II'. He was the driving force behind our relentless gigging schedule in the years to come.
In these pre-MTV years, we played and rehearsed mostly in LA, appearing locally and working with video producer R. Scott Lawerence and producer Bill Metoyer, at Falcon Sound Studio, SIR Studios and at Fleetwood Mac’s N. Hollywood rehearsal studio, where we worked with Westwood One mobile recording to capture live our next full length LP. Sadly, the 2nd project was never completed, as I had to call it quits towards the end of the project due to some personal shit and typical band fallout. Thankfully though, I’m still here to recount it all…well, at least what I can remember =)
After that, I kind of lost track of the boys. Alan, Brad’s brother, later rejoined him and Dietrich continued to play in a kinder, gentler form around town, from what I remember. I don’t think they ever released anything else, though. The 3 of us (minus Kirk) had a short reunion jam about 10 years ago and had a blast playing all the old stuff. It was great playing with the 2 brothers again after all those years. Those guys are the best! I can tell you this, though. There is some great unreleased stuff we did at Fleetwood Mac’s studio as well as a bunch of video footage from SIR studio rehearsals floating around somewhere. I’d love to get a hold of some of it!
Peace brother and thanks for keepin’ it alive!
Mark Capestany now plays keyboards in The Bingtones: http://www.bingmusic.com/