I’m thrilled to feature Diana DeVille in this edition of my blog series feature Behind the Art. Diana has been Wendy Dio’s “right hand” for as far back as I can recall. She’s been through a lot with Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, and more, and she has her hands in a plethora of other ventures. I’m in awe of Diana’s seemingly boundless energy!
Behind the Art: Diana DeVille
Radio Personality/Actor/Director/Producer/Artist Manager. Follow Diana online.
You’ve been well known as the Rock Goddess at KNAC, and as Wendy Dio’s right-hand at Niji Management. But you wear a number of other hats, as well, including managing other acts yourself, and you’ve even recently ventured into film producing. Can you elaborate on some of the many irons you have in the fire?
What can I say? I like staying busy – ha! First of all, on the radio side, I recently picked up two radio shows: Weeknights I do 7pm-midnight Eastern (4-9pm Pacific) on Radio Buzz 101 and then weekend mornings Sat/Sun 5-9am Eastern (2-6am Pacific) I do a show on Country Crossroads. That one is country music, where I started my radio career (back in Monroe, Louisiana), but it’s the hidden side of my personality, which most people don’t know about me.
I am also getting ready to direct a short film called Café Oubliette, in which a young man, having quit his job to drive around the country and see the sights, finds himself at an out-of-the-way bar and grill in the back bayous of Louisiana. He stops in for a meal and a rest, meeting the irresistible proprietress of the establishment, and soon realizes that sometimes following your desires can take you so far off track you may never make it back. Our Indiegogo campaign is at www.indiegogo.com/projects/cafe-oubliette#/story—please check us out!. We are planning to shoot in early to mid-August with an eye toward submitting it to some of the fall/winter film festivals for consideration. Stefanie Bodkin, who I met when we were both appearing in a play with the Long Beach Shakespeare Company, is producing the film with me.
Speaking of theatre, I will be appearing in a production of Long Ago and Far Away at Los Angeles Valley College’s theatre July 23-26. And finally, I am managing Candy-O, the Ultimate Tribute to The Cars. I think that is about it for now.
What prompted you to pursue the business side of music? How did you happen into it?
I first got into the music business shortly after I moved to Los Angeles. I answered an ad in the Hollywood Reporter for a legal assistant, thinking they would never hire me, and that turned into a stint working for Milt Olin in the legal department at A&M Records. A few years later, I was looking for a job, and a friend of mine sent over my resume to Wendy Dio. I went to the interview and she hired me on the spot, probably because I had had that legal experience working with managers, producers and artists.
You’ve been with Wendy Dio’s Niji Management for a very long time. What all do you handle there?
I started out as her assistant and have worked my way up to office manager, so in a nutshell I keep the office running while she is out getting the business. I also handle Dio Disciples, so when they are touring, I am booking hotels and flights, rehearsals, basically all the logistics involved in getting the band from point A to B, which I know you’re well aware of! I also have taken on a lot of graphic design duties, designing and producing programs, invitations, and other materials for our various fundraising activities for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund and some other organizations that we assist in raising money.
How was working with Ronnie James Dio, and Heaven and Hell?
It was great! I learned so much working with Ronnie and Wendy and seeing the top class way they did things. We were a big family, and Ronnie’s death really shattered us all. He and Wendy always treated the band and crew as family members; we even celebrated many holidays with them, as well. Ronnie was always professional, and his thought was always of the show and doing a great job for the fans. He remembered everyone’s name, and would stand outside the bus for hours until every fan got an autograph or picture. When he started working with Heaven and Hell, that was a thrill for me because they were the godfathers of metal! I had known Vinny through KNAC.com and also through his brother Carmine, and it was just amazing to meet Tony and Geezer. I was not sure what to make of Tony, and he managed to pull my leg several times before I finally got his sense of humor. Geezer is a big animal lover, and we bonded over that mutual love. It was simply amazing watching them work, seeing the results and just seeing how much they were loved by the fans. I remember being at the Radio City Music Hall show, waiting for it to begin, and the crowd started chanting, “Dio, Dio, Dio”. Great times.
Over the years you’ve shared with me, in private, some wonderful and funny Dio-related stories. I nearly applied one such bit to one of the characters in my debut novel, Welcome to Groove House, but I ultimately decided it was best left to Ronnie. Is there anything you’d like to share with my blog readers?
Ronnie was a real gentlemen and a true professional. He and Wendy loved each other and were best friends up until the day he died. I was at the hospital with him and Wendy the night before he died. I came back the next morning to find out he had passed. His death really hit me hard, and I went through a really bad time for a while afterward that, honestly, I’ve only just started to dig out of in the past year or two. I still can’t really listen to his music without tearing up, but then there are times when I am reminded of the good times. I think he would have really loved the memorial weekend we put on for his 5-year anniversary in May.
Who all is on your roster?
Of course we have Dio Disciples which are the surviving members of Ronnie’s band and Oni Logan from Lynch Mob, and we also have a great new artist named Gabbie Rae. She is only 17, but she has a phenomenal voice, and we are hoping that she is going to really take off with her next record.
Who’s the first artist that got you started? What’s the story behind that?
I was a huge Poison fan and had the biggest crush on C.C. I eventually met him and we got to be really close. He is my hero, not because of the music, but because of all the struggles he went through—drug addiction, weight issues—those are hard things to overcome, but he did it, and I am really proud of him. Ironically, my first interview at KNAC.com was Bret Michaels, and I remember being so nervous because I wasn’t sure I was going to have enough questions for him. He took the ball and ran with it, and we wound up talking for quite a bit after the interview was officially over. I went on the road with them each year for a while to cover the tour for the KNAC.com website, and we got to be really good friends. So I hold a special place in my heart for the Poison guys and consider them as probably the band that got me started.
As a woman in a male-dominant business, what gender-based obstacles have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
The main problem with women in this industry is that a lot of the men tend to look at women as groupies, and I had to contend with that kind of behavior several times. There was a lot of slapping hands [laughs]. I think the way that I overcame it was just by being friendly but professional at all times and always being conscious of how behavior might be perceived. My friend Kathy Acquaviva, the famous rock publicist, was a great role model for me, because she was always classy while managing to fit in with the boys.
Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d “made it” as a music industry professional?
I was in a class at Valley College, and the teacher told me that he was looking through a textbook and saw my picture in there. That was a pleasant surprise. Also the manager of one of the bands I interviewed told me that he liked having the band in with me because I was professional and always gave a great interview. That made me beam, because that was my goal. You know, the fact that I moved to Hollywood to pursue my dream and actually reached it in the first place, is reason enough to be proud, because how many people try and wind up going back home?
Kudos to you, Diana! Your perseverance and professionalism paid off.
What makes you want to research an artist that’s unfamiliar to you?
For me, every time I do an interview with an artist, it’s about learning about that artist. On one hand, it’s a sales tool where you are there to sell whatever product the artist has out at the moment, so you have to know about it. But on the other hand, it is also a conversation between you and that person, so I tend to ask them anything I want to know about them.
A funny story though, about the Band Perry . . . I was home intending to “watch” the ACM awards while I was on the couch working on my laptop. I looked up, saw this good looking long-haired guy with leather pants on a country show and thought, “Who is that?” I found out that he was Reid Perry, the bassist for the Band Perry, and researched them, coming to really enjoy their music, and now I’m a huge fan of the band. I’ve met them a couple of times since then, and they are super nice as well as being extremely talented. I really hope they go far.
Where do you live and why?
I live in the San Fernando Valley. What I love about it is that it is close enough to Hollywood to be able to go when you want to, but once you’re over that hill, you are away from it all.
What is your morning routine?
I am not a morning person, so basically getting up, feeding my cats, getting dressed and racing out the door. Once I get settled, I have a cup of coffee, check emails, plan my day ahead, and I’m off and running.
What constitutes a productive day at work for you?
A productive day for me is when I manage to get at least some of the things on my to-do list checked off. I always aim way too high and never manage to get it all done, but tomorrow’s another day, so whatever doesn’t get done that day makes it onto the next day’s list.
Is there anything unusual about your workspace? What do you keep on your desk? What’s the view from there?
Well, we are actually in the upstairs part of a warehouse that was not originally zoned for office space, so there are no windows in our office. I don’t really keep a lot of personal stuff on my desk, but I do have a funny meme printed out that says: I’m sorry, but a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Never seems to work, though, because in our business sometimes it seems that everything is an emergency!
Please recommend three songs (any genre, any artist) and tell us why you like them.
- The Band Perry—Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. I love how that song starts out simple and just builds and builds to an amazing end.
- Rainbow—Gates of Babylon. Hearing Ronnie sing this live was just paradise. Brings back wonderful memories.
- Y&T—Lipstick & Leather. Not only was this one of the “themes” of my show, The Wild Side, but it is just a fun song that always puts me in a good mood. I’m big on “feel-good” songs.
As I’m also an author, I’d love for you to recommend three books and tell us why you like them.
- Prince LeStat—Anne Rice. I’ve always been a huge fan of Anne Rice, and her latest book sort of ties together all the loose ends from the previous books. I waited for that to come out for a while and was not disappointed.
- Rich Dad Poor Dad—Robert Kiyosaki. Really interesting. We all want to be independently wealthy, and Robert’s book is a great primer on business/financial skills that you don’t learn in school.
- How to Rule the World From Your Couch—Laura Day. I’ll be honest, I loved the title of this one, so I had to buy the book. I’m a huge fan of how to do anything better, so I read a lot of these kinds of books – you may not agree with everything, but you definitely pick up knowledge from everything you read.
Do you have an industry friend who helps and inspires you?
I think that would be you, Jill. You have always been really supportive and helpful in terms of giving advice, and you’re so inspiring because of all that you do. It’s always great to catch up with you and see what new things you are up to and how you handle all the different challenges in your world.
Wow, Diana . . . I’m honored that you would pick me! Thank you, I’m genuinely flattered!
Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one(s), and for how long have you played?
I went through a phase in my life where every one of my friends was in some kind of a band, and I didn’t want to be left out, so I bought a Fender P-bass and learned the basics. I wouldn’t say that I really know how to play, necessarily, but it’s fun to noodle around on it from time to time. I also sing, although, mostly in my car!
Do you have any superstitions?
If anything, I am the weirdo who gravitates toward superstition. Friday the 13th has always been a good day for me, and since my cats are all black except one, I’ve always felt they were my good luck charms.
What phrase do you over-use?
I’m not bad—I’m just drawn that way. That is my excuse for everything. Also, I use seriously????? quite a bit, because things just warrant that kind of a response sometimes.
Do you have a funny story related to your job, whether it be planning a tour, or on tour, or at a meet-and-greet with one of your artists?
Dio Disciples recently did a tour in Florida, and after reading lots of reviews online, I booked a really nice hotel for the band. So, they get there, and it turns out to be some sort of all-gay resort! There’s no way you could have known it from the description, and I’m certainly not putting down any gay people—it’s just not the first place you would put a heavy metal band! After the band got over the initial shock, we all had a good laugh about it. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried, but that was completely unintentional. I’m sure they all had clean, comfortable rooms for the night, and that was my goal, so in the end it worked out alright.
What is something about yourself that is essentially unknown and maybe even surprising?
I have a real estate broker’s license and love selling houses in my spare time. I’m also very interested in real estate investing, and would love to buy some property somewhere like Nashville or New Orleans.
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
Be the best that you can be. It doesn’t take much to be in a band these days, but it does take a lot to get to the top. Luck might get you in the door, but true talent will keep you there.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the business side of music?
Get grounded in business classes. Management, accounting, marketing, all those kinds of things. It isn’t as glamorous as it looks, and it is a business, so that has to come first. That’s how you get to do the fun things people think the music business actually is about. Also, take some creative classes, so you understand your artist’s life and what makes them tick. You’re there to take care of the necessary business so that they can go off and create, but you also need to understand why they think the way they do, and they’re usually coming from a creative point of view.
Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. These questions really made me think and come up with insights I probably wouldn’t have had time to do if not “prodded.” Also, best wishes on your book!
A&M Records, ACM awards, Anne Rice, Black Sabbath, Bret Michaels, Café Oubliette, Candy-O, CC Deville, Country Crossroads, Dio, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, Fender P-bass, Gabbie Rae, Gates of Babylon, Heaven and Hell, Hollywood Reporter, How to Rule the World From Your Couch, Kathy Acquaviva, KNAC, Laura Day, Lipstick & Leather, Long Ago and Far Away, Long Beach Shakespeare Company, Los Angeles Valley College, Lynch Mob, Milt Olin, Niji Management, Oni Logan, Poison, Prince LeStat, Radio Buzz 101, Radio City Music Hall, Rainbow, Reid Perry, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki, Rock Goddess, Ronnie Dio, Ronnie James Dio, Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, Stefanie Bodkin, the Band Perry, The Wild Side, Valley College, Welcome to Groove House, Wendy Dio, Y&T