Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

No slowing down the country punk from ex-Left Lane Cruiser drummer

New band with Pete Dio accelerates into summer


J. Hubner

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 9, 2021

Pete Dio grew up in a musical household, starting out with a Mickey Mouse drum as a toddler, then moving up to a makeshift kit consisting of buckets and trash cans that his dad put together.

His musical influences ranged from the Muppets and Smurf records to Michael Jackson, Fat Boys, and LL Cool J. Everything changed when, as a teen, Dio discovered The Dead Milkmen.

But there is one influence that he never left behind.

“The one thing that remained constant was Frank Zappa,” Dio said in an interview with Whatzup. “The only thing my old man was really passionate about, music wise. Frank Zappa really is the starting point.”

Leaving Left Lane

Pete Dio was the drummer for Left Lane Cruiser for the past several years, recording three records and playing more than 150 shows overseas.

Though it was an amazing tenure, he wanted to step out on his own. This desire lead to creating his own band: Pete Dio and the Old & Dirty.

“Old and Dirty was originally formed in 2012 by myself and my old friend Tim Melton from the Staggerers on mandolin,” Dio said. “He brought in ‘Banjo Dan’ McBride on banjo and I kinda nudged my then-girlfriend, Jana Johnson, into acquiring an upright and playing bass. After a gig or two, we were introduced to Hope Royce on fiddle and our lineup was complete.”

Brand New Album

Now, with a brand new album out called Y’all Trying To Kill Me, Pete Dio and the band have a fresh lineup.

“The new lineup was put together once I left LLC and started the recording process for Y’all in 2019, pre-COVID,” he said. “First up was John Warner on banjo and DJ Riley on upright, both good friends of mine. I recruited Felix Moxter after that, which was a no brainer.

“The lead guitar spot was a bit tougher to fill. So I used some of my connections over the years and enlisted the band Barstool Brown, originally from Dayton, to act as my ‘hired guns,’ both good utility players and experienced road dogs that can do a bit of everything. Lead guitar, electric bass, mandolin and dobro. Dillon Brown and Steve Reif are really the missing pieces I’d been searching for to achieve the true Honky Tonk sound I heard in my head, but could never put together previously.”

The album was recorded with Jason Davis at Off The Cuff Sound, getting that warm, analog feel you get when you record to tape.

Besides the new lineup, Kyle Morris provided pedal steel in the studio, which added that finishing touch to Dio’s country-punk flavor.

Gigs … and More Recording

With Y’all Trying To Kill Me finished and on all major streaming services, Pete Dio and the Old & Dirty are in gig mode.

“We are at the Muse on June 12,” he said. “I’m doing a solo set on June 26 at Trubble Brewing on Broadway, opening for my good friends The Waymores. July and August, we’re looking to hit the road a bit. Potential routes include either to New Orleans or Colorado. I’ve made a lot of good friends on the road during my time in LLC and I miss a ton of those friendly faces.”

With a new album and gigs lined up through summer, Pete Dio has no plans to slow down.

“The year is gonna be devoted to working on a follow-up to Y’all,” Dio said. “We just re-entered the studio this past weekend and laid down two new tracks, which I feel is our best material yet. With the addition of Diamond Wyrembelski on vocals this spring, we are really finding our groove. The goal is to get everything tracked before Off The Cuff relocates this fall.”

Jason Davis recently purchased a new space for his Off The Cuff studio, relocating from the house he’s used as his home base for nearly 20 years.

“That old farm house we’ve all used over the past 18 years has been magical to the local music community, and I want one more batch in there before it’s all said and done,” Dio said.

Y’all Trying To Kill Me is available now on all streaming platforms. CDs are available at all live shows and by mail.

Keep up with Dio’s live dates in Whatzup, either in our print edition, our app, or whatzup.com.

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