In North Texas, Ride for Dime is the best of the best for metal gigs. It's an event that not only showcases a lineup of killer metal bands at two of the top venues -- Trees and The Rail Club -- for metal in the DFW area but also pays homage to local legend Dimebag Darrell Abbott, one of the most influential metal guitarist ever to wield a Dean guitar (or any guitar, for matter).
This year's Ride for Dime, the 10th anniversary of Dime's tragic passing, saw co-founder Rob Eichelberger bombarded with more than 100 bands wanting to join the bill with headliners Texas Hippie Coalition and Kill Devil Hill. Being the nice guy that he is, Eichelberger wanted everyone to play, but that would have turned Ride into more of a weekend metal festival like Woodstock. (Not a bad idea, mind you. He could call it "Dimestock" or something like that.) So he decided to hold a Battle of the Bands.
The Battle would help select a band to fill the last slot on the bill at The Rail Club. Five bands were chosen to compete for the final spot, but one of the bands dropped out at the last minute. So Eichelberger called his friend Jim Crye of Volume Dealer and asked if he and his band wanted to join the competition.
Volume Dealer had just finished playing a birthday gig at Tomcats and quickly packed up their gear and headed across the street. "I kind of went in there like there is no band who can do better than us," Crye says. "We were two gigs deep and already warmed up and ready to go."
Playing local favorites "Walk Away," "Shut Up" and "Reborn," the guys blew the judges away with their professionalism onstage and their tight-knit performance.
"We weren't trying to win," Crye says. "In my mind, I just went up there and jammed. We just wanted to put on a good show. I was just hoping to make an impression, maybe have one of the judges come down and high five me, maybe open up a few more doors for us."
Crye has been knocking on doors in the metal community since the mid-'80s when he was just a young guitarist vying for attention from the legends themselves: Pantera. He and the rest of his young metal-head friends wanted to open for the glam band. (This was the pre-Philip Anselmo era, mind you.) But it would never happen.
As he began to perfect his guitar chops, Crye would approach Dime at Joe's Garage and ask him for advice. He'd tap the guitar legend on the shoulder and say, "Hey, man, you ever use these kind of scales and this kind of technique?"
"Dude, just forget all that," Dime would say. "I know three scales: pentatonic, A major and A minor. You don't need any more than that, man. Just play from the heart; just learn how to jam."
On another occasion, Crye asked Dime about his use of "Arabian-style shit." Dime looked at him and said, "Man, I listen to a lot of George Lynch. I dig the shit out of him."
Crye took Dime's advice and perfected his craft, jamming with his buddy, drummer Jeff Gerhardt. In 2006, they formed Legion of Doom, a popular cover band, with vocalist Landon Uys and bassist Chris Herring. The band stayed together until 2009, and then Uys and Herring left to pursue other projects.
Crye and Gerhardt thought about forming another cover band but decided that it was time to write some original tunes. They found out that a bass player, P.D. Mayhall, whom they'd been wanting to jam with since they were younger, had moved back to Texas. "He was a real bass player, not a reject guitar player," Crye says.
They started jamming together and writing lyrics. Once they had a handful of originals, they decided they needed a singer. In late 2010, Crye saw one of his friends at The Rail Club and asked if he knew any singers. They didn't want a growler but someone with a nice strong voice, kind of "James Hetfield-ish.
Singer Jesse Herringer was living in Weatherford, Texas, when he auditioned for the band. "We liked that he could sing and scream both real strong," Crye remembers, "and that he still had all his teeth (meaning he wasn't all jacked up on drugs)." They hired him on the spot.
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Coming up with a band name wasn't as hard as Crye expected. He and Gerhardt have been fans of Corrosion of Conformity since 1994, so when they saw COC's America's Volume Dealer, they thought it would make a "kick ass" band name.
Volume Dealer recently released a self-titled CD with their 2011 and 2013 demos, Spreading the VD and Selling It By the Pound, and a new release, "Blind In Texas," a cover of W.A.S.P.'s 1985 hit song but with more pulse-driving metal. KNON's "Hard Time Radio" Thrashin' Alan makes an appearance on the album. "It's the most entertaining thing we've done so far," Crye says, "with the song selection [of "Blind in Texas"] and the extras like the nod to Dime and ZZ Top."
Volume Dealer will be opening the Ride for Dime show at 7:00 p.m., Friday, at The Rail Club, warming up the stage for White Light Cemetery, JUNK, Crowned By Fire, Heavy As Texas and Texas Hippie Coalition.
"It'll be a kick ass rock 'n' roll show," Crye promises. "We play early, but we'll be a hard act to follow."