He had to break the news to his friend Burgess.
"Steve asked me if I wanted him to wait for me," Diller said. "And the answer was yes, but no. I wanted him to, but I couldn't ask him to do something like that. It wasn't fair to him."
As it happened, the two rented rehearsal space in an old warehouse, along with some other musicians. Across the way, another rock band, the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, had just lost their bass player.
Since Diller was going back to college, they asked Burgess if he wanted to join them.
"Six weeks later, they got signed to a record deal," Diller said. "They put out three major label records, traveled the world."
Diller laughed. He's not bitter about it.
"I'm really proud of Steve's success."
Diller went on to earn a master's degree in human resource development, but he never completely quit music.
"I still play in town here and there," he said. "There's a group of us, and we play benefits and charity events."
He also kept in touch with his old bandmates from the Ride.
"Steve lives, like, five miles from my house," he said. "But we've kept up with everybody through phone calls and email."
Over and over, they've all talked about getting everyone in the band back together to play a show. Diller said they've come close a couple of times, managed to get some of the band together to play a few times, but this event at FestivALL is really the first time in 20 years that the entire band will share a stage.
Finding their way back to the old songs hasn't been that tough for any of them, Diller said. They studied together or separately using a website they made of their collected material.
"It's all musical muscle memory," he said. "It almost feels like we're cheating."
Diller has high hopes for the show. In a lot of ways, nothing has changed and everything has changed. Everyone in the band has an established life. They have careers, families and obligations, but there's something to be said for being settled, he added.
There isn't as much of a scramble to get ahead as there was 20 years ago. They have responsibilities, but there isn't the same urgency. The children have grown up. There's time to do some of the things they gave up to grow businesses and raise families.
"I hope to do it all again," Diller said. "After we do this show, I'd like to try playing together again soon. I've got a huge bucket of songs I've written over the past 20 years. The other guys have been writing, too. I'd love for this to be an outlet for us."
He laughed and added, "The Ride Band 21st century!"
But he's taking it one step at a time. Diller said he's glad to just get the chance to come home and play with some old friends again.
"More than playing together, the thing I've missed the most is hanging out with these guys," Diller said. "These guys were my best friends. I missed our friendship."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.