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Carmine Appice is a legend in the world of rock drummers. Over the years he has played with a virtual who’s who list of artists including Ozzy Osbourne, Rod Stewart, King Kobra, Blue Murder, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Pink Floyd, Michael Schenker, Jeff Beck and the list goes on. Recently, I had the chance to talk with Carmine about his new project, simply called “Appice” that features not only Carmine, but his brother Vinny as well. Dual drummers playing together throughout the album with guest appearances by performers from bands such as Whitesnake, Bulletboys, Dio, Warrant, W.A.S.P., MSG, Guns N’ Roses and more.
XS ROCK: Hey Carmine. Great to talk with you today. I’ve had a chance to listen to the Appice album that you just finished with you and your brother Vinny Appice. So fill me in on how recording this record came about.
Carmine: Well, we’ve been doing this show Drum Wars for many years now. It’s always been a lot of fun working together. We got a new manager last year and far as booking goes, our manager thought it would help with getting new gigs and it’d be a lot of fun for us to do a record. So we needed a budget and we got that worked out through Pledgemusic. Our manager put together the Pledgemusic campaign about a year ago and then we basically took it from there. By the end of January, we actually had the amount of money that we wanted. So we started making the record and “Monsters and Heroes” was a song that I had in my treasure chest or whatever you want to call it. We had recorded it in 2011 by my group King Kobra and we wrote it for Ronnie James Dio, for his foundation. So it was originally released on Wendy Dio‘s label to support Ronnie’s foundation and any money that was made went to the Stand Up And Shout Cancer Foundation. I realized that there was no real outlet for getting that song played now. And last year when King Kobra went to The Sweden Rock Festival, we played that song live. And I said, Oh, that’s interesting that it got a really great reaction. So basically, I talked to Vinny and said we’ve a great song to start out with and I think you’ll love it. It was written by Paul Shortino and Paul and Rough Cutt were managed by Wendy and Ronnie Dio back in the day. So we revamped it and put Vinny on it and then re-edited it and mixed it and we used that song to get us the record deal. after that track it all came together. We put different people on the various tracks and mixed everything and came up with the “Sinister” record.
XS ROCK: I’ve had a chance to listen to it and I’m really impressed. A lot of great rocks songs on there.
Carmine: Thanks, You might notice when you listen to it that Vinny’s on the left channel and I’m on the right. And we did that specifically so you can hear the two of us playing, doing fills and answering each other. It creates really nice ear candy.
XS ROCK: Is there a sense of competition between you two, both being drummers and all?
Carmine: Oh yeah, there is, but it’s all in a positive way to drive us to the next level. He pushes me and then I push him. On one song, called “Suddenly”, it was given to us by a really cool guitar kid from France and it had a really cool drum groove on it that actually happened to be a drum machine. Vinny said, maybe we should just keep the drum machine when we play it. So we played it a certain way where Vinny did the intro and I did the verse, I did the chorus, he did the next intro and verse, you know. We alternated and we both had specific amount of bars that we played. So I did my part and we both agreed that we would stick with the drum machine, So I gave it to Vinny and he recorded his part and sent it back to me in New York and I sit down to listen to it and he’s playing all over the place. So, I go dude, I thought we were doing this like the drum machine and he said yeah, but it sounded boring when I did it so I just went off a bit. I said great, now I’ve gotta redo mine! I can’t be looking like Joe Simple and He’s Joe Complicated, you know. So that’s a sense of the competition. It came out better, so that’s an example of us driving each other to the next level too.
XS ROCK: So you mentioned King Kobra. I’m a huge fan and I’ve followed the band since the first album, which is one of the best rock debut records to come out in the 80’s. Now the original vocalist was Mark Free, which has since undergone a transformation and is now known as Marcie Free. Do you still ever talk to each other anymore?
Carmine: I don’t anymore. I used to speak to “them” all of the time. I say them because it’s so weird for me to call Mark Free, Marcie now (laughs). About two or three years ago, I was doing a record deal with a label and we were just getting catalog stuff together. Somebody had given me a DVD of King Kobra live in Mexico. There’s no real money it, because people just don’t buy a lot of DVD’s nowadays. So I had a deal that was maybe worth $500. It was going to cost me a $150 to do the menus and all of that stuff. So we’d have $350 and we could just divide it equally among all of the original members. I just wanted to get it out there so the fans had something to watch, because we never really had any live video footage. So Mark (Marcie) Free says no way! I’m not going to sell my voice for $50 and if you do it I’m going to sue you. I said “come on dude, what are we talking about here?” We’re not talking about in the 80’s , there’s no money in this thing. We’re just doing it for the fans, really. So I said, you know what? I don’t need to do it. I don’t financially or creatively need to do it. So if you don’t want to do it, then “Fuck it”! So that’s the last time that I talked to him.
XS ROCK: So there’s never going to be a chance that there will be a reunion of the original lineup then?
Carmine: No, no. When the Frontiers thing came about. I got Paul Shortino. He’s a well known singer, and he said He’d love to do it. And we put out two of the greatest King Kobra records that I think we ever did. I want to do some live King Kobra shows next year because we have King Kobra at the Sweden Rock Festival coming out. So now David Michael-Phillips doesn’t want to tour and Mick Sweda is in the movie business. So I guess if we do come out, it’ll be me, Paul, Johnny Rod and the guitar player that we took out on the live album. He’s really great. We’ll have one original member and one really well known member. Most bands only have one original member now anyways…(laughs).
XS ROCK: You worked and toured with Ozzy Osbourne for a while, so I have to ask…What’s your best Ozzy story?
Carmine: Well, I mean…Ozzy was always a good guy until he got drunk and then he was like out of his mind. I don’t have a lot of great Ozzy stories. We played together but we didn’t really hang out a lot. After the gigs, him and Sharon would take off in their own bus. The only cool Ozzy story that I have is when we were recording the “Bark At The Moon” album, I was credited on the first 500,000 albums as the associate producer. I was kind of in charge there with Ozzy. I couldn’t believe that Sharon left me in charge with him. We would walk down the streets of New York, and they weren’t safe in those days…and he’d be wearing all of the big diamond rings and gold this and gold that. I’d be looking in front of us, behind us and on all sides for muggers. He didn’t have a clue. We flew to England on the Concorde together and did the Bark at The Moon video and that was pretty fun. We’d be rehearsing and Ozzy would always be the last to show up. I’d always have to pick him up at the pub. He’s a good guy. A nice guy. Everything that happened between us, happened with Sharon and not between me and him. The lawsuits and everything that happened. He told me. “I know you have problems with my Mrs., but I hope we can still be friends. And when I put King Kobra together, he was the first person to see the full show. I got a great record deal and bought some new vehicles and we were painting them. I had to thank him for that, because if I hadn’t been fired from that tour I wouldn’t have done King Kobra. So I was putting up masking tape on a RV that we bought to paint it and Ozzy says “Do you need any help?””Can I give you a hand?” I said sure. So there I had Ozzy up on the ladder putting up paper on the windows. I’ve got plenty of more stories in my book “Stick It”…My Life Of Sex, Drums and Rock N’ Roll!
XS ROCK: So tell me about your parents? Were they both supportive of you and Vinny playing in bands?
Carmine: Oh totally, totally. My father used to drive me to gigs because I was too young to drive and then later he drove Vinny to gigs too. They were totally supportive. My mother loved the music. She was always singing to the radio. Even when me and Vinny made it big, she said Mary’s my name and Rock n’ Roll’s my game. She was definitely a rock mom for sure. She made lasagna for John Lennon, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Cactus, and Vanilla Fudge. She cooked for the stars.
XS ROCK: So who inspired you to want to perform originally?
Carmine: Originally, my cousin was a drummer. I would go over to his house and play on his drums and then I’d go home and bang on pots and pans. So my parents saw that it kept happening so they bought me a drum set. I had the toy drum sets when I was real little, but I used to break those. A day after Christmas it was done, you know. But, then they saw that I was a little serious about it and they brought me a real drum set. A cheap set, and after a few years of playing that and I actually got some gigs with it, they realized that I was really serious. so they bought me a real good drum set and starting doing more and more gigs with it and eventually I bought more pieces to the drum set. Eventually I bought my own car from the gigs that I played. My cousin Joey was first and then there was me. There was seven drummers on my father’s side. They’re all still playing except for one cousin.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream band line-up with you on drums, who would you have in the other positions?
Carmine: Oh man, I don’t know. That’s a hard one. Maybe someone that I haven’t played with before. Eddie Van Halen, Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart singing, Jan Hammer on keyboards. That’d be a great band.
XS ROCK: What do you consider as your greatest accomplishment at this point in your career?
Carmine: Well, probably the fact that I started a style of drumming that is still going on and a drum book that has influenced a lot of people around the world. It also could be that I co-wrote a number one hit with Rod Stewart.
XS ROCK: Where do you see your career going from here on out. It doesn’t sound like you’re planning on retiring anytime soon.
Carmine: No. I’m not going to be retiring anytime in the near future, but I also don’t think the days of headlining arenas like I did in the 70’s and 80’s are going to be coming back either. I don’t think that’s going to happen again. Unless I join something already established and well known. I’ve always said that I’d like to do one more headline arena tour in my career. I’m going to keep playing and I want to get into some speaking engagements.
XS ROCK: It’s probably hard to imagine at this point, since you’ve been a musician for so long, but, If you weren’t performing in a band what type of career do you think you would have had?
Carmine: I’ve always been interested in real estate. I actually do that on the side now. I have a lot of real estate ventures going. I’ve always said that I probably would have made more money in the real estate business than as a musician (laughs).
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current rock music scene? Is there anything out there that you like?
Carmine: I don’t know anything about it. (laughs). I don’t know how the bands make it. It used to be that I thought I knew what a hit song was, but I don’t have a clue what a hit song is today. There’s no radio airplay. So even if they get signed there’s no airplay. This country was originally brought up listening to rock music on the radio and now everything is on the internet. There’s no magazines anymore. I really don’t know how these young bands do it. And the other thing is you take a band that’s been around ten years and all of sudden you start hearing about them. They’ve been on the road for ten years. They haven’t been making any money and living a crappy road life and having to pay people to play. They start when they’re 17 or 18 and they don’t make it until they’re 28 or 30. It’s horrible. If you want to play in a club they expect them to go out and sell the tickets. Give me a break! They’re the musicians not the promoter.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you would like to say all of your fans out there?
Carmine: Well, I always thank the fans for the support over the years. We can’t keep doing this without the fans. I hope they really like the Sinister album that me and Vinny did. It was an experiment and an experiment in mixing with each of us being on a left or right channel and we’re hoping that it does good enough that we can do another one because we’re going to still keep playing the Drum Wars gigs.
Buy The Appice Sinister album at Amazon by clicking below:
Buy Carmine’s Book, Stick It!: My Life of Sex, Drums, and Rock ‘n’ Roll