If you weren’t at The Backlot last month, you missed an opportunity to catch two of the greatest hard rock/metal drummers of all time in what was essentially a private setting. Carmine and Vinny Appice’s Drum Wars culled from each of the brother’s esteemed catalogs while giving WNY’s own Jim Crean an opportunity to show the uninitiated just how much of a vocal powerhouse he is.
While the band itself was on fire, the idea that we were finally experiencing a show like that after what felt like an eternity away from live metal was just as significant. It doesn’t get much better than hearing “Holy Diver,” “The Mob Rules,” and “Riot” up close and personal on a Saturday night in early autumn, especially when the brothers stick around after the show to hang out with everyone.
I had the opportunity to speak in depth with Carmine earlier this week about his latest project with guitarist Fernando Perdomo as well as his history with bands such as Vanilla Fudge, Blue Murder, and Ozzy Osbourne. You’ll have another chance to catch his percussive brilliance when The Fudge returns to Buffalo for the first time since 2012 on Nov. 13, so don’t let fear get the best of you.
MNOD: I just saw you and Vinny play a Drum Wars show in Western New York at the end of September, which was excellent. What did you think of the venue?
Appice: That was a really good show and a cool venue. We had done a few Drum Wars before then, but that was the first one where I thought that I played a good solo. Vinny came out and said to the crowd ‘Not bad for 75,’ so that was a cool moment.
MNOD: Your latest project, “Energy Overload,” with Fernando Perdomo is a thrilling instrumental record where you can really feel the excitement of the players come through in the material. Where did the idea for this record come from?
Appice: I was introduced to Fernando through Tom Dowd’s daughter. She called me and asked if I would be interested in doing something with him, so we started exchanging files back and forth. Everything came together pretty quickly. I live in Florida and have my own studio, which has allowed me to learn a lot more about the process. I don’t usually work with people unless they have a good size name, but Fernando and I hit it off instantly. Eventually, we had 18 songs just for fun with no intention of ever releasing an album until I mentioned to him that I was doing some stuff for Cleopatra and would be able to put together a deal. He’s a really creative player and has a great sound, so it turned out well. He can make any style sound good.
MNOD: When you have an album released in 2021, do you get the same satisfaction level from streaming it as you would from the physical product?
Appice: I prefer the old way. I miss the days of going into the record store and seeing the display, because you always knew who was playing on what track and got invested in the process. That’s why there are no new guitar and drum heroes anymore. People used to be able to listen to song and go ‘That’s Jimmy Page’ or ‘That’s Jeff Beck,’ but there are no icons anymore. Maybe Joe Bonamassa, but even he’s been at it for a while now. Pop all sounds the same today. There’s no new Bruce Springsteen, Freddie Mercury, or Robert Plant out there.
MNOD: Vanilla Fudge recently announced a return to Buffalo on November 13. Was the decision to go back out made recently or did the pandemic get in the way initially?
Appice: COVID screwed everything up. Tim Bogert passed away earlier this year, but we dedicated a music video to him that was released on YouTube. I have Fudge shows, Cactus shows, and more Drum Wars shows planned, so hopefully we can make everything happen. Five of the nine Vanilla Fudge shows will be played with Robby Krieger from The Doors, also. I’ll actually be doing an in-store at a big record store in Buffalo that was organized by my friend Jim Crean. That will be on the 12th.
MNOD: Jim’s performance at the Drum Wars show was tremendous. Where did you first meet him?
Appice: Vinny and I would always play with pick-up musicians in whatever town we played in and Jim ended up singing for us once at a show in Niagara Falls. He did a great job, so we ended up trying him out on a couple more shows. He’s such a nice guy and people like him. His wife actually worked for Jet Blue and we were able to get free miles for a while. He’s just a good guy and a great singer.
MNOD: 1989’s debut from Blue Murder is my favorite record that you’ve played on. Describe what the process was like on that project.
Appice: That was a great album. Working with Bob Rock as a producer was positive. We actually recorded the album twice, because we went back and I was able to get a better drum sound the second time. I didn’t want a lot of repetition in terms of my fills or solos on any of the songs, so I made a conscious effort to avoid that. I remember going out in Vancouver every night after our recording sessions and partying. There were a lot of great bars in the area. ‘Jelly Roll’ is the only song I’ve ever recorded when I was smacked drunk. Of course, the album didn’t do what we expected it do and I’ve always felt that it was due to a lack of proper management behind us. John Sykes felt that the label didn’t want us to be as successful as Whitesnake and deliberately held us back. Plus, we were in charge of things that we shouldn’t have been, because we didn’t know the business side as well as a real manager would have. It’s become a legendary classic album, though, and people love it. There was actually talk of reunion at one point, but John wanted to make it a ‘History of John Sykes’ kind of thing and I didn’t think that Blue Murder was the proper setting for that. People would definitely want to see both of them, but they should be done separately. Who knows when it will happen? I haven’t heard from John in a while, but I know that people want it and I would personally love it if it happened.
MNOD: Your stint with Ozzy in 1984 was something that didn’t end on a positive note. How do you look back on it now?
Appice: Sharon always felt that my name was too big. They were really pushing Jake E. Lee at the time and I used to do Master Classes in all of the cities we played, so I was getting more PR than Jake because of that. Plus, I was giving money to charities and UNICEF, so naturally I was going to get press out of that. She would go out of her way to make me look funny on tour and sabotage certain things. I was featured in this article one time that described a drum effect where I could come out of a staircase on stage and the article was all over the place. Sharon didn’t like that. I also had shirts made and she had someone cut my head off of all the shirts. I remember talking to Bob Daisley about it and I asked him if he thought she would sabotage her own show just to make me look stupid and he said ‘Absolutely.’ I haven’t spoken to her since 1984, but Ozzy and I are friends. He’s a good guy, but she runs the show.
MNOD: King Kobra is another band that fans of the ’80s rock scene are fond of. What does the future hold for them?
Appice: I’m actually working on the new King Kobra album now. It’s kind of Led Zeppelin meets King Kobra with a great drum sound. I’m taking my time putting it together in the studio and I’m also engineering it for the first time in my life. The ’80s are really happening right now for people, so I think we’ll definitely plan to play some shows next year. We brought in Carlos Cavazo and Rowan Robertson to play guitars, as well. I’m set up pretty well, but I want to keep the legacy of the band going.
MNOD: You mentioned earlier that the Drum Wars show at The Backlot was the first time you were happy with your solo on this tour. Given how long you were away from the stage during the pandemic, how have you managed to keep in shape to play live?
Appice: I try to stay active. I have an app on my phone that tracks my steps each day and I also do the treadmill and weights. I’ve never been a druggie or into alcohol too much, either. I drink almond milk and try to stay as healthy as possible.
“Energy Overload” from Carmine Appice and Fernando Perdomo is available now wherever music is disseminated.
You can also catch Carmine with Vanilla Fudge at The Tralf on Nov. 13. See www.tralfmusichall.com for details.
Carmine will be doing an in-store at Hi-Fi Hits in Williamsville, NY on Nov. 12, as well, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. See http://www.hi-fihits.com for details.