Interview by Robert Cavuoto
For more than forty years, the two brothers Carmine and Vinny Appice have been among the most sought-after and renowned rock drummers worldwide. Carmine and Vinny can be heard on numerous legendary albums and have toured countless times with some of the world’s greatest acts. Carmine embarked on his musical path in the 1960s with Vanilla Fudge, then Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne. Vinny has been an on an equally spectacular career, having worked with Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Dio, and Last in Line.
In 2014 the brothers put together a live CD featuring hits from Sabbath, Dio, Rod Stewart, and Ozzy called Drum Wars – Live! Now they have their first studio CD, Sinister, due out October 27th via SPV/Steamhammer Records. The CD also brings together some All-Star musicians who Carmine and Vinny collaborated with on this monstrous release.
I caught up with Vinny Appice to discuss Sinister, the work that went into creating it, and the status of the next Last in Line CD.
Robert Cavuoto: This is quite a unique approach for two drummers to put a CD out. Tell me about what spurred this project?
Vinny Appice: Carmine and I have wanted to do a studio CD for a long time but never been be able to find the time to do it. The end of last year into this year, our manager said it would be easier to book tours and shows if we had a CD. We wanted to do it anyway and finally made some time in the beginning of the year when our schedules were a little more open. We put our heads together on the music end, and our manager started to pursue a Pledge Music Campaign to raise money. The Pledge Music Campaign did really well. In the meantime, we had a song that Carmine recorded with King Kobra called “Monsters and Heroes” which is a tribute to Ronnie James Dio. When I heard it, I thought it was a great song. I put my drums on it as well since it was a tribute to Ronnie. We played it for SPV/Steamhammer Records, and they loved it and gave us a record deal. Now we had a label behind us, and the CD is due out October 27th along with the video for “Monsters and Heroes.”
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me how you are performing the songs. Did you each pick a song to play on or are you trading off parts on each song?
Vinny Appice: We figured out which songs we could play together throughout the entire song like on “Monsters and Heroes. We don’t always play the exact same part; it is doubled with Carmine on the right side and me on the left side. It sounds massive. On other songs, we played counterparts to each other. Some song we play alone and some we switch off where Carmine played the first verse and chorus then I played the rest or vice versa. Some of them we just play the chorus together. We approached each song differently.
Robert Cavuoto: You have an All-Star line-up of musicians to help you on this CD; I’m assuming they are all your friends.
Vinny Appice: These are all our good friends and great people, they are like family. When it came down to guitar players, we asked Craig Goldy [Dio], Bumblefoot [Guns & Roses], Mike Sweda [Bullet Boys], Erik Turner [Warrant] and Joel Hoekstra [Whitesnake]. There is also a great guitarist that I play with in the band WAMI; Iggy Gwadera. He is only 17 or 18 years old, and he had some riffs that we put together. Joel was receptive and wanted to be on the CD and sent a bunch of ideas and riffs too. I have a little studio in my house and started putting all these ideas and riff together. Once I felt I had a good arrangement I sent them to Carmine. He would make comments and then send it back to the guitarists to record. On vocal, we had Paul Shortino, Robin McAuley [MSG] and on bass Tony Franklin [Blue Murder] and Phil Soussan [Ozzy/Last in Line]. There were other people we reached out to, but their schedules didn’t permit.
Robert Cavuoto: It must have been a huge undertaking to figure this all out and pull it together?
Vinny Appice: Yeah! [laughing] I was in my studio every day for eight hours a day until I couldn’t take it anymore; trying ideas, putting drums down, and trying different arrangements. It was a lot of work.
Robert Cavuoto: Speaking of Joel, I’ve interviewed him a few times and really love his solo CD, Dying to Live, which you played on. How did you meet?
Vinny Appice: I met Joel through Tony Franklin who played bass on Joel’s CD. Tony asked me if I wanted to play drums it. I heard some of the songs and I was like, “Yeah.” I played on the CD but never met Joel. Then at the beginning of the year, Joel was going on the Monster of Rock Cruise and asked me if I wanted to join him. On the cruise, I met him, and two days later, we are doing a gig together [laughing]. We never rehearsed, and it was a great gig. The CD has great vocals by Jeff Scott Soto and Russell Allen.
Robert Cavuoto: You have an instrumental track on your CD called “Drum Wars” which is pretty cool. How did you work that out?
Vinny Appice: It was Carmine’s idea that he had put down on his iPad. From the iPad, we started working it up to the live show. We played it so many times we got it nice and tight. That’s the only real drum piece on the record. The song just has a chorus with the phrase “Drum Wars” being sung.
Robert Cavuoto: Will you and Carmine put together a tour?
Vinny Appice: We just did a show in Las Vegas where we shot the video for “Monsters and Heroes” and a show in New Hampshire. Both shows went over great. Now we are looking at a European tour in January. The beginning quarter of the year we are going to book gigs whenever we can as much as we can.
Robert Cavuoto: Who is in your touring band?
Vinny Appice: It depends on where we are; on the East Coast we have a band and on the West Coast another band. In Europe, there is a third band. Financially it doesn’t make sense to fly everyone in right now as we are trying to build things. All the musicians are friends who we have both played with before.
Robert Cavuoto: Will you be bringing out a big kit for those shows?
Vinny Appice: No, I’ll use a smaller kit with two toms, one floor, and one rack. A lot of time people see the smaller kit, and go, “God that’s a small kit!” but after the show, they say, “Man you made that sound like a giant kit!” [Laughing] It gets the job!
Robert Cavuoto: Can you give us an update on the next Last in Line studio CD?
Vinny Appice: We went into the studio and recorded five songs, basic tracks. Andy is in the process of finishing some vocals on a few of them. It sounds great. We are writing with Phil Soussan on bass which has been very productive and creative. The other day we got together and wrote a couple of more ideas. We usually write them and then live with them for a little while before sending them to Andy to add the melody. We are going back in the studio in December to hopefully finish another four or five songs. The goal is to have the CD out sometime next year. We also have some shows on the East Coast in November. All the places we played earlier this year want us back! They want to book the band again even though we were just there!
Robert Cavuoto: I know you only do a limited run of dates with Last in Line, is that due to scheduling issues between everybody?
Vinny Appice: There are some scheduling things with Def Leppard so we could only do it when Vivian was not playing with them as he is quite busy. Also, Andy Freeman [Last in Line] and Phil Soussan perform in the Las Vegas show, Rock Vault. We have those shows on the East Coast this year, and then in the beginning of first quarter next year, we will do more shows. It will be like four or five shows at a time.
Robert Cavuoto: Andy is a great frontman and can sing his ass off.
Vinny Appice: Andy sings great consistently every night just like Ronnie. That is pretty hard to do when you a have a lot of volume behind you and have to sing over it. We all get along, and the laughing you see us doing is us having a great time. I love this band; on and off the stage!