What DO you ask a legend? Well, if the legend happens to be the endearing, charming, Brooklyn born Carmine Appice, the answer is…anything you want!
With (in my opinion) THE BEST Rock N Roll album of the year, KING KOBRA II delivers exactly, what every rock n roll heart has been craving. With the amazing vocals of Paul Shortino, the sound immediately takes you to a better place and time. A place where pure talent lives! To say I love this release would be an understatement! Take a listen to the smooth, story telling groove of the “Ballad of Johnny Rod” to the heartbreaking, “Take Me Back” ballad, you will not be disappointed with any of the tracks.
So when I got a chance to GUSH at “The Drummer of Drummers” I didn’t know where to begin. So I thought why don’t we start at the beginning, at least my beginning of when when he was introduced into my Rocker Twin world.
So from Rod, Bonham, Fred Astaire, to a little said prayer to the late great Barry Fey and FINALLY!!!! Some confirmation on the famous FISH STORY involving the boys in Led Zeppelin. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
MA: Hi Carmine.
CA: Yeah Mandy, how are you?
MA: I’m good how are you doing? You got time to talk with me?
CA: Yes, yes.
MA: Oh you don’t even know, you’re the drummer of my life here. I’m so excited to talk with you.
CA: Oh really?! (laughs)
MA: Oh yes, my mom was the biggest Rod Stewart fan, and she always told me about the guy in the “red shirt”. (laughs)
CA: How funny is that? I still have that red shirt.
MA: Well that just made my whole day.
CA: Yeah, except I can’t fit in it no more. I was a boy, and then I grew into a man. (laughs)
MA: You still got the stache, and trust me everything is still working. You look fantastic. Hot Legs and all.
CA: Actually “Have a Good Time” on the new KING KOBRA record was based on “Hot Legs”
MA: Oh really? I loved the whole CD, it’s awesome.
CA: Yeah we did the video on it and it made it more like a good time song.
MA: The “Ballad of Johnny Rod” was awesome. Like I said I loved it all, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to listen to a CD all the way through. I listened to this one more than a few times.
CA: Wow, really! That’s great. We’ve been getting that same reaction from everyone.
MA: With (Paul) Shortino how can you go wrong. His voice is amazing.
CA: He is great, he’s a great singer.
MA: Yeah, he’s fantastic. Any thoughts on touring with this?
CA: KING KOBRA was never really a huge band, and the money is just too low to go out, to even pay for the expenses. There’s no one really around like we used to have in the 80’s, we’d get our big record deals, merch deals and big advances. There’s none of that around anymore. No one around to take up the slack and pay for the loss. So you may as well just be in a band that keeps making good records.
MA: Fantastic records. Keep making them and I’ll keep listening. Well, I have a few questions for you that I have been dying to ask you forever.
CA: All right, go ahead. (laughs)
MA: So you’re monumental, highly influential, the drummer of drummers. What do you attribute your longevity to? Is it your awesome personality, or are you just easy to work with?
CA: Well I’m from Brooklyn, and Brooklyn people learn how to survive. So I just knew what I had to do to survive and went after it. I would set goals to do stuff and I always tried to do things that were a little off the wall, little different against the grain. And you know, it’s always actually worked out for me.
MA: Yeah, big time worked out. (laughs)
CA: And I’ve made mistakes too. I was asked to join RAINBOW and I didn’t, and that would have been a huge success for me. I was asked to do a WHITESNAKE album and I couldn’t do it because I had KING KOBRA. You know a lot of mistakes, but then, you know I didn’t.
MA: Well you had Rod Stewart.
CA: I heard that Rod Stewart was looking for a drummer when I was in LA. A friend of mine said he had just auditioned and no one had gotten it yet. He said I should give it a try. I said “oh” that’s interesting. So I called up Rod’s tour manager who I knew from touring with CACTUS and I told him I would love to check it out, could he talk to Rod about me auditioning? He said come down and check the band out and see if you like it. So I did and I liked it. I knew two of the members, and then I didn’t even have to end up auditioning. He said, just play like you did in CACTUS, you’re in. And that was like a life changing decision. It was a godsend. Just thought I’d call the tour manager, and the next thing I know I’m making the most money in my whole career and playing in front of the biggest crowds I’ve ever played for every night. It was a great career move. And even moving to the west coast was a great career move because at that time, the east coast was dead. There was nothing going on.
MA: Exactly…so you just received the first BONZO BASH AWARD. How is it to be the guy that inspired JOHN BONHAM?
CA: You gotta understand something. When I met John Bonham, nobody knew who he was, he was unknown. I listened to his album and I liked what he did, and then he told me that the great bass drum thing he did, he got from me. I didn’t believe him. I said, “I don’t do that”. So then he pointed out on a VANILLA FUDGE record where I did it, he stole it from me but he upped the game a little bit you know. He did a lot more, upping his game. Like I said no one had ever heard of him. He was just another kid I was trying to help out. I’ve always done that my whole life, helped guys that were coming up. He just happened to be in a band that was gonna become the biggest rock n roll band in the world, with the greatest, kickass drum sound on record.
MA: Well, you’re the guy that inspired it.
CA: Of course that’s Jimmy Page’s experience on that first record, the drum sound was awesome. And the second record is all Jimmy Page. I mean John Bonham wasn’t a producer, he was a drummer. The way Page makes it, with the drums way out front made Bonham sound even better. You know I like to tell stories about being an influence for Bonham, but people took it as an ego trip. Like I said something, like I taught him everything he knows. I never said that.
MA: He himself, is the one who said you inspired him.
CA: Just like all drummers, we all have influences and we use them and take them with us. My influences were Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, I took from them and did them my way. He (John Bonham) himself said in some interviews from the first tour, that he and Cozy Powell grew up together, they were exchanging stories asking about what I was like, how I was, was I awesome? I thought that was funny you know, then I ended up knowing Cozy as well.
MA: Awww, that just made my whole day to hear that story.
CA: It’s funny. And now he’s so big it’s like people can’t even imagine that he was ever an unknown.
MA: Exactly, well you knew Jimi Hendrix when he was an unknown too didn’t you?
CA: Yeah, exactly. I knew him before he was “Jimi Hendrix” he was Jimmy James and nobody knew him, and we played together.
MA: That’s so awesome! I can’t even believe I’m talking to you.
CA: Well you know I’m writing my book now of my life.
MA: I know, I’ve been waiting years since I first heard about it.
CA: I finally got a deal with VH1 books.
MA: Well if anyone needs a biography it’s you. That’s for sure.
CA: Well it’s crazy. And they liked the fact that my story doesn’t just go with one band, it goes all over the place.
MA: I know, I’ve been waiting forever to see this autographed picture of Fred Astaire. I read about it 2 years ago.
CA: I still have it, it’s gonna be in the book.
MA: I can’t wait to read it.
CA: It was amazing for that guy (Fred Astaire) to walk up to me and ask, “Do you know who I am?”…and I was like. “Yeah I know who you are.” It was great. (laughing)
MA: Yeah, I was wondering what the hold up on it was?
CA: Originally I was going to do it as a self publish book because I tried to get a deal in 2008, I’ve been working on stories about my life up to that point, talking into a tape machine and when I transcribed it I had up to 150 pages of stories. But you know in the 80’s books like mine from the 60′ and 70’s weren’t cool, and in the 80’s we weren’t writing books. The coolness of these books just started a few years ago, and that’s when I started getting back into it, but you know it’s a lot of work.
MA: Oh I know. You know with self publishing I helped Rudy Sarzo on his. He did all the promotions himself with a little help from me.
CA: I love Rudy, Rudy’s a beautiful guy.
MA: He is indeed.
CA: He’s the one that told me, why don’t you just self publish? “I sold 20,000 copies for something like $7 a pop. (laughs)
MA: Yeah he did. (laughs)
CA: I said yeah I know, but I want to be the guy that goes on all the fucking television shows.
MA: Right! Who wouldn’t?
CA: I want to make a fuckin hit book! I don’t just want a book. (All laughs) I want a new New York Times best seller! It’s the right time, and that’s what they think we can do.
CA: One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was hit the New York Times best seller list, so it’s time to do it.
MA: Best seller for sure. I’m behind you all the way.
CA: I already know the car I’m gonna be buying
MA: Oh yeah? What car will you be buying?
CA: I would buy a Jaguar F Series.
MA: I’m sure you’ll be able to buy 2 of them. I’m sure it’s gonna be a hit.
CA: (laughs) Alright, I’ll buy two. I’ll buy the Jaguar first and then I’ll buy the Ferarri.
MA: That’s right, you gotta enjoy it man!
CA: I’m gonna have to build some garages too.
MA: (Laughs) Well I’m excited for it.
CA: Me too.
MA: So have you guys done DRUM WARS yet this summer?
CA: Yeah, we just spent the whole weekend doing it, Vinny’s (Vinny Appice) on the plane right now going back to LA and we’re gonna do some more in September.
MA: Have you guys thought about doing DVD’s for that or anything else?
CA: We did an original DVD in 1995 called “DRUM WARS” and that’s how all this started. If you go on-line you can get it at Amazon, “Battling for the name APPICE or APPACI.”
MA: Yes! I googled you for 3 days thinking I didn’t know how to pronounce your last name! Thank God for THAT METAL SHOW!
CA: Yeah, me and Vinny have been on already this year.
MA: Oh I know, THAT METAL SHOW is my Saturday night ritual.
CA: Yeah, it’s a good show.
MA: Eddie Trunk has my life, I’m jealous of him.
CA: Oh his life isn’t that glamorous. (laughs)
MA: Well the fun parts are, those are the parts I want. (laughs) … So since you’re rock n roll camp got canceled what do you have planned now?
CA: I booked a Guitar Center clinic tour throughout August, so that will keep me busy, and I have a couple of VANILLA FUDGE gigs coming up. What I like about my life now in my playing, is an aray of different things and not just one thing over and over.
MA: Yeah, you’re like Mr. Jack of all Trades.
MA: I was looking at the paintings you were doing with Ed Heck. Those are awesome, how did that come about?
CA: Oh yeah, those are wild right. You know Ed is a friend of my girlfriends and we became friends. His son’s a drummer/ musician and he would always take him to see us at different gigs when they were young. I gave his son a drum set and we became friends. Then we went to see him at the art show in New York and at the same art show Paul Stanley was there showing his stuff so I said hi to Paul and all that. And Ed said, do you draw or paint? You do anything like that? I said I can draw like drum sets and gold records, stuff like that. But it’s different from the stuff he does. So he said why don’t we try to do something. So we did the first thing that we called “DRUM HEAD” it was like a self portrait.
MA: It’s very cool, I liked it a lot.
CA: And then I drew this thing, I said let me draw this city out of drums, so I did that and he loved the idea. So we did a big painting of it and a small painting of it. We have 5 canvases, lithographs. And I said maybe we should just do everything like that. We could have Stonehenge made of made of drums, the pyramids made of drums, the Leaning Tower of Pisa made of drums, and so on. He loved it. So we started doing it and now we have a whole shit load of stuff. And little by little we’re gonna hopefully have a gallery world tour.
MA: That’s sounds awesome.
CA: The world tour is gonna be for the paintings, not us.
MA: That’s a great idea.
CA: I have a “Drum Head” one right here in my house. We have a lithograph of that one and the one of “Drum City”.
MA: So are you enjoying this new medium? Is it a different kind of outlet for you? Are you gonna be the next John Mellencamp or Lars Ulrich in the art world?
CA: Nah, I just did it for fun. Then the next year we went to the art show and we signed autographs, me and Ed had made up some posters of the “Drum City” painting and we signed for about 2 to 3 hours straight. There was just lines and lines of people.
MA: That’s excellent. You know I could literally talk to you for 2 days.
CA: So how far are you from Denver?
MA: I’m about 3 hours west of Denver.
CA: You know what’s funny? VANILLA FUDGE took LED ZEPPELIN on their very first tour and we played Denver. The first gig on that tour was Denver. I found out in 2003 that when we played The Paramount in Denver with VANILLA FUDGE and MOUNTAIN, Barry Fey, rest his soul. He told me, did you guys know that VANILLA FUDGE paid half of LED ZEPPELIN’S fee that first night? I said, no I didn’t, you’re shitting me! He goes yeah, the agent kept pushing them on me and I kept saying I don’t need LED ZEPPELIN. Nobody knows who they are number 1, number 2 the tickets are already sold out, 7,500 people. We don’t need them. The agent tells him, come on it’s only $1,500 for LED ZEPPELIN . Still Barry kept telling him he didn’t need them. So the agent tells him, I tell you what. VANILLA FUDGE will pay half if you pay half. So we paid half, and I never knew it till then. And had we not know that, who knows they may have never gotten off the ground. (laughs)
MA: I’m telling you, you’re like the catalyst for all of it. I’ve been aware of this for a long time.
CA: (Laughs) It’s crazy, well spread the word. (Laughs) So what this is a groupie interview right?
MA: (Laughs) Right.
CA: (Laughs) That’s good cause I had a lot to do with groupies.
MA: Oh I know. I’ve heard the stories. I thought you were gonna tell me an orgy story. (laughs)
CA: Oh boy, you’re gonna have to read the book for those. Some of it we can’t even put in the book it’s so disgusting.
MA: Someone told me you were at the “infamous” LED ZEPPELIN “fish story”…is that true?
CA: Yeah, it was my girl! (laughs) I was there, and the story will be in the book. It’s so disgusting.
MA: So it’s true then? There’s been a lot of conflicting stories about it. (laughs)
CA: It is true, but nobody has really ever told the real story of it…yet! For the book we’re actually trying to tame it down, cause it was THAT disgusting, I gotta say. Now me, looking back as an adult it was fucking crazy!
MA: I don’t know, I’d like to think you couldn’t talk me into something like that…but….(laughs)
CA: Well let me tell you this chic was like a nympho and she loved it!
CA: It was so good to talk to you.
MA: Oh it was so good to talk to you. I enjoyed every minute of it.
CA: Alright, say hi to your mom for me!
MA: (laughs) I will, and thanks you just made her day too! Bye!