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Vinny & Carmine Appice photographed at Sound Street Studios in Reseda (CA) on 03/01/13.
Vinny & Carmine Appice photographed at Sound Street Studios in Reseda (CA) on 03/01/13.

Rock music drum royalty comes to town next year when the Appice Brothers, Carmine and Vinny bring their Drum Wars tour to Sydney and Melbourne in February. Carmine’s career spans 50 years as one of rock’s most influential drummers, from his pioneering days with Vanilla Fudge and Beck, Bogert & Appice, to co-writing hit records with  Rod Stewart and sessions with Sly Stone, Pink Floyd, Jan Akkerman and Paul Stanley to mention a few. Carmine’s colourful life was documented this year in his book, ‘STICK IT – My Life of Sex, Drums, and Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Vinny Appice is the metal/heavy rock guy, known for his stick work with classic rock acts such as Black Sabbath, Dio, Heaven and Hell, and Kill Devil Hill. Together in their Drum Wars show, along with a full band, the brothers will play hits from all the great bands they have played with as well as challenging each other in epic drum battles and thumpin’ drum solos. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips had the pleasure of chatting to CARMINE APPICE about the show, his long career and his drum gear.

What do you hope people come away with when they attend a Drum Wars Show?
The same as what you would when you come to a regular show because it really is a regular rock concert. The only difference is that we’re two brothers playing drums and we do these drum exchanges that they used to do in the Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich jazz days. It hasn’t really been done in the rock realm. So we’d like them to have a good time and hope that they think that I won and not Vinny! I just hope they have a great time. We’re playing hit songs on drums and doing battles, a bit of comedy just a  good time really.

stickitYou released a book this year Stick It: My Life of Sex, Drums, and Rock ‘n’ Roll …
Yeah, I notified my publisher who have the rights to release the book in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, so I asked them to try to put something together for the trip. The book is pretty wild. It’s a realistic account of what happened. We edited some of the crazy stuff out, some of the sex stuff but left some of it in because I wanted everyone to get the feeling when they read the book, that they feel like they were there. We’ve had some great reviews , especially on Amazon. Most of them are five star reviews and they love the fact that it is a very honest book. Sir Rod (Stewart) wrote the intro which was cool. It’s a good representation of my life.

Speaking of Rod, you co-wrote Do Ya Think I’m Sexy with him. There’s a wonderful musical exchange between you and the bass player Philip Chen in that song, such a great groove. Did it take long for you two guys to get that rhythm part down?
Not really. By the time we wrote that song we had already been together for a couple of years, so me and Phil were very tight as a rhythm section. If you listen to the drum and bass breaks we do on Hot Legs, it was tight even then and we’d only been together a year. I was actually originally on the Blow By Blow sessions but we ended up having to blow it out because Jeff Beck and his managers wouldn’t give me and my managers the kind of credit we wanted for it. I spent months over there working on songs and helping Jeff develop that whole concept and Phil was on that record too, so I was working with Phil back then. We started getting tight on those sessions.

Tell me something you get from playing drums that you wouldn’t get from being a guitarist or a keyboard player?
Muscles!  No really, it is all physical. You can actually stay really healthy from playing drums, especially like I do. A lot of times when I am on stage and doing a solo I feel my heart rate is probably up to 130 or so. It’s like being on the treadmill. I think all musicians get the same thing out of music, a very satisfying feeling, especially playing live. Watching other people enjoy it, it is a very satisfying feeling.

You Keep Me Hanging On was such a classic track from Vanilla Fudge. What do you remember about that recording session?
I remember it was done in one take mono. I can’t remember if we went in and overdubbed the vocals. I don’t think so because if we had done that, it wouldn’t have been mono, it would have been stereo I would  think. We did it as a demo and I am pretty sure we did everything at one time. If it wasn’t that way then it might have been the track in one take and then go back and do the vocals. For some reason they released it only in mono. There was never a stereo version of it. Back in those days I didn’t have a clue about recording mono or stereo I didn’t know anything about recording. Thinking about it logically now, when we did the vocals secondary, we would have mixed it in stereo because they did have 8 track. As I always call it, seven and a half minutes that changed my life!

What’s a good tip for recording drums?
Depends how you set things up and what kind of sound you are looking for. I’ve been playing DDrums since 2008. I just got a new kit last week which sounds phenomenal and I can’t wait to record it. I’ve played Slingerland it sounded good, I’ve played Pearl. Pretty much every album I have recorded I have had different makes of drums on them. It’s a matter of how you set it up and what kind of sound you are looking for. Hopefully you know what you are looking for! A lot of guys go into a studio and they don’t have a clue, like I was when I was a kid. I just went in and they recorded my drums the way they were. It was a Gretsch kit with a Rogers snare drum. I think a 1964 Gretsch maple kit with a Rogers chrome snare. The kit sounded great. I had a front head, no hole in it. The front heads with no holes didn’t exist then. That started happening later on early 70s and was more of a California west coast feel. Then it moved to the east coast.

Are you a  collector? Do you have a lot of kits?
I try not to have a lot. The ones I do have … it’s not as a collector, it’s just kits that I have had throughout my career. I have my first Mapex kit I got in 1992 which is a great sounding kit, then I have a second Mapex kit which has smaller bass drums, which are birds eye maple. I have a Gene Krupa kit from Slingerland. And before Slingerland closed shop they made me an amazing kit with 4 bass drums, 2 x22’s, 2×24’s, I have  10, 12, 13 normal sized toms, 10×6, 12 x8, 15×9, 16 x16, 18×18 and a wood snare drum and it’s purple leopard, custom made. It’s a Radio King set. It’s the only kit like that in the world. Then I have a 1924 Ludwig  Black Beauty snare drum, a 1940 Slingerland big band wood snare. That’s on the west coast. Then on the east coast, I have a DDrum ES kit which is a duplicate of my Ed Sullivan kit. But I don’t collect drums I just keep some things that I use. I try to get rid of kits so they don’t sit in my cellar here in Connecticut.  Here on the east coast I have a new DDRum max kit which is maple and alder wood together, with a maple finish. My other kit is two bass drums, 24 x14 maple and bubinga toms, normal sized toms except with an 18 x 18 floor tom. I have a Carmine signature brass snare with gold hardware. That one has a sparkle. Then I have another DDRum kit in silver sparkle like that one also but I’ve had it since 2008 and the finish must have been screwed up back then because my silver sparkle is turning champagne, which I don’t care for. And I have a DDrum kit in LA which is a candy apple red maple kit. It sounds good but I think this new max kit sounds better. So I ‘m not a collector as such but I still have 8 or 10 kits still.

You’ve been with Evans Drumheads for a long time. What makes one drum head better than another?
At the time I switched to Evans I was with Aquarian for a long time, 25 years but at the time they were getting out of it and not really doing anything for us. I was offered the deal with Evans. I tried them and they sounded great and we went with them because they took care of us a little better from a business stand-point, you know clinics … getting involved with us. Originally I played Remo then I started playing Ludwig heads, then back to Remo and then to Aquarian in 1989. They made a Carmine model and it was a really great head and I got royalties on it but the royalties don’t make much difference to me. It was more about the commitment from the company and also I gotta like the product. Which is why I went to Istanbul cymbals, who support me around he world. They made me a Carmine model and I got to say they are the best sounding cymbals I have ever played.

PrintDid you rely on music stores for gear when you were growing up?
Not when I was growing up because music stores hadn’t exploded yet. I bought my first kit for 55 bucks from the original Sam Ash store which ended up being a chain. In 1967 or 68 that when they started  expanding to 3 or 4 stores. Then in the 70s it grew more and you had the Guitar Centre. I used to do business with the original Guitar Centre on Sunset Boulevard, now they have 138 stores. The first real drum kit I got was from a guy that worked at Gretsch. He lived on my block and got me the set. There weren’t many music stores back then. More important to me at that time were magazines like Downbeat. There were no rock magazines then, just jazz magazines. I bought the covering for the 26 bass drum from a pawn shop when I was with Vanilla Fudge. I bought a 26 x 16 marching bass drum. I took the white pearl off it and I recovered it with red sparkle to match my regular drums. I bought the red sparkle stuff from an advertisement in Downbeat. There was no Modern Drummer back then. I was in the first issue of Modern Drummer and that wasn’t until 1976. So I grew up in a very different time to a lot of these drummers today. Even Vinny my brother, he was able to go to music stores. When he grew up he had television to watch with music and radio that played all the good stuff and he had the magazines as well.

It’s been great to chat Carmine, we look forward to seeing your Drum Wars show here next year
Well, people should come along, they’ll have a great time.

Thursday, February 16: The Factory Theatre, Sydney – DRUM CLINIC
Friday, February 17: The Factory Theatre, Sydney – FULL SHOW
Saturday, February 18: Max Watts, Melbourne FULL SHOW
Sunday, February 19: Croxton Park Hotel, Melbourne – DRUM CLINIC (afternoon)

Full Show tickets are $74.90 for General Admission & $199.90 for VIP Packages
Clinic Tickets are $59.90 for General Admission & $199.90 for VIP Packages

On sale from

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