Carmine Appice is one of the world's most famous drummers. His career dates back to the mid-1960s with Vanilla Fudge and then it went on to Cactus, which lead to the formation of Beck, Bogart and Appice. In 1976 Carmine joined Rod Stewart as his drummer. In a 5 year time period, he did 3 world tours, earning 4 Gold and Platinum albums. He co-wrote the song "Do You Think I'm Sexy" and "Young Turks". On May 23rd, 1981, Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles proclaimed that day as Carmine Appice Day in L.A. in recognition of Carmine Appice's charitable and educational efforts. In early 1982, Carmine Appice released his very first solo album. He also became a consultant for the Mattel Electronics Company and the 1983 spokesman for their Synsonics electronic drum. In addition to all of this work, Carmine Appice keeps busy with lectures, drum clinics and symposiums around the world. It's a real honor to present an interview with one of Rock's best-known drummers - Mr. Carmine Appice.
Q - You're writing a book called The International Guide To Hotel Wrecking. What is that going to be about?
A - It's just going to be what it was like working in 1967 in Vanilla Fudge and taking people like Led Zeppelin on the first tour and you know, all the madness that went along with it. Just basically the crazy stuff that went on between them and in 1981, The Rod Stewart Band. A lot of stories that involve a lot of well-known people, because I was in all the bands I was in. I got to know a lot of different kind of people, from Rock people to actors and actresses to sports people. I just decided to put some of the crazy stories, all hotel wreckings, all the madness that goes along with it, down on paper and try to put it in book form. I don't think there has been any book out that's really covered from '67 to now, on the road madness and even some of the crazy sex things that go on. It's the whole backstage look at being on the road for 12 to 13 years.
Q - Why didn't Beck, Bogart and Appice stay together longer? Was it Jeff Beck's personality?
A - It had a lot to do with Jeff, but it had a lot to do with Timmy as well. Timmy was a lead bass player. And the same thing happened with Cactus. Timmy is a great bass player. So when you're playing in a trio you have to have grooves. He's not a groove bass player. So when you're playing in a trio, you have to have grooves to play. If you don't have those grooves, you ain't got nothing. After awhile, as a guitarist and a drummer even, you look for a bass player to help groove and after 6 months, 8 months, a year, it starts getting to you. One of the big problems with Cactus and BBA was the fact that we couldn't keep it together because there were no grooves happening and everyone we played with got fed up with it after awhile. That's really what it boils down to.
Q - Is being a drummer a tougher job in a band than say being a guitarist? I ask only because of the deaths of Keith Moon and John Bonham.
A - No, I don't think so. John just happened to drink too much at that point in time and Keith was always crazy. I don't think it has anything to do with being a drummer. Most drummers are more stable than that actually. When you're in a band that doesn't have a manager, it's usually the drummer who goes out and gets all the gigs and keeps everything organized. The hardest thing about being a drummer in a band is that people in the business and record companies don't recognize you as much. Like, if I was a star guitar player now with my name as big as it is, it would be a lot easier to do things, like get solo albums.
Q - Why is it that drummers don't get the recognition they deserve?
A - I don't know. It's the fact of being a drummer. The business feels, and Gene Krupa had the same problem when he was trying to pull it off, until you pull it off, a drum oriented single or a hit single that is in the Top 5, where everybody is dancing to it and going crazy over it. They look at a drummer as just a drummer. It's only recently that drummers are starting to come into their own, like with people like Phil Collins, who's a singing drummer. I'm not bitchin'. I'm doing fine. I can't complain really. It's been rough. It hasn't been the kind of thing where you've been successful and sit back and reap the rewards of success. You have to really bust your ass. And being the drummer, I think you have to bust your ass twice as hard.
Q - Rod Stewart has said of you, "Never trust a drummer with his name on the bass drum." He also gave you the nickname "The Dentist - too many fill-ins." Do those kinds of things bother you? Does that make you mad?
A - I got mad at Rod because I know the way Rod is. Whenever someone is not with him anymore, in his camp, the best way to get him is in the press. I was on tour with my solo album when I heard that. I kept hearing other things he was saying about me and finally I started getting him in the press. I naturally felt flattered in a way because he didn't say anything about anyone else in the rest of the band. It was obviously important to him to say that about me. So, it made me feel like I was more important to him than he actually realized.
Q - Are there any other drummers who maintain as busy a schedule as you do?
A - I think Phil Collins is quite busy. My brother (Vinnie) tries to stay busy. The only one who does as much as I do is Phil Collins.
Q - But Phil Collins doesn't give lectures or participate in drum clinics, does he?
A - No. He doesn't give lectures. He's just real busy. He's playing with Genesis, playing his solo stuff, producing people, on tour with Robert Plant. That's really a lot to do in one year. But I don't know if he does the clinics. Bill Bruford does some clinics now. Simon Phillips does clinics. I guess you might say I had the first Rock clinics ever to be put on, starting in '71. I've been doing that since then, so I've got a little jump on the rest of them.
Q - You must get a deep, personal satisfaction meeting all of the aspiring drummers attending your clinics.
A - Well, yeah. I've been doing that all my life. I've been teaching kids. My book has been out 10 - 11 years. I like doing it. A lot of the people I taught became famous. One of my students was Bobby Rondinelli, who was in Rainbow for 3 years. My brother was basically one of my students and he's done real well. (Vinnie Appice has toured and recorded with Black Sabbath and is now with Ronnie Dio) The original drummer of Beatlemania was one of my students. It does me good to see them doing well. Actually, one of my students played in Twisted Sister for about a year. He's just left now that they're becoming big. (laughs)
Q - You worked with Jimi Hendrix. Did you ever get the chance to sit down and talk with him?
A - Oh, yeah. I knew him before he was Jimi Hendrix. He was Jimmy James. We used to play clubs in New York together, opposite bands, hang out and say things like "one day we'll get out of this ghetto." He was from Seattle, living in New York, living in hotels with different people. Just living real low class. Next thing I knew he was Jimi Hendrix and I was in the Vanilla Fudge. Next time I saw him we were both in London and it was pretty funny. I said "I can't believe you're Jimi Hendrix" and he said "I can't believe you're in Vanilla Fudge." And we toured quite a bit with him, with Fudge, and we did gigs in Cactus with him. So, I sat down with him quite a bit.