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APPICE, CARMINE


Carmine Appice - Keeping a Steady Beat

By Dark Starr

Carmine Appice's name might not be a household one for the casual music fan,but anyone who has followed hard rock over the last few decades will have heard of him (or at the very least heard him). As a drummer Appice was one of the founding members of Vanilla Fudge (who were one of the earliest examples of progressive rock - or at least a precursor of prog rock).

That would have been enough for a lot of musicians, but not Carmine Appice. His musical history includes a number of other notable showings. He has played with Rod Stewart (co-writing two Stewart hits in the form of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy and Young Turks) and was a founding member of Cactus - and that's just to name a few of his projects. You can also add in two other super groups in the form of Beck Bogert and Appice (those other two names are Jeff Beck and Tim Bogert - Bogert is also from Cactus) and KGB. Most recently he's been working with the reunited versions of both Vanilla Fudge and Cactus and still found time to put together a killer album in the form of "The Carmine Appice Project's Ultimate Guitar Zeus". I recently had the chance to ask him about all of these projects and much more.


WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:Vanilla Fudge was certainly one of the innovators of progressive rock, are you a big fan of that genre?

CARMINE APPICE: Yes, I like progressive rock a lot and jazz-rock as well. Both of these styles of music are very creative and use the brain as well as your soul when playing it...

WC: With the Fudge you have always done an incredible job with covers, turning them into something that is still recognizable as the original, but is also wholly unique (and I’d say in many cases far better than the original). What approach do you guys take in redoing songs and just in choosing what material to take on?

CA: Usually we take a song that has a lot emotion in the words and try and match that emotion with music. This is the basic idea. Sometimes we just try and make the vocals more soulful.

WC: In recent times there have been several Fudge releases that have kind of been rehashes of stuff that’s already out there. What was the thinking behind this? Did you guys personally have control over this? Was it a way to get back some of your old catalog from labels that owned the music?

CA: This happened because the label charged us too much money for us to buy our albums to sell at gigs. So we
re-recorded all our hits and put them on one new CD and added a few new ones. It was really a drag that you’d pay $10 for the CDs and by the time you sell it (the building takes a 25-30% commission) you’d have to sell the CD for $20 - each. So by re doing it you can sell a CD from $12 to $15 and you only need to buy one CD instead of 2-3 to get all the songs.

WC: You’ve recently been working with Cactus again. How did that reunion come about?

CA: Basically, when we were working on Vanilla fudge stuff in New York we started recording new Cactus songs just for fun. So after 3-4 years we had 14 Cactus songs recorded. In December ‘05 the Swedish Rock Festival gave us an offer to reunite for their festival. We agreed and the label I was working with for other projects like Travers N Appice DVD asked me if we had any unreleased Cactus songs. I played him some of the 14 songs we had. Some songs had singer Jimmy Kunes on them. He was a friend and helped us out while we did some of these recordings. Then after Pete French committed to doing Cactus (Pete was our singer for 2 years in the second Cactus Band in the 70’s ) Pete realized he couldn’t do Cactus because of commitments with his own band. We then asked Jimmy Kunes to join. Escapi music gave us a record deal to finish the album, we went to Sweden and played and finished what is now Cactus V.

WC: How does the new material differ from the original Cactus stuff?

CA: It is very similar to the old stuff. We wrote it the same way with the same musicians. The only difference is the singer and the times. We wrote melodies and lyrics that fit the band today. In the old days it was sex, drugs and rock and roll. Today the lyrics are a bit more mature.

WC: You’ve had the opportunity throughout your career to work with some really exceptional musicians. Are there any moments in particular that stand out as especially magical?

CA: Many moments...almost too many...one or two would be with Rod Stewart playing 6 nights at the forum in LA. Almost broke the attendance record. While the song I wrote had gone to number 1 in all the free world. That was amazing. Woman pulling up their shirts to show the band their boobs, all kinds of craziness like that. Another would be playing Tokyo with Beck, Bogert and Appice at the Budokan. We were the first group to sell out the arena. The response was unreal;.Wherever we went we were mobbed like the Beatles. This was 1973.

WC: Are there musicians out there with whom you would like to work in the future?


CA: Led Zeppelin, maybe Jeff Beck again...maybe Blue Murder

WC: Who would you see as your musical influences?

CA: Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich are my main 2 influences. Then Motown songs, James Brown, Atlantic Records hits by, Aretha, Wilson Pickett, The Stax family, and finally the Beatles from the Revolver period on.

WC: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It’s been said by the major labels that it’s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales...would you agree?

CA: Oh yes, it is a problem for the labels. They should have embraced it when they saw it coming instead of fighting it. But with I-tunes they are all making money on it. The way we buy our music is changing and labels need to change with it as they did from 78 records to 45 records to he long playing albums made of plastic to CDs to digital downloading...it is all changing. I don’t know if it is better or worse. But what is worse is that all the radio stations have gone to playing new rock music. It is very limited now. That is where the industry is suffering badly.

WC: What’s ahead for you? Touring, more recording?

CA: Just doing what I do. Playing Concerts, doing DVDs for Cactus- Fudge. Releasing a DVD for my big selling drum book next year, doing clinics. Trying to have fun in the business. Keep tuned to my website for what’s up.

www.carmineappice.com

WC: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?

CA: I don’t buy many CDs I usually get them given to me...I’ve been listening to a female group I met at the Swedish festival Suicide Barbara...the Rock also TM Steven’s 2 CDs. I ‘m looking forward to hearing Beth Hat’s new CD. She is on tour with Jeff Beck as his singer. Her manager told me I will love her, so I’m looking forward to that.

WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

CA: Alice Cooper at the Greek theater in L.A.

WC:What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

CA: Funny enough, when that movie came out I hated it. I was living it with King Kobra. We lived the part many
times about not being able to find the stage on some of the gigs we did. We walked around in circles in the basements of these auditoriums...and not being able to find the stage...

WC: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?

CA: I would just like to say thank you to all the people who have supported me and my music through the years a big thank you ...because without them we musicians would be playing to and for ourselves. And for me I need to play to and for people to make magic. I’ll keep playing as long as there are people to appreciate what I do. I love playing. It’s not work to me it is like the best hobby you can have! Thanks and I love all of you!