Rock drummer legend Carmine Appice talked to Local Band about his latest tour and to share his insights on the music business, both past and present. Carmine’s legacy runs deep having played with and produced some of rock’s most iconic bands. Actively working on the professional scene since 1969, Appice has had his hand in some of the most recognizable line ups of the 70’s and 80’s. Carmine’s many faithful admirers will point to his accomplishments as clinician, producer, recording artist and even teacher to illustrate the impact this drumming pioneer has had on the Rock genre, but for many his live performances live on as even something more. There are few players on the scene, past or present that deliver the fury and the passion of this great player. We were proud to feature Carmine’s interview here and hope you enjoy it!
LBFH: Congratulations on your recent tour R ‘n B fest, does touring still hold the same excitement for you after so many years in the business?
CA: Touring is different now. Before it was about the music and partying! Now it’s about the music and show.
LBFH: How did the Passing of Johnny Winter affect the tour? Did it affect the morale of the show?
CA: Not really. It affected the amount of shows we did, plus we did a tribute to Johnny each night. I was worried about Edgar, but he did really well. Music is his healing!
LBFH: There’s a lot of excitement about the release of the rare recordings by Cactus through Cleopatra / Rocker Records. What was the inspiration for revisiting these compilations?
CA: That’s why I started Rocker Records, to try to get the stuff to fans they might really like but couldn’t get before. It’s really like home collection stuff.
LBFH: Can you talk about some of your recent projects producing and with Rocker Records?
CA: Well, there was Cactus Live In Japan 2012 and an evening with Cactus. An Evening With Cactus was the audio from the first night we played. The band and the audience were on fire! The TKO in Tokyo was the live DVD and audio from the second night, which was also on fire. Each time Cactus plays it is always different. We are a Jam Band. Bogart, Appice & Friends was studio stuff. Tim and I did that to see the light of day; Travers/Appice Live was sent to me by a fan. It rocked so well we decided to release it with a bonus studio track. Drum Wars Live, the show that rocked the Iridium, offered us the multi-track recordings. After hearing them I thought this would be a great first CD for Drum Wars, as it is a live show. So, after some work on it in the studio we came up with a killer live set!
LBFH: How comfortable are in the role as a producer?
CA: Oh, I’ve been producing since 1969, even if I didn’t get the credit. I was producing with Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, BB&A, Rod Stewart, Ozzy, King Cobra. One of my best, I think is my guitar Zeus Series. I’ve done a lot and I love it, especially when its done you get to hear the finished product!
LBFH: Your websites: carmineappice.com, http://www.drumwars.com
http://www.cactusrocks.net, http://www.therodexperience.com are great information centers and very well thought out. Do you place a lot of importance on the internet and social media?
CA: I don’t think it’s as important as everyone else thinks. I believe a website is needed in today’s music business for exactly what you said, info centers. But Face book and Twitter are more fun! The internet and computers have done great things for us, but have also done bad things for us. The music business is totally different from all of this.
LBFH: What is it that keeps you rooted to Rock and Roll?
CA: I play all kinds of Rock music; Rock, Heavy R&B, Classical Rock, Jazz Rock, Blues Rock, Pop Rock. I just love it all.
LBFH: Does performing live still give you an emotional and physical rush?
CA: Anytime you’re in front of an audience and they are cheering, it’s a rush. From 200 people to 20,000 – people are still a rush!
LBFH: What is the ultimate live experience for you?
CA: Playing for an appreciative audience, when the vocals and my drums sound great through the monitors, that’s it.
LBFH: Do you think rock and the rock culture has changed over the years?
CA: Of course! Just listen to what Rock has become. First of all, new Rock is dead – as Gene said. Only the classic groups that are big are surviving. Yes, there are some new rock bands but it takes tears of touring to sell 50-75,000 records. By that time, you’re old already! It’s a much different scene.
LBFH: What changes have you specifically noticed, and has it changed the way you shape your career?
CA: There is no radio, no magazines, so no way to promote new CD’s unless you know how to manipulate the internet, and have the time to do it! So our whole way of doing business has changed. With no money to be made with recordings, everyone is touring which makes it harder for everyone to get gigs, there simply aren’t enough gigs!
LBFH: Have you ever considered of bailing out of the music scene?
CA: Come on, I’ve been in this too long. I know how to make a living at this and I was lucky enough to be involved in the scene early in my life so I learned how to work this industry. But I can always quit and work at McDonald’s! (Laughs)
LBFH: What kinds of things do you enjoy when you’re not working on music?
CA: I love to go to the movies and see Sci-Fi on the big screen, good action movies too. I always loved cars and have had many cool cars in my lifetime. Still love them! I love the new Corvette and I’m actually thinking about getting one.
LBFH: Do you see yourself as a champion of rock drummers?
CA: I see myself as an innovator and a pioneer of the rock drumming genre. I am always trying to do new things that promote drums and that bring drums to the forefront of the show, video or recording. I started what is now called the Guitar Center Drum-Off; “Drum-Off” was my name. I did that for 5 years for free just to promote drums! Gene Krupa, who brought drums to the forefront of the stage in the big band era, is my idol. I’ve done that for most of my career and still do today with “Drum Wars”.
LBFH: Is there anyone that you wish you could have played with but never got the opportunity?
CA: I was asked to do the Whitesnake CD that sold 20 million and couldn’t do it because I was designated to Capitol Records with King Cobra. Another similar situation was when I was asked to join Rainbow and couldn’t.
LBFH: What musicians do you admire?
CA: All he greats, Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Sly Stone, Larry Graham, Stanly Clarke, Billy Cobham, Boham, Bozzio, (see our 2014 interview with Terry Bozzio) Beck, Sykes, Nugent – so many.
LBFH: What is the legacy that you would hope to leave behind you?
CA: That I was a pioneer and an innovator and educated. That I helped make Rock drumming an art form and was always a great live performer. I always put my heart and soul into each performance!
LBFH: How do you think people view you as an artist?
CA: Some people love me, some people don’t!
LBFH: As a keynote speaker, what are some of the most common questions you receive?
CA: I still haven’t cracked that market enough yet to answer this, but it’s usually about what it was like to work with Ozzy, Rod, Beck, Zeppeln, etc.
LBFH: What advice would you give for someone considering music as a full time career?
CA: Do something else!! Unless you want to just play clubs, wedding parties, etc. Getting into the record business is really hard now because there is no radio, but if you do be prepared to live a rough life on the road without any luxuries until you make it to the point where you actually start making money. That can take a while.
LBFH: What are some of the upcoming things you’d like to tell our readers about?
CA: I have my autobiography “Stick It” coming out hopefully this year. There is a new Vanilla Fudge CD March 3rd called, Spirit Of ‘67” and a new cactus CD on Rocker Records that kicks ass! And of course, still supporting Drum Wars.