Catching Up With Carmine Appice
All-star drummer Carmine Appice is branching out. The rocker recently launched his own record label Rocker Records already unleashing several albums. TWRY caught up with Appice to talk about the new venture and everything else going on in his world including a new book and a few musical endeavors.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Carmine let’s talk about your brand new label Rocker Records and what led to the creation of your own record label?
Well first off, I have a book coming out via VH1 Books (more on that later) and while I was working on it, my eventual label partner Mike Cusanelli (who was also helping me on my book project) asked me if I had any product lying around that maybe I wanted to get released? He told me he could put together a small deal for my own label through E1 and not only help release my own material but also stuff my brother (Vinnie Appice) has and also some close friends who have live gigs or studio work never released. We had a meeting with E1 and they liked the concept and the next thing I knew we had a deal in place.
The first four releases are available now as digital copies only and include Bogert, Appice and Friends, TNA featuring Pat Travers and two live Cactus shows Live in Japan and Live in The USA. Will the label be digital copies only or will cds be an option down the road?
Not sure. Right now other than a few Cactus shows for 2014 none of the incarnations of these bands will be touring so it’s tough to press a lot of these onto CD just to sell a few copies. With this label we want to get our feet wet and see how it goes. Unless you’re AC/DC or KISS and can cut a deal with Wal-Mart there are no more Tower Records type franchise stores that would carry these releases. There will be a new Cactus EP in 2014 that will be released on CD and possibly vinyl. There will also be a Cactus Live in Japan DVD and Vanilla Fudge live in NYC that will be a CD in 2014 as well. Ethan Brosh from the Boston area who will be touring with Michael Schenker in 2014 will also have a new CD in 2014 out on Rocker Records. I’ve also been talking to Andrew Dice Clay’s son Max, a drummer who I had given lessons to, who has a band with his brother and we may put something out for them. They tour with their dad and open for him at clubs.
You also have a brand new project via Frontiers records called Legacy X with Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Franklin, and Jeff Watson. How did this project come about?
Well that started about a year and a half ago when I had a meeting with Serafino (Perugino) at Frontiers about putting together a “Super Group” with me and Joe Lynn Turner. They asked me who do you think we could get to play bass and guitar? After a few different incarnations with a few different players, we brought in Tony Franklin and Jeff Watson. We are recording the album right now and it’s almost done. They say it’s coming out on May 20 and I hope it does but that maybe a bit optimistic. Blue Murder meets Deep Purple is how I would describe it.
You previously played with Joe Lynn and Jeff Watson in Mother’s Army which recorded 3 albums between 1993-1998 so you have a connection for sure.
That was a whole different animal though. That was back in the 90’s when grunge took over and we were literally treated like dinosaurs within the industry. We put that together and we were trying to sound current for that time. This new material is much, much stronger.
Your also currently writing an autobiography “Stick It! Encounters with Rock Legends”. When can fans expect from this and when will that hit shelves?
Not sure when it will come out exactly. It’s about ¾ finished at this point. It would have been completed by now but my co-author Ian Gittins who lives in England has had some personal issues within his family that he needed to attend to. Ian worked with Nikki Sixx on “The Heroin Diaries”. It will be out sometime in 2014. It’s really going to be an interesting book. I read these types of books all the time. As I read it back it even kept my interest and I lived it.
My book will be all over the map not just focus on one band or period in my career. It will be similar to the Peter Criss and Ace Frehley books from the past few years. Growing up in Brooklyn and being in gangs, again, very similar to Peter Criss. Being a musician probably saved me from being a part of the mafia like a bunch of my friends, many of which are in jail for murder. Drag strip racing on the highways, yea that was me. The movie “The Warriors” is about as close to my real life that I can compare it to. There will be sex, drugs and rock-n-roll and a whole lot more. The hotel room trash sessions why we did it, how we got away with and how we paid for it!
You also have a new tribute band coming in 2014 “The Rod Experience” the one and only historical tribute to Rod Stewart and his band. How did this come about?
This is something I’m very excited about. The group of us we wrote those songs during Rod’s peak period from 1977-1982.. a lot of those songs were hits. We toured with Rod and we never get to play that material any longer. I’ve been working on this for a few years in getting some of the guys together and doing a few shows. We have guys that played with Rod during a couple of different eras. Phil Chen and I are from the original band. Jimmy Crespo who played with Rod in the 90’s will be out with us. I wanted to make this historical. We will set the tone for each song with a short story or anecdote about the song that hopefully most of the fans are unfamiliar with. Maybe do a VIP type ticket with a Q&A. I want to do a video presentation to go along with the show. I want to keep this music alive.
You did three “Bonzo Bash” shows in 2013 which were basically concerts celebrating the drumming of John Bonham. How did you become involved with that and with there be future shows in 2014?
Brian Tichy, who started this, had wanted my involvement in it from the beginning. At the time of the first show I had just had rotator cuff surgery so I couldn’t play. So I filmed a video that was shown at the gig. The second show I was also unavailable but I did play at the third show. To me it’s not the same type of event that is for some of the younger guys. I didn’t grow up on John Bonham. I was around before John Bonham. If there is another show this May I may be involved as a host. John was my friend and my peer but not my idol. If I play on a Led Zeppelin song I play it my way not like he played it. I hate reading posts on YouTube from yahoos who don’t like the way I played on a song. I’d rather not play because of it. Maybe tell some John Bonham stories for the guys.
Will you continue to perform your “Drum Wars” shows with your brother Vinnie in 2014?
We are booking shows for early 2014. We are going to do a few right before the NAMM event later in Jan 2014. We will also do some more on the east coast in 2014. Playing is my life that won’t stop.
What is the current status of King Kobra? You had two terrific albums in 2011 and 2013 with Frontiers will there be any more new music or any touring in 2014?
If Frontiers or even another label wants us to do another record we will do it. It usually is a one year project for this band because we have to write, demo and then record. It’s a lot of work and all of us are all over the place in terms of where we live. We did it all my email. There is money in the touring. There is no one willing to take the hit if it doesn’t make any money. I like playing with Paul so it was fun for me. Not a real money maker.
There were some rumors of reforming the original lineup of Blue Murder a while back. Was this just something that was created on the internet or do you or did you have any contact with John Sykes about this?
We were going to do it at one point (2007) because John (Sykes) had left Thin Lizzy I thought to reform Blue Murder. We had some dates booked for 2008 on some big summer festivals but then the manager who had booked those dates had a falling out with John so that never happened. John has not done anything since. When Mike Portnoy tried to get a project going with John after appearing on Eddie Trunk’s that Metal Show he just couldn’t get John out of his house! He would call me and ask how do you get John to the studio? It ended up as The Winery Dogs. I have been trying to get John to reform Blue Murder since 2000. I had big offers from Japan over the years and couldn’t get John to do it.
Information regarding these and other upcoming releases can be found at www.rocker-records.com and www.facebook.com/carminerockerrecords. Also www.carmineappice.net for other Carmine news!