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Carmine Appice (The Vanilla Fudge Songbook, 1969)

CARMINE APPICE: Listen To My Drums...

Very few Rock & Roll drummers manage to survive in the business for longer than a decade. Yet for over three decades now, the legendary Carmine Appice has survived the business with flair, his work consistently influencing drummers of all sorts. Through it all, he still retains his ever-unique approach to the art of drumming, first evidenced by his work with Vanilla Fudge. To see where Carmine has been since, you might want to visit his home page and read his phenomenal biography.

Carmine Appice granted the site the following telephone interview on May 26, 1997. The conversation mainly concentrates on the Vanilla Fudge years and Carmine's latest project, the Guitar Zeus series of albums featuring star guitar soloists.

Questions in this interview were put to Carmine by site representative Casey Butler, and site historian Bill Bates did the great job of transcribing the resulting tapes. There are many more fascinating stories since Vanilla Fudge, and what's really needed is a series of interviews on each period of Carmine's career! Perhaps in the future we'll see more... meanwhile, here's this one:


Real Audio Sound Byte From The Interview:

Casey Butler: When you were growing up... at what point did you decide on music? Was your family musical?

    Carmine Appice: Well, not really. My cousin Joey played the drums. We used to go to his house, I liked beating on his drums. I beat the hell out of 'em, you know? Finally in 1961, I don't know, I guess I was about 15, I got serious about it. My parents bought me a little drum set and I was playing for about 6 months when I started doing gigs. You know: weddings, barmitzvahs, dances at school... I used to make 10 to 20 bucks a night. The first gig I ever did paid me 7 dollars and fifty cents, and my father had to drive us from Brooklyn to the Bronx to do it.

    In high school I took a lot of music classes, and I took aria harmony. I was in the bands and orchestras in junior high and high school. I was always playing weekends, and maybe 3 nights a week, and making money - decent money for a kid my age. When I was 17, I bought a '64 Chevy Super Sport with my own money from my playing. It was a cool car and I was proud that I'd bought it myself.

    Then I got out of school. I had like 4 jobs in a month, regular jobs. And the pay back then was a joke, you know, you made like 75 bucks a week! They'd take out taxes, and you'd go home with 40 dollars. Yet I would work on a weekend and make 60 or 80 dollars cash, and I said, "Hey, what am I doing this week-stuff for? I might as well just work on the weekends."

    That was the last time I had what you'd call a "day job", in 1964. Then I just started playing around different clubs, and I got a good reputation around New York City of having good timing, a good right foot, and I was "funky", "soulful", and all that stuff. Then I ran into this group, the Pigeons.

The story we have is that Tim Bogert saw you play at the Choo Choo Club...

    I think it was Timmy and Mark [Stein] both who came down to this place called the Choo Choo Club, in Garfield, NJ. It's a place The Rascals used to play. I was playing there with 2 of my friends in a trio called Thursdays Children. We had a keyboard, a left hand bass on the keyboard, and this great guitar player. With this band we played all over the New York area, and I got a good reputation as a drummer.

    (In fact, we played some gigs opposite this guy, Jimi James, who was actually Jimi Hendrix. We used to - I remember going up to an apartment with Hendrix, goofing off, and saying: "One day we'll get out of this crap if we're successful!")

    Anyway, [Mark & Tim] came into the club one night and they said: "Hey, we've been hearing about you, your playing, and we want you to join our band."

    And I said, "Who's your band?"

    "We're the Pigeons. Our Manager is Phil Basille - he owns the Action House on Long Island and he's going to put us on salary, he's going to build us up using the club...blah-blah..."

    In those days it was like I didn't want to leave my friends. But then I realized that [Thursdays Children] was going nowhere and that maybe I should do it for a change of atmosphere, and just to get into something new musically.

    I went out to see what they were up to, and I really dug what they were doing. I liked the whole scene that was going on there on Long Island. It was us and the Rich Kids, the Vagrants, and Billy Joel had the Hassles. We were all doing the same kinds of things, slowing down versions of songs, except we did it better. We were better musicians, better singers, and our arrangements were more... strange [laughs]. But I really dug it and so I went with them.
    Since then I've always said to them, "Look at this: I join you and ten months later you make it!" [laughs]. I joined them September '66 and by July '67 we had a song on the charts.


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