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Interview: Vinny Appice from the Appice Brothers


A Brother vs. Brother battle is climactic enough, but when both siblings are rock-drumming legends who’ve collectively played for Black Sabbath, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, Vanilla Fudge, and Paul Stanley, it’s just downright apocalyptic!

Bringing their ‘Drum Wars’ Down Under, the Appice Brothers will also be teaching exclusive drum clinics die-hard fans won’t want to miss. We chatted with former Black Sabbath member and the youngest of the bros, Vinny Appice, who revealed why he consistently kicks his brother’s ass (at drumming), his worst onstage experience with Black Sabbath, and three pieces of advice drummers should live by.

What are you most looking forward to about the ‘Drum Wars’ Oz tour?

I’m always excited for the gigs with Carmine because we have a lot of fun and they’re very challenging and high energy. It’s definitely something to look forward to and we’ve never been to Australia together. I think I’ve actually been there more than Carmine has. The fans down there are just incredible. It’s going to really be something special! 

Is there anywhere in particular you would like to visit while you’re down here?

Usually there’s not a lot of time. You go out and see one sight and the rest of it is the hotel room, soundcheck or the dressing room. It’s crazy! I just came back from Europe and went to about 18 different cities. This time I made sure to get the afternoon off to go out and see some sights.

Last time I was down [in Australia] we went to the Sydney Zoo and they took us on a special private tour. We got to go pet the koala bears and things like that without the public around. It was a great way to see all the animals! We’ll see what happens this time.

How did you come up with the idea for the ‘Drum Wars?’ 

In the late 90s we did some drum clinics together and they was so successful we thought we should do more of it. But between our schedules back then we didn’t get it together until 2011 where we booked a couple more of the clinics. They went over well again and we thought we should put a show together where we can play not only drum clinics but night time gigs with a band so that’s what we did.

We play music from both our histories, it’s about 10-11 songs in the set and then we have a couple of drum duets and a couple of little drum battles. It’s a high-energy rock show now. We’ve got a great band and we’re bringing down a singer, his name is Travis West. He sang with Bonham and a bunch of different artists here in California.

Do you and Carmine keep a tally during tours of who was the best each night?  

No, we don’t have to do that because I consistently kick his butt! We used to do it but now I’m so much stronger, louder and faster than he is it’s just not a toss up anymore. He’ll probably tell you that he is but he’s not right at all. I’m totally awesome and that’s the truth. (laughs)

Has there always been a friendly sibling rivalry between you and Carmine?

It used to be like that a little bit. It was friendly, we would show each other different ideas and it was really cool. If I had a lick I would say “Check this out”, and he would show me some of his. But now it’s become more like “I’m not going to show you anything” because he’ll steal it and the next thing I know he’s got one of my licks and he’s saying he did it. It’s more like a competition but I win every night! (laughs)

What’s the craziest, most impulsive thing that has ever happened at one of these shows? 

Not so much at these shows, but there was one time back in the 80s during an old Sabbath show when they were using a smoke machine. Now days there’s a little tiny box that makes smoke, but back then they had a big oil barrel of water. They used to throw dry ice in there and it would create smoke with a fan blowing it through tubes.

During a song they went to put the smoke on and it exploded behind the drum set and water and everything went up 20 feet in the air. Everybody in the audience thought it was the coolest thing, a part of the show and it wasn’t. Then all of a sudden all the water comes down on the drums and the drums are useless.

No sound is coming out and Tony (Iommi) and Geezer (Butler) are turning around cracking up. All of a sudden I’m feeling this burning sensation on my butt and I go “Oh sh*t!”… one of the pieces of dry ice went down the crack of my pants and stuck to my skin, so I said “I’ll be right back!” and ran off the stage.

I went to the nurses and they had to peel the stuff off, it was insane. And of course they were women nurses and were like “Alright, pull your pants down”. They were pulling things off and putting cream on and they had to clean the stage. I came back on stage in front of 10,000 people because we had to finish the show. It was pretty nuts!

I can only imagine! What type of drums and equipment will you be using for the shows? 

Everything’s going to be supplied down there because it would be insane to try and bring stuff on a plane and ship it, too expensive! Plus we can get drums through a drum company ddrums. They can make arrangements to provide what we need and that makes it a lot easier.

Do you have a favourite drum technique you like to showcase in the ‘Drum Wars?’ 

Carmine and I both have our own licks, a signature thing we use on records and different things. I tend to use a lot of paradiddles. I’m a single bass drum player and Carmine’s a double-bass drum player, so there’s a difference there too and that’s what makes us a little unique because we’re not playing the same exact drum setup. He needs to use double bass, I don’t. I kill ‘em with just the one foot!

What can drummers expect from your clinics? 

The clinics are a whole different thing. They’re more focused on drum playing, our techniques, licks and different things like that. The clinics will consist of teaching and Q & As. Fans will ask how I do a lick on a song and I will explain it, play it, and explain how I came up with it as well as some of the history of the songs. It’s a very in-depth look at my playing and drumming in general. They can get up close, ask questions, play the drums, see the techniques, and all the things that go along with it.

What are three pieces of advice you can give to aspiring drummers? 

I would say practice a whole lot, get yourself as good as you can be. And the two other important things are to be a nice person and to be on time. I was in different bands… none of the big bands, but small bands I played with and they were late all the time.

You’re sitting there waiting for somebody to show up and that’s not cool. I can’t deal with a situation like that anymore. But for all the big bands I’ve been in, even Black Sabbath… we call a rehearsal at one o’clock, everybody’s there at a quarter to one and these guys are legendary. So there’s no reason why somebody who’s trying to make a name for themselves can’t be on time.

The other important thing in the music business is to network. Get your name around and meet people. It’s the way you can get a gig, find if a band needs a drummer, and join a band or start a band. Have a phone that works and answer your phone and emails all the time in case something comes up right away. I’ve gotten calls from Sharon Osbourne over the years asking if I can come to England that day!

What other projects are you currently working on? 

I played with (the late) Ronnie James Dio for many years and the original band (Dio) that recorded the big albums ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘The Last in Line’. We got back together with a different singer, obviously. We did an album and a bunch of gigs. Then our bass player passed away so we got a friend, Phil Soussan, who has played with Ozzy, to play bass.

We’re now called The Last In Line and we put an album out in February, which did really well. We just came off a month long tour in Europe and we did some dates here in the States, then we’re going back out in March and then in the summer for the big festivals.

In between all this I’m doing sessions and Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp where people get to hang out for four days, rehearse, play in a band, and get to jam with whoever the big stars are. Some of them are Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper… it’s really cool! Between all of that I’m pretty much busy, but it’s great! 

Lastly, do you have a message for your Aussie fans? 

We’re looking forward to coming down there to play the show for you guys and do the clinics. We’re really, really excited! I haven’t been there since 10 years ago, I guess in 2007 with Heaven & Hell. It was a great experience then and all the other times I’ve been there so we’re really looking forward to seeing everybody, don’t miss this!

Appice Brothers 2017 Oz ‘Drum Wars’ Tour Dates

The Factory Theatre, Sydney – DRUM CLINIC
The Factory Theatre, Sydney – FULL SHOW
Max Watts, Melbourne – FULL SHOW
Croxton Park Hotel, Melbourne – DRUM CLINIC

Get Tickets HERE