By Anne M. Raso
We were lucky enough to catch Carmine and Vinny Appice’s Drum Wars at BB King’s in New York and actually got to catch up with “da bros” before their highly unique show which includes flashy and not-so-flashy drumming as only these world-class sticksmen from the boogie-down Bronx. What does the Drum Wars show entail and is it really a “war”? Well, at the end of each concert there is a “show of hands” over who really won the showdown and of course Vinny and Carmine play their “greatest hits” from their respective bands like Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Rod Stewart’s backing band and Beck, Bogart Appice, Ozzy’s Blizzard Of Ozz and Dio. We left out a few artists, but you certainly get the idea that Carmine and Vinny have played with EVERYONE and on the only brother team on the Top Ten Drummers Of All Time List. Vinny joked with us that “we were thinking of having a voting box at the end of each show where the audience members would actually cast their ballots and mine would be big and Carmine’s would be a little bigger than a box of matches but instead we just have them applaud.”
We had no idea what to expect when we went to BB King’s last month but we got the flashy and not-so-flashy drum moves. Yes, Vinny and Carmine throw their sticks back and forth to each other while playing their solos (and they always catch them) and but there are also brilliant drumming basics on display. For instance, at one point, Carmine simply stands up and plays a tom suspended on a strap and also just literally plays his sticks. He gets an insane amount of noise out of them, displaying his amazing raw talent for the kit–even if you take the various pieces apart and play them one by one. (In case you are curious, Carmine and Vinny are sponsored by D Drums, and they have identical kits except that Carmine prefers a metal snare drum while Vinny prefers wood.) Of course, there are rotating band members who play other instruments onstage with the Appices, and they have to meet the guys’ strict criteria before hitting the stage, as well as a couple of days of rehearsals. At the BB’s show, their guitarist had left his prized possession in a cab around 3PM but got it back by showtime, probably adding a lot of stress to the nervousness already surrounding him.
The show also features a lot of humor about the music business, the brother’s many years in the business and just family memories. Carmine admitted from the stage that he kind of felt badly for his mom because once he got out of the house, she had to endure the constant playing by Vinny (who is 11 years younger).
There is a Drum Wars site (simply drumwars.com) where you can keep up with the tour dates which are kind of placed between the brothers’ numerous other projects. It’s a real labor of love, but Carmine tells us he is finally working out the final book deal details on his long-awaited autobiography which he is doing with a co-writer. He tells us that he actually did a manuscript a couple of years ago with a co-writer that did not have the right tone “since the writer was really a research writer.” So he will be rewriting it and adding in things that happened in his immediate past.
The elder Appice tells us in a candid moment (not that he isn’t always candid), “It tells the story of a kid from the Bronx–there were six people in one-room apartment and I was a bit of a troublemaker growing up. I was not a perfect kid and I used to run around in that park known as ‘Needle Park’ on the Upper West Side. I admit that I have been with 4500 women, and I have been married five times–and I talk about my current relationship with air personality Leslie Gold, who is kind of like the female Howard Stern. I did an on-air phone interview with her and fell in love with her personality, and the rest, as they say is history. I had a beautiful Japanese wife at the time but we just did not communicate well because of the language barrier. Leslie and I live together in the building that Lady Gaga’s family lives in on the Upper West Side.”
Carmine will be clearing up the legendary Mud Shark story (the most famous groupie tale of all time and he admits the groupie caught in the “fishy situation” with a shark was his and not one belonging to a member of Led Zeppelin, whom Vanilla was opening for at the time of this incident in Seattle in 1969). He jokes with us, “I can remember a lot of what happened in my career because I was never that into drugs, I might have been into pot but not much else.”
He also talks about how Jimi Hendrix dreaded opening for Vanilla Fudge and how no promoters would mess with the band’s schedule or anything else back in the day not only because of their musical prowess but because their management was mob-connected.
Be sure to check out both vinnyappice.com and carmineappice.com to keep up on their many musical ventures. We here at themacwire.com will be back for more Drum Wars, but we also will be checking out Carmine as he is a judge at upcoming Gong Shows at BB King’s in Times Square–the first one is on November 1st! (We hear goofy prizes for the winners include bottles of Mr. Bubble and nights in New Jersey motels no one wants to stay in.) Advance tickets can be purchased at bbkingsblues.com and at the box office, 237 West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. We think that the Gong Show might just have as much “bang for the buck” as Drum Wars…sorry, we can’t resist an obvious pun like that, LOL!
(Photo): Courtesy CAROL ROSS-DURBOROW MANAGEMENT AND PUBLIC RELATIONS