Carmine Appice
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On the Mystery [1984] album, could you tell me who J. Toad was?

    It was Jeff Beck. That was the only record I ever got him to play on other than the BBA [Beck, Bogert & Appice] stuff [laughs]... He played on Jealousy and My World is Empty.

Who were the personnel on the Vanilla Fudge Live CD [1991]?

    That's an interesting one... Well, I know Derek St. Holmes was the singer. Derek was the guy who sang Stranglehold and all those big hits with Ted Nugent. This guy... Michael Dee, was the bass player - a Black guy. And on keyboards I had this guy named Derek something - I don't know his last name anymore. He played with Alice Cooper for awhile. Then there was Ron Bloom, who actually mixed the record - he played keyboard on Ticket to Ride - I think... But Derek - I can't remember his last name.

Jumping to the present day... What gave you the idea for Guitar Zeus?

    I had this band with Bob Daisley [bass] who had played with Ozzy [Osborne] and Rainbow, and Joe Turner, the singer with Rainbow. He sang Stone Cold... [Carmine sings]. Also Jeff Watson who played with Night Ranger - and The Sister Christian Band - about 10 years ago.

    Anyway, we had this band going... I was over at Jeff Watson's house. He'd just done a solo album and I said, "You know, you guitar players are all the same, man. It's like you come out of a band and you get to do a solo album. You get all your friends to play on it. With drummers it's hard to get to do that. How many drummers do you know get solo albums after a band?" So I said, "I'm going to do a guitar album - screw it!"

    [Jeff] had a dog named Zeus and we were thinking of calling the new band Zeus. I said, "I'm going to call it Guitar Zeus, like Guitar Gods". I was kidding around. Then afterwards I said, "that's not a bad idea, you know? A drummer doing a guitar album - totally off the wall."

    Then I started researching it. I went to four management and production companies that said they could put the deal together.

That part must be complicated...

    Yes it is. Originally I was going to do a low key thing with "has been" sort of players that were around town. Make a little money and have some fun. Then when I started doing it Warren Wyatt, my manager, got this great deal out of Japan and I got commitments from Brian May, Slash, Yngwie [Malmsteen], Steve Morse, and these guys that were really cool. So it became a lot better than I thought it was going to become. It did very well around the world.

Why has Guitar Zeus taken so long to release in the States?

    Well, the business here is very strange. Guys like me are looked upon in the same way as old football players. It's like the major labels don't want to deal with guys that have been around. They want to get new talent and start new trends and this and that.

Guys like you are the ones who can play at this point!

    Well I know, but see, they don't care about that. But in Europe and the Far East everything is still cool. Like Guitar Zeus is on Polydor in all of Asia. In Europe we're on this really big European company called C & R, which guarantees television advertizing. And we're trying to get Polydor to pick up South America. We've got a company that wants to do Canada, it's a pretty good-sized company. So the only place left is the States, you know?

    We're probably going to start our own label here. Then we'll release it and do all the stuff that needs to be done properly. And then, who knows? I think the music from Guitar Zeus... see, the good thing about Guitar Zeus is it's taking the old stuff and the new stuff and putting them together. It's like all the new grunge, the new bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, those bands, combined with what we used to do in the 70's with great guitar solo's. There are a few songs on both albums that could be hit records, they just need a push from somebody. We figure if we do it ourselves, my Manager and I, we've been in the business long enough to know what has to be done.

    There are a lot of small independant labels that want to pick up Guitar Zeus, but they want me to give it away to them and I don't want to do that. I've waited this long to get Guitar Zeus I right, because it's such a good record. I mean, in England there were a few magazines that called it the album of the year. They said even if the guitar players weren't on it, it would still be a phenomenal album because the material is great.

You wrote all of it?

    Kelly Keeling and I wrote all of it, except Tony Franklin wrote one song. [Guitar Zeus II] is going to have 14 tracks on it. Tony's writing four of them and Kelly and I wrote the rest.

    So we're building it into more of a band, the Guitar Zeus Band. Kelly, Tony, and I, and then we can go on the road and take guest guitarists with us. That's been the plan, except this time we want to have the record company deals in place so we can concentrate on doing that rather than concentrating on getting record deals, you know?

You've been on-line for quite some time... How did you originally get up on the Web?

    Well my manager, Warren Wyatt, has been up for years. I mean he's been up for a long time so he put me up when I went with him 2 years ago. Actually we have his Web site listed on the first Guitar Zeus album. He had Saigon Kick and a couple of other bands - so he put his Web site up. With the Web site being there we gained attention.
     
    Then my brother Vinnie [Appice] got a computer and he started getting into building Web sites. He put his own Web site up probably a year ago.

His recent changes are really cool!

    Yeah? I haven't looked at it lately. He's been up and then he started getting into making Web sites, so we said: "We should put a Power Rock Web site up", and Vinnie said, "Well, I'll design it for you." We bought him a scanner and he put the original Web site together that you saw. Warren put it up on his server and then added the Guitar Zeus stuff to it.

Ok. Last Question: Your future plans? What do you see in the future?

    Working on Guitar Zeus, basically, is the most important thing going on in my life. Its my own thing. I'm producing. I'm writing. I'm getting the guitar players together. We're getting the record deals. We're in control of it.

    If you've been in this business 30 years and you're not in control of your career, there's something wrong, you know? If nothing else, at least you should have that - be able to do enough to keep your career going, make the kind of income you need to keep your lifestyle going, and basically enjoy it - go out and play. That's really it. So between Guitar Zeus and the Pearl project in Japan, that's what I'm going to be doing.

    Obviously we're also trying to get the Vanilla Fudge 30th Anniversary thing going, but you know, we're not getting any word from Mark. I don't know what he's doing. The worst case scenario would be it would be done without Mark, which is a drag, you know. He was such a driving force.

Yeah, he was. I tell you, you guys, the four of you together is...

    It's magic! It's magic. Like I did a jam in 1982 when I was supporting a solo album, the one that The Carmine Appice Story came from [ie Rockers]. I was supporting that. At the Travoy Theatre we had a reunion of the original Fudge. We all got up on stage and played 3 or 4 songs. We never rehearsed and it was tight as a drum. And that was like 12 years after we broke up. The first time we ever played together again.

I don't know what that magic is... I mean, the art you guys produced was something.

    Certain people have a chemistry - create magic. Like that was one of the "magic's" for me in my career... I mean, I'd like to get out and play the songs! Playing those songs would be fun again, you know?

You strike me as a consummate performer... I think you really like performing?

    I love it! I live to play. When I'm not playing or doing anything, not only am I hurting financially, if I couldn't do this anymore I'd be fried.

    People say to me, "Are you a workaholic?" Nah, I'm not a workaholic. This is my hobby - I f*****g love it!

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Copyright © 1997 by Casey Butler. All Rights Reserved.
Top Photograph from The Vanilla Fudge Songbook.
The Vanilla Fudge Web Site Compilation is Copyright © 1997 by Vanilla Fudge.