Vinny Appice Interview

Hall Of Records
Hall Of Records

The new band Dunsmuir includes Clutch’s Neil Fallon on vocals, Vinny Appice (ex-Black Sabbath) on drums, Dave Bone (The Company Band) on guitar and Brad Davis (Fu Manchu) on bass. I spoke with Appice about Dunsmuir’s self-titled debut album and how they got together along with his numerous other bands and ventures.

Chad Bowar: How did Dunsmuir come together?

Vinny Appice: It came together with Neil contacting me. This was awhile ago, maybe two years ago. He said he was putting a little project together and writing some songs, and he had two guys in mind, Dave and Brad, and asked if I would be interested. I said, “Yeah that might be interesting,” and so he sent me over some stuff.

I liked it, and then we proceeded to get in touch with the rest of the band. Neil lives on the East Coast, we are on the West Coast, so I got together with Brad and Dave and had some jams, and we had a good time. They had a lot of these songs structured already.

It all went great, and it was a lot of fun. Then we got together with Neil for a couple of rehearsals, and just took it from there, and then decided to record the stuff, and then put it out on the record. Then Neil started laying vocals down, and that is when it really came together, the direction we were going with the songs.

Some people might think because of Neil it is going to sound like a Clutch record, but it really doesn’t. 

It is more like a ’70s, ’80s rock vibe. A lot of the riffs were written with the guitar by Dave. It wasn’t exactly Neil playing all the riffs, so that is why it wasn’t like a Clutch record so much. It sounds a little bit different because Dave and Brad had the initial riffs. We put our two cents in, took that and built it up.

Whenever you have people from different bands forming a new band,  that term supergroup is usually brought up. Is that something you are comfortable with?

Not at all. A supergroup is four guys that are super. You can call it whatever, but if it was John Paul Jones on bass and Eddie Van Halen on guitar and me, maybe you can call it a supergroup. It is just a good band, a fun band.

With everybody’s schedule are you going to be able to play any live shows?

We would like to do that. With the other bands that I am involved with, just have to find a time where we could do it. It would be fun to play these songs live and laugh, and to do a bunch of dates with Neil would be awesome. We are looking forward to that, and we will figure that one out as soon as we can.

Let’s talk about some of the other numerous things you are involved in. You are doing some shows with your brother Carmine.

It is a great show. That show, we play the hits from all of our histories, from both our histories. There are about 10 songs in the set, and in between some of the songs there is a couple of drum duets that we do. There is a little comedy in there, and then we just go crazy at the end.  Some of those shows are in August. There are four shows, two on the East Coast, and two on the West Coast. The new site is if anybody wants to check it out.

The debut album from Last In Line, featuring members of Dio along with vocalist Andrew Freeman, was released earlier this year. What was people’s response to that?

It was originally supposed to be released last year, and then it got pushed back because Vivian (Campbell) was on tour with Def Leppard, and we didn’t want to release it and have it sit there for months and months and months. We released it February, and we went out and we did some gigs prior to that in the last year and a half, and then the first gig of the year was supposed to be the rock cruise with Def Leppard, and that is when Jimmy Bain passed away.

That was shocking to everybody, including us, and Jimmy didn’t even get to see the album be released. He was so happy about the album and the way it sounded. That came out, and it did really well. We just weren’t able to do many dates because of the scheduling problems, so I think we did maybe four or five shows since the album’s release.

Starting in October, it looks like we are going to do about four or five more shows, and then go over to Europe. We will be over there for a month. Then we are looking forward to next year. I think the schedule is fairly open, so we will be able to do some festivals and keep the ball rolling, the momentum for this album, and we will be out there finally. We haven’t really been out there supporting the record because of that.

There is a Dio box set that is coming out this week. Do you guys have any input at all into something like that?

I don’t have any input on it. I think that is done through the record company and Wendy (Dio). She is in charge of Ronnie’s affairs. I don’t know whose idea it was, but they want to put it out, and I think it is a nice tribute to Ronnie, too. Putting all the great stuff all in one package, and people like to collect those things too. New record, new pictures, everything. I think it is a great idea. I think some of the tracks are remastered, so it will sound even better than they did originally.

From what I understand, there is really not a whole lot of Dio material that is left in the vaults. Is that the case?

Yeah, we never did. That is the thing with Dio and Sabbath, we never did go in and record extra songs. When we worked on the records, we had a couple of ideas and stuff, but everything was written at the time. Riffs trickled in, and the band built upon that, put together songs and what we felt we liked to play.

We never wound up with enough time to record this extra song or write that extra song, and it is sad that we didn’t do it now. Same thing with Sabbath, we just always wrote enough ideas and worked to get the album finished, never went and recorded extra stuff that we used. Too bad.

Ronnie had some stuff he recorded himself. I know while we doing were the Heaven and Hell stuff, he had some things he wrote with a drum machine, and he played guitar and bass on it, and then he sang some of those. I don’t know what they will eventually do with those. Even though it is Ronnie’s scratch vocal, it is amazing. Ronnie would go, “No, no, no, no we cannot put that out, not me.” You listen to it and go, “Oh my God, it is amazing.” It is always amazing.

Yet another record that you had released this year was Resurrection Kings. Are you guys going to be playing some shows as well? 

Yeah. Resurrection Kings started as a project from Frontiers Records. The owner of the record company was in touch with Craig Goldy and wanted to put a cool rock band together with some names in it. Kind of a super band, but I wouldn’t go that far to say that, half a super band.

Craig contacted me, played me the stuff, I really liked it, and then we all got together and rehearsed and recorded it and put it out and it got a great response. Sold some copies, and actually they want to do another record. We did do a couple of dates with that, too. Hopefully we will be able to do more shows, and hop on a couple opening acts things. It is a fun band, we have fun playing. It is fun to be around these guys, and it is fun to play together, and we have a great time. That is what is important, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

Do you have anything else in the pipeline?

No, that is about all. The only other plan that I have is I want to do another instructional video for download purposes. The last one I did was in like 1988. It has got good stuff on it, but it is real outdated. I love teaching, and one other big thing I do is the Rock Fantasy Camp.

We just did one with Paul Stanley from Kiss, and it was great. Don Felder was there, too. Everybody got to jam with Paul and Don, and the cool thing was Evan Stanley, Paul’s son, was one of the counselors. We worked together, we jammed together. It was really great. He’s a really great guy, very talented, and it was cool seeing him and Paul together.

There is another one coming up in the beginning of August with Judas Priest. This is a great, great camp because they get to jam with Rob Halford and the rest of the guys, so it is pretty cool. I get to see Scott on drums and that is coming up in August, and that is going to be pretty mega, pretty cool.

Is it rewarding to work with these guys and the next day, or when you see the things that they learned from you, see a light bulb go off and translate to their playing?

Yeah, because it is only four days. Each guy is assigned a band. You have got to take these guys, some of them play good, some of them just started, and you have got to put a band together and make it work, and you only have four days. It is amazing to see a transition from guys.

You are teaching them all this stuff, and then two and a half days later we have got to play a gig. One is at the Whiskey, one is at another place out here, rock and roll place Lucky Strike. Then they are on stage playing, and they learn real quick, and the band comes together, and they have a great time, and they get to jam with Judas Priest on this next one. You see their eyes light up: “Oh my God, I am playing “Breaking the Law” as Rob is singing it. I am doing harmonies.” It is a great experience, really is a great experience.

One more thing that is in the works, this is a really cool thing. I live down near Temecula, California, which is wine country, 80 miles from Los Angeles. We did a show that my fiance put together called the Legends of Rock with the Temecula Valley Orchestra. She was the musical director, chose all the songs. We did eight songs with the orchestra, a free concert out in front of city hall on a Saturday night, and it was insane.

It was so good, and we had never played with a 50 piece orchestra before. We did “Kashmir,” “Nights in White Satin,” Ozzy’s “No More Tears,” the Who’s “Rain On Me,” all those songs that had orchestra parts or can be orchestrated. We did that, and it was such a success. We had over 1500 people crammed in. It was outside, but every seat was taken.

The band was me and Andy Freeman, who sings in Last in Line and also at Rock Vault show in Vegas, Rudy Sarzo on bass, from Quiet Riot, and Craig Goldy on guitar. It was a great experience. We intend on doing more of those shows because that was just a great experience. People just went nuts, what a reaction!

(interview published July 21, 2016)

Listen To Dunsmuir – “Our Only Master”

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