Intervju med Carmine Appice i King Kobra.
King Kobra lever och frodas igen sedan några år tillbaka. Paul Shortino sköter sången och som vanligt sitter legenden Carmine Appice bakom trummorna.
Jag ringde upp Carmine nyligen och fick tag på honom i Connecticut utanför New York. Han hade avlsutat en session med Drum wars tillsammans med sin bror Vinny och var på väg in till det stora äpplet för middag med bror och flickvän.
Vi snackade bl a om nya plattan, projektet med Joe Lynn Turner och när hans spelade in med Pink Floyd.
Tell me about the new King Kobra album and why the title ”King Kobra II”, since you´ve already released “King Kobra III”?
Carmine: Well, that´s the interesting question, isn´t it? “King Kobra III” was released in ´97. What happened was that since we never really had albums that had just the name like “King Kobra” or “King Kobra I”, we looked at the last album we did with Paul Shortino and that was the first album with him and also the first album on Frontiers and the first album with the band back again. We looked at that one as the first one and we already had “III” and we never released a “King Kobra II” album, so it might be interesting to call it “King Kobra II” and everybody would be asking that question. It creates a little bit of talk and with Paul in it, I think he really made a great addition to the band. He´s a monster singer, a nice guy and I wish we had him in the 80´s. Mark Free was a great singer but he always wanted to sing pop stuff, like Bryan Adams and that kinda stuff. He never really wanted to be heavy rock and that´s pretty much what I´ve done all of my career. He left because he wanted to sing more pop stuff and then he went beyond that and turned into a woman. Tell me about that one! (laughs)
How would you compare this album to the previous one with Paul Shortino?
Carmine: I think it´s actually a little better. I think it´s better because we put more time into the production, the song writing and a lot more time into the lyrical content. The last album we did it fast and with corky energy and wrote kinda good time lyrics. This time, even if we had a good time, if you listen to the lyrics, they all tell a story. Like with the club Vamp´d in Vegas where you go to have a good time and pick up a tramp. (laughs) All the lyrics on this one are more fine tuned and more of “Let´s tell more of a story!” and “Let´s make them the best lyrics we can make!”. That´s what we ended up doing. It took a little longer to record this album than the first one and with the end product, I think you really can tell the difference.
Did you start fresh with this album or were there songs left over from the other album?
Carmine: We started fresh actually. Songs like “Hell on wheels” and “Running wild” started off on my iPad. I gave them to the guys and they screwed around with them and came up with that. The song “When the hammer comes down” started off as a drum groove I put down in my room here in Connecticut. I have an old drum set that sounds awesome in a room that´s like a combination of a gym and a music room. I put that groove down and Dave (Michael Philips) loved it and then we started writing the song with it. That´s how stuff happened. It was like who had this and who had that. We had different song ideas coming from different people, but in the end it was pretty much me, Paul and Dave. Johnny Rod came in with a lick and some riffs that ended up being the second song on the album, “Knock ém dead”. Dave did most of the work on “Deep river”, and “The crunch”.The three of us worked really hard on the album. Mick came in at the end, again, because we couldn´t get a hold of him. He was out of touch, but he ended up at the very end, getting back in touch so we brought him back in and he ended up being on the rest of the record. We´re very happy with how it came out and then we went and did the video and that was a lot of fun. That video was awesome, man! With the album, we do everything via the internet and then we send it to Michael Voss in Germany and he mixes the hell out of it. We did this video in Las Vegas with all these different people in it and then we sent it to our friend Mario, who´s a tremendous editor. I was working with this amazing guitar player called Anthony Vargas and he turned me onto Mario. I said “Hey Mario, if I give you the footage, will you edit it for us?” and he said “I´ll go beyond that. How about if I talk to whoever´s gonna film it and tell them what to do filming wise?”. I had everything I needed to make a cool video and he was in touch with the girl who was videoing and it was actually filmed at the club Vamp´d. Paul lives in Vegs and he has connections with all these people like Carrot Top, Vinnie Paul… He filmed Zakk Wylde and I filmed Ace Frehley in New York. Lita Ford was supposed to do something for us, but never got around to it. I actually saw her last week and she apologized. You have to look at that video many times to see everything. It´s really well done and I´m really happy with it. I mean, we pretty much do these albums for fun. If you look at the time we put into the album, we probably made a dollar an hour. (laughs)
What can you tell me about the song “The ballad of Johnny Rod”?
Carmine: “The ballad of Johnny Rod” ended up being “The ballad of Johnny Rod” pretty much towards the end of the process. If you listen to the lyrics, it was gonna be called “Somebody get the police” and then Paul said “You know what? Johnny´s such a crazy bastard. He´s been to jail and he´s still fucking crazy. Why don´t we make it about him?”. I said “How would you do that?”. Paul said “Well, we´d do it a bit like Van Halen with a little talk at the beginning, talking about Johnny Rod.”. Johnny Rod was always goofing around going “You talking to me?”, so we put that and a bunch of cliché Johnny Rod stuff in there. (laughs) That´s how we did it.
What´s the plan now that the album is out?
Carmine: Well, everybody´s doing a bunch of interviews and then we´ll see what happens. As of lately I was offered to do some gigs I Europe for festivals, but to be honest with you, the money that was being offered, wouldn´t even pay for the plane ticket. Nobody wants to lose money on a band these days. In the old days we had a record company that would put money in, but today I´m not prepared to lose money. I lost a 100 grand in the 80´s on a band, so I really don´t wanna do that again. If there are some gigs that come along and we make a little money and don´t lose money, we´ll probably do them, but if that doesn´t happen, we´re just gonna try and make that “King Kobra III A”. Unfortunately the record business is what it is. Big groups that have sold millions are now selling 30.000 records and King Kobra never sold millions.
Last time I talked to you, you mentioned the King Kobra show recorded in Acapulco, which is now on You Tube and Marcie Free didn´t wanna see it released. Do you think it´ll ever get released as a DVD?
Carmine: No I doubt it because he threatened to sue me if I released it. He wants more money, but there is no money. It´s really just for the fans. That´s why I never called him for the reunion. I´m willing to put it out. My name is a lot bigger than Mark Free´s. I´m not gonna make any money out of it, but I´d give it to the fans because there isn´t a lot out there. But it´s not worth the hassle. I did a catalog deal with a few records. Records that have been sitting around, including the Travers & Appice record. We have the rights back for that one and it´s a great record and nobody can get it anymore, so I´ll release that on my label too. I would probably spend like 200 dollars on the DVD for expenses and with our old deal, Mark would get like $40 or $50. It wasn´t worth the hassle, having this guy chasing after me. (laughs)
I talked to Joe Lynn Turner not too long ago and he told me about this new project with him, you, Tony Franklin and Bruce Kulick. What´s that all about?
Carmine: That´s right, we´re working on that. As a matter of fact, Joe should be in town when I come back from Canada with Cactus and we´ll get together and get Tony and Bruce on the phone. Maybe we´ll call it Project X or something, because we really don´t know what to call it.
Was this something you guys put together or was it a wish from Frontiers?
Carmine: I had a meeting with Frontiers last summer and they said “It would be really nice to put together a super group with you and Joe and maybe we can get some other well known guys and we´ll put it all together.”. It sort of went from there. They talked to Pat Travers, but he said that he didn´t want to be in competition with his own record sales. We were kicking ideas around and I brought up Bruce. I worked with Bruce on my “Guitar Zeus” record and he´s great! I contacted Bruce and he was into it and little by little it started coming together. I heard Bruce´s last album and with Bruce it would be sounding sort of like Blue Murder with Joe Lynn Turner. (laughs) Bruce has a real heavy guitar sound. We´ll probably end up really doing it at the end of the year. Up until then, we´ll probably send e-mail ideas to each other.
What about Travers & Appice then? Will there be another album?
Carmine: Probably not a studio record, but there might be a live record. I´m starting my own label called Rocker Records and I found an old recording of me and Pat live in Europe and it sounded great and wherever the mix came from, it was perfectly mixed. We just have to do a little mastering. I sent it to Pat and he thought it sounded great too. We also have a track that we did with TM Stevens that just needed a vocal so Pat´s gonna put vocals on it and we´re gonna put that on there as a bonus track. We´re talking about putting that out towards the end of the year. I´m just signing my deals now with my label and the distributor and all that. We´ll be doing “Cactus live in Japan” and a bunch of live stuff.
I talked to Jeff Scott Soto a while back. He mentioned that you guys live on the same street in LA.
Carmine: Well, we did. I moved away from there. I moved to the east coast now. I´m in New York and Connecticut and I go to LA once a month to see my kids.
Have you ever worked with Jeff?
Carmine: Not really. Maybe on one of those Cleopatra tribute albums. We never worked on a project, but we did a couple of those tribute albums. He´s an awesome singer! I love his voice and he´s a very nice guy.
Another thing I was thinking about, was there ever a big band where you were offered a job but turned them down and then kinda regretted it?
Carmine: Oh yeah, many times. Two really big times was… one time I was asked to join Rainbow before Cozy, in 1976 or 77. I had just signed a deal with MCA Records with Mike Bloomfield and this group called KGB and we got a huge deal on MCA and in those days you couldn´t really go from one band to another when you´d already signed a record deal. I had to turn it down and at that time Cozy was put into the band and they got huge. It really pissed me off! (laughs) That was the second time Cozy was put into a thing of mine. The first time was with Jeff Beck. Jeff was in a car wreck and out of commission for 20 months. Vanilla Fudge broke up and we put Cactus together. When Jeff Beck came back, he discovered Cozy Powell, so that was the first time. The other one for me was in 1987 when I was asked by John Sykes and David Coverdale to play on the “1987” Whitesnake album. Cozy couldn´t do it or didn´t want to do it or whatever, but I couldn´t do it either because I had my solo deal with King Kobra on Capitol Records. I told them I had my own snake to deal with. (laughs) I recommended them to get Aynsley Dunbar or somebody and that´s who they got and they sold 20 million albums. I guess it´s “should´ve, could´ve, would´ve”.
I read there´s a documentary about Cozy Powell coming out.
Carmine: A documentary about Cozy? Well, it can´t be a good documentary without me in it. (laughs)
A final thing. I recently read that you play on the Pink Floyd song “The dogs of war”. How did that come about?
Carmine: How it happened was basically that I came home one day and there was a message on my answering machine and it said “Hi Carmine! This is Bob Ezrin and I´m producing a band that is just screaming for a Carmine drum fill. Gimme a call!”. I gave him a call and the band was Pink Floyd. I said “Wait a minute! What happened to Nick (Mason)?”. He said “Well, Jim Keltner is playing on it too. Nick is racing his cars and his calluses are all soft and everything.”. I went down there and Nick was there and they were all there and I played on a four track machine. I did like 15 drum tracks and in the end I put down an hour´s worth of stuff on 24 track tape. They probably really had like two hour´s worth of drumming for that song. What they did was that they put it together and edited it. I never got to hear it until after it was released. I kept calling Bob Ezrin “What does it sound like?” and he said “In a word? Daring.” or “In a word? Spectacular.” And I said “Yeah, but what does it sound like and when can I hear it?”. Then I was doing this movie called “Black roses” in Hamilton, Canada and I went down to the mall underneath the hotel and bought the album on cassette. I had my walkman and I listened to it and I was blown away, because I didn´t know what they were gonna do with my performances. It was all good.