ANYONE even remotely attuned to the heroics of rock’s heavy hitters knows the name Carmine Appice. A drummer whose work spans three decades, Appice’s place in rock history is well assured. Beginning in 1966 with one of America’s first true progressive rock bands, Vanilla Fudge, Appice has also played drums for Cactus, and Beck, Bogert & Appice—two particularly powerful heavy-rock groups of the early ’70s—and with such noted artists as Rod Stewart, Ted Nugent, Rick Derringer, and most recently, Ozzy Osbourne. In between these gigs Appice somehow found the time to record a solo album, Carmine Appice—Rockers, in 1982, and in 1983 he set in motion a reunion of the Vanilla Fudge which resulted in the first album the band has recorded in well over ten years.
Carmine Appice’s place in rock history is indeed secure, and Carmine is not the type of cat to let you forget it. A straightforward, loquacious character who ‘II talk drums, rock, and anything related to the two longer and louder than anyone I’ve ever met, Appice at first gives the impression that he needs his ego patted and stroked quite regularly. He’ll unabashedly tell you of his vast accomplishments, giving himself credit when and where he thinks he deserves it. And he’s certainly not afraid to call a spade a spade. This bold, aggressiveness has, on more than one occasion, led Appice into a bit of trouble. Check out the Buddy Rich incident he recalls in the following interview for proof of this.
But none of this detracts from Appice’s ability when he gets behind a drumkit. Appice is a classic hitter, plain and simple. But as hard as he plays—and has been playing for close to 20 years now—there’s always been a sense of innovation and a certain finesse that’s punctuated each beat and fill. As he is happy to point out, much of the basis of heavy metal drumming inevitably leads back to Carmine Appice, one way or another.
Appice’s impact as a drummer doesn’t stop here, however. He’s a prolific author, having written extensively on the art of drumming. His published books are: Realistic Rock, a method book that became one of the most successful rock drumming instruction books ever printed; Realistic Double Feet, Realistic Hi-Hat, Rudiments To Rock, and Realistic Reggae Rock. In addition, he pens a music column for Circus Magazine called “Drum Beat. “
Appice is also a surprisingly capable songwriter, having composed a stack of songs in his long career. Two of the biggest songs he helped write were Rod Stewart’s monster hit of a few years ago, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, ” which sold some five million copies, as well as another Stewart smash, “Young Turks. “
If all this is not enough, Appice spends a considerable amount of his time away from the studio or stage, conducting drum clinics and lectures. Such drum events as the Carmine Appice Drum Off and Drum Beat On Tour have attracted and benefited thousands of drummers and potential drummers across the country.
Carmine Appice, in short, is a rather unique drum personality. His publicist likes to call him “rock’s great overachiever. ” But as much as Appice has accomplished over the years, there’s still a burning desire to do more—much more—that one easily detects underneath his words. Carmine Appice has no intentions of stepping out of the spotlight. ‘ ‘It’s a crazy business,” he says in a somewhat weather-beaten tone. “You have to be right on top of things. If you miss a step or two, it’s all over. That’s how fast things move. So I’m always looking for new things, new challenges, and new people to play with. There’s a lot more drumming in me that’s got to come out before I’m through.”
RS: Let’s begin by talking about your gig earlier this year with Ozzy Osbourne. You were with him for a few months, and then suddenly you were off the tour. What happened?
CA: Well, it just didn’t work out. Ozzy wanted more of a backup drummer than a personality. I’ve worked with a lot of prestigious people in the business, but I don’t think Ozzy is one of them. He didn’t live up to his contract.
RS: Did it have anything to do with your drum style, or was it merely a case of not seeing eye to eye on matters other than drums?
CA: It was a little bit of everything, I guess. I dug the music. I thought the music was really cool. The band was real tight, too. Heavy music is actually what I’ve made it on, so all the tunes we did were right up my alley. Plus, I got to play a lot. That’s what is really important to me. The theatrics were terrific; I love onstage theatrics. But things just didn’t work out. There were a lot of stupid rumors going around at the time of me leaving. But that’s all they were—rumors.
RS: As I recall, you were a featured instrumentalist in the show.
CA: Yeah. I had a great spot in the show where the stage would open up, and the drums would come down to stage front, and I’d do my solo there. I was using Day-Glo drumsticks, and I’d flip them into the sign of the cross and the peace sign Ozzy’s always flashing. The reaction was phenomenal.
RS: And Ozzy wasn’t satisfied?
CA: I think he was too satisfied. His people told me it wasn’t the Carmine Appice Show and that I had to relax more on stage. See, when I was out with Nugent in 1982, I was standing on the gong stand and doing flips off it. It was no big deal with Nugent.
RS: While you were out on tour with Osbourne, you hosted your Drum Beat On Tour, which essentially was another of your popular drum clinics. What happened to it after you left the tour?
CA: I had to cancel a bunch of them. But afterwards I did go out and do ten more on my own, at my own expense. I didn’t want to disappoint the kids, especially in Knoxsville, Tennessee, where they had a Carmine Appice Day.
RS: Explain how Drum Beat On Tour was different than the slew of drum clinics you’ve given in the past.
CA: Well, I never did a bus tour before I went out with Ozzy. So what I did was to schedule the clinic in between soundcheck and the time we actually went on stage to play. We’d check into a hotel at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I’d sleep until 4:00 in the afternoon or so. At that time the band would have to go over to the gig and do the soundcheck. But then we’d stay there. In between soundcheck and the show there was lots of wasted time. Soundcheck was usually over by 6:00, and we wouldn’t go on until 9:45, which meant we had four hours to kill. One of the worst things for me is to be in the place I’m playing for more than an hour before we actually go on. For some weird reason, my energy level goes way down. So my manager and I figured that I could maybe take 40 kids and run a drum symposium for an hour and a half. We scheduled them from 6:30 to 8:00, which gave me plenty of time to get ready for the gig. The drum stores that we held them in took care of logistics, and I was really able to teach. I had programs made up and gave away drum books and T-shirts. At each symposium I’d also give away a backstage pass. It was all very rewarding for me, plus it warmed me up for the gig that night. Now that I know this sort of thing works, whenever I go on tour in the future I’ll put together a Drum Beat On Tour.
RS: Did you get paid to put on these symposiums?
CA: We would charge some money to get in and the store would take back some money for their advertising expenses. I have a publicist, so most of the money I made went to her. My manager also got a cut. So by the end of the tour we would have made a little bit of money, but not much. I would have made a lot more money if I went out for a drum company and just did drum clinics.
RS: You mentioned that you were honored in Knoxsville with a Carmine Appice Day. That’s not the first time that’s happened to you.
CA: Actually it’s the third. I had one in 1981, another in 1982, and now for the third time in 1984. I do a lot of benefits and that’s how people honor me.
RS: You seem to do more charitable gigs than most musicians. Are you that generous a person, or is there another motive for doing them?
CA: [laughs] Benefits are good for everyone. They’re good for me because I get good press out of it. They’re also good for my karma. I really believe that if you do good things for people, sooner or later good things are going to happen to you. Things always come back at you. It’s no big deal for me. I love playing. As long as I’m making enough money doing other things, I’ll gladly do benefits. The only time I get a little weird is if I’m financially strapped.
RS: Carmine the drum teacher and good guy who does benefits and gives his time to charitable purposes is often in sharp contrast, it seems, to the hard hitting, heavy metal pounder we see on stage. Is that an accurate assessment?
CA: Not really, no. It’s something I’ve always done. I’ve always played hard and heavy, and I’ve always given lessons or whatever on the side.
RS: And yet there’s still another side to Carmine Appice—the drumbook author.
CA: Yeah. I’ve written five of them.
RS: You did one of them on reggae-rock. How do you define the term “reggae-rock”?
CA: Well, as you know, reggae is a music style that originates out of Jamaica. It’s Latin-based, calypso rhythms mixed in with ’50s rock chords.
RS: But when you talk about reggae-rock, I get somewhat confused. What do you call, for instance, the drum style of Sly Dunbar? And does Stewart Copeland play reggae-rock?
CA: Stewart Copeland is a good example of a drummer who plays reggae-rock. Not many people realize it, but I’ve been playing reggae- rock on occasion ever since I met Jeff Beck in 1973. I never played it soft. I always played it with a heavy hand. When I was in KGB in 1975, we had a song called “Working For The Children,” which was a total reggae song. I even had a little bit of reggae in my hi-hat book which came out in 1977. So it’s a music I’ve always been interested in, but there was never a market for it until now. I put a soundsheet in my reggae-rock book, so a drummer can play the rhythms against it. If you play a lot of rhythms by themselves, they won’t sound like reggae. You have to play them against other rhythms. It’s all in the positioning of the bass drum. If you take a bass drum and put it in quarter notes, and put your snare drum on a 3, it sounds like a down feel. But if you put the reggae rhythms against it, you’ll see that the bass drum is working in the midtempo. There are three levels of rhythm in reggae. The bass drum is on the mid-tempo and the snare drum is on the down tempo. It’s a very intricate rhythm structure—very original. In a lot of the reggae patterns, the 1 and the 3 are nonexistent. We’re used to playing on the 1 and the 3. On a fill, you usually come in on a 1 or a variation of a 1. But in reggae, you come in a lot on a 2 or a 4, and you don’t use the 1 and 3. It’s a whole new way of defining rhythm.
RS: Since you’ve written the book, how much reggae-inspired rhythms do you incorporate into your own present drum style?
CA: I put them in whenever I can. On the new Vanilla Fudge album, there are a lot of reggae-influenced rhythms and accents. It’s a heavy drum style I play, but a very melodic heavy style. It’s sort of what Alan White does with Yes. With Ozzy, though, what I mostly played was my “bash-out” style [laughs]. That’s what I enjoy most. Experimenting is good for your brain and creativity, but sometimes it doesn’t work in the confines of your style. Like in 1977 I did a jazz-rock LP. Well, I wasn’t known as a jazz-rock drummer, and because of it, I couldn’t even get the record released. The record company said, “Man, you’ll confuse everybody.” So CBS never released it. The tapes are just sitting in my closet.
RS: How do you work your writing time into your day? I would imagine it would be very difficult to sit down and write after three or four hours in the studio or up on stage.
CA: Well, I wrote my first book, the Realistic Rock book, while I was on the road with Cactus. Instead of wrecking a hotel every night, I’d sit down for an hour or so, and write all the music and the text to go along with it.
RS: What inspired you to write the book?
CA: One day in 1970, I walked into Sam Ash’s store and saw this book that said, “Learn To Play Rock Drums.” I looked in it and there was a picture of some guy with a big smile and real short hair sitting there holding the sticks with traditional grip and a posed stance. I looked at the rhythms and they were like “boom, boom, gaah; boom, boom, gaah.” It was just useless, and I said to myself, “I’m going to write a book and show these jerks what rock ‘n’ roll drumming is really all about.” So I sat down and wrote it. And I wrote it the way I learned how to play. The first beat I learned is the first beat in the book. The second beat I learned is the second in the book. I just built the book from there. I didn’t cover everything; I just covered what I learned and how I picked up the beats. When I was a kid I went through the Buddy Rich book and one of my favorite things to do was to sit down and look at the pictures of the drumset. So I put some pictures in my book as well. Then, when we did the updated version of the book, I put a record and a poster in it, and I added some new parts—polyrhythms. It made the book fun. For kids it has to be fun. I know that for a fact because I never grew up. [laughs]
RS: With all the drum clinics you do and your instruction books, do you ever envision yourself opening up a permanent studio and perhaps retiring from going out on the road?
CA: I definitely want to open up a studio some day. I even have a name for it already: The Carmine Appice Drum Spa. “Come in for a workout”—that sort of thing. I want to have a whole in-house thing with teachers teaching my methods, and rehearsal rooms for the kids who can’t rehearse at home. The idea of a publishing house that would publish my books also crossed my mind. All I need is an investor. I’m also looking into video and putting instruction on film. But I want to do all of this right. I don’t want to rush into it. I think the first project would be to put Realistic Rock on video. Years ago, I used video when I taught on Long Island. I’d use videos of great drummers—Buddy Rich, Ian Paice, Carl Palmer, Billy Cobham. Instead of giving a normal lesson, once a month I’d show these videos. This all took place in the years 1972- 1975. I closed my studio in ’75 when I moved to the West Coast. But my studio was one of the first studios to say, “Hey, you can play traditional, or you can play matched grip, whichever works for you.” I mean, I play holding my sticks in between my middle finger and my index finger.
But, to answer your question, I’m not ready to stop playing full time. I could probably stop playing and make a fortune, but I’m just not ready. I’m a player. I’m at my happiest when I’m playing. I was on the road last year and this year with Ozzy—from November to mid-February—and it was great. Now I’m home and putting new things together. But I don’t want to be here. I want to be out playing.
RS: Let’s jump from teaching to your solo record, Rockers, which was released in 1982. Looking back, did you accomplish what you set out to do on the LP?
CA: Yes and no. My idea was to bring the drums out front like Gene Krupa and Sandy Nelson did in the old days. The thing is, you need a record company that believes in what you believe in, and who will put the money up to market it right. I want to have the drums play lead, the way they did in “Teen Beat,” “Let There Be Drums” and “Wipe Out.” If I had a hit drum single, I’d probably be number one in all the pop polls that deal with drummers. I’ve mentioned this idea numerous times in the past, but the thing is I still very much want to see it happen. I’m looking for the right people and the right investors. I’d even like to do a thing called “Drum Wars,” which would be acoustic drums vs. electronic drums, and tie it into a video for MTV. Perhaps I’d even include it in the next Drum Battle Tour. I’m also thinking along the lines of a video game called “Drum Wars.” All I’m really trying to do is keep the attention on the drummer. It’s like running for president, though, [laughs]
RS: If I recall correctly, you had problems with Rockers and radio airplay. You didn’t seem to get much of it.
CA: That’s right. Radio people thought the drums were too ferocious, too loud and too aggressive.
RS: With all these things stacked against you, do you still intend to pursue your ideas, even though no one seems interested or ready for them?
CA: I’ll pursue them as long as I can. But I have to make a living, too. If I was in a steady group, it would be easy because I’d just make these things side projects. I’d have my income, so I’d be able to do these things without worrying so much about money.
RS: You’ve played with a number of great artists over the years. If I said “Rod Stewart” to you, who is someone you spent considerable time with in the ’70s, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
CA: His voice. He’s a great singer. You know, I helped put Rod and Jeff Beck together again, and now that they’re going to do something, you’d think they’d say, “Hey, come play on our record.” There’s no loyalty in the business, and that really gets to me sometimes.
RS: What about Jeff Beck? What’s the first thing you think of when I mention his name?
CA: I think Jeff is one of the all-time great guitarists, but Jeff is weird. He’s into building his cars as much as he is into playing his instrument.
RS: Speaking of musicians you’ve worked with, you, of course, have been playing with are-formed Vanilla Fudge. How did the reformation of the band come about?
CA: When I was on the road to promote my solo album, we did a jam for UNICEF at the Savoy in New York City. I called everyone up in the Fudge, and said it would be a goof if we all got together and played a little bit for a night. It went over real well, and the old manager of the Fudge happened to be in the audience. After the show, he came up to us and said, “Look, if I got a record deal for you guys, would you do an album?” We said, “Sure.” It took him about six or eight months to do it, but he did put a deal together. We started working on the LP in January of ’83, and we worked on it on and off throughout the year. We finished it just before Christmas. It’s called Mystery.
RS: Is it true that Jeff Beck played on the album?
CA: Yeah, he plays on a couple of tracks under the name J. Toad.
RS: Could the Vanilla Fudge become a full-time thing for you, or is it merely a one-shot thing?
CA: I don’t really know. All the elements that broke us up originally are still there. But there’s that magic too. We did Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” so great that you get the feeling we should become a full-time band and do lots of other projects. But who knows what is going to happen? If the record goes wild, like 90125 did for Yes, we’ll keep the band together, I’m sure. But I’ll do my own things, no matter what. I just want to work as much as I can. The funny thing is, when you think of rock drummers, there aren’t too many survivors from the 1960s. I mean, Ginger Baker isn’t doing anything. Who else is around besides me?
RS: Looking back, how would you describe Vanilla Fudge’s con tribution to rock, as well as your own as the drummer for the band?
CA: I’d say there’d have been no Led Zeppelin if the Fudge hadn’t been there first. John Bonham’s whole style of playing drums came from my style. And without John Bonham there would have been no Led Zeppelin, as there is none today. Without the Fudge, there would have been no Yes. There would have been The Who, Cream and all that, but the symphonic, keyboard-oriented bands wouldn’t have been around without the Fudge. This is not my ego talking; this is fact. I mean, that’s the way it was. I’m tired of being overlooked. Simon Phillips told me he listened to me. Stewart Copeland was quoted as saying that all of the right-hand bell stuff he does came off the Beck, Bogert & Appice album. So I know what I’ve contributed. Billy Cobham used to listen to me when he was in Dreams, and we did gigs together. Even Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot listened to me.
It goes even further with Frankie because I developed his drum sound at Pasha in L.A. with Duane Baron, the engineer. We talked about changing the drum sound and he asked me, “Well, what would you do to change it?” I said, “You have to take the drums out of the booth, put them here, bring some wood in, get rid of the ceilings, take the guitar out and put it in the lounge or somewhere else, and soon.” We did it in one day and came up with some great drum sounds. Duane then ended up engineering the Quiet Riot album, Metal Health. Actually, he took my experience working with the great engineers and got a great ambient drum sound. If I didn’t go to Pasha, there is no way the band would have the drum sound they do. So Frankie got my drum sound, and he said, “Ah! I’ve finally got the Carmine drum sound I’ve been looking for!” So the album went on to sell something like five million units, and where am I? You know what I’m saying? [laughs] Here I am, another legendary move, and all I do is get a little credit for it. I’m tired of it; I really am. I got Bonzo his Ludwig sponsorship. I got him the big drums, just like mine. I mean, I started the whole oversized drum craze. I had the first gong. And what happens? I got Bonzo the drums, he and Led Zeppelin recorded “Whole Lotta Love” in 1970 and wham! [laughs] But Bonzo was a great drummer. You can’t take anything away from him. He had fabulous drum beats. John Bonham was a monster player.
RS: Did you remain friends with him over the years?
CA: Yeah, we were good friends. He knew where things came from, and he always treated me with respect.
RS: You’ve been talking about all the people you claim you’ve influenced, but who influenced you? Who are the drummers who’ve had an impact on your style?
CA: I studied from a big band drummer in Brooklyn. When I grew up, there were no rock ‘n’ roll drummers to look up to. Sandy Nelson and “Wipe Out” were about it. So I incorporated what I liked: rock ‘n’ roll with the power of a big band drummer.
RS: I know that Gene Krupa meant a lot to you.
CA: Krupa! An unbelievable drummer! The very first album I had was the Krupa and Rich album. I mean, that was my bible. Then I got the Buddy Rich and Max Roach album, and that was my second bible. That’s the kind of stuff I listened to and practiced with as a kid. Then, toward my late teens, I started learning much more in terms of rock ‘n’ roll, and I applied everything that I learned in the past to it. When I joined the Fudge, they were using big amps, so I had to turn my sticks backwards to start hitting harder. So it was just adding the power of big bands and the low tones of the big band drumming to rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what my roots are all about.
RS: Since you’ve been a successful drummer for more than what—15 years now?—and have weathered numerous changes in rock’s direction, where do you see rock drumming heading in the future?
CA: For one thing, there has to be a total blend of electronic and acoustic drums. I see a real good mixture of the two, instead of one taking over another. The thing is, electronic drums can’t work well without a real drummer behind them. All that new wave synthesizer stuff was knocked right out by heavy metal, because when the kids went to the gigs, they’d say, “Man, that drummer really stinks!” Wild rock ‘n’ roll drumming is always going to be around. That you can bet on. But getting back to the electronic/acoustic mixture, on the new Fudge album there’s a track in which I used Oberheim drum machines, except for a break in which I brought in real tom-toms. It’s a good blend. What I do with my drums is set the EA mic’s inside, and by hitting my tom-tom, I can cue my Simmons. In a push of a button I can be acoustic or electronic.
The thing I don’t like about the Simmons drum is that, when you hit the pads, it’s like hitting a tabletop. I like to dig into something. When you’re playing and rocking hard, you need something to really dig into. I understand drummers are hurting their elbows from banging on the Simmons, and then, when they play live gigs and they start hitting harder, their elbows are being damaged even more. At least now they’re making the Simmons more rubbery. That’s definitely got to help.
RS: Another aspect of the contemporary rock drummer is the importance of onstage visibility. Showmanship is crucial today for drummers bent on making names for themselves.
CA: You know where all that came from, don’t you?
RS: From a drummer by the name of Carmine Appice?
CA: From Carmine Appice and Keith Moon. We were the first ones to bring that element into rock ‘n’ roll drumming, and make it a part of our styles. I look at videos of the Fudge days and say to myself, “My God! I’m mad!” The spinning, the twirling, grab bing the cymbals, sticks coming way over my head—it just blows me out when I see all these things I was doing in the ’60s. But in addition to me and Moonie, there were Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, and a couple of others. We were all mad drummers. Ginger and Mitch were more players. Me and Moon played, but we had that flash. If you take the four of us, we probably set the precedent for all the things that are still going on with rock drummers today.
RS: Two of the drummers you’ve mentioned in this discussion, John Bonham and Keith Moon, are both gone—casualties, if you will, of the life-style that too often seems to accompany heavy hitters. How have you endured and managed to remain above the things that took Moon and Bonham?
CA: English drummers, and English people in general, are very different from Americans. Their social lives revolve around the pub. Drinking becomes an inbred thing. Then they make it in rock ‘n’ roll, begin to drink even more than they did in the past, add the whole element of drugs, and things happen. I’m not saying that I was always clean, but you either grow out of it, or it kills you. When Keith Moon died, the first thing I asked was, “What did he die from?” I mean, we’re first-generation heavy rock drummers and maybe we did something to our bodies from playing that way; I don’t know. I thought to myself, “Wow, maybe I’m going to kick off in the next year.” But then I heard that it was because of an overdose. Then when Bonzo died, it really shook me up. He played with the same sort of power I play with. When they said he died of a heart attack, I was worried. But then it came out that he died of a heart attack because he drank two or three bottles of liquor among other things.
So I try to keep all these things in mind. I don’t really have a liquor or drug problem. Recently, I did this diet which is designed to clean all the toxins out of your body. I lost four or five pounds. It’s a diet actors and actresses go on when they have to lose a lot of weight fast. It consists of fruits, vegetables and water. I have to do these things every once in a while. I mean, I’m in competition with drummers who are 20 years old. I can’t look like I’m 50, even though I’m not. That’s why I’ve got purple hair. It’s all part of staying up with the times. As long as I’ve got my hair and can dye it purple, everything’s cool, [laughs] I just want to keep going as long as I can. Look at Buddy Rich: He’s 66, had four artery by-passes, and he’s still going. I talked to him a week after he had his operation; he sounded like he was dying, I swear. I felt so bad. We were going to do an album together. It was going to be Buddy Rich and Carmine Appice back to back. One side was going to be his band doing their material and me playing with them. And the other side was going to be my kind of music, but with him playing. Stanley Clarke was going to play on it and write some of the material.
RS: What happened to the project?
CA: We couldn’t get the schedules to mesh. But even if we did, it probably would have been the same old story. What record company would pick it up? Buddy Rich doesn’t even have a record deal of his own. That’s a joke!
RS: How close are you with Buddy?
CA: Pretty close. Close enough to call him at his home and hang out. When he comes to town, I go see him and hang out a little bit—crack jokes with him. How I got to know him is a weird story.
RS: Tell me about it.
CA: Well, he was playing the Starwood, a club in Los Angeles. The manager of the Starwood and my manager are good friends. They were talking and came up with the idea of me jamming with Buddy. So my manager called me and asked me if I’d do it. I said to him, “Are you crazy? He’ll smear me all over the stage!” He said, “No, no. It’ll be great! The kids will love it. You’ve got to do it.” So finally I said okay, but that I would have to use my own drumset. Well, the manager of the Starwood got all excited, and decided to film the jam and make a video out of it. But L.A. is a gossip town, and word got around that not only was I going to jam with Buddy, but I was challenging him to a drum battle. This got back to Buddy, and everything, of course, was blown out of proportion. Finally, the whole idea was canned. But I went to see him play anyway. I saw his daughter Kathy at the show, and she said to me, “Why are you doing this to my father? Why do you want to challenge him to a drum battle? You sound like one of these kids looking for headlines.” I said, “Hold on. I ain’t challenging nobody. What do you think I am, crazy?” So I told her what happened, and she took me into the dressing room to visit Buddy after the show. I told him what happened and he just shrugged it off. So that’s how I got to meet him. This was in ’78, and we’ve been friends ever since. Rich, Louie Bellson and Joe Morello have to be the three biggest drummers when it comes to overall contributions to the art of drumming.
RS: That’s a pretty interesting story.
CA: It’s a true story. It’s a perfect example of things getting totally turned around.
RS: I understand you’ve recently switched drum companies.
CA: Yeah, that’s right. I made a switch from Slingerland to Pearl. Slingerland drums are great drums, but I need a drum company that’s going to do clinics.
RS: Is your new Pearl kit substantially different from your Slingerland kit?
CA: I’ve got the same colors I had with the Slingerland kit: black lacquer bass drums with red lacquer toms and brass hardware. The kit is all three-ply shells; basically the same setup as I had before, but I’ve added two sort of overhead toms, that were made from a 22″ bass drum cut in half. They’re 22 x 7 with open heads and EA mic’s set up inside.
RS: What are you going to use these for?
CA: I’m going to trigger two Simmons tom-toms, so when I hit the big drums, they’ll really have some frequencies. Usually when you have big toms, you can’t get a good sound out of them because they’re too big. You actually need room mic’s to get the proper ambience. When I see some big drums sitting on top of a drumkit, I like to hear a low, Bonham-type sound. I think that’s what’s going to happen with these.
RS: Now that you’re with Pearl, can we expect more drum clinics from you this year?
CA: Pearl doesn’t see any problem with me doing 30 to 35 drum clinics a year. Since they lost Louie Bellson, the company told me it doesn’t have anyone willing to do clinics for them. Jeff Porcaro did one clinic. They’d like him to do more, but he’s real busy. He may not even be into doing clinics. I don’t know. But clinics have played a big part in my career. Doing clinics helps sell my drum books and keeps up my image as a teacher. I mean, in the last two years, I’ve only done a few clinics. I want to—and have to—do a lot more than that. Carmine Appice has to do as much as he can. It’s in my blood. I’m a workaholic, no doubt about it.