Don de Leaumont of The Great Southern Brainfart recently conducted an interview with legendary drummer Vinny Appice (DIO, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN HELL, KILL DEVIL HILL). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Great Southern Brainfart: I want to talk about your playing on the KILL DEVIL HILL album. The playing on this album is like nothing I’ve ever heard you do before. You have such a signature sound to it but there’s some groove and swing in there that I’ve never heard from Vinny Appice.
Vinny: There are two things that were involved in that. One thing was that the last HEAVEN HELL album, “The Devil You Know”, was written with a friggin’ drum machine. It was all of us in a room with a drum machine. It was stupid. I wanted to go into a rehearsal place and jam and work the shit up loud. That’s the way we did “Mob Rules” and “Dehumanizer”, but instead, it wound up with us working in Ronnie‘s [James Dio] studio with a drum machine. When we recorded “The Devil You Know”, the band wanted it really simple on the drums so I didn’t play a lot on that album. When the album came out, I got all this feedback like, “Vinny didn’t play shit on the drums,” and “The drums are really boring,” and shit like that [laughs]. I was like, “OK, but you guys don’t know the whole story.” That was in my head so I decided that I was going to play my ass off on [the KILL DEVIL HILL] record.
The Great Southern Brainfart: I really loved “The Devil You Know” and I had no idea the level of restraint you were working with.
Vinny: Well, with SABBATH, it was more that the playing had to be under that SABBATH umbrella. We couldn’t do too much crazy shit. Even having too much melody would be too nice for SABBATH. There are three different egos that are running the band and the way “The Devil You Know” was written, it wasn’t inspiring for me to play drum machine parts. You can’t hang or swing on a drum machine. It’s hard to work that way. If we would’ve been in a room rehearsing the music, it would’ve been a lot more aggressive and a lot more SABBATH-y than what came out.
The Great Southern Brainfart: I keep getting asked by folks about what’s going on with the current BLACK SABBATH drama with [drummer] Bill Ward not doing the reunion and all. What’s your take on it all?
Vinny: I haven’t been contacted or anything so I’m not involved, to be honest. I am in touch with them though, especially with Tony [Iommi] regarding his health and all. It was kind of funny to see this big deal about SABBATH coming back and then suddenly Bill‘s not doing it. Then I read all these posts online saying, “Well, if Bill‘s not doing it, Vinny should be next in line,” and then other are saying shit like, “Fuck Vinny! He shouldn’t be up there. It should be Bill!” Then I read that Tommy [Clufetos] from Ozzy‘s band is thrown in the mix and then they’re like, “Fuck Tommy. Vinny should be up there!” [laughs] It’s like the gossiping housewives of “Jersey Shore” or something. [laughs]
The Great Southern Brainfart: Obviously it’s not fair to say that you weren’t a part of SABBATH‘s history, but with them calling it a “BLACK SABBATH reunion,” do you think it’s proper for them to carry on without Bill Ward and still call it a SABBATH reunion?
Vinny: Well, I think that the first choice should honestly be Bill Ward. If BLACK SABBATH is going to do a reunion, Bill should be there. Back in 1998 they did a reunion tour, but Bill couldn’t do it because of some medical problems, so I did like 4 or 5 weeks with them in Europe with Ozzy singing. They didn’t call it a reunion tour, though. They just went out as BLACK SABBATH. Then they toured the States and they were billing it as a reunion tour. Bill was actually playing on that tour but I was on tour with them in case Bill had a problem. He didn’t have any issues on that tour, so I went the whole tour without playing which was the weirdest tour I ever did.
The Great Southern Brainfart: Being on tour and not being able to play sounds horrible. It’s kind of like being in a brothel and not being able to touch anything.
Vinny: [laughs] Exactly. It was ridiculous. Then I felt like I was getting out of shape from not playing. Yeah, I think Bill should be doing this tour. It’s a reunion thing. At this point, it’ll probably be the last SABBATH tour and I think the fans, well I don’t think, I know that the fans honestly want to see the real band. I would like to see it to. They play unbelievably together.
The Great Southern Brainfart: I really hate to see this turn into such a soap opera. I feel like it kind of tarnishes any kind of reputable legacy that SABBATH could have left behind.
Vinny: Yeah, exactly. I guess the whole problem with this thing was money. It’s a shame to see that. I don’t know what the hell’s going to happen. If they end up doing it with another drummer, it’ll be the second best thing since the fans still obviously want to hear those classic songs.
The Great Southern Brainfart: You worked with three different guitarists in DIO (Vivian Campbell, Craig Goldy, and Tracy G). In your opinion, who was the best DIO guitarist?
Vinny: Oh, it was Campbell. He was the man. He was on fire. He played great, he had a great feel, and he had great rhythm. He was a really cool guy. Viv, Jimmy [Bain], Claude [Schnell] and I just jammed last month. Viv was in town and he wanted to play, so we got a rehearsal place and went in and just played all these old DIO songs. It was really cool. We might even do some dates, so we’ll see. We have this really cool singer named Andy [Andrew Freeman; HURRICANE and LYNCH MOB], who really loves Ronnie and it might be cool to just go out and do some shows. I hadn’t played with Viv since 1985 or ’86, but yet it was tight as fuck. We could’ve gone out and played a show that night. That’s how tight it was even after all those years. [laughs] That’s something that might happen. I mean, we were the real guys. We were the band. Ronnie‘s not here and it would be nice to play those songs they way they should be played in memory of Ronnie. I don’t know what we’d call it. RE-DIO? [laughs]
Read the entire interview from The Great Southern Brainfart: