Hard Rock Hideout

Carmine Appice of King Kobra – The Hard Rock Hideout Interview


Carmine Appice – An undisputed Rock legend is Carmine Appice. With a Rock and Roll resume that screams “Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction NOW!”, Carmine never once spoke of acceptance into any clique or popular circles. That’s because Carmine Appice knows his accomplishments and knows he belongs with his countless fans. Carmine is not just a legendary Rock drummer, he is also an accomplished teacher of drumming and unquestionably his profession’s biggest advocate spanning six decades.

To appreciate the works of Carmine Appice is to also appreciate Rock Music history. Carmine has played and written for Rod Stewart, while founding such Classic Rock icons as Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert and Appice. His drumming can also be heard on albums from Ted Nugent and Paul Stanley to Pink Floyd’s “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this famed drummers accomplishments. With two of Carmine’s biggest 80’s bands being King Kobra and Blue Murder, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal fans alike gravitate to Carmine Appice with a justifiable reverence.

2011 has ushered in the reunion of King Kobra, with their newly released and self-titled album on Frontiers Records. This King Kobra reunion album shakes loose everything we all adore about 80’s Melodic Hard Rock… King Kobra style. With new vocalist Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Bad Boyz, Quiet Riot) surrounded by the original King Kobra lineup, there could not be a better time than now to celebrate this bands everlasting Hard Rock appeal. Carmine took the time recently to talk to Hard Rock Hideout about the reunion of King Kobra and their new album. As I anticipated, Carmine wasn’t just a receptive interview, he was a downright good guy. Here is what Carmine had to say:

HRH: King Kobra in 2011, does it feel like the first time or old hat with the band?

CARMINE: It’s a little of both. We have a new energy from Paul (Shortino). He adds a bluesier sound to the band. Some songs we wrote back in ’84 and the first meeting with Dave (Henzerling) and I was writing all our takes from ’84 down. Me and Dave initially were part of the heavy writing on the first two King Kobra albums. My drums and Dave’s guitar are the core of King Kobra’s sound and we captured that sound once again, blending everything else together nicely.

HRH: This album is a great listen Carmine, it does take me back.

CARMINE: Thank you. I was very surprised it came out so good! We were never all together in studio to record this album. This King Kobra album was an international undertaking. Me and Paul were together and Dave was in Phoenix. It was all put together and mixed in Germany by Mike Ross. The track we used to get Mike Ross on line in Germany was “Monsters And Heroes”, a tribute song (about) Ronnie James Dio. All the royalties from this song go directly to the Ronnie James Dio Cancer Fund.

HRH: A fine job you guys did with that Carmine.

HRH: How did Paul Shortino land with King Kobra?

CARMINE: Our first press release was back in December of 2009, when the idea to do this reunion and album came about. It was my saying hey look, let’s get together and let’s do a record. It all took time because we all live in different cities you know?

HRH: What event or series of events triggered the reunion of King Kobra after the initial idea?

CARMINE: It was never a planned thing or anything like that, it just happened one day. David (Henzerling) by trade is a computer programmer. He was coming out to L.A. to Edwards Air Force Base to program jet fighters. Dave and I were together one day when Pat Regan called and said he would be in town mixing a new album for KEEL, so we went down and said hello to the guys. Pat told me Frontiers Records is signing a bunch of 80’s bands right now. Pat said “why don’t you guys do an album?” I’ve had a bit of a run-in with Marcie Free, so I called Paul (Shortino) because I’ve worked with him before, plus he’s a great person and has a great voice. Of course, when I called Paul and asked him he said “yeah, I’d love to do it”. So, me, Dave, Paul and Mick (Sweda) were up for it. Johnny Rod has always been asking me when we were going to get King Kobra back together, so he was in for sure.

HRH: That’s really cool how it all came back together.

CARMINE: It is. Do you remember Paul played Duke Fame in Spinal Tap? (laughs)

HRH: Man, Carmine, I forgot about that! (laughs)

HRH: King Kobra captures all good things about Melodic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Is this a sound that is missing from young bands today?

CARMINE: I think this album to me, is more of a Hard Rock album than anything else. The words “Heavy Metal” describes a certain era. Heavy Metal is more of the dark side of stuff. I consider King Kobra a Hard Rock band. This is a really good Hard Rock record. Blue Murder I’d consider as a Heavy Metal band. Some of the songs on “Beck, Bogert & Appice” are heavy. When Y&T came out, they were a Rock band, then everyone began to call them a Heavy Metal band in the 80’s.

HRH: That’s a good point there about Y&T.

CARMINE: Look back on the song “Hot Legs” with Rod Stewart, now that was some good Hard Rock! When I hear a cool new song on the radio now, from a new band, they never announce the band! That drives me crazy!

HRH: I know what you mean Carmine, we’re supposed to figure it out ourselves!

HRH: Would you ever consider reuniting Blue Murder for a new album or one-off show?

CARMINE: Since 2000, I’ve wanted to do another Blue Murder album. I want to do an album and a tour with Blue Murder, the only thing stopping it is John Sykes. To do an album with John Sykes would take forever, he is a real perfectionist. The longer we wait, the further and further away we get from when the last album was released. The real money is made with touring. Right now with the economy, there is really no market for an album like Blue Murder.

HRH: Any tour plans for King Kobra?

CARMINE: King Kobra used to play arenas. Now, all us bands are playing clubs. Dave (Henzerling) is too busy with his regular job to tour with King Kobra. I don’t want to lose money either. If we go play and lose money, it makes no sense to me. Big acts have to package up with other big acts today. Rod Stewart is packaged up with Stevie Nicks. Now Rod Stewart is packaged! We never saw Rod Stewart packaged up!

HRH: It’s the sign of the times, Carmine.

CARMINE: Doing gigs with Cactus, Slamm!! and clinics is the playing live side of my career. I will be doing gigs during the Summer with Vanilla Fudge.

HRH: That’s pretty cool stuff to be involved with!

CARMINE: It’s very hard to get out and play right now because the economy is bad and the record business is bad. I used to sell six, seven or eight thousand drum books on top of two hundred thousand records. Now, I sell more drum books than records! I released Carmine Appice’s (“Guitar Zeuss”) “Conquering Heroes” double album back in 2009. I had tons of great guitarists on that album with Ted Nugent, Brian May and Mick Mars, for example. Only two thousand units were sold here! Fifty thousand were sold in Europe and forty thousand sold in Japan. A little over one hundred thousand units sold! Business is down.

HRH: King Kobra is such a good times album. Was this all intentional or did it just fall into place this way?

CARMINE: All the positive themes like, “I’m number one”, “don’t get left behind” and “let’s party!” have always been our way with songs. All the songs are about good times. I compare this album to the first King Kobra album (“Ready To Strike”) with it’s energy. “Tear Down The Walls” is a political song. The concept behind “You Make It Easy” is about making a phone call and you’re put on hold by customer service or some Spanish message. So, originally this song was called “It Ain’t Easy”. (laughs).

HRH: (laughs) That’s funny, Carmine.

CARMINE: (laughs) You know how it is, you’re pushing all these prompts all the time to get some service and you’re thinking please make it easy! (laughs). There are lot’s of stuff going on in this song.

HRH: (laughs). I hear you, about waiting on the line for service from a human being!

CARMINE: In comparison to the second album, (“Thrill Of A Lifetime”), the label made us do five singles on one side of that album. The other side was our songs.

HRH: “Live Forever” is my personal favorite on the new album. Is there a story behind this song you can share?

CARMINE: If Bon Jovi did “Live Forever” it would be a number one single!

HRH: I feel “Live Forever” would have been a number one single or at least a top ten single for you back in the late 80’s.

CARMINE: I Want to send this single to Richie Sambora after this album is released and get it in the Bon Jovi camp. Let’s see what happens! (laughs). I guess I’m dreaming right?

HRH: Not really, Carmine. The Bon Jovi camp should be honored you would even take the time to send them over a song.

CARMINE: I guess I do have a track record. (laughs).

HRH: You took the words right out of my mouth, Carmine. (laughs).