A conversation with: Vinny Appice (Heaven & Hell/Kill Devil Hill)

7 Dec

Heaven & Hell, DIO and Black Sabbath have all had one thing in common. Vinny Appice stamped his mark on each of them. The world renowned drummer has performed on some of the biggest selling albums and has performed with some of the biggest bands in the music industry. Now he’s gone back to where it all started, bringing to fruition his new band, ‘Kill Devil Hill’ from the ground up. We caught up with Vinny Appice a few days after he had completed the first leg of his US tour with Kill Devil Hill. 

The latest Kill Devil Hill album is finally out in Australia. How’s the reception been so far in other parts of the world?

‘You know, the reception has been amazing. We’ve gotten a lot of great reviews and a lot of the interviews we’ve been doing with people like yourself who have actually listened to the record have really loved it. The fans have loved it as well so it’s been really great to hear. Now we just need to sell some more product, haha!

You’ve also recently just completed the first leg of the bands US tour. How was it?

‘It went really well, man. We started on the west coast of the US and then made our way into the mid-west. We did about 20 or so shows in smaller venues and clubs. Now we’re ready to do something a bit bigger, a package deal like a tour with some festival dates and bigger shows, that kind of thing. We’ve gotten really tight thanks to this tour so we’re really looking forward to playing some bigger shows’.

There’s a few heavy numbers on the album. Which songs have really gotten the crowds going?

‘Crown of Thorns’ has gone down really well. ‘Leave It All Behind’ has been really good as well. ‘A Long Way From Home’ has also gone down really well when we’ve chucked it in the middle of a set. When you play a lot of these songs live, most of them sound awesome just because of their energy’.

I had a chance to listen to the record other day, It’s real tight and a great blend of modern and old school sounds. Was it a conscious decision to create music with vintage roots but with a modern direction?

‘That’s just the way things turned out, man. We’ve all got our own influences and a lot of them can be heard on the record. Mark and Dewy are very young so they have a few influences from the modern era that Rex and I don’t necessarily have. But we also have a huge amount in common so the combination of the four of us guys really works in this band’.

My favorite tracks are ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Life Goes On’. The first is just so brutal and then you close the album with such an epic masterpiece. What songs from ‘Revolution Rise’ are your favourites?

‘Yeah I like ‘Life Goes On’ as well, haha! I also really dig, ‘Where Angels Dare to Roam’, it’s almost like a dance track but heavy. I also like ‘Leave It All Behind’ which is gonna be released as a video with the album. But I like them all man, haha. Whenever we finished a song I’d always say ‘That’s my favourite!’ but then we would finish another song and I’d say ‘No, that’s my favourite!’ so yeah, I like them all, haha’.

It’s a pretty raw and stripped back album. How does recording a record like this compare with recording a Sabbath album or a Heaven and Hell album?

‘Well first of all the budget on this record was nearly non-existent compared to Sabbath albums or Heaven and Hell albums, haha. We had limited resources, so luckily we’ve had a ton of friends and family who have supported us along the way and really saved our asses when it came to finishing the record! We’ve been very fortunate to be able to complete these records, so thanks to those guys’!

I was also impressed at Dewey Braggs vocal performance. He’s got a real classic and powerful Rock voice, however he’s relatively unknown compared to the rest of the band. How did you come to the decision to make him part of the band?

‘Well, when myself and Mark were putting together song ideas I had asked him if he knew of any singers. He mentioned this guy, Dewey Braggs. So we got in contact with Dewey and he came down for a jam and his voice absolutely blew me away. I knew he was the guy then and there. He sings with so much passion and most importantly he sings from the heart.

I think the thing that also works with Dewey is the fact that he doesn’t sound like a copy cat of Ronnie. He doesn’t sound like someone from the 80’s. He’s got a lot of fire and energy in his voice. When I was putting this band together a lot of people were sending me demo tapes and they all sounded similar to Ronnie with that whole vibrato/warrior vocal style. But a lot of them thought that’s what I wanted. There’s only one Ronnie and no one will ever sound like Ronnie’.

Has this band re-invigorated your passion for writing music or is it business as usual for yourself?

‘I’m still loving it now as much as I was 20 years ago, man. The fire’s still there, haha. I just want to kick it to 11 and take names, man, haha. But that being said, this ain’t no easy job! You gotta like going on the road, you gotta like travelling and all that stuff. I hear so many kids saying they want to be rockstars but when it comes to it, they aren’t prepared to pay their dues. The main thing that keeps me going though, is getting up on that stage and playing music and experiencing that moment. That’s why musicians work so hard’.

Is Kill Devil Hill the main focus of your career right now? Or are there a lot more things on your plate as well?

‘I’ve got a few things going on. At the moment I’m doing a show with my brother called ‘Drum Wars’ in which we play a lot of drum stuff and music from our past. I’ve also just got together with Vivian Campbell to get the original DIO band back together with the singer being Andy Freeman and that kicks ass. So I’ve got a number of things going on but Kill Devil Hill is the only original thing going on and that’s something I’m trying to bring to fruition from the ground up. I really enjoy doing lots of different things though. I like going off with my brother and just doing drum solos, haha. But until Kill Devil Hill takes off I’ll probably be doing a few different things, haha’.

How’s Carmine going?

‘Carmine’s great! We just did a couple of shows together last month and he’s playing brilliantly. He’s putting a new band together with Joe Lynn Turner and Tony Franklin on bass. He’s always doing heaps of stuff though, haha. Runs in the family’!

You’ve played in some of the worlds biggest bands on some of the worlds biggest stages and have had such an amazing career. Has it been awesome going back to the start and playing club shows again?

‘Yeah, haha. It’s shocking. It’s funny though, man. When you’re on stage and you’re playing, it’s sort of the same thing. I mean there is a big difference between playing in front of two hundred people as opposed to playing in front of twenty thousand, but you’re still just playing and people are loving it. It’s just everything around that’s different.

When you’re playing arenas every night everything is proper. You travel in style, you get all the luxuries, your equipment is the best and everything is just proper. But when you’re at a level when you’re trying to break a band everything is down graded. There’s no lights, there’s no luxuries and you’re equipment sometimes sucks. But the playing remains the same. Always’.

Anything on the table for an Australian Kill Devil Hill tour?

‘Well we’re really happy that the album will be out in Australia. Hopefully next year in our summer we’ll be able to come down and kick some butt. I was just down there a couple of years ago for the Heaven and Hell tour so I’m itching to come back’!

A festival appearance perhaps?

It depends. Hopefully we can play some festivals and throw some shows in between the festival dates. Right now though we’re just building the fan base and steadily playing bigger shows. Last year we did a few big shows though, opening for Alice Cooper, and that was great for the band in terms of exposure so hopefully if things keep going how they are, we’ll be heading down under pretty soon’.

A bit off track here, but did Tony and Geezer ever give you and Ronny shit for not having a moustache?

‘Hahaha! No, no haha. They never said anything about it. We did talk about that on ‘The Metal Show’ though. It was a skit where the guys joked that Carmine was their first choice because he had a moustache.

The interesting thing about that lineup of Black Sabbath though was that nobody in the band had a tattoo. That was the only Black Sabbath lineup where none of the members had tattoos, haha’.

Who are some of your favorite Australian artists right now?

‘Oh my God! Uhhh, I really like Wolfmother. But I’m not too familiar with what’s been coming out of Australia though so I’ll have to catch up with all of that real soon. I still love Men At Work though. Those guys are fucking awesome, haha’.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Vinny. Hopefully we’ll see you next year for an aussie tour.

‘Yeah, man! Thanks for talking, was a pleasure. Hopefully we’ll be there real soon’!



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