» Carmine Appice - King Kobra
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Interview conducted April 22 2011
Interview published April 24 2011

If you want to rock the house, then you need to call upon one of the most influential drummers of all time, namely: Carmine Appice. When you consider his body of work with Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, King Kobra, Blue Murder, Mothers Army, as well as all of his guest appearances, it all adds up to the thrill of a lifetime.

King Kobra has just released their newest self-titled album, and I was ready to strike when it came to securing an interview with the master skinsman himself. Carmine and I talked about the new album, and briefly about King Kobra's past. So, turn up the good times; because this is how we roll...

MettleAngel: Hey Man, I am so grateful that I was able to get a chance to speak with you. I know you are currently swamped with press, in order to promote the new album.

  • Carmine: Yes, but that is why we are here, is it not?

MettleAngel: If you recall, I actually met you this past summer on tour with Michael Schenker in Cleveland. I was backstage doing an interview with him. You and I briefly spoke about the new King Kobra album, which was then still in the works.

  • Carmine: Yes, I think I recall that. You were a big fan of King Kobra from the '80s.

MettleAngel: I still am! I have been playing the first three albums, as well as the new one for the past week. I have some of those Capitol releases on cassette. I am amazed how each album is so diverse.

  • Carmine: Oh you think so?

MettleAngel: I have not heard 'Hollywood Trash', but I like all the others.

  • Carmine: That album is more modern like my work with Mothers Army. It has a Soundgarden meets Blue Murder sound. Honestly, I think our new album really sounds like our debut - 'Ready To Strike'.

MettleAngel: I can see that, as 'Thrill Of A Lifetime' is very commercial oriented.

  • Carmine: That is because Capitol told us we had to have hits, so we wrote the songs that way. We aimed to achieve singles. When Frontiers approached us about doing this new album, they wanted a true '80s feel. Many of these songs are reworked demos dating back to '84. We strove to achieve that true '80s sound.

MettleAngel: I did not know that some of the songs were that dated.

  • Carmine: These older songs are solid, and we knew that we could really update them, and Paul was very good at giving them that special touch.

MettleAngel: I do agree that the new album has that Classic feel.

  • Carmine: What is amazing is that the entire album was made over the Internet. We all live far apart from each other in different cities.

MettleAngel: You have to admire modern technology. Listening to the album, I would not have known that fact. I still love your sophomore effort. I just played "Home Street Home" for my wife, and she was amazed to hear a Hip-Hop song like that coming from King Kobra.

  • Carmine: So she had not ever heard it before?

MettleAngel: She was not familiar with the band at all. You also met her, and she was shocked when I mentioned to you about the Mark/Marcie transition.

  • Carmine: That song was the first of its kind. No other band was then mixing Rap and Rock. We did it before Aerosmith and Run-DMC did their thing.

MettleAngel: The only other song that I can think of as being around that time was Lone Rager's "Metal Rap", which I think was 1985. It was featured on the 'Deeper Into The Vault' Compilation. I love this song! "I'm The Man", by Anthrax came shortly thereafter.

  • Carmine: In the early '80s we were writing what we knew. That song is honest and fair dealing with the harsh reality of being broke and living on the streets in L.A.

MettleAngel: This seems to be the case with many then unknown individuals forming bands at that time, which later went on to reach mega-stardom.

  • Carmine: Everyone thought that we were enormously successful too. Capitol dropped the ball. When we toured with Kiss, we should have received better exposure.

MettleAngel: I know that you drummed on Paul Stanley's 1978 'S/T' release.

  • Carmine: Our manager then was a master of manipulation when it came to PR. People just assumed that we were big time stars. In actuality, our record sales did not reflect this.

MettleAngel: I was amazed to see that you were able to get Paul Shortino to serve as your new vocalist. I always loved him in Rough Cutt, and his brief stint with Quiet Riot on the 1988 self-titled release, which I also have on cassette.

  • Carmine: Yeah, and back in the day, the band in which he played, were our competition.

MettleAngel: I admire his vocals and his Bluesy edge. At times he reminds me of Joe Lynn Turner. He is quite different from the stadium rock approach of Mark Edward Free, or even Johnny Edwards from the third King Kobra release.

  • Carmine: I feel that Paul Shortino is a very accomplished, great singer. I love what he has done with the songs that we wrote.

MettleAngel: Do you write most of the lyrics?

  • Carmine: Paul and I write most of the lyrics. David Michael-Philips will send us a guitar track, and then we just add our own touch. Many times I have to cut and paste certain melodies or arrangements. This is a difficult task, since we are all so separated by distance.

MettleAngel: I have noticed that the lyrics seem to have a very positive bent, and uplifting thrust. There seems to be an all pervasive feel good vibe present.

  • Carmine: This has always been a characteristic of the band. On the album 'III', we had the song called "#1". Many of the songs are about freedom of expression. In the lyrics to "Tear Down The Walls", we quote The Beatles, and say, "Love, love, love".

MettleAngel: I like songs like "Rock This House", "Top Of The World", or This Is How We Roll". "Turn Up The Good Times" reminds me a bit of "Welcome to The Jungle". I am currently reading Slash's biography.

  • Carmine: Interestingly enough, a song like "You Make It Easy", is inspired by the annoyance of automated phone answering customer service programs. Paul took that frustration, by which we can all identify, and turned it into a real song.

MettleAngel: Wow. That explains the part where the operator is speaking during the song. We all know how aggravating it is to just hear a machine, while waiting to speak to an actual person! I did not get that until just now.

  • Carmine: This is why you really have to listen to the record.

MettleAngel: I also admire the more emotional aspects of the evocative "Crying Turns To Rain". This has a classic Whitesnake feel. Followed by the more upbeat anthem "Screaming For More". Then the last song, "Fade Away", is passionate, and honest.

  • Carmine: One of the best songs which we intentionally left off the album, of which I am very proud is the song called "Monsters And Heroes".

MettleAngel: Oh, is that a bonus track for certain regions?

  • Carmine: No, not at all, it is the first single which we released late last year. The song is a tribute to Ronnie James Dio.

MettleAngel: Oh really, I have not heard that.

  • Carmine: Originally the song was about just what it says, "Monsters" and "Heroes". You know how when you are a kid you have a fear of monsters in your closet, or under your bed, then as you get older you have heroes adorning your walls?

MettleAngel: Oh sure, we can all relate to that as young boys; although, my heroes were not Comic Book Super Heroes, but rather Star Wars icons.

  • Carmine: We took that song and rearranged it entirely. It was Paul's idea to pay homage to Dio. He really wrote some great lyrics referencing: "rainbows in the dark", "the Sacred Heart", "man on a mountain", etc.

MettleAngel: I will for sure have to hear that. I assume it is available for download?

  • Carmine: Oh yeah, look for it on my website. I have a ton of stuff available from all my projects, for all my fans. We chose to leave this off the album, because all the proceeds go to the "Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund". Are you familiar with this?

MettleAngel: That is such a coincidence, as right in front of me I have the Heaven & Hell 'Neon Nights' Live CD. I just picked it up after seeing Eddie Trunk recommend it on a recent airing of "That Metal Show". I was just looking through the booklet before you called, and I saw the advertisement for that very charity. That is so serendipitous, do you not think?

  • Carmine: The spirit of Dio lives on. I am so grateful that Paul suggested we do this.

MettleAngel: I am too! I promise to buy that track tonight, and to tell my friends about it.

  • Carmine: That is what we want.

MettleAngel: I have read that you are also going to be on "That Metal Show" early next month, for the eighth episode. I believe you filmed the show with Dave Meniketti of Y&T. I am very excited to watch that one, which pays tribute to the late Phil Kennemore.

  • Carmine: We shot that in early March.

MettleAngel: You mentioned earlier that the whole album was made through the Internet. Seeing as the band seldom get together, what are your plans for future touring options?

  • Carmine: We have received a number of offers, but they are not all that great. Some of them do not even cover the cost of our flights to perform the gig up to our standards.

MettleAngel: I am well aware of that. Many bands have been commenting on this lately.

  • Carmine: For me, it has to be economical, and worthwhile, if we are going to play any shows. The important thing is that we made a new record. We did this to have some fun, and we are very proud of the outcome. I stand by all my work, and I will not release anything that I myself am not proud of.

MettleAngel: Well, I feel that the album is a great achievement. With so many reunions, and bands putting out new albums, I know it can be a bit overwhelming.

  • Carmine: To say the least...

MettleAngel: There are a few cuts that are average. Overall, I like the new album. I feel any fan of '80s Rock and Metal should give it a fair shot.

  • Carmine: Yeah, it is a solid record and I stand by it.

MettleAngel: Well, Brother, I do not want to keep you any longer. Thank you so much for your time.

  • Carmine: No problem! I am very grateful that guys like you really care. I know that this is all voluntary for you.

MettleAngel: Well as I now say, "I serve the Soul of Metal, the Spirit of Steel, and the Heart of Iron." I truly focus on service, and honour the music that means everything to me.

  • Carmine: I hear you. Thank you again.

MettleAngel: Yes, and I will do my best to promote the new album.

  • Carmine: We appreciate that.

See also: review of the album King Kobra

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