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According to a recent press release: “Legendary drummers and brothers Carmine and Vinny Appice are doing a special Ronnie James Dio tribute video. This Dio video celebration will commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the passing of the late, great singer, who died on May 16, 2010 from cancer. The video will be released on Sunday, May 16, 2020 on YouTube and on the Internet in general. Besides being a close friend, Vinny was also a longtime musical sidekick of Dio’s, performing with him in Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell.  Vinny and his original bandmates from the first Dio lineup reformed in 2012 as Last in Line to record and perform live.” We were able to grab some phone time with Vinny the day before the video dropped to discuss the song and video, Ronnie James Dio, and more…

Toddstar: Vinny, thank you so much for taking time out, man. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

Vinny: Oh yeah, absolutely. We’re doing interviews all day. Carmine and I, some together, some separate.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about it, man. You guys have put together a pretty cool tribute to the one and only Ronnie James Dio, that I’ve been rolling all morning since I got a cool link to the video. What can you tell us about, how this came to be for you guys to do this? Obviously you’ve got your link with Ronnie, but how did it come to be that you wanted to do this?

Vinny: Well we thought about doing a video like this a while ago. The people are doing like a virus video with everybody on it. And then, so I thought we should do something like that. I knew the anniversary of Ronnie’s death was coming up and I said, why don’t we do the song, “Monsters & Heroes?” Because the song is actually about Ronnie – it was on our album from a couple of years ago. Carmine and I did the first album together and we thought that was a great idea. So we started to put it together and I laid down drums first with the guitar from the original track that’s on our album. Then I send it to Artie our guitar player and he put on the guitar. Then we sent it to Carmine and, just went around to everybody and then put it together. Artie is also the producer, director, and editor. It came out really, really good, for doing it quickly and doing it in different locations because there’s different parts for me in Carmine and to play on we don’t play the whole song together.

Toddstar: That was kind of cool during the video. How did you guys decide, especially on this track where it obviously means something to both of you, who’s going to play what part? Because you guys both play out of different pockets.

Vinny: We did do this song on our album. Actually originally the song was by King Cobra with Carmine and his drums were played all the way through. So when we decided to use it for our album, we had to listen to it and figure out, make a chart, “All right, you play here, I’ll play here.” And that kind of thing. And then record it as such, which is weird because all of a sudden I’m playing then I stop and it was like here’s a guitar. But then I know Carmine’s playing and then I come in with him. So that worked because we did it on the album. And then also we’ve been playing this live, at our live show, which was called Drum Wars. And we do this song and we separate the parts like that. So we really had it pretty much down and it made it easier to do other than, trying to figure it out along the way.

Toddstar: The funny part to me that, and the first thing I picked up the very first time watching through is, it’s almost like you’re passing the torch so to speak to Carmine when you take your break. It’s almost like you’re pointing to home every time like, “Here you go.”

Vinny: Yeah. I pointed and I pointed in the right direction because he’s always on my left anyway at the show. So I thought, well I thought, well what do I do when it’s downtime? Ah, and just pointed it to him and that looked good. It looks like we’re really in sync with each other and we are actually, so it worked out good. It looks good.

Toddstar: It gives you a good feel in the video. How different is the look and feel of this video, obviously because of the current state of the world, how different is it compared to what you had maybe originally envisioned for a video like this?

Vinny: Well, there is a video for the song that’s on YouTube that came out with the album and that has lights and we’re on a stage and we cut some live footage into it and it’s got more bells and whistles. And this is raw we’re really all playing us. We didn’t play to the track. This is like, you can’t fake the drums, all the fills are exactly what you hear, which is what you see. And the sound quality is a little bit more raw on this. But for what we did, it came out really good and Carmine and I both excited about this and the band too. And we have Jim Crean singing and lyrics were written by Paul Shortino who played in Quiet Riot. He wrote the original lyrics; he knew Ronnie very, very, very well. So other than that, it was a great thing, really cool.

Toddstar: Was there any hesitation for you guys? Even though it’s a 10th anniversary because of the way everybody’s having to do everything so remotely and the social distancing and everything, was there any hesitation for you guys to do this and put this together and put it out there for the world to enjoy?

Vinny: No, not at all. Actually I felt that it would be nice to do this anyway, to do a video. I mean, not this was going on since this thing started, I thought, well, you know what? I saw some cool videos that people did at home. Sometimes just a cell phone camera and then playing guitar. And it’s something that you wouldn’t have normally have seen other than the situation now. You’d never seen things like this that’s going on, things that are happening now. So I thought it’d be nice to do something like that. And then later on it came again and it came into my head, I went, well you know what Ronnie’s anniversary is coming up, let’s do something special. And that’s what we did. So I’m glad we did, now we’re getting a lot of push for it and we want everybody to watch it and celebrate Ronnie’s life, you know?

Toddstar: Certainly. Ronnie’s a guy that you’re forever going to be entraunched with him and heavy metal in rock and roll history. You’ve had such a long history with Ronnie, going back to Dio, your contributions to the Hear N Aid project, “Stars.” If you look back at it what’s the one or two things you picked up and learned from your experience working with Ronnie and teaming with him on the various projects that you’ve carried with you in every project since?

Vinny: One thing I learned about writing music with Ron was when we would put a song together. Usually you’d go for eight times on different… four to eight bars, even numbers. And sometimes he would say, let’s do this. Let’s just do seven bars or change to a different chord there. So it’s not predictable, because if you’re listening to something and you go, Oh, I know they’re going to go to the chorus now. It’s kind of predictable. It’s a little less boring probably when you change it up a little bit and go, I did seven bars and then there’s two beats with a chord change. Then it goes to the chorus, it throws the listener for a loop and keeps their interests more. So just things like that. We did a lot of that stuff with Ron. That’s a good way to put these things together, make pretend you’re the listener and you’re going to know what the next part is. Let’s screw that up a little bit. Let’s make us make it more of a surprise keep their interests.

Toddstar: Well, with this out there, the fans are going to start wondering if there’s stuff going on in the background that we don’t know about? Is there other music ready to hit us?

Vinny: I’m playing with Last in Line with Vivian Campbell and that’s my band with Andy Freeman on vocal, Phil Soussan on bass. And we got a third album in the works. So we’re working a little bit on that. We were straight ahead on that. But then the virus pandemic, the whole thing here, put a stop to it for a while. Now it’s slow going. So we’re working on a third album, Last in Line III, and that hopefully will be out beginning of next year. And hopefully we’ll be playing live next year too. So that’s the new music going on. I’ve been doing a lot of sessions in my house. I got a nice studio to get a really good drum sound. And I’m working on that. One of them is a Resurrection Kings album, which is an album I did a couple of years back with Craig Goldy and we’re working on that. That was a pretty good record. And that was on Frontiers Records. So I’m working on the last remaining songs on that. So there’s a lot of things going on. And then I actually had time to whip out my old drum books, and then in the other room I set up my drum pad on a stand and I got my music stand and I’m actually refreshing my childhood lessons and keeping my hands in shape that way. Perfect timing to do this.

Toddstar: You’ve got a lot of time on your hands, as we all do. Well, it’s been fun for me watching and listening to you, as you’ve evolved into different projects and stuff; loved your work on Joel Hoekstra’s album, you mentioned the Resurrection Kings. I love that. The first album I thought was phenomenal. I thought you guys just came out and killed it.

Vinny: Oh, cool.

Toddstar: How do you pick your projects at this point? I mean, it’s not like you have to go out and work. You’re just doing it because you enjoy it now.

Vinny: Well, when I get things that are offered, I pretty much listen to the music. And if it’s the music I would like to be involved with usually heavy and loud, I’ll do it. And the Resurrection Kings, it was with my friends like Craig Goldy, Chaz West, we’ve all played together in different things. So the Resurrection King’s was an easy thing to confirm because it was cool. I knew it was going to be some cool songs on there and stuff. I don’t play on everything obviously, but things that are cool or from friends and if it’s the stuff I like to play, I’ll do it. That’s the way I’ll choose them. No reason for me to play on some love song, it’s not going to work. I don’t think I’ve ever played on a love song. With Dio, we never played a love song or a ballad and Sabbath, we never played a ballad. So why start now? No ballads for me. If you want a ballad call Carmine.

Toddstar: Yeah. That’s a whole other conversation. Isn’t it? Yeah. What’s it like for you as a musician to not be able to hit the road, I mean forget the fact that you can’t even go to the studio. You’ve got your own setup, but you can’t even go to a studio and sit down with your bandmates and friends and record; what’s it like for you to know you can’t hit the road now or for the foreseeable future?

Vinny: Well, I think I’m having some withdrawal because usually the way the last few years have been. I’ve been home sometimes say for a week and then we go out and play for a week or two. Then I come home and it’s been nuts where I’m home for two days basically to wash your clothes and then fly out again or fly to Europe or fly to South America. I’ve been in a lot of things around the world and then come home and just crazy schedules like that. And another three days off, then we go out and I’m like weirded out that I don’t have to pack. And then I don’t have to be on an airplane. I’m not on a schedule like that right now. It’s just like, “Oh man, I could relax. I got time to do this.” So, I think I’m having like airport withdrawal’s, believe it or not because you’re so used to traveling and hopping on planes and then catching another plane and hotels and all that stuff. Now that’s like, I don’t have to do that right now.

Toddstar: You’re trying to get as much word out there and to celebrate Ronnie. So on that note, what’s one of your favorite memories of working with Ronnie or just a personal moment you had with him?

Vinny: We’re all jokesters and stuff. And one time we played in South America and usually I’m the one that comes up with these crazy things to do and get people. But he came up with this one and it was with Black Sabbath when South America and the dressing room was kind of below the ground. Where if you look out the window, there’s a sidewalk on the street and it didn’t look that safe to me. Like somebody breaks into this window and steals all our luggage. We came from the airport. So all our luggage was there. I had a brand new laptop and some other computer gear and I told Ronnie, I said, “Man, look at this man, the windows right here, somebody can break in while we’re on stage and take all that crap. He goes, “Ah, yeah, that’s probably cool. Don’t worry about it.” So “Yeah, I got that new laptop, all my stuff’s on it and I wouldn’t want to lose that.” So he goes, “nah, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.” So then, a little bit of time later, we went on stage, come back off stage, go. And he made somebody tell me, “Vinny, somebody broke into the dressing room, took a bunch of stuff. I went, you’ve got to be kidding.” So I ran backstage, I looked and half the stuff was gone, including my laptop and my stuff, of course. And I went, “Oh shit, man. I knew it.” And I told Ronnie, now I’m all concerned. Then he starts laughing. I go, wait, wait a minute, wait a minute. This seems too weird. So I, start hunting around what they did and he did it too. They put all the stuff in this hidden bathroom, like down the hall, you know? So then he was cracking up. He loved it, that he got me because usually I get everybody else. So that’s just some funny moments. And then the great moments of playing with them on stage, just hearing that voice, just over all the music and we played loud, and here’s, his voice just killing it, inspiring everybody on stage. So pretty amazing, great times we had so many times together.

Toddstar: Again, you’ll be forever tied to them and not that that’s a bad thing.

Vinny: Yeah. So that’s why we miss him so much and 10 years already. It’s crazy.

Toddstar: It’s insane. Well, listen, I really appreciate you taking time out Vinny, I’m a big fan of you and your various projects through the years. So this has been an honor for me, but it’s also an honor to be able to kind of help you guys promote this, a beautiful tribute to Ronnie James Dio with the video dropping tomorrow morning.

Vinny: Thank you. I appreciate your support in helping us out here with promotion and all that stuff. And yeah, we want to make sure that everybody knows about it so we can get the word out and you can check the video out and it’ll be a day for Ronnie.

Toddstar: Good luck to you and hopefully we’ll see you out touring soon because I know Detroit misses a little bit of Vinny onstage behind a kit.

Vinny: Thank you. Thank you very much Todd, you take care and everybody be safe out there.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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