Vinny Appice of LAST IN LINE (Live at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., December 1, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

First of all I’d like to offer my condolences for the recent loss of Jimmy Bain.

Thank you. We’re all still so shocked at the news. He was an amazing guy and I really miss him.

You’ve had a busy few months with two albums due out very soon and another project in the pipeline. You’re clearly happiest when you have plenty on the go?

I love music and I love working. I’m certainly at my happiest behind the drums and I’m very excited with what I’m involved with at the moment.

How did the Resurrection Kings come about?

The Resurrection Kings started out as a project that Craig Goldie was involved in with Frontiers Records and he asked me if I wanted to play drums on it. He sent me the songs and I really loved them. Me and Craig are really good friends so I said yes. It started out as more of a project but now it’s more of a band. There’s a great bunch of songs on there and I think it came out great. It was fun to play with everyone and when I’ve got some time off I hope to be able to play some shows. We’ve turned from a studio project into more of a live thing now.

Were the songs already written when you joined?

Most of the songs were already done. They sent me the songs, I listened to what they had and I just put the drums down on it. With the Last in Line album we all wrote those songs together but with Resurrection Kings they were already done and I just needed to do my drum parts. They were two very different approaches to these two albums and that made things very interesting.

Did you have any input to the arrangements?

When they sent the songs I felt them in a certain way. I didn’t change too much on them but there were a couple of parts I played a little different like changing something from full time into half time but not that much really. As we did this over the internet I’d have to edit the changes and send them over so it was a little more involved than all working together in the studio. Anyway, the songs sounded great the way they were so I just played along. They then went ahead and put the guitars on after I laid my drums down and added my feel to the songs.

Sometimes these projects come in for some criticism but we should embrace technology that enables these musical creations that would be just impossible back in the ’70s and 80s.

You’re absolutely right. I have a studio in my house so I’m able to get so fine tuned into these songs that it can sound like we’re all playing together. I have total control over what the drums sound like and I love that. I know exactly what fits and I’m allowed to play around with it until I’m happy with the results. Years ago I liked playing a whole song but with this kind of situation when people are sending you songs it just makes it easier to put it all together. With Last In Line we rehearsed together, played together and recorded together as a band so we did both albums totally differently and I think they both turned out great.

Like I said earlier, you’ve played with Craig before in Dio. What about Sean McNabb and Chas West. Did you know these guys before you started on the record?

Chas and I go back a while. We had the Hollywood All Starz band back in the late ’90s and we had a band before that with Jimmy Bain called Three Legged Dog that featured Chas and Carlos Cavazo from Quiet Riot. Actually Jeff Pilson recorded that in California so we go back a long time. I haven’t played with Sean in any particular project but we’ve jammed together over the years. We all knew each other and liked each other and we’re all great players so it made it an easy and fun thing to do.

What was it about Chas that made him right for the band?

I didn’t choose him to sing on this record. When I originally got the call, the producer Alessandro Del Vecchio sang on the album. Some of the songs had no vocals when I had them. I didn’t know who was going to sing on the album while laying down my drum parts and they chose Chas. I like the way Chas sings, he’s a great singer and his voice works well with the music. He has an incredible range.

Overall there’s a great ’80s vibe to the album and a great mix of Rockers, mid-tempo commercial Rock and a ballad. Which track do you feel represents the overall feel of the album?

I like Livin’ Out Loud. It’s big, loud and moody sounding and has a cool riff. I think that represents a lot of the album. There’s a lot of good songs on the album and I like all of them but Livin’ Out Loud is one of my favourites.

If all goes well do you hope that Resurrection Kings will make more records together?

It’s always nice to think something won’t just be a one album project. This has worked so well and we enjoyed making the music together then I’d love to make another album. These days everyone is multi-tasking unless you’re in a big band that doesn’t need to do things that way. Schedules permitting we’ll get together sometime and start on a second record.

The new album by Last In Line has just been released. This one must be a really special one for you to make?

Dio was part of our roots for everybody in the band. Jimmy actually got Viv into the band so it has a very special place in all of our hearts especially Holy Diver. We had a lot of fun making that record. Things were tight and very simple and creative. It was a great time in all of our lives. We love that band but eventually Viv was out of the band and the whole thing changed. When we got back together again, when we played we just had magic together. Jimmy and I just locked in. He wasn’t a fantastically technical bass player but he was a Rock bass player with a great sound and he laid the foundation that enabled me to play the way that I play. Me and Jimmy locked in tightly and Viv played over it. We were just smiling so much as we played together again. .

Who first suggested that you, Vivian and Jimmy get together again?

Viv called me up and asked if I was up for a jam. We’ve kept in touch over the years. He said it’d be fun to play the old songs. I said I’d love to do that. He called Jimmy and we arranged to meet in a small studio. We went down and we started playing all the old songs from Holy Diver. It was a lot of fun and we all had a laugh. It was fun trying to remember our parts and some of the solos and we had a great time. Viv suggested jamming again a couple of weeks later.

Did you have a singer in place at that time or was it just the three of you at first?

We had a great time jamming in rehearsals. It was all very easy for us playing together again. We then had Andrew come down to sing with us and everything just fell into place. We did some gigs then got a record deal. We did about 10 gigs three years ago then Viv got busy with Def Leppard and we began working on the album between that. We were hoping to go out this year and do a lot of touring in support of the album. It’s been such a joy to play with Vivian, Jimmy and Andy. We get along so well, there’s no egos. It’s an amazing band.

Choosing the singer for the band must have been the hardest choice of all. How did you go about making that decision? Did you all chuck in a load of names and work your way through the list?

I knew Andy Freeman from a couple of things we’d done and I called him and asked if he wanted to come down and sing with us as I know that he knows a lot of the songs. He came down but only had an hour and he started singing and he blew everyone away. Viv had never met him before and he thought “Wow!” He’s a really nice guy too. After that we asked if he’d like to do some gigs so that was the next step. We did a couple of shows in California and one in Vegas, then we went over to Europe and played London at some point. We also did a show over in Japan. It all grew from there. We then worked on the album together and this year was to be the start of getting the album out and going out on tour.

I would say Andrew works so well as he’s not a carbon copy of Ronnie James Dio. That must have been an important consideration for you?

We didn’t want someone that sounded like Ronnie, we just wanted to get someone in that fitted in with us and who would work well together. Nobody is ever going to be able to sing like Ronnie, he’s the best in the world. Andrew came down and sang with us and just fitted right in. He’s a Ronnie fan obviously but sounds nothing like him. He put his heart and soul into this and in the studio he came up with such great hooks and melodies and made the songs come alive. He was amazing. He’s come of age and on this album he’s exploded.

When did you start writing new songs together?

We wrote that album just like Holy Diver. We went into a room together and collaborated and jammed and put it together from scratch. There were no songs written previously. It was so easy and fast. It was a joy working with those guys. We were all so happy making that record. That is one of the few bands where I looked forward to getting to rehearsals and one of the few bands where you’d look down at the set list while playing and you’d just want to play them all again.

How long did it take to write the material?

We only had about ten rehearsals when we wrote everything. Sometimes Andy wasn’t there as he lives in Vegas and we’re in Los Angeles. He would come out for a day or two and return to Vegas as he was doing the Rock Vault show there. Sometimes we’d record stuff and send it to him to listen to and write stuff and then he’d come in and we’d play it and record together. It was a really fast process for us. Everybody was so focussed and creative. Every idea was considered and tried. That’s the way we did it on Holy Diver.

Heavy Crown is already shaping up to being one of the most exciting releases of 2016. How do you feel about it?

We’re so happy to have made this record. A couple of videos have come out and the reaction has been amazing and the reviews we’ve been receiving have been well beyond our expectations. Everything’s been so positive.

Claude Schnell was originally with you on keyboards but has now left. Why did he move on so quickly?

I think it was decided that it wasn’t working out musically with Claude. I’m a good friend of Claude and he’s a great musician but there was a majority vote and things weren’t quite right and things like that happen so he wasn’t in the band anymore.

Have you got another keyboard player in mind?

When we started Holy Diver there were no keyboards; it was just guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Any keyboards that were added like on Rainbow In The Dark, Jimmy Bain wrote those parts with a drink and cigarette in hand he just added the riff over the top. For Last In Line we’re just going to keep it as a four piece with no keyboards, we’re a guitar orientated band.

It must have been heart breaking for you to lose your friend and bandmate just as you were about to go and play?

We were going to start off doing the Def Leppard Cruise and played one show with Jimmy before the boat left at the pre cruise party and luckily we did that otherwise we’d have all gone over there and not played. That would’ve been really sad. Jimmy was amazing. He’d travelled all the way to do the shows. He wasn’t feeling good at all. He had pneumonia and was very frail and very weak and most people would’ve said “You know, I don’t think I can make this gig” but Jimmy loved this band so much and was so looking forward to this whole year that he travelled all the way to Florida, we did sound checks, did the gig and went on the boat. We didn’t have to play for a couple of days and he could have rested. He was a trooper. I don’t think there’s anybody I know who would’ve done that. He played a great show before the cruise and he even sang. He played tight, he was awesome and he had a smile on his face. He was so sick at that time, it just blows my mind that he wanted to play so much. He’s such a trooper. He loved the band, the music and the fans.

Jimmy’s band Wild Horses with Brian Robertson was pretty good too?

Yeah, I just saw a video of them the other day Jimmy was singing lead and playing. Wow, man that was just awesome.

I’d heard that Steve Perry of Journey offered to join Wild Horses but they turned him down.

Hey, that’s really funny. I didn’t know that.

I’m sure Jimmy would have been so proud of this album and he’d want you to continue to play this music. Have you had any thoughts about how you will proceed with the Last in Line?

I know people want to hear those songs from Holy Diver and Last In Line and when people hear them they go nuts. On the show before the cruise we performed three new songs for the first time ever live and people were screaming and yelling just as loudly for those new songs as they were for the old classics. I know people want to hear those songs but I’m not sure yet exactly what we are going to do. We still have stuff to deal with. We’ll have to wait and see but the album is so good it’d be a real shame not to continue. Jimmy travelled all that way to play that gig, he died for us. I really hope that we can continue. I’m just so glad we got that chance to play one last gig together.

A couple of years ago I had a great chat with your brother Carmine and he told me about the fun he had with you on the Drum Wars shows that you were doing together. Are you still doing those?

We’re still doing those. We have a great show and it’s developed into a really great Rock show. Some people think it’s a drum clinic but it’s a show. We have a band and play classic songs from each of our histories and in between we do some drum duets. It’s just a badass show. It’s a high energy show and we beat the shit out of each other. It’s not just a band, it’s 2 powerful drummers on stage. Sometimes we play alone and sometimes together. We hope to bring it over to Europe in July.

I’ve heard that you are doing a project with Neil Fallon from Clutch called Dunsmuir. How’s this coming along?

I’m friends with Neil and he’s put this project together with Dave Bone and Brad Davis. A lot of the songs were written already and I came in and did my parts. It’s pretty old school Metal and sounds pretty good so we hope to release that really soon.

What about WAMI, the band including Doogie White and Marco Mendoza along with Iggy Gwadera who released Kill The King a couple of years back. Is this still on going? Could we see a second album or is everyone too busy with other work at the moment?

Again they contacted me to come in and play on the songs that they’d written and I listened to it and loved it. It turned out to be a really cool album. I loved Doogie’s voice and Iggy is an amazing player and he was only 16 years old at the time. I’ve been sent some songs that I’ve put some drums on for the follow up and I’m waiting for the management to pull it together and we’ll make another record. That kid is amazing and he should be out there for everyone to enjoy. I’ve also had an offer to go out to Russia with Doogie and Craig Goldy on guitar and Rudy Sarzo on bass so we’re working on that for April or May and maybe book in some European shows too. We’ll be going out playing Rock classics and just having some fun.

You must get asked a lot to be part of a project or make a guest appearance here and there?

I don’t really know what happened, I guess I got popular!! I seem to get a lot of different offers to play on things or play shows. I’m honoured to be asked and I actually enjoy working with different people. There’s quite a few people who are in multiple projects at the moment. Last In Line is my number one priority but I do enjoy being involved in other projects. I’m not in a big giant band, able to sit around doing nothing. I don’t want to do that, I want to play.

What’s the most unusual offer you’ve had?

This guy contacted me called Darren Crisp. He was in Arkansas and he contacted me and asked me if I’d play on some of his material. It was more of an operatic Rock thing. It was good. I thought wow, that’s weird. I checked him out and liked what he did. I ended up playing on it and Tony Franklin played on it too. It came out great. It’s not released yet but hopefully he’ll get it out later this year.

What other plans do you have for 2016?

There seems to be a lot of different things happening with different bands. We were supposed to be playing Last In Line shows in March but those have been cancelled. I just hope that we can play a lot of Last In Line shows later in the year in memory of Jimmy. We just want to keep out there playing and making great music.

The Resurrection Kings and Last In Line- Heavy Crown are available now from Frontiers Records.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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