Recently Blasting-Zone conducted an exclusive interview with Heaven and Hell drummer, Vinny Appice. Few excerpts are follows:
Blasting-Zone.com: How did you originally become involved with BLACK SABBATH?
Vinny Appice: "That was in '79. BLACK SABBATH had just done the 'Heaven and Hell' album and were on tour with (original drummer) Bill Ward or drums. At the time, Bill had some issues and they had decided to get another drummer because they were canceling a lot of gigs and it just wasn't good business. They heard of me somehow…I don't know exactly how (laughs), but they knew me and knew I was (legendary VANILLA FUDGE/JEFF BECK GROUP drummer) Carmine's brother. The ironic thing is before that happened, a couple of months before, I had gotten a call from Sharon Osbourne. I don't know how she had heard about me, either. She had wanted me to join Ozzy's first band THE BLIZZARD OF OZZ with Randy Rhoads. I was really young…I think I was like eighteen or something, so I asked my brother because I had heard that Ozzy was kinda nuts, ya know? (laughs) So I asked Carmine, 'So is Ozzy crazy? Should I do this?' and he said, 'Oh, yeah…he's fuckin' crazy, man…,' so I backed off and turned it down (laughs). Then, a couple of months later, SABBATH calls. They were in L.A. so I went down and jammed with them, met Ronnie (James Dio) and we got along great, met Tony (Iommi) and Geezer (Butler) and they loved it, so they asked me to fill in for Bill because originally Bill was going to come back, ya know? Originally, the idea was that I would play and when Bill got his stuff together, he would come back. But Bill never came back…so when we finished the tour, they were like, 'We're gonna make another record…' and that was 'Mob Rules'."
Blasting-Zone.com: When Dio left the group, did you ever consider continuing as a member of BLACK SABBATH?
Vinny: "When the end was near and Ronnie was set to do his own thing and SABBATH was still going to continue, they actually asked me to continue with them, ya know? And it was a decision that I had to make…to either stay with Tony and Geezer or go with Ronnie. I made the decision to stay with Ronnie and it was a lot easier because we both lived in the same place and we had a lot of things in common, ya know? So I thought, 'Let's do it…it'll be a new band…' and that's how DIO was developed."
Blasting-Zone.com: In hindsight, how would you describe you time working with Dio as a solo artist? Was there a lot of pressure to replicate the commercial successes of "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules"?
Vinny: "That was great. The beginning of DIO was fantastic because (the attitude was), 'Anything goes,' ya know? We didn't have anything that we had to worry about repeating from before. After you've made a bunch of albums, you kinda gotta watch what you did on previous albums so you can do the same thing, ya know? The door was wide open and we were having a great time together. Everybody was just having a ball and that makes great music. With all of those ingredients, it was a fun time and the music just came out. It became a great album and we all had a fun time making it."
Blasting-Zone.com: What ultimately prompted you to leave DIO?
Vinny: "Well, I was there for quite a long time. There was a point around '89 or so where it was a whole other band, ya know? Everybody was gone… Jimmy [Bain] was gone, (future WHITESNAKE/DEF LEPPARD guitarist) Vivian (Campbell) was gone, Claude Schnell, the keyboard player, was gone…even (guitarist) Craig Goldy was gone, ya know? It was all new guys… Rowan Robertson on guitar, (future GREAT WHITE member) Teddy Cook on bass, a different keyboard player… They were all young guys and it just didn't feel like the same band, ya know? And it didn't sound like it, either. So I thought, 'You know what? I've been doing this for quite a long time. Maybe now is the time to do something else,' ya know? So I left and went on to play with Jimmy in a band called WORLD WAR III. I did that and did some projects with a few different people. Then I did something with (former DOKKEN and current FOREIGNER bassist) Jeff Pilson, a band called WAR AND PEACE. I did that for probably a couple of years and then SABBATH got back together with Ronnie and then I was back in that.'
Blasting-Zone.com: At this point, do you have any regrets in regards to your time with BLACK SABBATH?
Vinny: "It would have been nice to have kept the band together a little longer. The band always seems to get back together and do a little something for two or two and a half years and then everything fizzles out again, ya know? It would have been nice to have kept it going a little bit more. That's why we keep getting back together again…everyone keeps looking back and realizing that those songs deserve to be played again. It's a great band and that's why it's happening with round three here. I just wish they would have kept it together a little longer. We would have developed and made some great albums, ya know? I think we could have had our own little thing goin' on instead of everyone leaving and doing other things…goin' back and forth. I looked at a family tree once…I think it was after the 'Dehumanizer' era…and I was like, 'Wow…look at this family tree…they've gotta be finished by now,' but then they went on to do the reunion with Ozzy and I played on that…and now this. This has gotta be the biggest family tree of any rock band."
Blasting-Zone.com: How did it feel when BLACK SABBATH reunited for the "Dehumanizer" album? Were the relations between everyone immediately strained?
Vinny: "No, It felt pretty good. There was enough time between everything for it to feel new again. Everything was great at the beginning, but it all fell apart again at the end. It was kinda like history repeating itself, ya know? (laughs) So this is round three, but I think everyone's a lot more mature now and well know exactly what we're doing before we do it. (In the past), there were a lot of decisions made that not everybody agreed with, ya know? It's mainly between Ronnie, Geezer and Tony…the things that happened. I'm not on that level, ya know? Business-wise, the decisions that they make…if they decided to break up, they break up. It's not my decision."
Blasting-Zone.com: Considering a great deal of the Dio-era BLACK SABBATH material has never been played live, has it been difficulty preparing for the HEAVEN AND HELL tour?
Vinny: "Yeah, there's a lot of stuff that we never played live or did play live, but never continued with it. I've got a whole list of songs here. In fact, I was just listening to 'Heaven and Hell' the other night (laughs). There's a lot of songs on there that we've never played, ya know? So I don't really know them. I've heard them, but I don't know them that well. And there's a lot of them that we did play like 'Neon Knights', 'Children of the Sea', 'Heaven and Hell'…so we'll play most of those, too. From what I hear and can gather, it's going to be a good, long set. It'll be a little longer than what we usually play, ya know? It might be an hour and forty five minute set. Everybody's in the mood to play, so I think it'll be cool (laughs)."