Drummer Vinny Appice Looks Back At Dio & Sabbath Years with Ronnie-The Metal Voice Retro Interview
Jimmy Kay and Alan Dixon of The Metal Voice spoke to former Dio and Black Sabbath Drummer Vinny Appice on March 4 2021.
The Metal Voice retro interview series celebrating Ronnie's 80th Birthday
Watch here interview here
When did you first join Black Sabbath
"Before the Sabbath thing (1980) I got a call from Sharon Osbourne saying she is putting a new band together for Ozzy and they wanted me to fly to England and hang out with Ozzy and see how we would get along and possibly be in the band. I thought I would ask my brother Carmine about Ozzy and I decided not to do it. So I actually turned that gig down and then about two months later I get a call from Sabbath saying they are in town looking for a drummer. Bill Ward left the tour and they heard about me and would you like to come down and meet Tony Iommi at the hotel in LA. So I said yeah, so next day I went to meet Tony and he had an album under his arm that I did with a band called Axis and there was a really good drum sound on it. Tony like the album and we got along great. Tony then invited me to rehearse the next day with Black Sabbath that is when I met Ronnie, Geezer Butler and Geoff Nicolls who was the keyboardist and the first song we ever played was Neon Knights cause I heard it on the radio a couple of weeks before. I thought wow that new singer for Sabbath sounds great cause at the time I didn't really follow Dio. The rehearsal went really well so they asked me to join the band until Bill comes back. That was the premise. We only had four days of rehearsal before the next show."
Did you get along with Ronnie James Dio right away
"Ronnie and I were both Italian even though he was 14-15 years older than me we got along like brothers. We were both from New York, we liked the same kind of food so we hit it off right away.
I never really been around British people at that time and that Birmingham accent was really heavy and sometimes they talked and I didn't know what they were saying. And I would say hey Ronnie what are they saying but I got used to it over time? "
What was the feeling going into the writing and recording of Mob Rules
"On the Heaven and Hell album tour we did the song Mob Rules for the movie 'Heavy Metal'. So we went to John Lennon's house (Ringo Owned it) to record and we put together the ideas and wrote the whole song there. We did the song in two days and it was mixed, finished and kicking ass. So the band was excited that something that came out so good with a new drummer. Everybody loved it. and it was easier when we finally got around to writing all of Mob Rules record. For the record we would just went in everyday and jammed nobody ever came in with songs written. The Mob Rules was just us sitting together in a room jamming. We would record the music play it back and go that sounds good let's work on that, that's the way the album was put together."
Tell us about working with late Martin Birch as a producer on the Mob Rules
"I just remember he was such a really nice guy, sweat heart, very low key. He did his thing in the background and got great sounds, great suggestions and was a great guy to work with and we were all on the same team, it was a good team. It sounded like Heaven and Hell album with a little bit different approach here and there."
Tell us about Ronnie's lyrics on Mob Rules
'The band was happy at that point and Ronnie was very happy and we all looked forward to going to rehearsals, when the band is happy the music comes out great. Ronnie's lyrics just fit the music." How did the band fall apart after Live Evil "Everything was going great then I don't know exactly what happened as far as why the band split up. At the end of tour there was an American limo and a British limo and stuff like that started happening, It didn't matter to me so much I would go in either limo. Obviously they had some business disagreements, I'm not sure. It's got to be a business thing cause it was not a musical thing. So when that tour ended Ronnie said I'm going to put a band together and I would like you to join me and Sabbath wanted me to stay so I had a choice. So I thought it would be exciting to do something with Ronnie, he's the man and we lived miles apart it was easy to get together. I had to have a talk with everybody and I decided to go with Ronnie. " Looking back at Dio Holy Diver album did you think Rainbow in the Dark would be a big hit at the time "We almost didn't do that song, that song was a jam. I recorded the beginning, as I was always in charge of recording, we hit that chord and that feel was there. I came in the next day and said this is cool. I know a couple of girls I played it for and they liked it and that is a good sign and Ronnie didn't want to do it thinking it was too poppy. But then we kept working on it. The keyboard part that was pretty prominent was us playing back the tape in the rehearsal room and bassist Jimmy Bain having a Jim Bean and Coke in one hand and a cigarette in his mouth, he just went over to the keyboard and played it and we went that is great man! The ash from his cigarette didn't even drop and then he walked away simple as that." Tell us about the sound effects on Holy Diver on the song Invisible "In the beginning of the song the sound effect , Ronnie wanted that invisible sound and how do you do that there were no computers back then? He said like air rushing out and our pot dealer who was in the studio I got a spare tire on my truck. So we get the tire in the studio, now there is a mic on the spare tire. I don't think anybody has ever recorded a spare tire before. So we recorded the tire and they added effects. So that is what that is." Where there any backward messages on Holy Diver "Ronnie and I were talking why don't we put something backwards on a song on the record. So if you listen to 'Shame on the night' the last track on 'Holy Diver' on the fade out you will here Ronnie backwards saying 'Crucify the Diver'/. So we put it in and you could hear it and we thought this will feed all of that Satanic frenzy, nobody even mentioned a word. (laughs)" When asked about an update on the Last in Line band "We are finishing up a new album, we went in the studio and recorded six songs, four are pretty much finished, we got about 6 or 8 more ideas to put those down too and we are probably going to play some gigs in the summer we will see how it goes."
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