I first heard of Drum Wars, the band/brotherly battle brainchild of iconic rock/metal drumming legends Carmine and Vinny Appice, a bit over two years ago when they were announced as part of the M3 Festival bill in 2012.
The concept sounded cool, but the band were given an extremely short daytime slot. It came across like their kits were rolled out on stage and they were told they could do a quick duo drum solo (yes, quite the oxymoron) while the stage was being set for the next band. I honestly think they were only given about 10 minutes to play, but it was M3, so sometimes the memories are a little hazy, but I think it was one of those years were the schedule was off and the Appice brothers suffered for it.
Well last night at The Chance in Poughkeepsie NY, the boys were coming to town to show what they could do with a headlining set and it was a blast!
Above I spoke of the concept which in my mind is two drumming legends who have been in/played with many of my favorite bands and artists getting a band together and playing some of those classic songs while showing off some serious stick work. We got all that. What we also got was almost something of a comedy show, especially with Carmine who I believe if he had not started drumming with bands such as Vanilla Fudge in the 60's would have been working the Catskills circuit looking to fill the resorts with laughs.
The show started with an offstage announcer bringing the two contenders to the stage with a humorous boxing match like introduction with each brother getting the crowd hyped up as they stepped behind their kits which were side by side front and center on stage. The only stage "decoration" on this night were two life sized cardboard cut outs of Carmine giving the finger - one including with a sign which read "No Baby Brothers Allowed". It literally set the stage for the kinda of back and forth banter and put downs the brothers would have throughout the battle on this night. Oh, it was on!
The band members were then announced and out came guitarist Ethan Brosh and bassist Jimmy Caputo who mainly played on a raised stage behind the drum kits (although Ethan would venture down front during some solos) and vocalist Jim Crean roaming free.
The band kicked right into "The Mob Rules" the title track of off Black Sabbath's album where Vinny Appice replaced Bill Ward and Ronnie James Dio replaced Ozzy. It was an ass kicker. The band sounded great and Crean did an excellent job on vocals throughout the night.
The band then played a song which was more or less instrumental but with shouts of "Drum Wars" through out that showcased the brothers pounding abilities. After this the rest of the band left the stage and the first part of the drumming battle began with some call and response and a bit of good natured ribbing thrown at each other.
Vinny stated there was one thing they wanted to clear up before they got far into the night. It's well known that while the brothers share the same last name of Appice, they pronounce it differently. Carmine says "Ah-Peace and Vinny goes with "Ap-Ah-See". Vinny said once and for all he would explain the difference and as he started to tell the story, Carmine just had to do a bit of a soundcheck on his drums for about 45 seconds. Of course just as he finished (drowning out Vinny's speech the whole time), Vinny was audible again and ended with "and that's why it's pronounced differently." The brothers are having fun with this tour (and it is obivous on stage that they are having a blast) and the set was filled with this type of humor.
At this point the band came back out and Vinny stated he would be taking over on drums for the next two songs because he is the brother who is in the bands that really matter - Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell and of course Dio. The band then played a pair of Dio classics with "Holy Diver" and "We Rock". During these tunes, Carmine came out in front of his kit, singing backup and rockin with the crowd.
Following the mini Dio set, both brothers got back behind their kits as the band once again left the stage and they had the audience sing along as they played the drum track to "The Flintstones" theme song. It's sad to say after the first four words of the song, the audience fell apart...It went something like "FLINTSTONES! MEET THE FLINTSTONES! mumble mumble mumble Family...In The town of Bedrock...mumble mumble mumble..." When this sad version was over, Carmine and Vinny then took that Flintstones groove to a heavy level and pounded out a cool track based on that theme.
At this point Vinny left the stage so only his older brother was remaining and Carmine did a great drum solo. When he was done he pointed out how sure, while his brother played with Dio era Black Sabbath, Carmine played with Ozzy on the "Bark at the Moon" tour and the band came back out rocked that classic tune.
Carmine then said how he also has played with Vanilla Fudge, Ted Nugent, Pink Floyd and many more. So while his brother seems to only play that one type of music, Carmine has a much more varied style. He then mentioned his time with Rod Stewart and the band went into a heavied up version of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" with Carmine singing lead for most of the song! I did just see Rod about a month ago do this very tune and while Carmine is the drum master, I have to give the vocals belt on this one to Rod.
The rest of the band once again left the stage at this point and there was another "battle" segment between the brothers which them led into Vinny's solo for the night.
After this the band came back out for the remainder of the set which started with Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and then the main set ended with another Dio cover, this time "Stand Up and Shout!"
The band left the stage for about a minute, but came back for one more - a killer version of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" which both Vinny and Carmine played on tour with Black Sabbath and Ozzy over through the years.
The show was a blast. Lots of songs you knew every word too, lots of laughs and the boys came out about 5 minutes after the last symbol crash to meet and greet everyone at the merchandise table.
As a side note, the night before this, by coincidence I had planned my monthly double feature movie night and it was a Heavy Metal Horror theme this time around and I showed "Black Roses" which features Carmine. I had him sign the DVD cover and the flyer I had made up for movie night. He got a big kick out of seeing someone had the flick and said it was a lot of fun. He was asking about the classic scene with Vincent ("Big Pussy" of the Sopranos fame) Pastore and if everyone dug the flick (we did) and that he had actually just heard from the actor who plays Damian in the movie. Just a great friendly guy as was Vinny who signed a couple of Dio albums I brought with me. Took a cool pic with them both and headed home.
Obviously if Drum Wars comes to your town I highly suggest going, it's a good time. Feel free to share, comment, email on this post and if you like it, please follow on twitter so you get all our posts. Also if you click on any of the photos, they will super size. Enjoy!