KILL DEVIL HILL - Drummer Vinny Appice Says The Band Have 14/15 Songs Ready For Debut Album
April 5, 2011, 5 years ago
By Mitch Lafon
KILL DEVIL HILL is the new band featuring drummer Vinny Appice (HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH, DIO), bassist Rex Brown (DOWN, PANTERA), guitarist Mark Zavon (RATT, W.A.S.P., 40 CYCLE HUM) and singer Dewey Bragg. The band will play their first gig at The Key Club in Hollywood on April 29th and will release their debut album later this year. Vinny Appice sat down with BraveWords.com recently to discuss the new project.
BraveWords.com: Is Kill Devil Hill a Vinny Appice solo project or is this a band?
Vinny Appice: “This is truly a band. I’m not in to doing solo projects. I’m a team player and I’d much rather be in a band than in the spotlight. Obviously, when Rex wasn’t involved in this band and it was just Dewey, Mark and myself; my name was more known, but I didn’t have a problem calling it a band. It’s a real band and now that Rex is involved everybody is a quarter of this band.”
BraveWords.com: How did you get Rex involved and what does he bring to the band?
Appice: "We had Jimmy Bain (ex-Dio, RAINBOW) with us at first and it didn’t work out. So, we tried a number of different bass players. Then one day, I was doing a drum-off at Guitar Center and Dimebag’s girlfriend was there and she said that Rex might be interested. She gave me the number and I gave Rex a call. He expressed interest in it, but at the time he was in his own band, ARMS OF THE SUN. He wanted me to play with them, so we had two bands and we didn’t know what to do with them. But in time in worked itself out and his main focus became Kill Devil Hill. As far as what he brings besides having a name and the legendary bands he’s been in – he’s just got the same attitude as we do and his sound and playing just fits perfectly. I knew it would. He’s the man for this band. His bass sound fits in flawlessly. When he committed to this and we started working together everything just came together. He put his bass on some of the tracks and they became magic.”
BraveWords.com: Is this the band that will take you into the future or is this a one-off project?
Appice: "I like longevity; just look at my career with obviously Dio and Black Sabbath. I’m loyal. I stay with drum companies a long time. When I believe in stuff, I stay with it. This is my dream. I’ve done a lot of stuff in my career and played with bands that people dreamed of playing with, but they weren’t my band. I loved doing it. I love learning from it. I loved playing with Sabbath. I loved playing with Dio and I couldn’t have played with anybody better or more legendary, but I never had my own band. Well, I did have my own band, AXIS, back in the ‘70s. I was twenty years old and then I got the call from Sabbath, so I went with Sabbath, but I never experienced what it would be like to have any level of success on my own and not having to rely on what was built before I got there. This is something we all look forward to carrying on as a career and a band.”
BraveWords.com: Is there more pressure on you now that you’re in charge of the band and not simply the guy that shows up and plays drums?
Appice: "Obviously, there is more pressure because all I had to do with the other bands was just show up. I was told when to be there and what we were doing and that was that, but I’m the main guy in charge of managers, sending it out and trying to get this thing going.”
BraveWords.com: When are fans going to hear the music?
Appice: "We’ve put up a Facebook page and a website is being made. We’ll put up songs very soon, so that everybody can hear the band.”
BraveWords.com: What about the full album?
Appice: "We have about fourteen or fifteen songs already and they just keep getting better and better. I’ve noticed that with a lot of bands (Sabbath and Dio included) that there’s sometimes this window of writing where you can’t write anything crappy. It’s just coming out. There are also times when it’s like pulling teeth where that window of writing has moved on and it’s just not happening. But right now, it’s just really really happening where things are aligned and smooth. It’s really creative and we’re coming out with some really really good stuff.”
BraveWords.com: Who’s in charge of the songwriting in the band?
Appice: "Everybody is involved. Some of the songs were written to existing drum tracks I had before we put this together. I got a big drum sound out at my friend Jeff Pilson’s (FOREIGNER, ex-DOKKEN) house. Then I had shoulder surgery and I couldn’t play, so I listened to these tracks and I thought, ‘man, these things are cool. They sound great’. So, Jimmy Bain came down and added bass parts to them. Mark (Zavon) came down, so I could see how we worked together and we just hit it off. So, we started assembling songs just based on these drum parts. Mark also had some things written and we worked on those. Now, we’re to the point of just jamming, picking out things and putting them together. We might jam for fifty minutes and find a minute and a half of sparkle…”
BraveWords.com: Were these drums tracks intended for the next Heaven & Hell album?
Appice: "They were intended for download. I pulled my shoulder apart on the last Heaven & Hell tour because of the giant drum set I had. I was hitting drums behind me while I was facing forward. I was hitting them above me and I was smacking the crap out of them, so I destroyed my right shoulder. I came off the tour, had an MRI and I needed surgery. It was schedule for January, so in November I was scheduled to do twelve (three to four minute) drum tracks of different tempos and feels. Jeff Pilson called up, said he was in town and he could do it now, which was lucky because the hospital called and said they could get me into the surgery the next week. Had I not done it with Jeff then, I would not have been able to play and this (Kill Devil Hill) might not have happened. So, I did these drums tracks and they sounded huge. This big fucking drum sound. Jimmy came down then Mark came down and the first couple of songs were done. You can never tell that I didn’t play the song.”
BraveWords.com: Rex was obviously a member of Pantera. Of course, you were in Dio, Heaven & Hell, Sabbath… Is the album going to sound like Pantera Sabbath?
Appice: "It’s going to be a good heavy metal album… a heavy hard rock album. It’ll be more in the vein of Sabbath, ALICE IN CHAINS, some ZEP thrown in and Rex’s Pantera bad-ass bottom on that bass. Some of the songs were already written when Rex came into it, but he’s put his mark on them.”
BraveWords.com: Vocally, what can we expect from Dewey Bragg?
Appice: "When word got out that I was putting a band together and that I was looking for a singer, I got a ton of email. Some known people, but a lot of ‘I sound just like Ronnie’ guys. They thought I wanted to do something that sounded like Ronnie, but that wasn’t my plan. Ronnie is Ronnie and nobody can do what Ronnie did. Those days are what they were and I wanted to stay a little more modern which means to me somebody that doesn’t have so much vibrato like the ‘80s stuff. So, I was looking for a person that didn’t sound ‘80s’. Mark played me this song called Hangman with Dewey singing and I said ‘that’s the guy’. After I heard it, I knew that was the guy. I knew the song was great, we’re going to use the song (it’ll be on the first album), and Dewey’s the guy. It just fell in place.”
BraveWords.com: So, Dewey was a friend of Mark’s?
Appice: "Yeah and he played with Mark in various projects. As soon as I heard him, I knew that was the dude and that’s the way it should work in bands. This wasn’t a ‘paper band’ – you know it looks good on paper. This came together naturally and that makes a good band.”
BraveWords.com: Did you think, at all, about reaching out to a well-known singer?
Appice: "Nah, I didn’t want that.”
BraveWords.com: Will you tour this year?
Appice: "A concern was – what is this band going to sound like live. Right now, we’ve only been demoing and it’s coming out awesome, but can we pull this off live? Will it be as strong as Sabbath or Dio? I’m used to playing with powerful bands. So, this was a concern, but as soon as Rex got in – it just gelled. It kicks ass. Dewey belted it out. Mark is an unbelievable guitar player and so live I think it’ll be even stronger than the album is…”
BraveWords.com: And that’s the bottom line – you have to be able to deliver live.
Appice: "It’s definitely going to over-deliver. It’s going to kick ass. Rex’s bass sound is so fucking big and I like to play powerful. I met the bass player that fits like a glove. It’s a bad-ass sound.”
BraveWords.com: Last interview, you mentioned that Heaven & Hell might continue. Is there an update?
Appice: "My focus is completely on this band now. It’s March already and I haven’t heard about anything going on or any plans. I can’t say if it’s over or if they have anything in mind, but we haven’t done anything. Four or five months ago, they were talking about maybe getting together, but I haven’t heard anything. So, I just moved on and Kill Devil Hill is very interesting because it’s got a modern sound to it, but it’s old school. I fucking play the drums. You’re not going to hear cut and paste on the songs or mechanical machine like things. The songs are going to build from the first verse to the last verse. The drums will be moving around… there will be a whole bunch of old-school elements. I feel the fills…”
BraveWords.com: How are you going to put together the album in the studio? Are you going to record live off the floor or will it be all Pro-Tools magic?
Appice: "What I want to do is have the whole band there and play the songs from start to finish. I want the drum track to be that. We might do it with a click or we might not, but we’re definitely going to play the songs from start to finish. We might layer some guitars, but we’re going to eliminate cutting and pasting.”
Kill Devil Hill have posted new demo clips online. Check out 'War Machine' and 'Voodoo Doll' below: