POWER DRUMMER CARMINE APPICE has always seemed to find himself around great guitarists, whether it’s the mighty Jeff Beck in Beck, Bogert &Appice, or the shredderific John Sykes in Blue Murder. Appice’s Guitar Zeus project, however, has him pounding the skins alongside not one, but more than a dozen of the world’s greatest guitarists, and those tunes are available finally in America. He took time out of his time-keeping duties to talk to GP about it.
The Guitar Zeus project goes back to 1995, right?
It does. I got the idea when I was playing with Jeff Watson and Bob Daisley in Mother’s Army. When there’s time off with a band, the guitarist always gets to do a solo album and the drummer never gets anything [laughs]. That’s when I thought I should do a guitar album.
How did you get so many great players on it?
Ted Nugent is an old friend of mine, and he said he would do it. I thought I would get Ted first because he influenced a whole legion of guitar players. Guitarists also love Ty Tabor and Dug Pinnick from King’s X, so I asked them. I knew Brian May was going to do it, so I used his name as a drawing card also. Then it was easy for me to call Steve Morse and say, “Look, I already got Brian May doing it…” The other guys came together pretty easily after that.
Talk a bit about the guitarists and how the sessions went down.
I flew into Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Ted’s studio and we did the track. He was packing some sort of .38 pistol in his back pocket while he was playing—you can see it in the video. Then from Detroit I went to Houston. I went in the studio with Ty Tabor and Dug Pinnick. Dug sang on a track that Yngwie wanted to play on, so I flew to Florida and I spent a couple of days with Yngwie in the studio. Yngwie really surprised me, because I didn’t see him as a jamming guitar player. I thought he liked to work all the things out. But on this particular track, I said, “Just blow. Just burn, man. Go for it.” And he did. He had soul and blues and he was phenomenal. He blew me away. I never heard anybody play this way. Zakk Wylde came in, set up his stuff, and he blew the thing one time through and that was it. It was awesome. Neal Schon is on two tracks, “Safe” and “Out of Mind.” He plugged in from his pedalboard right into the machine. His sound was great. Neal is just full of fire. There were a few guys that I had to send the tape to: Steve Morse, Brian May, Paul Gilbert, and Leslie West. But pretty much everybody else I did in L.A. at different studios, which was awesome because I got to produce all these great players. I’m really proud of this record. People might have been expecting a typical “guitar” record, but when they hear it they said, “Wow—these are actually songs.”