Vinny Appice’s name is synonymous with heavy metal drumming, having played with Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven And Hell. Appice tells SHANE PINNEGAR that after having teamed up with Pantera & Down bassist Rex Brown to form Kill Devil Hill in 2011, they are back with album number two, Revolution Rise.
Revolution Rise is a masterclass in modern metal, all underpinned by Appice’s incomparable power and groove behind the drumkit and fronted by young vocalist Dewey Bragg, who eschews traditional metal vocals, singing in a grungier style.
“I didn’t want somebody that sounds sorta ’80s,” Appice explains, “lots of vibrato and stuff – I wanted kinda more Alice In Chains stuff, where the notes hang out a little longer and are drawn out, some strange harmonies and stuff, and as soon as I heard him I said ‘that’s the guy!’
“He came down and we really started hearing a sound. Then eventually I called Rex, he came down and it was all complete once he added that big baddass bass sound of his, it was like, monstrous. It came together well!”
Revolution Rise features an enormous sound that sometimes harkens back to the ’80s days of Sabbath and Dio, and Appice isn’t afraid to admit he occasionally caught himself thinking what his old bandmates would do with the material.
“I would say maybe more with Tony Iommi with the riffs,” he admits, “not so much Ronnie James Dio with the vocal lines, because Dewey is a different singer than Ronnie is. Dewey doesn’t use a lot of vibrato and things like that – but there are some little places where it reminisces of Ronnie, and I go ‘wow, that’s something that almost Ronnie would do!’
“And then Tony is the riff master, so it’s a real delight to go ‘what would Tony do?’ That’s a good way to figure out some things. But you know, we do what feels right in the song, and we try to keep it nice and tight and heavy.”
Despite the presence of Appice and Brown, the drummer is quick to refute talk that Kill Devil Hill is a ‘supergroup’.
“I don’t think really that this is a supergroup. A supergroup would be four or five guys who are all from amazing bands. Maybe if there was Robert Plant singing and Eddie Van Halen playing guitar – that would be a supergroup. This band is not really a supergroup, it’s just a great band that plays together well.”
Appice says guitarist Mark Zavon suggested the band name themselves after the actual place in North Carolina where the Wright Brothers first flew an aircraft.
“Mark is into aviation, he took flight lessons and stuff,” he elaborates, “and that [name] sounded really cool. And it kinda described the music with the words ‘kill’ and ‘devil’ in it, and it kinda describes the music as heavy and aggressive and dark – so we liked the way it sounded!”
After such an illustrious career, Kill Devil Hill means a lot to Appice for one very personal reason – finally, this is his band.
“It’s been a pretty good career and I’ve played with some major people,” Appice expounds. “The difference is, I played with people who were already established, you know. Even when I started, I played with Rick Derringer – I even played a little bit with John Lennon. Then Black Sabbath – they were pretty freakin’ known when I joined the band! So I just added to it – I wasn’t a major part of it.
“Dio was a major part’cause we started the band together, Ronnie and I – [but] Ronnie was a major rock star, you know, I wasn’t as big as him! So I’ve always had to work under the umbrella of ‘this is already a built-in success’. I’m grateful I did – I got to play with two amazing bands, you know, but this thing, it’s like building the house right from the beginning.
“If it becomes successful, then I can pat myself on the shoulder and go ‘well done!’ It’s been a dream of mine my whole career to have my own band.
“This will be the last dream of my career, you know.”