CARMINE APPICE: 'EDDIE VAN HALEN Seems To Be Out Of His Tree Right Now'

In a brand new interview conducted by Rock N Roll Universe, the surviving three members of the original lineup of legendary hard rock band CACTUS — drummer Carmine Appice, bassist Tim Bogert and guitarist Jim McCarty — discuss the recently released "Cactus V" album, the band's first new studio offering in 34 years. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Rock N Roll Universe: We were talking a little bit about this before, that CACTUS has been an influence on many rockers throughout the years. Ted Nugent, David Coverdale, Kid Rock, and also the members of VAN HALEN, have readily admitted the band's influence during interviews. Have you ever spoken with them about that, or had any of them come to you and tell you personally how much an influence the band has been?

Carmine Appice: Yeah. I know from the VAN HALEN influence, Alex Van Halen told me many times that CACTUS influenced them. I never realized how much until I listened to, well, first of all, they told me "Hot For Teacher" was based on "Parchman Farm". If you listen to "Eruption", it's the same thing as the beginning of our song "Let Me Swim". I never realized it, but if you listen to both, there's a chord, then there's a guitar thing, then it goes "Bim, Bam, Bowmmm," it changes the key, then there's more guitar. That's the same intro we had for "Let Me Swim". Exactly. Then there was a part on a song they did with Sammy Hagar that had the same exact solo as McCarty did in "Evil", the second part of the solo. Those were just three incidents that I know of. I've got a tape of VAN HALEN when they were young, before they made it, playing CACTUS songs in clubs. Playing BECK, BOGERT & APPICE also. KING'S X was influenced by CACTUS, they told me personally when I went on the bus when they opened up for BLUE MURDER. I heard them playing CACTUS on the bus, I couldn't believe it. That was the first time I heard something. I know Billy Sheehan was influenced by us as well. Coverdale told me he was influenced by us. I asked Kid Rock to sing on the CACTUS record, because I heard he was influenced by us. He said yeah, he'd love to. They all love McCarty. I know numerous times Nugent told me McCarty was his favorite guitarist. They love the work that he did in CACTUS.

Rock N Roll Universe: Have you seen or talked with Eddie Van Halen lately? He seems to be a pretty lost soul these days...

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Carmine Appice: I talked to him maybe a year ago. He seems to be out of his tree right now. (Laughs) He went over the deep end. I don't know what's going on with him. A friend of mine was really good friends with him, and also a really close friend of mine. He's called him over the past few months, and he told me he's just over the deep end. He bought a porn company, he's doing porno soundtracks for porn movies, he's with a very different bunch of people now. That tour with Sammy... I talked with Sammy when I was in Cabo a few months ago, and he said that Eddie was just impossible. Totally impossible to get along with. It's a shame, because he's such a great guitar player, and they're a cool band. I understand, alright, they don't want to work with David Lee Roth, because Dave's out there too, but Sammy Hagar was such a great frontman for them. I tried to get Dave on the 'Cactus V' record. He was in New York, he had the DJ job, talk show host. My girlfriend's on the same station, so I used to hear all the odds and ends of what's going on. Then every day, I'd get a call from this guy, Ronnie Leejack. Ronnie played on 'Restrictions'. He would constantly listen to my girl's station, listen to David Lee Roth. Every day, Dave would play "Evil". So, funnily enough, I ran into his assistant on the subway in New York. Being that my girlfriend is in New York, I'm there quite a lot, doing business, and hanging. I was on the way somewhere, and I ran into Dave's assistant. I said, "Hey dude, what's up? I hear Dave's been playing "Evil" every day." He said, "Yeah, he is." I said, "You know, ask him if he'd want to sing on "Evil". We've recut it, with the original band, and it would be killer if he'd want to sing on it. We could put it on the album, and it'd be fun." He called up, and said, "Well, Dave's interested. Who's playing guitar?" I said, "It's the original guitar player." He said, "He's very interested in doing it, let's see if we can set up a time." So I gave him some dates, then he got fired off the radio, it turned into a big fiasco. Next thing I know, he was leaving town, it was a mess. But he almost sang on that song. That would've been really cool, because finally, that would've sort of brought it full circle.

I was just watching that "Story Of Metal" on VH1 Classics, when they were talking about VAN HALEN making it widespread. Before them, metal used to be a man's audience, but VAN HALEN spread it out. But really, they start in the wrong place. They start in Birmingham, England, with BLACK SABBATH. Metal started before that. They just renamed it. BLACK SABBATH and CACTUS did shows together, we were the same kind of band. BLUE CHEER's been doing that kind of music since the '60s.

Rock N Roll Universe: Well, they have these so-called "experts" on there, and you're like, "Who the fuck are you and what makes you an expert?" I know I've never even heard of most of them...

Carmine Appice: Exactly. They'll have somebody like Jani Lane from fucking WARRANT. They ought to have QUIET RIOT's singer at least. Or they'll have that other guy, Scott Ian, from ANTHRAX who's always on everything. What gets me, is these guys were just fans in those days. They weren't even around. They're talking about when IRON MAIDEN came out, that THAT was it. IRON MAIDEN? I mean, c'mon dudes. (Laughs)

Rock N Roll Universe: That's their point of reference though, they don't know anything earlier because they weren't around before then, musically speaking..

Carmine Appice: Exactly. To me VH1 Classics has become... they might as well be called "We Are The '80s". (Laughs) Used to be you'd see THE WHO on there quite a bit, THE KINKS, and classic rock. Now, it seems like the '80s is the new classic rock that's taken over everywhere. It's not even 25 years old yet.

Rock N Roll Universe: There's a whole genre of bands that never get mentioned, or played, it seems. When any artists before that era do get mentioned, it's either THE DOORS, ZEPPELIN, HENDRIX etc. You never hear anything about CACTUS, GRAND FUNK, THE JEFF BECK GROUP, ALICE COOPER, or hundreds of bands from that era. They just gloss over those bands it seems...

Carmine Appice: Yeah, I mean, c'mon, GRAND FUNK sold out Shea Stadium quicker than THE BEATLES. Gimme a break. That was early, in '71. They're not even hardly mentioned, it's terrible. They're not in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. VANILLA FUDGE or CACTUS, we're not even on the Top 100 list for induction. Our chances of being in there are zero, it's all political bullshit. The same as getting on VH1 Classics. Just like you said, you've got these people who are "experts," you don't even know who the fuck they are. And some of these bands. I mean c'mon, SKID ROW? I don't know anybody who says they were influenced by SKID ROW. Who was influenced by them? You look at our history and influence. We influenced LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, VAN HALEN, KING'S X, and the line goes on. George Harrison carried our albums around. I don't think he carried SKID ROW's albums. (Laughs) But we can't get arrested on these shows, it's terrible.

Read the entire interview at www.rocknrolluniverse.com.

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