Fourteen years after the fact, Carmine Appice is happy to give his all-star Guitar Zeus project a second life with five new songs — including “Mothers Space,” a collaboration with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal whose video is premiering exclusively below.
Re-released on Jan. 18, the new Guitar Zeus resurrects 28 tracks from the well-credentialed drummer’s two albums originally released during 1995 and 1997, for which he recruited an array of six-string royalty — Queen’s Brian May, Journey’s Neal Schon, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Dweezil Zappa, Yngwie Malmsteen, Leslie West, Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, Last in Line), Pat Travers, Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple), Ted Nugent and more — to play a collection of songs Appice composed. Appice subsequently released Guitar Zeus compilations for Japan and Korea during 1999 and 2002, respectively, and he previously compiled the tracks for 2009’s Conquering Heroes.
“This is what I always wanted to happen,” Appice — whose resume includes Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Beck Bogert & Appice, Blue Murder and King Kobra and a tenure with Rod Stewart’s band — tells Billboard. “These records never came out with any kind of support or any kind of notice. I think it’s some of the best songs I’ve written, some of the best drumming I’ve done and some of the best production I’ve done. I just wanted to give this thing a good chance — finally.”
And Appice is confident the new, remastered incarnation of Guitar Zeus — which includes a version of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” which the drummer co-wrote — is the best yet. “If you listen to this with headphones on, it’s like a Beatles album,” Appice says. “There’s all sorts of tidbits and ear candy, things on the left side, right side. We mixed it that way to make it fun, ’cause everybody is listening with ear buds these days. There’s a lot to hear. It’s real ear candy.”
Appice did take the reissue opportunity to create some new Guitar Zeus songs. “Mothers Space,” according to Appice, was a song he started during the original Guitar Zeus sessions but did not finish. “It had everything there except lead guitar,” Appice recalls. “So I asked Bumblefoot if he would play on it, and he said he would and did. Then he went on the road with Sons of Apollo and it needed more work, so my mixer, Stevie D. put some extra parts on it and that became ‘Mothers Space.'”
“It’s always a good musical time with Carmine,” Bumblefoot says. “And playing fretless guitar with Tony (Franklin) on fretless bass gets trippy. It’s great to vibe out and lock in with them on the solos.”
As Guitar Zeus renews its presence in the world, Appice has a number of other projects on his plate. He’s producing a young band called Kodiak and is also working on an unreleased Beck, Bogert & Appice live concert from the Rainbow in London. Cactus is recording a new album and is hatching plans for a 50th anniversary celebration during 2020 that may include a box set and a video release of the group’s performance at the Isle of Wight Festival.
And Appice says another volume of Guitar Zeus collaborations could be in the offing, too.
“Y’know what — if the budget’s there, I could do it,” he says. “Michael Schenker owes me a favor. I could get another track out of Bumblefoot. I could get guys like Jeff Watson and maybe a couple new guys — maybe that guy in Greta Van Fleet (Jake Kiszka). I’m friends with those guys, so who knows. It’d be a fun thing to do again. I’d love it.”