Interview with Vinnie Vincent / Nitro / Nelson drummer
FIBM: What's new, what have you been up to lately and what's in the future?
Bobby: Been working with a new band called Carnival of Souls (COS) lately and
doing a ton of writing. I have several new books I'm working on, including "Rock-Solid Fitness," which is all about
health, fitness and nutrition.
And there are several other things in the works, as well. There is always a lot to juggle, believe me
FIBM: Tell us a little bit about the history of COS and the process, of how
you got involved with the band.
Bobby: Carnival of Souls is a New York-based
band that's been around for several years. They had contacted me last fall about coming on
board. I heard their stuff and got a vibe about what they were into, musically and visually. Everyone
could really play, the music was very aggressive, with lots of room to stretch, and they put on a serious
live show. It had my name all over it.
FIBM: You grew up in Houston, Tx. Who were some of the musicians
you played with, during your early years. What were some of the bands you played in?
Bobby: I played all styles of music, with all kinds of
people and in every kind of venue. As for the rock stuff, I always seemed to hook up with
some of the more popular bands on the circuit...only after they peaked. I played in a band
called "Worlds" first, then "Black Star" for a minute, then a later version of a band called
"Diamond Romeo." Working with all of these bands gave me a lot of invaluable, on-the-road playing
experience...and a lot of great memories.
FIBM: We interviewed former
Sweet Savage vocalist,
Joey C Jones and former
Do you remember
Sweet Savage, or the early version of
Pantera? Any memories stand out?
Bobby: Of course. The mid-eighties were the absolute glory days of hard rock in a national club scene that was bursting at the seams
with decent bands, capacity crowds and incredible women. It was a special time. And yes, I saw
Pantera a time or
two back then and
Sweet Savage a number of times.
Sweet Savage was a great live act and, what they didn't have in
the virtuosity department, they more than made up for with attitude and authenticity.
And, of course, the most unbelievable women in town would be out there to see them. These were very decadent times.
FIBM: After Vinnie Vincent left
KISS, he formed the
Vinnie Vincent Invasion.
Describe to us the days leading up and the following days after being picked as their drummer.
Bobby: Well, let's see...actually, speaking of
Sweet Savage, I'll tell you something that very
few people know. It was
Joey C. Jones who gave me
Dana Strum's number. I had met Joey a few times and, after hearing that Vinnie
KISS and was putting a band together, and that
Dana Strum - who had just produced
Sweet Savage EP - was involved with
Vinnie, I tracked Joey down and asked for Strum's number. He was
super-cool...he also gave me a few other LA people's numbers, as well, just
in case. I remember my conversation with Joey to this day.
Anyway, I called Strum and we set up an audition. A few weeks later, I was behind my tubs in a rehearsal hall in sunny California,
throwing everything I had at these guys, including the kitchen sink. It was supposed to be a quick, screening audition where each
guy came in and played solo for Vinnie, Dana, and the original vocalist, Robert Fleischman. But I guess they were into what I was
doing, so I just kept going for it. After about
an hour of this, they pretty much hired me on the spot. A day or two later, I was shaking hands with the suits at
FIBM: Any memories stand out from the
Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Self-titled recording sessions?
Bobby: My God...where do I begin? Those sessions were absolutely brutal, to be honest. So much work went into them, on so many levels.
First of all, we took over this gutted theater underneath Baby-O studios and set the drums up on a huge wooden stage.
(And yes, as was widely reported back then, it was indeed the same stage where Van Halen shot their "Jump" video.) It sounded
beyond monstrous in there, so we had tons of mics strategically placed on the kit and around the theater. We even had a separate
feed of all of the close mics going upstairs to another tracking room and pumping through a huge PA, which was also miked up. When
you put all of those tracks together, it was a fucking earth-shattering drum sound, let me tell you.
However, the problems set in when we started tracking. Rhythm guitar and bass were cut first, to a drum machine, and then I was supposed
to play on top of it all, with the machine as a reference. But Vinnie became obsessed with how accurate - or maybe I should say,
machine-like - I could play, relative to the drum machine, so all of the ensuing hyper-analysis of each take really got crazy after
awhile. We ended up doing shit over and over again and totally losing the vibe. Ultimately, we wound up going back to square one
and redoing everything the way we had originally intended, with me just playing down the tracks. And, of course, the biggest irony
was that, after all we went through to get those epic drums sounds to tape, they somehow got buried in the mix! When I finally heard
the masters, I was like, "Where in the fuck did our drum sound go?" What an ordeal that whole thing was.
FIBM: Five nice things about Vinnie Vincent.
Bobby: 1. He could play his ass off.
2. He was a great songwriter.
3. His heart was generally in the right place.
4. He was a good father.
5. He could play his ass off.
FIBM: What are a few of your most memorable moments from your
days in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion?
Bobby: 1. Recording both of those records in a dark, vacated theater below
Baby-O Studios in Hollywood.
2. Opening for Alice Cooper to a full house at the Joe Louis arena in Alice's hometown of Detroit on Halloween night.
3. Smashing my drums during the "Boyz Are Gonna Rock" video as explosions - which had been orchestrated
by our Vietnam vet pyro guy - were going off around me.
FIBM: Who were some of the bands you toured with on the
Vinnie Vincent Invasion, All Systems Go tour? Any favorite memories?
Bobby: The Alice Cooper comeback tour was my sentimental favorite,
just because I was such a huge Alice fan growing up. So to be able to hang out on the side of the stage
and watch him do what he does from that vantage point was super cool for me. But, I would say the
tour was probably the better overall experience, just because it was a bigger tour, with a bigger stage, and a
bonecrushing drum monitor mix!
Vinnie Vincent Invasion
(L-R) Bobby Rock, Mark Slaughter, Vinnie Vincent & Dana Strum
FIBM: Any memories stand out from the
Vinnie Vincent Invasion, All Systems Go, recording
Bobby: Compared to the first record, this one was much smoother. We went back to the underground theater vibe but, as I recall, we took
more of a traditional approach and Dana and I played live to a scratch guitar. Overall, it was a lot more fun and relaxed. Plus,
Mark Slaughter and I were rooming together back then and we had a blast that summer. Great times, lots of laughs, cool, beautiful
women all over the place...it was an unforgettable slice of life.
Dana Strum really introduce
Randy Rhoads to
Bobby: From what I understand.
FIBM: How much about the industry did you learn from
If any, what were some of the gems that he shared with you, or name a few things he taught you?
Bobby: Let's see...where do I begin? He's one of the few rock and roll guys
in the business who has truly been smart with his money.
This means that you always live slightly below your means and don't blow your dough on stupid shit that is either going to
depreciate or contribute to a ridiculous monthly nut. Very, very few guys in the biz have subscribed to this,
besides Gene Simmons. Strum was one of them and he always encouraged us to do the same.
Dana always had an encyclopedic knowledge of the biz and unrivaled
skills as a negotiator. And even since those days, I think
Strum has really matured
a lot through the years and come into his own as a prolific business man and a seasoned artist and producer.
FIBM: 3 nice things about Dana Strum?
Bobby: Based especially on my recent experience with him on the Slaughter tour I did, I would say...
1. He is one of the most meticulous, hard-working, and on-the-level business people I've ever encountered.
2. He is an absolute professional as a performer and gives it 100% night after night, under any circumstances.
3. He is a riot to hang out with. We laughed our asses off all summer when I was out with those guys.
FIBM: Long ago, I was great friends with a guy named,
Charles England, who was
one of the premier sound engineers is Dallas, during the early 90's.
He always claimed he got his real start with you. What are your memories of him?
Charles England is one of the true characters of road crew infamy. We've had a long history through the years and, frankly,
it hasn't all been roses. But we've always been cool with each other and God knows that the shit we've seen on the road
together could fill a few books. As a tech, he was always the guy you went to when the clock had run out and the impossible
had to be done. Whether that meant hot-wiring a payphone in the middle of nowhere so we could check all of our "urgent"
e-mails, or risking
high-voltage electrocution by tapping directly into a venue's main power with our distro box, the
motherfucker would make it happen.
FIBM: How did you become involved in Nitro?
Michael Angelo and Jim Gillette called me up to do it. They said that they wanted to record the most over-the-top, in-your-face metal record ever, and that their A&R guy was in complete support of this. It sounded like fun, which it was.
(L-R) T.J. Racer, Jim Gillette, Michael Angelo, Bobby Rock
FIBM: What was it like playing with
Bobby: Super cool guy, very easy to work with. Playing-wise,
he's the real deal. His chops are otherworldly. In fact, I just played drums on his new solo record,
which is supposed to be out this year some time. The guy can really play. And he's a great rhythm player, as well.
FIBM: While you were recording your drum tracks for the Nitro OFR release,
did Jim Gillette's vocals ever make your head explode?
Bobby: There were no vocals
on drum day. I played along with scratch guitar and a click track.
FIBM: Tell us a little bit about the recording process for the Nitro release?
Bobby: It was pretty lean and mean. Michael, Jim and I spent about two days in preproduction, going
over parts and arrangements, just guitar and drums. There wasn't even a bass player around at that point.
Then, I believe all of the drum tracks were done in a day-and-a-half.
FIBM: I flipped out when I heard Jim's voice for the first time...it sounded like
King Diamond on acid. How does Jim's voice sound when he's just singing? Is it real powerful, or is it just falsetto?
Bobby: Truthfully, I never really heard him much out of the studio context.
FIBM: How many takes, on average, did you do per song on OFR?
Did they ever punch you in, or did you play those tracks from start to finish?
Bobby: My best recollection was that I would do up to two or three takes per song. Then once we had a take we liked, we would punch a
little something here or there, if necessary. Or, if I fucked up on an outro, they might punch me in at the end and let me ride it out.
But it was all pretty live...pretty raw. And I believe we did get a few complete, unpunched takes, as well.
FIBM: Did you ever tour, or play any shows with them?
FIBM: How did you end up joing Nelson? Did you
receive a full share in that band? Any publishing?
Bobby: I had met the brothers at the MTV awards when I was with
VVI and we always kind of kept in touch. Then later, once their deal with Geffen was locked in, they
asked me to join the band. I wouldn't say that I was a full share member, since it was their deal and
they wrote all the tunes. But we all had some kind of an equity stake in most facets of the organization.
(L-R) Brett Garsed, Gunnar Nelson, Paul Mirkovich,
Matthew Nelson, Bobby Rock & Joey Cathcart
FIBM: Any memories stand out from the Nelson recording sessions?
Bobby: Super smooth and lots of fun. David Thoener engineered and Mark Tanner produced. We did
it at Cherokee studios. Nelson was actually a great live band and we wanted to catch that vibe on tape. So even though we were just
looking to knock out keeper rhythm tracks on those first few days of recording, the band played live together at those sessions. Matthew
and I were actually next to each other in the drum room, and everyone else was in the control room. It was all pretty effortless. We
took our time and knocked out drums and bass in a few days, then everyone else did their overdubs. The mixes took a while, but what
else is new.
FIBM: What prevented you from joining
Slaughter? Did they offer it to you? Did you ever consider it?
Bobby: Yes, they offered and I considered it...strongly. But for me, it came
down to some personal things. Nothing against Mark or Dana, it was just important that I broke away from the VVI
universe and everything that had to do with it. It was a draining break-up. Plus, I had started writing my first
book and I wanted to do my first drum video and so forth, so I thought I needed to jump into my own headspace to do all of that.
At the same time - if I'm being brutally honest - I never thought that first Slaughter record would do what it did!
During the VVI days, Chrysalis was half-assed at best, when it came to marketing a hard rock act. But later on,
Mark and Dana would always tell me, "Bobby, you wouldn't believe it. Chrysalis treats us all so much different now.
They've really come to the table for us." And I was like, "Two million records and your videos are on MTV every five
minutes...yeah, I would say they've come to the table all right!"
FIBM: Blas, the drummer for Slaughter, was one of your drum students,
from the early days? How was he as a student?
Bobby: He was one of the best I ever had. Even at a young age, he had real chops...really
fast hands and great four-way independence.
The Slaughter guys used to tell me that he never liked doing drum solos, which I never understood. He's a bad-ass drummer.
FIBM: Did you recommend him for Slaughter?
Bobby: I never really had a chance to. Once he got word that I split, he submitted his promo
pack along with another Houston-area
guitarist that we all knew, before Mark and Dana were even looking at drummers. This put him on a short-list of guys who tried out.
FIBM: What's a typical work day? Take us through, A Day in the Life of Bobby Rock?
Bobby: That would be tough to do with any kind of reliable accuracy. Whenever
I'm off the road and in the LA groove, everyday is a work day! So I live a very creative, active and elastic lifestyle
where no two days are the same. Also, because I don't adhere to any set sleeping schedule, the lines are often blurred
as to when one day ends and another begins. But, within any 24-hour chunk of time, you can pretty much count on any of
the following happening at some point: I will hit the drums, work on one of several new books I'm writing, go to the gym, practice
martial arts or go cycling, meditate, take two showers, have two Ultimate Meal smoothies and eat at least 4 or 5 other times, try
to stay on top of business stuff, phone calls and e-mails, and try to sleep about 4 or 5 hours, but not necessarily in a row.
That's the overview...
FIBM: In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?
THE FAST 5
FIBM: What is your most disgusting habit?
Bobby: I think I'm doing okay in the disgusting habit department!
FIBM: What is the most femenine thing you do?
Bobby: My nails.
FIBM: If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?
Bobby: Now what?
FIBM: Greatest Rock band of all time?
Bobby: Deep Purple or Black Sabbath are probably my
all time faves but, all things considered, I think you would have to consider Zeppelin the greatest.
FIBM: What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?
Bobby: Practicing the drums, thinking..."Shit! I've got to go do this interview!"
Seriously, it's been fun. About the only time I really think about the past is when people ask me about it
Be sure to visit Bobby at his websites, www.bobbyrock.com,
the site has books and videos for sale, also Bobby gives advice from drumming to meditation to diet.