Formed from the ashes of Vanilla Fudge when that band wound down for the first time in early 1970, hard rockin' blues-boogie purveyors Cactus were, in the words of Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer, "The epitome of the American blues-rock band that kicked serious butt."
At times called, "The American Led Zeppelin," this talented quartet, Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert, Jim McCarty and Rusty Day released three albums, 'Cactus,' 'One Way...Or Another' and 'Restrictions' that have subsequently become classics of the genre. Cactus never made a huge impression in the charts at the time, the debut 'Cactus' album being the highest charter at #54 on Billboard, but their influence reached far beyond their sales figures.
It's been said that The Velvet Underground never sold that many albums, but every person who bought one started a band, thus in many critic's minds making them a bigger influence, but the bands they influenced sucked in this writer's opinion. However, the bands Cactus influenced, and continue to these days, is a list much more impressive. Van Halen, Ted Nugent, King's X, David Coverdale, Steve Morse, Billy Sheehan, Kid Rock, even present day riff-meisters such as The Muggs have all praised the band, citing them as a major influence and inspiration during interviews.
Take a listen to Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher," compare it to Cactus's frantic version of "Parchman Farm" and you'll see exactly where Eddie and Alex got the inspiration for the music for that Van Halen classic. The riff at the opening of "Eruption" is almost a direct lift from "Let Me Swim" from the band's self titled debut. During Van Halen's club days it wasn't uncommon for them to fill a generous portion of their sets with Cactus songs; even as recently as this year David Lee Roth would play "Evil" on his now defunct radio show on a daily basis. Hell, Hendrix was a fan of the original band, so say no more there!
Amazingly, over 34 years after the last Cactus album, like the mythical Phoenix, the band, with ex Savoy Brown singer Jimmy Kunes replacing the late Rusty Day, have risen once again to lay upon us 'Cactus V', an album (with assistance from The Lizards' Randy Pratt on smokin' blues harp) sounding like they picked up playing after perhaps a month's break rather than over three decades. Featuring 14 rocking originals in the same style as when first together, this is a glorious return to form for these legendary performers. One that must be ranked as one of the finest comeback efforts in the recent history of hard rock. Come with us as we explore not only the new album, but the history of the band Cactus and beyond with this exclusive, historic interview with the three surviving members of the original kings of sonic boogie, Appice, Bogert and McCarty...
Special thanks to Carol Kaye@Kayos and Carmine Appice for coordinating, and a big thanks to Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert and Jim McCarty for doing this interview.
Interview and text by Keith Langerman for Nightwatcher's House Of Rock
October 1, 2006
Nightwatcher's House Of Rock : Cactus has a new album, 'Cactus V,' out on Escapi Records. It's been 34 years since the last Cactus album. What prompted you to reform the band after over three decades since the last album?
Carmine Appice : Actually, we weren't really prompted to do it. It sort of did it itself almost. Over three years, from 2001-2004, whenever we went to New York with Vanilla Fudge, there's a guy named Randy Pratt, who actually played harmonica, had a studio in New York. He also was a big fan of Cactus and Vanilla Fudge. He also was wealthy by family. He put a lot of money into Vanilla Fudge, and one day he called Tim and I and said, "Look, you guys are coming to New York, would you mind playing on a demo for this singer I have by the name of Jimmy Kunes? I'm going to fly Jim McCarty in to do it too." We told him, "That sounds interesting, definitely yeah, no problem." So when we were in town, doing some Vanilla Fudge stuff, we went to his studio. We were staying close to there anyway. We went in and played on Jimmy Kunes' demo.
After we did that, Randy said, "You guys have an extra day or so, why don't you use the studio and play some Cactus stuff, or try some new things?" So we did. We screwed around a bit, we had Jimmy singing with us, just so we had a singer. We put down three or four new songs. I can't remember exactly how many. We thought, that was cool, that was fun. Other times when we went to New York, for the next couple of years, we'd take an extra couple of days, Jimmy would fly in, and we'd put down some more songs. So, between the period of 2001-2004, we had 14 songs down. Three of them had vocals, and the rest didn't. One of them was "Evil." Lately, I tried to get David Lee Roth to sing on "Evil" when he was on the radio in New York, but he got fired so abruptly it didn't work out. We were originally going to do an album with all different singers, like David Lee Roth, Kid Rock, and others to sing on the album. Sort of like Santana did. That didn't work out, so it kind of went on the back burner.
Then, in December 2005, the Sweden Rock Festival called us, and asked us if we wanted to reunite for the festival. After talking with Jim and Tim... they wanted the most original lineup they could get, and that was with Pete French at the time. So, Pete committed to doing it, but then he had to back out because his schedule with his own band was interfering. At that point we were concerned whether The Sweden Rock Festival was going to keep the gig or not. They obviously wanted it, so we kept the gig. So we talked about it, and the only one next in line would be Jimmy Kunes. There was Rusty Day, Pete French, then we had no other singers. The only other one who sang with us again was Jimmy Kunes. So we asked Jimmy. We knew he had a great voice, so we asked if he was interested. Then Escapi came up to me and said, "Look, you're playing Sweden, that's our home turf, we'd like to try and get an album out. Do you have anything?" We said, "Yeah, we have 14 songs." (Laughs) We played them a few with Jimmy singing on them, they loved it, and we signed a deal. We worked our butt off to get it out as close to the festival as possible. That's how it all came together. It wasn't really a plan. Situations just kept arising that did it.
NHOR : What's it like for you Jim being back in Cactus? It's been over 35 years since you were last in the band...
Jim McCarty : I did an interview with Guitar Player Magazine last week, and the guy asked me kind of the same thing, "What prompted you to get back together after all this time, and how does it feel?" I said, "Well, that's not exactly how it worked. This CD has been about 5 years in the making." The guy who plays harp on 5 of the tracks, Randy Pratt, is basically the man who's responsible for there being a CD. Randy's an extremely wealthy individual, and he lives in Long Island, He's a huge Cactus fan, as well as a bass player and harp player. He has been for a long time. Whenever Carmine and Tim were coming to New York with The Fudge, he would give me a call and say "Carmine and Tim are going to be here next month, I'll fly you in, why don't you come on in?" He's got a studio downstairs in his mansion. He said, "Just see what happens if you guys get back together after all this time". I'd tell him, "Randy look, I appreciate the offer, but I don't do that kind of shit anymore. I've got my blues band here, Mystery Train, and I haven't played that kind of music in a long, long time. I don't really see it gelling or working." This went on for 1 or 2 years, and he'd call and say that Tim and Carmine were going to be in town.
Finally he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. (Laughs) Also, he'd kind of gotten my curiosity up. About what would it be like if the 3 of us got back together? Obviously Rusty wouldn't be there, but would we just look at each other? I was kind of curious myself at this point. We went in, were downstairs in the studio, setting everything up, the mics and everything. We looked at each other and I just started the riff to "Muscle And Soul," which is the second song on the new CD. I just started playing that lick, Carmine and Tim fell in, and 30, 40 minutes later we had the track all fleshed out. All the tracks on the album were initially done without any lead vocals.
NHOR : One thing that impressed me was the fact that there were no concessions made to modern trends. You guys weren't trying to reinvent the wheel with this album...
Tim Bogert : Well, we're Cactus. To be anything else than that would not BE Cactus. I mean, all of us, as we entered our 30's, what have you... all musicians who had been successful in their 20's, as trends and mindsets changed, fashions changed... we all pandered, and it didn't work .You have to, I suppose, because you're desperate to keep your job. Not knowing that the job simply isn't there anymore. (Laughs)
NHOR : Most of the time that doesn't work out too well...
TB : No, they usually go to drugs and sleazy women who they give houses to. It's a terrible story. They do movies on it all the time. (Laughs)
NHOR : What's the main difference for you being in Cactus this time around versus being in the band when you were still together over 30 years ago, in the early 70's?
TB : In the early 70's, I was a young man. I was half crazed, having more fun than anybody should be allowed to at any given time. Now, I'm 62. I also got hurt really bad last year, so I tend to move even slower. But the hands still work, so I can still play. My mind still works. I still enjoy playing with the band very much, because it's the same rush. It's like making love. It feels as good at 20 as it does at 60. You do it different, but hey, it's okay. (Laughs)
NHOR : Speaking of that, Tim, I know that was a bad motorcycle accident you had last year. How are you feeling now?
TB : My knee's giving me a hard time today. Something usually gives me a hard time every day, but a couple of Excedrins, and either a nap or some fortitude will get me through the day one way or the other. They say another year or so. I'm working at it. I've got all the physical therapy machines at home, and I work at it every other day when I can.
NHOR : Seeing as there were so many years in between recordings for the band, how easy was it for the three of you, initially, to get back together? When you did, was there an immediate rekindling of the original magic of the band?
CA : Yeah, it was pretty easy. We just took the same approach that we did in the old days. We started jamming songs. McCarty would come up with a riff, Tim and I would add stuff to it, move it around, say, "How about this? We need a bridge here... something there." We basically put all the songs together like that. In the studio it took me and Jimmy 7 days to actually put the cream on the case with the lyrics and melodies. I worked as a producer, Jimmy obviously as a lyricist and on melodies, I contributed to some of the melodies, the lyric ideas and content. Then Jimmy finished them.
We worked 7 days, and I'll tell you what, we had 3 hard drive crashes. We lost material. We had to go in and redo 5 guitar parts, 6 vocal, 5 harmonica parts, background vocals, percussion. In between the time when Jimmy finished his vocals, having to redo the 6 vocals, his mom passed away. It was crazy, all this mad stuff going on. Every computer hard drive that we had crashed, it was unbelievable. Luckily our engineer backed up 8 songs. Otherwise, we would've had to do the whole album over.
NHOR : That would've been a real pain to say the least..
CA : Oh yeah, especially since we didn't have the time or the budget anymore.
NHOR : How difficult of a transition was it for you Jim to go back to the heavier style of Cactus after being away from it for so long?
JM : Well, like I said, the initial get together, we really didn't know what to expect. I just started in on that lick, it came out of nowhere. I hadn't really brought anything to the table there, in terms of, "Here's an idea for a song." I just started that lick, we started playing, and it was like a completely natural thing. There wasn't any real transition period happening. It was just as if we'd broke up maybe 2 or 3 months ago and got back together as opposed to 35 years. I think because we're older now there's more maturity there. There's a lot less of what broke the band up in the past. Everybody respects everybody's musicianship. Once we realized that it was fun, let's continue doing it, that's what we did.
The next time we got together... 9 or 10 months later, I brought 3 or 4 ideas to New York and we fleshed them out. But there really wasn't ever any thing like, "Wow, I've got to readjust my mindset here because it's not Mystery Train." There wasn't really any of that. I got the Scrambler, the gizmo that I used in the original Cactus. Ampeg started making them again this year, ironically enough, to get the Cactus sound. I just had a lot of fun plugging into the Marshall. Actually I used about 3 or 4 different amps and a bunch of different guitars.
NHOR : How do you feel that your performance is on the album? Are you pleased with the results?
JM : I'm very pleased. You can always hear stuff... me and Carmine were out in L.A. mixing it with Pat Regan, I was listening to it, and on the first 2 or 3 tracks the damn drums were too friggin' loud. I don't know how that happened, because it certainly didn't sound that way out there in L.A. That kind of stuff is going to happen sometimes. You can always hear stuff that, "Shit, if only, if only." (Laughs) But I'm very pleased with how it turned out. To me, it's some of the best stuff that I've ever put on record, playing-wise. It's a refreshing change of pace from what I do with Mystery Train. That's more of a blues based thing. When we do rock & roll, it's more of a Rolling Stones type vibe.
NHOR : Another thing that impressed me about the new album is the lack of any cover versions or remakes of the classic songs. Was that a conscious effort on the band's part to only record original material?
CA : Well, like I said, we had one version of "Evil." We didn't think... I mean, why go into the studio.. like, when we did that with Vanilla Fudge, on 'The Return,' there was a reason for that. We wanted an album that would have all our hits on it that we could sell at gigs. This time, we weren't really planning on doing gigs, we were just having some fun in the studio, coming up with some new ideas. We just kept on coming up with new ideas. We did put "Evil" down, just for fun, and like I said, we tried getting David Lee Roth on it. Maybe eventually we'll get someone like that to sing on it, then we'll release it as a bonus track or something. We didn't really think about doing some of the old songs, because we hadn't really done the old songs, they came out on Rhino already, on the double live CD and double studio CD that sold out. They're collectibles, classics, so why do those songs again.
NHOR : What was it like for you Tim to be back onstage with Carmine and Jim for the first time at the first Cactus reunion show at B.B. King's in June?
TB : Oh God, it was fun. It truly was fun. We were all just hoping we didn't make any horrendous mistakes, because we only had a few days to rehearse and put it all together. That was my only real thought, "Geez God, don't let me screw up." (Laughs) Other than that, I had a wonderful time. It was a great gig. We sold the place out, I was thrilled, it was very good.
NHOR : How was the audience response to the new material? Obviously fans knew all the old songs like "Evil," "Parchman Farm," "One Way...Or Another"...but how did they take to the new songs?
CA : It was surprising. They went over really well. At B.B. King's, when we finished "Muscle And Soul," the whole place went up in an uproar. Then we got people singing "Cactus Music" with us. It was a good response for it.
NHOR : How has the response to the album been so far? Have you been able to get any feedback from fans or critics on how the album is being received?
JM : One of the reviews that I got, the guy mentioned that most of these reunion bands from 30 years ago get together and just live off of their past. He said these guys sound like they picked up right where they left off 35 years ago.
NHOR : That would be my review Jim.....
JM : Is it really? That was you? Thank you very much. You hit the nail on the head. That's kind of how we looked at it. Thank you. Out of all the reviews that I've been sent there was only one guy who seemed to have a burr up his ass. His review basically was, "Great musicians, mediocre material." He seemed to have a burr up his ass. I guess he was a huge Tim Bogert fan, and he felt the bass was under mixed. Or maybe he didn't dig Jimmy. That's a crock of shit, really, because he claimed to be a fan of the original Cactus band, and if you were a fan of the original band, this material is as solid as anything the original band did. If you weren't a fan of the band, then that could be a legitimate statement, to say that the material's inferior.
Because Cactus were never The Beatles when it came to songwriting. But this guy claimed to be a fan of the original band, so I don't see how he could say this material is inferior to the stuff we did 35 years ago, because it's not. I actually like it better than a good portion of the old stuff because it's more controlled. The old band, which is why I left initially, had a tendency to go over the top. This material is much more controlled. It's also apparent by listening to the CD that we're having fun. That was the big thing. When we first got together for the first session, there was a big question mark. I initially went in, not so much to play, but that Randy made me an offer I couldn't refuse. But when we got done with that initial session, everybody'd had a good time. We were like, "Let's do this again!" You can hear that in the grooves of the new album, that these guys are having fun. That's a very important thing.
NHOR : Cactus originally formed after Vanilla Fudge finally wound down in early '70. According to the band log, around the same time, you started recording the first 'Cactus' album in February. By May, the band made their first concert appearance on a bill with Hendrix, The Steve Miller Band and The Grateful Dead at Temple Stadium in front of 40,000 people. That was even before the album had been released. That's a lot of people to be appearing in front of for the first time. What do you remember about that first gig?
CA : We actually found... somebody has a recording of that show. We listened to it, and upon listening to it, I can honestly say that we had a lot of energy. Everything was fast, it was ridiculous. It was very animalistic, very high energy, almost to the point of rushing. (Laughs) It was pretty wild.
It was the first show, and for a first show it went very well. I remember we were back stage talking to Hendrix, before we went on. McCarty knew Hendrix very well, too, because of The Buddy Miles Express. Hendrix actually produced the second album, that McCarty was on. So he knew Hendrix very well, and we knew him very well. We knew Hendrix before he was 'Hendrix.' When he was in New York playing clubs as Jimmy James. We went back a long way. So it was a very relaxed, easy going kind of vibe back stage. Even though Jimi was the headliner, it was a very positive, "Hey, go out, kick ass man, good luck guys!" That kind of vibe. There was camaraderie, but also everybody went on stage to blow the other one off the stage. We were friends with him, but when we went on tour with The Fudge with him, we were determined to blow him off stage. That's how you got attention. And we did blow him off. Out of 14 shows, maybe 10 shows. And he knew it, because in one of the journals he wrote that he knew that we were blowing him off stage, and he tried to get us off the tour, even though we were friends. But he couldn't because our manager was the promoter of the tour. So... they couldn't do that.
JM : I think I had equipment problems. We were continually blowing amps up. We were pushing the envelope. There was this guy Eddie, who would hot rod the amps for me. They were 100 watt Marshalls and he had them beefed up to where they were running about 130 watts. It was ridiculous, it's no wonder I have no hearing left. (Laughs) So the amps were being overdriven, there'd be a guy behind the amps changing tubes while we were playing. Totally ridiculous.
TB : I remember the adrenaline was pumping so hard that when we did "Parchman Farm," my right hand cramped up. So I was literally pounding quarter notes with the back of my hand. (Laughs) I've heard that tape. Randy Pratt in Long Island has a copy of it. All I could listen to was about 24 bars of it before I went, "Oh dear, turn that off." (Laughs) It was just so energetic. Groove? There wasn't a groove, there was a rocket going off. Which, when we finally mellowed that down, we became quite a hellacious band. We had more energy that day than we knew yet how to control. Because Led Zeppelin was our opening act during their first two tours with The Fudge, I watched the same thing happen with them. They had so much energy they couldn't control on the first tour. On the second tour, they came back and were scary. So it was that same premise. I'm very grateful to have had that kind of energy, but we tripped all over ourselves that day.
NHOR : The original concept of Cactus of course was for Carmine and Tim to hook up with Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart and form a band...
JM : Yeah, it was supposed to be Jeff, but then he got into a really serious car wreck. I remember when we were in London with Cactus, he came by the hotel to say hello. This was after he'd recuperated. He picked up my Les Paul, in the hotel room, not plugged in, there was no amplifier, and he proceeded to sit down, started noodling, then he ended up playing guitar for about 20 minutes straight, just sitting on the bed playing. I just sat there, not saying anything. He got done playing after about 20 minutes, put the guitar down, and I said, "Well, it looks like you're healed." (Laughs) The shit he was playing was just unbelievable.
NHOR : How did it go down where you ended up joining Cactus in the first place?
JM : They had hooked up with Rusty, I'm not exactly sure how. Rusty was in the mix, he knew me, and even before they had left The Fudge and started putting Cactus together, we had bumped into each other. I think I went into Atlantic studios to do something that Tim and Carmine had going. I kind of forgot all about it, then later on down the road, I was living in San Francisco at the time, and they had Rusty with them. Rusty knew me because we were both from Detroit. It seemed logical to them that they should get in touch with me I guess. They were looking for a guitar player, they contacted me in San Francisco, and asked me, "Would you be interested in coming to New York and seeing what we can do here?" I said yeah, so we gave that a go. I approached it as an experiment, and there were times where it'd be really cool, then there were times when it wasn't very cool.
NHOR : You began the sessions for the first 'Cactus' album in February of 1970, with the album being released in July of that year. That album has since become somewhat of a "lost" heavy rock classic. One that's been an inspiration to a lot of bands subsequently, such as Van Halen, King's X, Billy Sheehan, to name a few. What do you recall about the recording of that album, and how do you feel that the album holds up today?
TB : It was a lot of fun... long hours, it was hard work. We had a lot of ideas that were flowing constantly all the time. We were very high. (Laughs) It was a very nice experience. I think the album holds up darn well, which I'm very pleased about. It still rocks hard, the playing's good and Rusty's performance was always Rusty's performance. If you like it, it's phenomenal.
NHOR : I think it's a fantastic album. I was just listening to it again this morning, and in my opinion it holds up very well. The production, and one thing I wanted to ask you is concerning that -- if you look at it, with the technology of today versus then, and the time that it took for you to put it out, which wasn't long at all -- bands these days spend years on albums, with all the advanced studio technology, and they don't sound as good as the albums recorded in that time period. Why do you think that is?
TB : You can micro-manage something to death. If it takes you a year and a half to do 6 weeks work, there's probably a neurosis going on there that's really self destructive, I would think. You can over analyze it I'm sure, then spend an awful lot of time and money losing the spark that initially made it good. There's a lot to be said for spontaneity.
NHOR : You look at the Cactus albums, and other albums of that time period, such as Zeppelin's albums -- those were recorded in relatively short periods of time, even days in some cases. You didn't have the technology in the studio that people these days have at home, studio-wise...
TB : Then we had to have heart and a whole lot of talent. Now, you just have to have a whole lot of equipment. That's okay, things change, times change, I think that's part of what makes the time that Cactus was around a golden moment. It's part of what makes it a golden moment. It's also if you say it is often enough it becomes one. You know, "Yeah I must be a legend they keep calling me that." (Laughs) That and $2.50 will get me a Starbucks.
NHOR : Which album or songs would you say are the most representative of the Cactus sound?
TB : "Parchman Farm" from 'Cactus' would be our signature tune. That's kind of the essence of what we did. We would take a feel, and literally just beat it to death as fast as humanly possible. When you're in your mid 20's, you can play pretty gosh darn fast. When you're in your 20's, you can do everything pretty gosh darn fast. So we still do "Parchman Farm," but Jimmy's puffing by the end of it. (Laughs) Carmine and I have played that boogie groove our whole life, so it's funny, even as we got older it's still a natural process. McCarty stopped playing that kind of feel 30 years ago, so he's huffing and puffing. (Laughs) It's a lot of fun. He's doing really well, too, playing really well.
NHOR : On Cactus's second album 'One Way... Or Another,' you worked with producer Eddie Kramer, who is most well known as pretty much being Hendrix's right hand man, so to speak, in the studio. Eddie's been quoted as saying that, "Cactus were the epitome of the American blues-rock band that kicked serious butt." How was it working with him, and what do you feel that he brought out in the band?.
CA : We worked with Eddie with Vanilla Fudge too, so we knew him from The Record Plant days. So when Jimi opened Electric Ladyland studio in New York, it was a cool, hip place to go record. Naturally, we were a cool, hip band, and we wanted to record there. We recorded there, and we wanted to use Eddie because we'd used him before, not because he produced Hendrix, but because we'd worked with him before with Vanilla Fudge and it was great. He was a great engineer, a nice guy to work with. That's why we wanted to work with him. We ended up doing it, and it was a great experience because Eddie got good sounds. That album came out sounding really good, sound wise, it all worked really well. These new records that will be coming out, 'Live At Gilligan's,' were recorded by him as well. As a matter of fact, Rusty Day says, "Say hello to a friend of ours. Recording up there is a sound engineer, his name is Eddie Kramer." (Laughs) Then again, like now, he's such an icon and a legend, but back then he wasn't yet. He was just like a studio guy. Like Rusty says, when I'm doing a drum solo, "That was our drummer Carmine." (Laughs) Even me, I've become such a different kind of personality after being in the business for so long. Everybody says, "Oh, you're a legend, you're this, you're that." And there's Rusty going, "Here's our drummer Carmine," just like, "Here's our drummer Joe Schmoe." So everything was so different back then, because nobody were legends yet. They were just bands coming out.
NHOR : 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?
CA : 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 3 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 BBA 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.
NHOR : Have you seen or talked with Eddie Van Halen lately? He seems to be a pretty lost soul these days...
CA : 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, all right, 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 everyday, 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.
NHOR : Even with The Fudge, you guys were definitely proto metal..
CA : The Fudge were considered heavy. But the words "heavy metal" started coming out later, in the mid '70s. Anybody that was loud and had Marshall amps was heavy metal at that time. So when Van Halen came out, they were sort of hard rock. It was probably in the late 70s, when the term "heavy metal" came out widespread.
NHOR : Bands like Vanilla Fudge and Cactus were certainly innovators, though, in that style...
CA : You'd never know it by these shows on VH1 Classics, though. Fudge or Cactus never get mentioned on any of those things. It really pisses you off after awhile. You think, is it all in our mind? Then, when we talk to people like yourself, all around the country, music people, and they all know where it comes from. Why don't they get it on these shows that are supposed to be telling everybody about the history of rock? It's unbelievable.
NHOR : 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...
CA : 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)
NHOR : That's their point of reference though, they don't know anything earlier because they weren't around before then, musically speaking..
CA : Exactly. To me VH1 Classics has become... they might as well be called "We Are The 80's." (Laughs) Used to be you'd see The Who on there quite a bit, The Kinks, and classic rock. Now, it seems like the 80's is the new classic rock that's taken over everywhere. It's not even 25 years old yet.
NHOR : 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 100's of bands from that era. They just gloss over those bands it seems...
CA : 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 & 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.
NHOR : Now that you mentioned VH1 Classics... you guys did, with The Fudge, the VH1 Classics 'Decades Live' Doors tribute last year, with Vanilla Fudge, Pat Travers, even at the time, The Doors Of The 21st Century. What's happened with that? Is that still in litigation?
CA : They won't let it come out. The Doors' drummer, John Densmore, is still holding it up. He won't sign off on the songs. The reason why that tour stopped was due to him suing The Doors. They were called The Doors Of The 21st Century, and he didn't like it. He took them to court, won some sort of injunction to where they couldn't use the name, so they had to change the idea of that show. Now he won't sign off on the songs, so the show's at a stand still. You know what's funny about that? They just split the songwriting to be nice guys. Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger wrote those songs. Now the guy who had nothing to do with the writing of the songs is holding the songwriting up on these things. You know that Cadillac commercial, that had Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll" on it? That was supposed to be "Break On Through (To The Other Side)" by The Doors. They would've been paid a sum of 15 million dollars, then with renewal, another 7 million dollars. Densmore wouldn't sign off on that, either. He said it was a sell out. That was in 2005... was he still living in the 60's? It's a sell out? It's 40 years later, and somebody wants to pay you 15 million dollars for a song? C'mon dude, that's crazy. (Laughs) So they didn't get it, they gave it to Zeppelin. So Zeppelin sold out, and they're a band who hardly ever appeared on TV. They never sold out on anything, they did it, and it just made them bigger. So Densmore's holding everything up.
NHOR : Why do you think that Cactus never achieved huge popularity, sales wise?
JM : We were never a commercial band. We never tried to be. Maybe we should've put in a little more effort into that. (Laughs) Led Zeppelin is probably the greatest example of an ass kickin' hard rock band who were still able to maintain some sort of commercial thing. They were an unbelievable band. But Cactus were never commercial at all. We knew that, and it never really was a concern. We were just basically playing what we wanted to play. I always viewed it as 2 guys from Detroit who kind of had the blues roots connection, then Tim and Carmine, the New York guys, they had this very unique rhythmic thing happening. It was like a marriage of those two elements. Initially, to me, it was an experiment, and ultimately it didn't work. Each album... you had "Parchman Farm" on the first, "Alaska" and "Evil" from 'Restrictions'..."One Way...Or Another" on the second..."One Way...Or Another" is probably the best tune, original composition-wise, that the band ever did. That one still holds up pretty good today.
NHOR : With Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, Tim, you developed a reputation during the late 60's, early 70's for routinely blowing bands that you supported off the stage on a regular basis, including The Who, Hendrix, pretty much any other band you appeared with during that time period. Do you attribute Cactus not achieving the status that you should've at that time at all due to bands, after awhile, not wanting to take you out on tour with them?
TB : Well there was that. There was also the fact that you either loved Rusty Day's voice or you hated it, there was no in between. It wasn't a radio sound at the time, which is why we didn't get a lot of AM or early FM play with it like The Fudge did. That put us on an opening band status to sell records. We sold a fair amount of records, but we had to tour to do it. Of course... and it's not that we were better than these artists at all, I mean, better than Hendrix? Please. But what we would do, we were so energetic that we would come out and waste a crowd. We would just energetically waste them. So when the main act would come on you've got a spent person, and the artist isn't getting the reaction they're used to, because the audience is kind of like, "Wow, I'm tired, man." They've already peaked. So get these people the hell out of here, they're saying. That's kind of what it was. We were all our own worst enemy I suppose. (Laughs) The entertainment BUSINESS is a very tricky roulette game. There's an awful lot of luck, an awful amount of chance, and an awful lot of politics. So there you go. (Laughs)
NHOR : Back then, the band regularly played in front of large crowds, doing a lot of the big festivals, including the band's U.K. debut at the '70 Isle Of Wight Festival, which depending on what account you read, was in front of 400,000, 500,000 or even up to a million people during that weekend. What do you remember about that show?
TB : That was a big crowd. It rained like holy hell the evening we played along with Jimi Hendrix. I remember being on stage with the rain driving at my feet, being very concerned about 240 volts. They didn't have the grounding they have these days, it was primitive by comparison. I've been shot across a room more than once. I run wireless now, you can't get hit. (Laughs) We didn't have that back then either.
JM : I thought that was kind of cool. I think we went on fairly late. The one recollection of The Isle Of Wight I have was when we were leaving the place. Procul Harum were playing, and they had Robin Trower in the band, a wonderful guitar player. We were leaving the area, it was night time, the moon was out, and you could hear Robin Trower's guitar like soaring over the clouds. It was a very cool thing. I distinctly remember that. Not much else. (Laughs)
NHOR : That was somewhat of a strange festival, with the fans tearing down the fences and making it a free festival...
TB : They seemed to do a lot of that in Europe at the time. As a matter of fact, they're still doing it at football games, aren't they? Say no more. (Laughs)
NHOR : They've released several of the band performances from the festival such as The Who, Hendrix, Jethro Tull, etc., either on CD, DVD or both. Is there any chance of the Cactus set being released?
TB : I don't know who actually owns the rights to that. I know that Rhino bought all of the Atlantic stuff, which is why so much of it has been released. They're actually going to be releasing some more, from the Mar Y Sol Festival, and at Gilligan's, where we actually had a rhythm guitar player with us. I don't know if they own that. I know Randy Pratt has bought a video of it. It was a 5 or 7 camera shoot that night, and all the bands were filmed. He's bought the raw footage of it. What he's going to do with it, I don't know. I'd like to see it myself, I haven't seen it since we did it. That'd be fun, it was a great experience. We got to hang with some really nice people, caught a big time buzz, it was just a wonderful day.
NHOR : How was it for you playing to that many people?
TB : It's very similar to, if I can make an analogy, a big crowd being a very, very powerful car. A small club is a rather not powerful car, say a 1970 Volkswagen type of thing. You put your foot down in the Volkswagen, and it goes fast. But when you get into a Corvette, stomp your foot down, my God it goes. That's what a crowd does to a band. It's kind of like asking any football player who's ever played the Super Bowl what's that like, and they'll say "Larger." Just bigger, everything gets larger, it's really cool. You definitely feel the energy from the crowd. If they start moving with you, and you can motivate them, the circle of energy between you and them is uplifting to a point where you can play things that you can't play. It's quite an amazing phenomenon. It's a wonderful thing to have happen. It's like when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. It's one of those experiences. You can do no wrong, you cannot miss the basket, let's go for it. It's tremendous. Let's do it tomorrow, shall we? (Laughs)
NHOR : Speaking of large festivals, in June, with Cactus, you played The Sweden Rock Festival...
TB : Oh, that was fun.
NHOR : I've heard the sound wasn't that great at times due to technical malfunctions?
TB : Well, the technical malfunction was pretty much the fact that my bass amp kept going on and off throughout the majority of the show. I would be playing in the monitors, then they would go out. McCarty would lose me, then he'd lose his place and go off to step B of the process, while we're in step A. So everybody got a little frustrated because the equipment is making our job that much more difficult. At one point, I guess for the first time in about 30 years, I kicked me an amp off stage. It does come back quickly, doesn't it? (Laughs) I got really frustrated with it. Other than that, though, we had a great time.The band got a chance to stretch its legs a little bit, because when you're in a rehearsal studio you don't know what works and what doesn't work yet. With Jimmy Kunes, our new singer, it's really a new band. Musically we know what works, but we don't yet know what works in that aspect. It's like putting a new quarterback on a team. The old plays aren't going to work like they used to, nor should they. We have to figure out what works now under these circumstances. We were still learning. It was a fast learning curve. But it went fairly well. The audience seemed to like it, and that's really why we're there. If we give them a good time, then we've earned our paycheck.
JM : I was told it was a ROCK festival. Well, it wasn't, it's a METAL festival is what it is. That's what they apparently like over there. That shit doesn't do a damn thing for me. That's about a half a step above rap as far as I'm concerned. So being in that environment wasn't conductive to Jim having a good time. (Laughs) But everybody treated us with a lot of respect. Apparently a lot of these metal bands remember Cactus. We went up there to do our thing, and halfway through the third song in the set, I think it was "One Way...Or Another," Tim's bass amp stopped working. So that completely fucked that song up. We got done, he plugged into the spare amp, then a song later that went out. So he had to play the entire rest of the set through the monitors running direct. It completely screwed the whole set up. For me, that was a disaster area. Everybody else was saying, "Oh, that wasn't that bad." Trust me, it wasn't that good as far as I was concerned. But what are you going to do if your equipment goes? You can't really blame it on the band. Tim still went up there and did his thing, I give him credit. But without an amplifier, Christ let's rock, right? (Laughs) The poor guy was doing his bass solo, giving everything he's got, but it's like trying to rock on an acoustic guitar. (Laughs) There's no amp, you're running direct through the PA for Christ's sake. It completely screwed up the dynamic of the show. You have to realize it was only our second gig anyway. There's going to be rough spots to start with because we're still learning the whole program. It's unfortunate, but it wasn't what we would've liked. Hopefully, when we go back there in October, the equipment will work.
CA : Sweden Rock was good, but we played somewhat in the daylight, late afternoon, we went on around 6:30-7:00 to 7:45 PM. When we came off the stage it was starting to get dark. It's always better when you have stage lights. It went really well, even though we had some equipment problems. Timmy ended up kicking over the bass amp because it wasn't working. You didn't hear it out front much. Because of that, McCarty made a couple of mistakes. We got a great reaction from the audience, just from our part, but wasn't as good as B.B. King's. There we were all fired up. The equipment worked right, everything went on really well. Once we got to Sweden, we did a lot of interviews, we were jet lagged. I had my European kit that I keep over there, but basically all the other gear was rented. We didn't know what we were getting. Then, our roadie that we had the last time flaked out and we had to get another road crew to help us. It was just a bit of a mess. We did good there, got great reviews, but we weren't satisfied.
NHOR : Jim, how do you feel the first 3 Cactus albums, 'Cactus,' 'One Way...Or Another' and 'Restrictions,' that you're on, hold up today?
JM : I think each album... I mean, I was the one who left the band. To me it was like an experiment that never really gelled. So after a couple of years my frustration level was really high, and I left the group finally. It was a difference of opinion between me and Tim over the direction we wanted to go in. He was more free form, and I wanted more of a solid foundation. Each album always had some stuff on it that was really cool, then there was stuff that wasn't so cool in my opinion. The third album, 'Restrictions,' was probably the most together album. Certainly the best sounding one.
NHOR : Keeping going with that, and you just touched on the fact that you increasingly felt at odds at the time with Tim's bass playing taking a more prominent role...
JM : Yeah, there were a lot of times when... to me, if you're going to be a trio, back in those days, Cream and Hendrix were the epitome of a power trio. The Cream especially, you've got 3 guys there, and to me Jack Bruce was the greatest trio bass player. He was continuously inventive, but the bottom end never really suffered. He still maintained the aspect of what the bass is supposed to do while doing all the inventive parts in the process. But with Cactus, I felt a lot of times it was just like 3 guys playing, each guy for himself, playing without listening to the other guys. It became more banging heads than playing together. Having said that, though, there were nights when it would click and "Boom," it was terrific. Unfortunately, the live box set that Rhino released might've even been the last gig we did, in Memphis. I think I told the band that I was leaving. That was a night when things were clicking pretty good, and I'm glad that's the one they got on the CD. You can get a sense of what the band was on a decent night. There were too many nights for me where it was more banging into each other than playing together. I eventually just got really tired of it and left.
NHOR : What actually went down at the time to make you and Rusty leave the band?
JM : Well, Rusty didn't leave, initially. I left, and I think Rusty stayed for awhile afterward. Once I left, though, he wasn't all that happy I don't think. I can't really remember the details about how long Rusty stuck around. They put that other thing together with the organ player, in the second Cactus band. That didn't last too long. There was a certain thing between the individuals... between me, Tim and Carmine, there was a certain chemistry there that once any of those guys leave, it's not really going to be Cactus anymore. Especially when you're dealing with a trio. That's bare bones right there, guitar, bass and drums. You change any one of those things, you're changing the whole pot of stew.
NHOR : Speaking of Rusty Day, with Rusty having been murdered in 1982, there was no way that you could do a full original lineup reunion of Cactus...
CA : I guess that's why we never even thought about it before.
NHOR : The last I heard, Rusty's murder was still an unsolved case. Have there been any developments in that case recently? What do you recall about what happened with Rusty?
CA : It's still unsolved. I talked with a guy who lived with him back in the 80's, and I just talked with him again recently. He's the guy that came into the house and found Rusty's body, the body of his son, and his son's friend. It was a really, really bad scene. He just made some sort of drug deal, apparently he either had the drugs, or the cash. They came back to get one or the other, because they knew it was there. They shot them up, with a Thompson machine gun, killed them, and took whatever was there, whether it was the drugs or the cash. It was a big money thing, from what I understand. This guy found them, he helped the police, he was in Rusty's band with him. He was a really good friend of Rusty's at the time. It was a really bad scene. From what he's told me, they've never found out who did it. Nobody really cares at this point. What was really tragic was that his kid, and his kid's friend, 12 years old, were both killed. That was so bad. I couldn't believe it.
JM : It didn't surprise me. He was murdered because he was doing business with people who, if you owe them money, you should pay them. Rusty lived by the sword, and that's the life he led. When he was no longer in Cactus he drifted back into what he was doing before. That's how he made a living. The tragedy there wasn't really Rusty, it was that Jaco, his son, was visiting him at the time and they murdered everybody in the house -- Rusty, his son, and a couple other guys that were visiting from Detroit. I still see Marcia, Rusty's ex girlfriend, Jaco's mother, from time to time. You can never completely recover from something like that. I remember when she called me when she found out her son was dead. I just saw her about a month ago, when we played a club down river. She lives in upstate Michigan, and comes down from time to time. She was at the club and got one of the Cactus CD's. She was tickled by it. She particularly liked the "Blues For Mr. Day" dedication.
RNRU : That was a very nice touch there...
JM : Yeah, it was a little break from the head banging. (Laughs) It's interesting, that little segment has a cool story behind it. I was in the studio using Carmine's old acoustic. I was just noodling around on it, waiting for the engineers. In the studio there's a lot of waiting. Carmine said, "What is that?" I said, "Oh, just pickin, just stuff that I do sitting on my couch. I've been doing it for years." He said, "We've got to get a little bit of that on record." So they rolled the machine, we recorded a little bit of it, and I just assumed that it'd be the introduction to set up the slow blues which became "Night For Day." That was originally me singing a song called "Temperature's Rising," which is a tune that I do with Mystery Train. We re-did the vocal on that, took my vocal off and Jimmy and Carmine came up with the nice little hook for "Night For Day." I assumed the acoustic segment would set up the slow blues. To me, that's what it was for. Carmine didn't want 8 minutes of blues on the CD, so we had a knock down drag out over that. But as it turned out, I'm glad that he prevailed, because it's in the absolute perfect place on the album. It sets up "Part Of The Game" perfectly. So I'm glad that he got his way.
NHOR : Were there any indications from earlier, when Rusty was still in the band, that he was involved in any type of things like that?
CA : Well, he was always like... when we were on the road, he was always fanagling drugs and shit. He always carried guns and knives. All the lyrics he wrote, he lived by. He was one of the guys who lived by it. He lived by... his friend getting busted, things like that. When we were back in Long Island, if we wanted to get some pot, Rusty'd always know where to score pot. He was just that kind of guy. So I guess after the demise of Cactus, he couldn't really get anything going, he needed to make some money somehow, and he went on that side of the tracks for awhile.
NHOR : Speaking of getting arrested, on the Cactus 'Restrictions' album, the song "Mean Night In Cleveland" was inspired by an incident that happened while the band was on the way to a gig there, ending up with you getting thrown in jail for the night. What was the story behind that?
CA : We got busted because one of our roadies tried to give a joint to a stewardess, but he didn't know that the joint he gave her... we had given him the pot, but it wasn't pot at all, it was catnip. So we gave it to him as a goof, he offered it to the stewardess, the stewardess told the captain, the captain told the police, and when we landed they arrested us all. It was a Saturday, so there were no laboratories open. So, we spent the whole night in jail for that incident. And there weren't even any real drugs involved, but they didn't know that until Monday, when the laboratories opened. So they kept us... our attorney, who I said, was the same attorney Zeppelin, Hendrix, Jeff Beck... everybody else had at the time, he got us out of jail on a Sunday by pulling some strings. But the two roadie guys who'd been caught with the actual joints had to stay until Monday. Then, once they actually analyzed the stuff, they found out it was catnip, so they were released. Meanwhile, on Sunday, we got the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and made ABC News nationwide. I had to call my parents up, because my mother was flipping out. (Laughs)
NHOR : What's your favorite memory of Rusty Day?
CA : I have a lot of favorite memories of Rusty. We had a lot of good times. Always my memories of Rusty have been the same. Very arrogant, a peaceful, arrogant kind of guy, who knew how to get an audience in the palm of his hand. One funny story is when we played in Boston, I thought it was with Ten Years After, but a friend of mine, who was at the show, said it was with Hendrix. Rusty had the audience in the palm of his hand. They would stand up, the cops were coming to tell them to sit down, and he told them, "Fuck the police, don't listen to them, they're just a bunch of pigs." From on stage. We went back for an encore, and they arrested him. (Laughs) When we went back for the encore, we had to do it on our own, without Rusty. They were taking him away. Finally, the promoter, who was a friend of our managers, talked to them, and got them to release him. But he couldn't make the encore. He was really pissed off. He hated that shit. He'd say, "You're here, having good fun... Why are the police telling you to sit down? You don't have to listen to them. It's a free country, fuck them pigs." He'd say it on stage. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword, and he definitely lived by the sword. He didn't give a shit about anything.
JM : Oh God, Rusty was crazy. (Laughs) He was a friggin' drug dealer. He had tremendous stage presence. He was a great front man. I don't think he was the greatest singer in the world, but he had a huge storehouse of lyrics. He had a thousand songs just from all the years playing the bars in Detroit. When we started groovin' it wouldn't take him long to come up with either a cover or original lyric of his own. If you listen to the live Cactus album, on Rhino, on the encore number, that's all pretty much off the cuff. It wasn't really rehearsed, it's just Rusty pulling stuff out of the air, all those lyrics. He was tremendous at that sort of thing. He was a crazy motherfucker, but we all were.
TB : Oh geeze, the things he could do with an audience, almost any given audience, any given night. The man was amazing. He was as good of a frontman as Jagger. No fooling. He was quite amazing. He got arrested several times for being that amazing. He'd get the crowd worked up to a fever pitch, the police would get skittish, because Rusty was, "Don't let the pigs keep you down!" type of rhetoric. And they would take it personally... Duh. (Laughs) Then they'd cart his 6' 2" butt right off stage, which happened more than once. Rusty was quite an incredible frontman, he really was. And he could lay down one heck of a rhythm harp.
NHOR : Cactus had a rep at the time, in the early 70s, for being a really hard partying band, even to the point where all the drinks were spiked with acid backstage. Given the band's reputation for partaking like that, to what do you attribute you and the rest of the band, minus Rusty, still being among the living, while many of your contemporaries such as Hendrix, Bonzo, Bolin, Morrison, Joplin etc. aren't around anymore?
TB : We partied hard, yeah. The wildest time though? My mind is racing over about 50 experiences, and 40 of them are illegal now. The other 10 are immoral, so I'm not sure at my age I want to go there. (Laughs) Carmine will answer that question in a heartbeat. He revels in that. I'll tell you privately over a beer some night. (Laughs)
CA : Well, we never got into... we were more of a party band. We didn't spike the backstage stuff, it was always spiked for us. We never got into the heavier stuff like taking downers and drinking a lot. We were never really a drunken kind of band. Now, we were a pot smokin,' wine drinking, every once in awhile taking some Quaaludes type of thing. We did our share of peyote, acid and mescaline, stuff like that. It was never really like a heavy duty heroined out type of band. Heroin and Quaaludes, that's what Hendrix was on, heroin and Quaaludes... Tommy Bolin... Janis Joplin, heroin and Quaaludes. We didn't get into that. We were just into more of a party, high energy type of vibe. I think that's probably what happened. We never overdid the booze, we were never like hard drinking booze drinkers. Janis... one time we had a jam, she came over and gave me a swig of her drink, and it was Southern Comfort. I almost fell off the drum stool. (Laughs) When you're taking heroin and drinking Southern Comfort, that's a pretty heavy combination. A lot different than smoking pot and drinking wine. Or even taking some mescaline and smoking some pot. There's a big difference there. So, I think that's what the difference is in our situations.
JM : Oh God. (Laughs) Well, I don't drink anymore or do anything these days. But yeah, we did our share of partying. (Laughs) I don't know exactly what to tell ya. Back in those days there was a lot of drug taking going on. Psychedelics, whatever. I don't recall Timmy and Carmine really being into the psychedelics. They liked to smoke pot I think. So that left me and Rusty to sample all the pills and powders. I don't think we did any more than anybody else. I don't know. The band had some sort of reputation, but I don't think that we were any more nuts than the majority of bands who were out on the road.
NHOR : You just mentioned the jam with Janis Joplin, and that was at The Palm Beach Festival on Thanksgiving weekend in '69, where you also jammed with Johnny Winter. What was that jam like for you with Janis and Johnny?
CA : Well, it was fine. I mean, you've got to remember, in those days, we were bigger than both of them. (Laughs) We didn't know that, in 2006, that Janis Joplin was going to be dead and a gigantic icon like Hendrix. Hendrix, you mention to anybody, and they're like, "You knew JIMI HENDRIX?! Oh my God!" He was just another one of the bands that were around at that time. Same thing with Bonzo, or The Doors. The Doors weren't anything amazingly unbelievable at that time. All these bands got big because of the fact that those guys died. So in those days, everybody was pretty much the same.
We all had Gold records, we all went out on the road, had Top 10 records. We were all side by side on the charts. We all opened for each other, closed for each other. We had equal billing, co-headlining bills. We did all that stuff. We played at The Spectrum in Philly with Janis Joplin as special guest to us. Johnny Winter opened up for us. So to go up and play with Zeppelin, Janis Joplin or Johnny Winter was just more of a fun thing at the time. They weren't what they are now, they weren't the icons. They were talented musicians, we had fun doing it, but it was just another jam. Just like we jammed with Deep Purple, we jammed with Hendrix, Zeppelin, the guys in Traffic, it was part of the scene. That doesn't happen a lot today. That's why, when we do this Cactus/Fudge thing, it'd be really cool at the end of the night if we could get both bands on stage and do perhaps a Beatles song or something. Audiences love that. Last year when we played with The Doors, Pat Travers and I went up and did "Roadhouse Blues" with them, and the audience went crazy. It was very cool.
NHOR : Speaking of Hendrix... Jim, you have an association with Jimi, going back to when you were with The Buddy Miles Express, whom Jimi produced, and you also participated in the jams that were recorded in '69, some of which were released on the now out of print 'Nine To The Universe' album...
JM : That was Alan Douglas's thing. There was so much of that shit that, in my opinion, should never have been released. That was stuff that was never intended to be on an album. But after Jimi died, you had all these people scrambling to make a buck off of his name. Just releasing all this shit that should've never been released. The 'Nine To The Universe' thing was one of them. The first 3 albums, that's his legacy. There were a lot of great guitar players back then. Clapton, Beck, Page, Michael Bloomfield... I knew all these guys. But Hendrix was in a class by himself my man. And everybody knew it. He was the best there ever was. Period.
NHOR : What do you remember about those recording sessions? What was it like playing with Jimi?
JM : Jimi loved to play. He was one of those guys who continuously would play. When The Scene would close, everybody'd pile over to The Record Plant and play until 7 or 8 in the morning. He loved to jam. So he was always doing that. He was constantly coming around talking to Buddy Miles, so I was always bumping into him, since he was talking to him about putting a band together, which he eventually did with The Band Of Gypsies. So we were always running into each other. We even shared a few women. (Laughs)
NHOR : Speaking of going to Steve Paul's The Scene and jamming with Jimi, you're sometimes credited as being a part of the jam that was recorded there that reportedly had you, Buddy Miles, and a very drunken Jim Morrison getting on stage and rambling incoherently. What do you recall about that? That was kind of bizarre...
JM : What jam was that? That was at The Scene? Are you sure I was there? What album was that?
NHOR : You're credited on the album, at least on some versions that have come out, so supposedly you were... it's been released many times throughout the years, the most common title is 'I Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead' ...
JM : I don't remember anything about the night that you're talking about. I could very well have been there, but I don't remember a damn thing about it. (Laughs) One thing I do remember, and it'd be interesting if there was a tape of it somewhere. I remember a session in L.A. in a recording studio, there was Hendrix, Buddy Miles, Mitch Mitchell, Jack Bruce, Me and John McLaughlin. That would be an interesting evening. I know it was recorded, and hearing Jack and Jimi play together made it a really special evening. That was a trip. I would love to have that tape. I remember seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra when they just had formed down at The Cafe Wha? in the Village, and having like the top of my head blown off.
NHOR : Did you ever pick up anything from him, technique-wise, in terms of guitar playing?
JM : No. I mean, I remember one conversation I had with him over at a girl's place who both of us were seeing, her name was Carmen. He came by, and this was after 'Electric Ladyland' had come out. I told him how I was knocked out by the one tune he did, "Crosstown Traffic," and also "House Burning Down." The one though that really knocked me out was "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)" I told him, "You really captured the feel of the water and the ocean. And on "House Burning Down" all of a sudden the guitar is like fire." And he said that he kind of saw sound as colors, something to that effect, is what he told me. If he had a song with a certain theme like that, he would approach the guitar in terms of the colors of that particular theme.
He was one of those guys you have every once in awhile who, for some strange reason, they don't seem to stick around that long. These are guys who aren't just really good at what they do, but they come in and re-invent the rules of the game. Then they're gone. Whether it's Robert Johnson, or Coltrane, or Hendrix. To me it's all the same spirit, just different bodies. These are guys who are innovators, and completely establish new boundaries from what it is that everybody else has been doing. Then they're gone. A good portion of them, they don't stick around that long.
NHOR : Do you keep up with the current music scene at all?
JM : Not really. There's a few bands... the guy in Alice In Chains, Jerry Cantrell, is an interesting guitar player. He gets a lot of really nice textures. Not too much, though, of the stuff today. There's a heavy grunge factor on so much of the guitar today for me. They don't seem to have the identity like you did back in the old days. You could hear a Beck, or Clapton, you'd know who these guys are. Each one had their own individual tone. Now, in a lot of the commercial rock that's going on today, the guitar's so heavily overdriven, for that modern sound that you have to have for rock if you want to be commercial. Everybody seems to be buried in that grunge... maybe it's just because I'm old, I don't know. Maybe a 20 year old can tell the difference between the guy in KORN and the guy in Godsmack.
NHOR : I don't know, there's definitely not many who have an identifiable sound these days, where you can go that's this person or that person...
JM : Well, we're in the digital age, and there's not a lot of lead guitar players who have mastered that art, where they can really stand up and play lead guitar. This particular generation doesn't seem to have a lot of that. But it's a whole different ballgame now than it was back in the day. Every generation's got their own thing.
NHOR : Speaking of modern guitarists, have you ever heard Joe Bonamassa? Now there's a player who can wail...
JM : I've got a couple of his CD's. I saw him at B.B. King's, and I saw him at Pine Knob last year, opening for B.B. King. He's hot as a pistol. I told him, "You're one of the best young players I've seen in a long time. You've got the whole package. You've got the chops, the voice and the stage presence." If he doesn't burn out, it'll be really interesting to hear him when he's about 40. He smokes. His chops are unbelievable. He's scary. (Laughs) The thing is, he's got the voice too, not only has he mastered the guitar, he's the whole package.
NHOR : Do you keep up with what's going on in the Detroit scene today?
JM : Not all that much. Like I said, I listen to jazz more than anything else. I hear things from time to time, popular music, that I like. Each generation has the good and the bad. We had a lot of crap in the '60's too. People forget that, they say, "Whatever happened to the good stuff like when we were growing up?" They forget all the shit that was going on too. (Laughs) There's some good stuff going on today. One of the problems I see is in the old days, you didn't have the technology that you have now. So you kind of had to deliver. You kind of actually had to be able to sing and to play.
Nowadays, with the technology that's there, they can actually take somebody with minimal talent... if you polish a turd enough, you can get enough dumbbells to buy it I guess. My son has told me that a bunch of these bands, you hear their album, then you go see them live, and it's like, "Holy shit!" They can't play. I've actually heard that from a bunch of people. I had a friend who had a state of the art studio until about 5 years ago, and now he just does industrial stuff. He's not really into music anymore. I asked him why he quit, and he said he couldn't take guys coming in who couldn't even tune their instruments. He couldn't deal with it. It is what it is. To me, the whole rap thing, which is a whole culture, that certainly hasn't helped the situation any. But there's still some good stuff. Each generation's got the good stuff along with the crap. A 60 year old isn't supposed to be all that interested in what an 18-20 year old listens to anyway. It's 2 different worlds. If I go up to a 20 year old and tell him, "Korn sucks why are you listening to that"? He'll look at me like, "Get out of here old man. (Laughs) Like I give a shit about what you think about Korn. Korn are great."
NHOR : Have you heard of The Muggs? They're an awesome band in the early 70's heavy rock tradition...
JM : Yeah, I know Danny Methric. He's hot as a pistol. Tony, who plays bass in that band, he actually plays bass with his left hand on keyboard because he had a stroke. He's a young kid, too. Tony's father, Frank DeNardo, we grew up together. Frank's father and my old man were best friends. Yeah, The Muggs are hot. Danny's a very hot guitar player. I give Tony a lot of credit for starting to play bass with his left hand. I've seen them live, and they kick ass. They have a following here in Detroit, too.There's another band called The Dirty Americans that I like. They've got some nice stuff. They told me that they're huge Cactus freaks.
NHOR : You've been an inspiration for a lot of guitarists throughout the years. Ted Nugent has called you the best guitarist he ever saw, and it's obvious that Eddie Van Halen took your lead work on "Parchman Farm" for the basis of the music for "Hot For Teacher." The opening intro chords in Van Halen's "Eruption" are lifted from "Let Me Swim"...
JM : Yeah, throughout the years, Ted's always had nice things to say about me. As for Van Halen, that's what people have told me. Carmine's the one who keeps saying that. Eddie was a Cactus fan.
NHOR : I know Steve Morse, who's now in Deep Purple, is a fan of yours as well. Have any of these people come up to you and told you this in person?
JM : Well, the band at this point in time hasn't done more than a couple of shows. So we'll see what happens. Hopefully we'll bump into some of these guys. I'm hoping that the word will get out with the CD that the band is up and running again, and these guys can still get it up. I imagine if we do some dates that some of these guys will show up and say hello. To me, that's always been an amazing thing. It's always been something that's blown my mind. When I left the band, it was a very frustrating experience for me. There were 2 years with this kind of experiment, we did 3 albums, and each album had some nice stuff. I was gone, then I thought that was the end of it. Then down through the years, for whatever reasons, this band has developed a cult following all over the world. The energy of the band was unbelievable. It's just a lot of times that energy wasn't channeled. To me, the new stuff here is a lot more controlled in terms of where the energy is going, and what kind of use we're putting it to.
NHOR : Carmine, we just were mentioning the drug usage just a few minutes ago, and you mentioned Tommy Bolin. You were involved in the recording of Bolin's 'Private Eyes' album, which was the last album he put out before his untimely death. What do you recall about those sessions?
CA : To tell you the truth, I don't remember much about those sessions. I don't know why. They were really quick, I only played on a couple of tracks. But I remember the last time I saw Tommy, he was at SAR, getting ready to go out on tour, and he was out of his tree. Fucked up out of it. My friends were playing with him, Jimmy Haslip, and Mark Stein had just finished playing with him. I said to Tommy, "Hey dude, you're fucked up. You're on Quaaludes, you're drinking, you'd better stop, get your head on, man, or you're going to fucking kill yourself." He said, "Nahh, man... I'm all right Carmine." You could see if he didn't stop what he was doing, he was going to end up killing himself. He was just on that road to nowhere. He was with Deep Purple, and he and Glenn Hughes were so fucked up on drugs, so bad. Luckily Glenn came out of it.
NHOR : Tim, beginning with Vanilla Fudge through Cactus and Beck Bogert & Appice, you developed a very prominent role as a bassist. You were, and still are, an inspiration to countless bass players throughout the years. Basically from taking the bass from a time keeping role and using it as a lead instrument. What inspired you to take the instrument in that direction?
TB : It came from being a lead instrument player. A sax player who began doubling on bass, then stopped playing sax entirely. Then when The Fudge came along with all that sort of symphonic stuff... taking apart Paul McCartney's bass lines in The Beatles, Jack Bruce's bass lines in Cream, James Jamerson's Motown bass lines and putting in King Curtis, who was a heck of a sax player. That's me.
NHOR : You and Carmine together form one of the heaviest and finest rhythm sections ever in the history of rock. What is it about the combination of the two of you that allows you to interlock like you do? How does working with Carmine compare to any other drummer you've played with such as Billy Cobham and Ginger Baker?
TB : I am almost Carmine's complete opposite. So in that respect, we sort of whirl around each other. Carmine's of a mindset rather like a bulldog. As long as I can hold that leash and not fall down, we do really well. (Laughs)
NHOR : So it's sort of a Ying and Yang type of thing...
TB : Very much so, and it really does work. Almost everything about us is opposite, it seems to make a really nice combination. When we started, we got good at what we did very quickly, and we've spent the last 40 years polishing it. Some nights it really shines well if it's lit well.
NHOR : You and Carmine split up Cactus the first time to form Beck, Bogert & Appice, with guitarist Jeff Beck. Looking back on things, do you have any regrets over doing that at the time?
TB : The Cactus band with Rusty and Jim had already broken up and we'd put a second Cactus band together, which was a lot of fun. We really enjoyed it. The regret I have with working with Jeff is that I couldn't, at the time, understand a lot of the difficulty that was going on, and the politics that were being played. Had I known then what I know now, it might've been a whole lot easier. It was a bit difficult. That's why the band only lasted almost 2 years I suppose. There was a lot of stuff that went down which became more difficult to deal with than the joy of accomplishing the job properly, which was a real shame because it had great promise. When it worked it was amazing, when it didn't work it was like a bad high school date. Self conscious, knees together, feet crossed over, stumbling, sputtering... oh dear. When it worked, though, it was something to behold.
NHOR : Carmine has told me that he'd consider working with Jeff again in some sort of Beck, Bogert & Appice reunion. What are your thoughts on that?
TB : In a heartbeat. I understand what's occurring now, it's business, but I would love to do business with the man. I would love to play with the man, I'd love to knock lots of people right off their feet. That would be terrific, it would be wonderful. You really could knock a 50,000 seat stadium to their knees when we were good. It was amazing to watch. There would be times when I'd be on stage, literally watching, almost like an out of body thing. Your hands are just pumping because they know how, you're just kind of lifted up a moment. You're just kind of a spectator watching this whole thing occur. It was amazing, I'd love to do it again. That's what I mean, "Let's do it tomorrow." (Laughs) I'd love to do it again... Yeah! Whatever he'd like to do, fine. A show in L.A., one in New York, one in London, yeah let's go. I'm sure the payday would be wonderful, and the experience would be even better. So yeah, let's do that tomorrow!
NHOR : Carmine have you spoken with Jeff since we talked last, concerning any type of reunion of the band?
CA : Not really. We talked about releasing BB&A 'Live' in Europe. At the time his manager said they were interested, but he was getting ready to go on the tour he's on now. Guys like that, they can't think about 2 things at once. (Laughs) One thing at a time. So, we're just waiting around. We've been plenty busy with all the other stuff. If it happens it's cool, if it doesn't, oh well. (Laughs) We're trying to put the BB&A 'Live In Japan' out as a regular album, plus maybe take half of it and use the BB&A ' London Live At The Rainbow.' Make it a big BB&A live album, and perhaps put a couple of studio tracks from the unreleased 2nd album on it, as a new package. They're interested. They were like, "Let's get Jeff on this tour, then we'll talk about it after that." That's fine. We're talking about that.
NHOR : What was it like for you when Vanilla Fudge was on the 'Ed Sullivan' show back in '68?
CA : It was amazing. Going down the elevator, I asked the guy, "Hey man, how many people watch this show?" He said, "50 million." (Laughs) That's live. So you're going to be playing in front of 50 million people, you can't help but get butterflies. Especially at that age, in '68 I was 22, going to be 23 years old when we did that. When we did that show, for months afterwards, everyone was still talking about that. To the point that they put us on again a year later, doing "Shotgun," which was in the Top 20 at the time. That was definitely one of my most memorable experiences. The only other time I got that kind of experience again was when I played in a group called Pearl in Japan, where we did shows that were aired live in front of 50 million people also. It's pretty wild when you think just how many people watch TV. We never thought of it from a business stand point, we only saw it from a creative point of view. We'd better be good, there are 50 million people watching. (Laughs) Not like, there's 50 million people watching, we're going to sell a lot of records. It was that kind of attitude, that we'd best be great tonight. The managers would say, "We're going to sell a lot of records." (Laughs) We did. We sold about 200,000 records more after we did that show in the next couple of weeks.
That's why, now, when The Fudge album comes out, we're going to try to be on one of the major shows. It takes a powerful publicist to get you on Jay Leno, Conan or somewhere. If we can get on one of those, that's 15 million people watching. So that'll sell a load of records. It's all about marketing. Look at Rod Stewart. Rod got no airplay at all for the 'American Songbook'. He did all the television shows, and sold it just on the power of TV.
TB : That was wonderful. It was the adrenaline rush of my life up to that point. At that period in time, the Sullivan show was the top of the pyramid. That was as good as it got, and we got to do it twice. Yeah! My mom and dad had a limousine come to the house, there was a big bouquet of roses, and off they went. They were so proud I could barely stand it. It was a great night, all our folks were there. We were kids, between 20 and 22, 23. So it was like, "Hey mom look at this!" All your friends were going, "Whoa man!". (Laughs)
NHOR : The version you guys did of "You Keep Me Hanging' On" on Sullivan was intense...
TB : Well, we knew that it was going out live. This was completely live, no lip syncing, no do-overs, no tape, no anything like that. This was live to 47 million people. Back then that was a lot of folks. That's like The World Cup in the 80's. That was big numbers. So yeah it gets your adrenaline pumping pretty good.
NHOR : Was there a sense to you at the time of the history and significance of being on the show? Before you there was The Beatles and before them there was Elvis...
TB : Oh yeah, I remember watching them on the telly when I was a kid. Heck yeah, I saw Elvis on there when I was a kid. So this show had big time history in my mind, because that's what you did on a Saturday night back in the 50's and early 60's. You'd sit and watch The Ed Sullivan Show with your folks, and then you went to bed because you had to go to school. So to appear on it, oh man. (Laughs) That was a sense we'd really made it. If I never did anything again I'd be a happy man. Of course I changed my mind about a year later. (Laughs) At that time it was the most cool thing that had ever happened to me.
NHOR : Do you see this as a one off type of situation, or are there plans to do further Cactus studio recordings at this time?
CA : No, actually we have a deal to do another CD with Escapi. They definitely want us to tour behind this CD. As a matter of fact, we're doing a re-release party. We're going to play B.B. King's on September 19th, this time with the support of the label. They were telling me last night that they want to buy television ads, radio ads, print ads, just make people really aware of the fact that we're playing there. That this is like a re-release party for the album. We're going to work through September and October, be touring the U.S. and Europe, doing shows to promote the record. We'll be doing 2 weeks of shows in Europe, one of which will be on the German Rockpalast TV show, which goes out all over Europe. We'll be getting video from that as well, they do some really great camera work on that show. We'll do maybe 8 or 9 major markets over there then come home. Then we're talking about doing shows with both Vanilla Fudge and Cactus. We have 1 booked already in Philadelphia with Blue Oyster Cult, that might be a good little package. That'll be with both bands, I'll open up for myself. (Laughs) It'll be fun because it's 2 different kinds of music. With Vanilla Fudge, we're just finishing a new record, which is Vanilla Fudge plays Led Zeppelin. We're just finishing that so we'll be doing Zeppelin on that tour quite a bit.
NHOR : What songs are you covering for the Vanilla Fudge album, and how do you feel the results have been so far?
CA : We covered "Dazed And Confused," "Rock & Roll," "Good Times, Bad Times," "All My Love," "Ramble On," "Moby Dick"...there's 11 or 12 all together. We're going to put one more vocal on "The Immigrant Song." Mark Stein's got to still do the vocal for that. Tim tried and it didn't work. I know Mark can sing it, but we're trying to spread the vocals around. "Dancing Days," "Trampled Underfoot"... some of them we changed a lot, some we kept the basic kind of music, but we changed the vocals, made them a little bit more R&B, added harmonies to them which Zeppelin didn't do much. We figured some people aren't going to want to hear Zeppelin songs completely changed on all of them. We wanted to keep the essence of what Zeppelin was. As our manager said, "You guys are classic musicians, as good as the guys in Zeppelin. You probably could play the songs better than any tribute band could do because you're from that era, you know how to play like that." He was right. He said, "If you keep the essence of Zeppelin that way, then do the kind of vocals you do, then take half and really change them." We'd keep "Rock & Roll" familiar to the original. I do an intro to that which is similar to John Bonham's but not the same thing. I didn't want to do the same thing, but I did a tricky one just like he did, messed around with the timing. Then it comes in, it's rockin', right on the edge, then we changed the vocals a bit. By the end of it, it sounds like a gospel song.
"Dazed And Confused," we pretty much kept the essence of the song, but Mark is using this Trident keyboard, which makes it really heavy. We put this big intro on that, sounds like a symphonic intro. Then we go into the song. Mark sings it a little more R&B, changes the phrasing a bit. The middle, where they do all the "Ahhh" stuff, we did "Ahhh" stuff with vocal harmonies. Not a bow on the guitar, but a swell guitar. Similar, but not the same. The guitar solo goes up tempo, and obviously we used that riff for it. Different guitar solo, different length, though. We tried to keep the essence of the power of the song. I'm actually thinking of going in when I go home and changing the feel of that song to where it's sort of a little different. I'm debating whether to do that or not. I can hear people going, "Wow, you guys sound as good as Zeppelin doing that," versus changing the feel on it where it's, "Wow, that's different." So, I'm not sure what's the better thing at this point. The drum sound we did all in analog. The drums sound big, monsterous and killer, punchy and as fat as anything Bonzo ever did. Considering I was his idol when he first came out, we have the same feel. Tim Bogert was the idol of John Paul Jones, so Tim and I playing Zeppelin songs feels right. It feels good. It doesn't feel like we're copying anything. Some of these songs were actually songs we jammed with them. Like "Dazed And Confused." We jumped on stage with them sometimes in the old days when they were on tour with us. There's a lot of tie-ins.
NHOR : So, you'll definitely be having the patented Vanilla Fudge type vocal harmonies on this one...
CA : Yeah. For instance, "Your Time Is Gonna Come" is a whole different song. "All My Love" is a whole different song. We did "Trampled Underfoot," but we made the vocals more like Aerosmith, with the 2 part harmony. The music is similar, but instead of starting with a keyboard, we started with a guitar. Solos, we do different kinds of solos. The vocals are totally different. "Dancing Days"... totally different vocals. We even put a hook in "Dancing Days." So, we try to keep the essence of the song on some of them, and completely change it on the others. We've got the Hammond, and the Trident keyboard sound, which is a very heavy sound. We put this intro on "The Immigrant Song," you can almost see like a Viking ship coming around. Then it goes into the song. We slowed it down, it's SO heavy. Much heavier than the original. We came up with a variation on the vocals. I think we're going to get Mark Stein to sing it in mid-September. We're not going to release it until February 20th. We're calling the album 'Out Through The In Door.' The album cover has a big, Andy Warhol type of door knob on the front.
NHOR : What brought you to the decision to re-record the Zeppelin songs as an album?
CA : Our manager. We have a really hip manager, Tom Vitorino, who manged The Doors, The Cult, until recently Thin Lizzy, and he managed Pat Travers for awhile. He's a very innovative type of guy. He's a guitar player/singer himself, so when we were doing vocals, he came down to the studio and helped revamp some of the vocals. He's got some great vocal ideas. He came to us a few months ago and said, "Look, you guys are known for doing covers. In this day and age, you guys are probably the best rearrangers of songs out there. You started it. Def Leppard, everybody's doing covers of stuff. You guys are the originators of that. You do it the best." If you do a cover song, why do it exactly the same? Also, if you're going to do a cover song of an artist, why not take a whole catalog of the artist? Whether it's Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Who, The Stones... no matter who you're doing. It would be a cool idea to take a whole catalog, and do Vanilla Fudge plays The Stones, or Vanilla Fudge plays The Beatles, or Zeppelin. So, we thought about it, and we said "That's a good idea." Because then you can zero in on one full artist's songs and do what we do. They asked us, "Well who would you think you'd want to do?" I said, "Well, the logical choice for us would be Zeppelin." Because we took them on their first tour, we're connected with them, we know them. We were good friends with them, always hanging out with them. We had the same attorneys. Our manger was a promoter who promoted all the shows, helped them get big. When they came on our tour, they didn't even have an album out. We actually paid 50% of the fee on their first gig. Vanilla Fudge and the promoter paid the $1500 for their first gig. We're pretty connected with them. We used to go on stage with them, jam different numbers with them. So, it was logical to do Led Zeppelin first. Originally we were just going to do 'Led Zeppelin 1,' because that was the one we were connected to. Then we decided, "You know what? Why limit it to just the first album, they had so many great songs through the years." We went through all the songs, and picked songs that we thought, vocally, we could do stuff with, keep the music similar. Vocally change it, then others we could change and sort of revamp them. So it was quite a task to go through the whole catalog. We had the box sets, we all made lists of songs, and whatever songs appeared more than twice, that's the song we checked out. We were going to do "Darlene," then it ended up we had too many songs. We had to drop something, so we dropped that one. I really like playing that song. But, a lot of people didn't know what it was
NHOR : Speaking of Zeppelin, and one thing we didn't cover the last time we talked was the infamous "Mudshark Incident" with a groupie at The Edgewater Inn in Seattle in July of '69, when they were touring with The Fudge. That's one of the most famous legends in rock history. What do you recall about that incident?
CA : (Laughs) You'll have to read that in my book. It's true. It was a groupie that I found... well, let's put it this way, when I wrote the story, I got about an 8 or 9 page story about that. My girlfriend Leslie Gold, "The Radio Chick," who's a talk show host in New York, typed it up for me, and fixed up some of the English, so it doesn't sound like a New Yorker writing it. (Laughs) When it was done, she said it was quite honestly the most disgusting story she's ever read in her life. So basically, it was a pretty wild time. It was with Vanilla Fudge and Led Zeppelin. Not all of Led Zeppelin, it was mostly John Bonham and the road crew. So, that's what went on there. It was pretty wild, then the next day we flew out of Seattle, we went to Chicago, and I ran into Frank Zappa in the airport. We were all friends, and I told Frank about it. It was an unbelievable time. It was the wildest night of my life at that point. I told Frank about it, he wrote a song about it, and put it on the '71 'Live At The Fillmore East' album with The Mothers Of Invention called "Mudshark".
NHOR : Mark Stein reportedly filmed that whole incident. Is that true? What happened to the film?
CA : Mark actually had a camera, he took an 8 MM film of it, and it was never developed. We were told that my friend Randy, the same guy that supported Cactus, had bought it and tried to develop it. He bought it for a few thousand bucks, and there was nothing on it.
NHOR : Was that the strangest situation you ever had on tour?
CA : With Zeppelin? No, there was more wildness throughout the years. (Laughs) We toured for the first tour, then we did the second tour with them as well. There were always some wild things going on. At one point John Bonham went on stage in New York, took off all his clothes, and got arrested. (Laughs) It was pretty crazy.
NHOR : Rhino put out the two Cactus compilations a couple of years ago. Are there any plans to put out any further archival material at this time?
CA : Yeah, we're going to put out another live Cactus CD and couple it with some demos. I just found a bunch of songs from the tracks that were around when we were putting those previous CD's together. One song is a ballad that didn't even have McCarty on it yet. It had Duane Hitchings, Tim Bogert, Rusty Day and myself. McCarty for some reason wasn't on it. It was a ballad-type thing. Every once in awhile we would sing other songs. Tim sang one or two songs in Cactus. I never sang any songs in Cactus, but I was going to sing this song. Obviously, it never made it on there. There was another really cool boogie, then there was a song, which was a combination of two of our songs, "Song For Aries" and "One Way... Or Another," which was an instrumental. We're going to call that song "Predecessor," because that was the predecessor for two songs together. We separated it, and made two songs out of it. But together it's pretty unique and cool, so we're going to put that on there as well. The second Cactus band Live at the Puerto Rico Festival, there's some outtakes from that. Plus, the original band live at Gilligan's in Buffalo. It's going to be a 2 album CD that will actually be able to be bought in stores, because the other two CD's only had 5,000 units, which sold out very quickly. Obviously, Rhino thinks there's a market for it. We have some more that we can put out. Next year we're doing that, and also next year's the 40th anniversary of Vanilla Fudge, and we're putting together a whole box set of DVD's, live and studio stuff.
NHOR : What about the original studio albums, 'Cactus,' 'One Way... Or Another', 'Restrictions', 'Ot 'N' Sweaty'? Are those going to be remastered at any time and re-released here in the U.S.? They're available as imports, but it'd be nice to have them available in the stores here...
CA : We've talked about that, and it wouldn't be a bad idea, to tell you the truth. The only thing out there is 'Cactology' and the live and studio sessions, and those are sold out. 'Cactology' doesn't have all the songs on it, but it has most of the good ones. 'Cactology' has 18 songs versus 4 albums, which each had 8, so you're looking at 32 songs. We're missing almost half the songs on that album. So, it might not be a bad idea.
NHOR : What are your expectations for the Cactus CD?
JM : I have none. We'll see what happens. At this point in my life, I've been playing in the local scene here for a long time, and I'm glad there's a CD out. I had doubts about the album ever even coming out for awhile when it was just sitting on the shelf. So it's nice that it's out there and it came out as solid as it did. I give Jimmy a lot of credit. He just did a tremendous job. I'm just hoping, the more people that can hear it, the more people the band will be able to play for live. People just have to be made aware of the CD. I think as time goes by, and more and more people are aware of the album, I think we'll get some momentum going hopefully.
NHOR : What's next on the horizon for you?
CA : Next, we've got Cactus and Fudge touring, promoting these albums, and finishing the Fudge album. Doing the DVD's... we've got a Fudge DVD in the deal too, which we're going to do in the next few months. We already started the DVD by recording rehearsals for this Zeppelin album, and we recorded the gig we did about 2 weeks ago. We recorded the first few days in the studio, and we did a live thing for KLOS, Vanilla Fudge unplugged. We did "Take Me For A Little While" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On," unplugged, and there was a great reaction. It was for Jimmy Page's wife's charity, The ABC Trust. So Jimmy already knows about us doing this. We're going to try and get support through those guys.
For more information on Cactus go to www.cactusrocks.net