Whether you’re a Kiss Kompletist or simply fascinated with the career arc of one-time Ace Frehley replacement Vinnie Vincent, recent entries at the Bobby Rock Blog — memoirs of ex-Vinnie Vincent Invasion drummer, Bobby Rock — are a must read, particularly the extensive descriptions of the hellish attempts to measure up to Vincent’s version of click-track perfection. Still, after characterizing Vincent as an exacting taskmaster with few social skills, Rock is hardly unsympathetic, insisting, “I’m the better musician for having endured the rigors of those sessions.”
How about some kind of OCD type vibe as an explanation? Nowadays, we think nothing of diagnosing folks with some form of this. But back then, it wasn’t largely talked about, and we were all far less familiar with it. One could make a case that Vinnie’s behavior had all the classic symptoms. It’s like the guy who can’t leave his house until he knows that all the soup cans are facing label-out in the pantry… and then he has trouble leaving the house without going back and checking on the soup cans multiple times before he actually leaves. Here, Vinnie appeared to have an obsession with the tracks being perfect against the machine, and I know there are maybe a few “behind the scenes” things that a few of us there were privy to that might support this case.
The man was simply a perfectionist who was trying to create an oil painting with watercolors. He was wanting to hear these triggered, programmed-sounding Mutt Lange-style drums du jour, when we were set up to deliver more of a classic, raw, acoustic-drums-in-a-big-room-with-a-live-drummer-bashing kind of thing. But… none of us really knew this at the time.
Consider the context. Up until the early 80s, virtually everything had live drums on it. Pop, rock, soul, even disco. But Vinnie was someone who liked all kinds of music, and I knew he listened to a lot of the standard pop stuff from the mid-80s, as well. (Forever a student of good songwriting, no matter the genre.) At the same time, Vinnie was a serious player, and he appreciated serious musicianship. So I think Vinnie was having trouble finding a balance between these two opposing concepts: he loved the modern, rock-solid, big drum approach of either programmed or programmed-sounding drums; but he also loved a drummer who could play a bunch of crazy shit, as well. So these sessions were largely about Vinnie trying to reconcile these two concepts… without really knowing he was trying to reconcile them.
A final question I get from time to time: Would I ever work with Vinnie Vincent again? My answer? A few prerequisite inquiries aside… hell yes. Vinnie Vincent is a bad motherfucker, and truly bad motherfuckers are almost as extinct these days as the main man himself.