Neil Cicione

Are you from a musical family? What first got you interested in music.

Music was always around the house. My father was a singer, at age 12 he performed on the Arthur Godfrey show and had a opportunity to sign to Warner Brothers studios. His father wouldn’t allow it. My father continued to enjoy music throughout his life.

My parents played music all the time in the house. When I saw the Beatles on TV when I was five years old, I was mesmerized. My older brother and sister would bring home music and let me listen to it. I loved it.

My mom loved Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. She bought me a toy trumpet, I would run around the house making believe that I was Herb Alpert.

When I was nine, my friend Chris had a red sparkle Ludwig set in his basement. I was in awe! He put on the theme to the Monkees and played along to it, and that was it… I was hooked. I wanted my own set of drums for Christmas. I got them. It l cheap set of drums with cardboard heads, but I loved it. The next Christmas (1969) I got a real set of black pearl drums. My brother’s friend and helped me set them up and taught me a typical rock beat. From then on, I listened to music and tried to emulate the drummers.

Do you have any other formal training?

I briefly studied with Long Island’s own Jeff Indyke in the 1980’s. I also studied with the great Bobby Rondinelli . Some of the things Bobby taught me are double bass, rudiments, playing with a metronome, and good practicing habits (which is the most key thing any musician could learn).I'm mostly self taught.

I began playing in bands at 15 years old (Stone Wall). By 18, I was playing local bars with a band called “Thunderbuck Ram”. In the 1980’s I was in an original band called Wino, then started playing in a copy band called Stiff Richards with George Cintron. We played the Long Island Bar circuit ..

In the 1990’s I played a Led Zeppelin Tribute called April Rain, a copy band called Loose Cannons with Teddy Rondinelli, a Cream Tribute band called Heavy Cream, and a Grand Funk Tribute band. There were lots more…

In the early 2000’s I began to drum for Seven Turns, an eight piece Allman Brothers Tribute band. Being in this tribute band , has taught me how to play a non-traditional style of rock that broadened my drumming skills.

Describe some of the greatest live performances you've attended.

I attended some awesome live performances through the years – my favorites were seeing Rush, Frank Zappa and Jethro Tull at the Nassau Coliseum. All three of these bands have great drummers. Also Joe Walsh at Westbury.

Who are some of your favorite drummers and what do you admire about their styles?

I liked Don Brewer from Grand Funk. He had a funky feel and was powerful. I love all styles: Ginger Baker, Carmine Appice, Ian Pace, Neil Peart, Bobby Rondinelli, and Joe Franco the list goes on…

I bring my all musical experiences and influences to any project I'm involved in, currently that is Rickity Rickity is an original project, when I 'm coming up with parts of a song, I try to make it interesting for myself but it has to have a great sounding groove. One thing I love about playing in Rickity is that I have the freedom to express naturally my own feel and contribute my style to the songs.

Talk about the band and the style of music as you see it. What are the bands strengths, in your eyes?

Rickity is a classic rock band with a powerful female lead vocal, very powerful guitars, and a wealth of talent in the rhythm section. Our strength is in the combination of great songs, with great lyrics, while each of the rest of us adding flavor and texture to make each song our own unique sound.

You have some writing credits in Rickity, both for music and lyrics. How do you contribute to the writing process?

The band in general comes up with our material while jamming together at practice. Any one of us may start a riff or something and we begin creating from there as a band. I am a very melody oriented kind of a person, so if the band is writing a riff, I sometimes hear a melody in my head, so I will hum it out loud to share it with them. If they like what they hear, we try it and see if it works.

I don’t sit down and write lyrics on paper, but if I hear something, I create lyrics in my head and share it on the spot. Sometimes it can be a fragment of a sentence, something short, four words or so, like the hook and title “Lonely at the Top”.

Describe your daily work and music schedule.

I practice drumming for at least an hour in my studio. Two or more days a week I rehearse with Rickity and once a week with Seven Turns. I also gig with both bands whenever we can.

What are your hopes for Rickity in the coming months and years?

Rickity has completed our first CD. Now we'll gig as much as possible to allow people to hear our music. I hope that Rickity grows and continues to write great music, and stay the great unit that it is.