Ten Years in Between and After

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Ten years is a long time. Ten “band years” is an eternity when you’re talking about no new album, no tours, etc. Not that the members of Armored Saint haven’t kept busy. Bassist Joey Vera has become a vital part of Fates Warning as well as popping up in session positions for the likes of OSI, Chroma Key, Seven Witches and Anthrax. Singer John Bush was unceremoniously ousted from Anthrax in 2004, only to rejoin the band on stage in 2009 (his status with the band is currently up in the air). But, this isn’t about any of those bands…this is about Armored Saint. The name alone just screams Heavy Metal. The band’s last studio album, 2000’s Revelation (which was their first since 1991’s Symbol Of Salvation) was a fantastic piece of work. La Raza only continues to cement the band’s reputation as world class American Heavy Metal. I’ll let Joey Vera take it from here…

So…ten years? What the hell?

– Yeah well, when I lay it out, it makes sense and makes you realize how fast time flies. After we put out Revelation we did a little touring and then John went back to work with Anthrax and I did with Fates Warning. Anthrax made We’ve Come for You All and Fates made X. I also played on several records and did several tours with other bands. By 2004 even I myself was in Anthrax for a year. By the middle of 2005 John was out of Anthrax and took 2 years off making music. I recorded and released my solo record A Chinese Firedrill. By this time it’s 2008, and it was then that John and I decided to write together. It took us a year to finish writing and recording. So, there’s your ten years!

I’ve read how the whole thing came together basically because you wanted to write with John. You weren’t even planning on Armored Saint. At what point did it become obvious that this is indeed an Armored Saint record? When did you call up the other guys?

– We started around May of 2008 and yes, it’s true, we were only writing for ourselves, to have a good time really. It wasn’t until maybe September that we decided we should do something with this stuff. We entertained the idea of starting something new but it just made more sense to work towards a new Saint record. So by the Fall we had called the other guys and of course they were all in.

Once it was decided to resurrect Armored Saint, did it affect how you approached what you were creating?

– We did get into some of the heavier tunes like Head On, Left Hook, La Raza. But we still made an effort to not over think it and feel obligated to make a “heavy metal record”. We still stayed true to the fact that all we wanted to do was to write some great songs.

How do you think the extended vacations between albums affects the music you create?

– It’s certainly easier to avoid repeating yourself! Also, I like to think that it gave me a longer period to learn things about writing music. I have more tools for my trade so to speak. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I’m going to rattle off a few song titles from the new record (my personal favorites, if that’s OK) and I want to get your perspective on these songs (memories from the sessions, what the song means to you, etc)

“Loose Cannon”

– One of the first riffs I wrote in the mid 2000’s. Shows my love for Thin Lizzy.

“Left Hook From Right Field”

– One of the last tunes we wrote. It came from a very Pop sounding idea. This one we may make a video for next month.

“Get Off The Fence”

– An old idea from the mid 90’s. Again my love for Thin Lizzy. A song about non committal tendencies.

“Bandit Country”

– This song feels like the city to me. And John wrote the lyrics from a perspective of some one who lives on the streets.

“La Raza”

– Maybe my favorite song (this week). I always wanted to fuse Santana with metal. Here’s my interpretation of that.

How did “La Raza” become the album title?

– We just thought the song came out really good. Also, the song is about the human race. The title means “the race”. It sort of sums up the entire record.

What kind of touring plans are you looking at right now for the new record?

– We are not able to plan any tours of any length right now. But we hope to be able to play some shows in summer. We’ll see.

Whose idea was it to “go green” with La Raza’s packaging?

– It was a combination of mine along with the labels. I found out that it’s become much more financially viable for the labels to produce packaging that is made from recycled materials. It wasn’t always like that. Also, the need for plastic is really unnecessary.

A lot of Metal fans dislike the digipack packaging format…why do you think that is?

– I have no idea. I think it gives each package its own unique feel and look. So that not every CD is stuck inside the same plastic jewel case. They should feel lucky, because one day in the not so far off future, there will no packaging at all!

“Nod To The Old School” gave the fans some unreleased, archive material several years ago. Is there any more of that lying around? Maybe for a box set?

– There’s a little but not much. We’ve put out just about everything. But there are a few things.

With the major labels and media bemoaning the perceived “death” of the CD format, where do you see the format fitting into the Metal scene?

– It will become collectible for a while just like LP’s were. But eventually, the CD format will only be a memory. It’s unfortunate but true.

That said, I’m sure you have some sort of MP3 device (like most of us do). If I were to scroll through your playlist, what’s the most un-Metal thing I would find?

– I don’t know what your tolerance level is like. But I’d say you’d raise an eyebrow at Duran Duran “Girls on Film”.

Any parting words?

– I want to thank all the fans who’ve stayed with us for the last 30 years, 20 years and the past 10 years, waiting for a new record. We’re lucky to have you guys.



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