Friday, January 18, 2008

One from the Archives

Editor's note: This interview I conducted with Joey Vera ran circa 2000 in a now-defunct music magazine called Smug.

Armored Saint saw it all in the '80s: Club gigs with bands like Metallica and W.A.S.P.; a slew of indie and major-label releases; and the death of guitarist Dave Prichard. In 1992 the band broke up, and alumni went on to Anthrax, Fates Warning, and DC 4. Now the Saint is back after an almost decade-long hiatus to resurrect metal with Revelation (Metal Blade). Bassist Joey Vera talks about the new album, Saint's cult status, and his penchant for African music.

With the recent glut of reunions in the heavy-metal world, what distinguishes yours?
This one is special because there's been this weird, underground mystique about the band since it broke up. What really helped the reunion along was that during the time that John [Bush, vocals] was touring with Anthrax, and myself with Fates Warning even, we were going to places we'd never been and meeting people we'd never met and there were a lot of questions about Armored Saint. A lot of people wanted the band to get back together. That played a big part in it. There was a lot of anticipation about it on an underground level.

Characterize the mood of the band these days.
The character of the band is really kind of simple: we missed being around each other and making this sort of music together. Our intention was to make a really brutal record with high-energy songs. We want to go out, play these songs live, and do what we did ten or 15 years ago. We're not overly concerned with selling records, it's more for the love of the music and the love of being in the band, almost like when we first started when we were 19.

You produced the album and also helped with engineering. What sort of production values were you going for?

Again, we were going with the simplicity aspect. I really wanted to make an old-school record. I wanted it very raw and very dry, without a lot of effects. It had to be dangerous sounding and had to have a lot of guitars. It just had to really tear your face off.

Your bass playing with AS had always been pretty traditional. On Revelation it's a little more funky. Has playing in FW changed your style much?
That contributed some, along with the past eight years. After Saint, I got involved with a lot of different things during the '90s. I played in several L.A. R&B and funk cover groups. I was also in an African band playing traditional African music, which included some reggae. That band was called Mixed Heritage and was a multi-ethnic eleven-piece. Pretty big band!

Explain ''No Me Digas," Revelation's limited-edition Spanish language bonus track.
The title literally means "Don't Tell Me," and lyrically it's really an abstract bunch of imagery. It's kind of about this part of your brain that conjures up evil, forbidden thoughts. The "Don't Tell Me" is the denial that you have in the logical side of your brain. It's about the push and pull of your psyche.

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