terça-feira, 1 de setembro de 2015

Interview - Armored Saint: "We have to keep our feet on the ground with our claims"

From a meteoric rise to almost a oblivion. This parameter can define how was the Armored Saint career. In the late 80s the band reached a great recognition, but in the next decade we can not say the same, as both, their mentor, bassist Joey Vera, as the lead singer John Bush were involved with other projects (Anthrax and Fates Warning).Well, after a period of hibernation the Armored Saint breathed again, what was the hint that one day they could return with full force. And we can say that it actually materialized, since Bush's Anthrax departure, the Saint has more space, and returned with a new album, the excellent "Win Hands Down".

To tell you a little of these stories (including the invitation to join Metallica), we talked with the leader and founder Joey Vera, who told us his impressions of the new album, the successful time with the release of "Symbol of Salvation" and more !With you, the legend Joey Vera:

Leia em Português AQUI

Road to Metal: Hello Joey, thanks for your time and attention to answer to us this interview! We are very happy with, and also very happy with the new album. Well, let's go!

You recently released your new album, "Win Hands Down", which is having a great impact. How is for you to see this so great and positive repercussion? It would be the deserved recognition that Armored perhaps had not in 80s and 90s?

Joey: Well it’s been great and quite unexpected really. But I don’t feel like we deserve anything at all. In fact we had little expectations for this response. We have to stay grounded in what our intentions are.

RtM: "Win Hands Down" has received great reviews and climbing several charts around the world. The response has been big and faster than your initial expectations? And judging by the album title, or was it a happy coincidence, or you already were sure you had a great stuff in your hands, and the album had everything to be a great success! He he he! Armored Saint will win with Hands Down !! Great album!

Joey: Thank you. But again, we really came out of this with no expectations. The fact that we titled the record with the first track on the record has nothing to do with what we are trying to say about ourselves. We wrote a song called Win Hands Down and we felt like musically, it was a great opening track. That’s all.

RtM: "Win Hands Down" is a powerful, melodic album, which brings a lot of Metal Classic, but never dated, including being a fresh air storm, adjectives I've seen in several reviews. What do you attribute all this energy that emanates from the album? You felt during production it was a special moment or simply ceased to flow naturally, following your instincts?

Joey: Yeah it was pretty much a natural thing. from the get go, I was attemting to make this record sound big and lush. So there are lots of overdubs and parts that create this wall of sound. I was also pushing ourselves to play with arrangements and orchestrations within the songs while always maintaining a sense of power. This thing was not super calculated at all, but more like taking chances.

RtM: I felt a very free band, without worrying about limits, and this can be felt throughout the album, with the inclusion of effects and elements that gave a special “shine” to the sound. The effects on your bass, for example, in the songs "An Exercise in Debaouchery" and "Muscle Memory." I would like you to comment a little more about these two tracks and these "new" elements in the band's music.

Joey: Well, I guess our band has always been a little stripped down in terms of production. We spent a lot of records trying to capture our “live” sound as we are a very high energy live band. But this time, I wanted to go a bit overboard with the production. I wanted this to be epic. Also I am into lots of different kinds of music and it’s fun to have a place to add ethnic instruments or strange sounds. It was an excercise in bridging creativity while maintaining a sense or urgency.

RtM: The title track is also a highlight, even the whole album being great, would you also comment a little more about it, the message that the lyrics brings,  and also  the creative album cover, which is also very funny showing a card game in a saloon, where some people seem to try to take advantage over the others.

Joey: The title comes from Horse Racing and it defines a very easy win. When a jockey is so far ahead of the other horses, he lets the reigns go, and “wins hands down”. John wrote the lyrics about the times when we were young and exploring life and music with friends. The time when we are full of wonder and energy. Life was simpler and easier then. It’s a celebration of life song. It has nothing to do with how we see ourselves as a band. The cover came out of the blue. John kept saying the title track reminded him of western images. So I concoted this idea to take the old west and throw it into an ethereal place, it’s somewhere between Westworld and Blade Runner. I wanted it to be a seperate art piece, something that was ambiguous. I took light and setting ideas from the old masters like Rembrandt and Carravaggio.

RtM: Speaking about the production, the songs and ideas,  were it already being worked during those five years without releasing new material? It was a lengthy process the composition and production itself, or things flowed faster, because the will to make a new Armored Saint’s album?

Joey: This is how it works: We didn’t do any writing until about Jan of 2013. It was then that I started puttng down a few ideas. Then John asked me if had been writing and I said yes, so I made him a demo of about 2 songs or so. Then he got excited and wrote lyrics to those and it was at that point that we started to write this record. But the way we work is very slow. We both have families and our lives are quite busy so we make music whenever we can find the time. We don’t have the record label telling us we have to be done by a certain date. We just work at our own pace, and we are very lucky to have this.

RtM: And how surged the idea of ​​having the participation of Pearl Aday on the track "With a Full Head of Steam"? Her vocals were killers, married perfect in this song. The fact that you have contact with her husband, Scott Ian (Anthrax) believe have facilitated this option.

Joey: Yes. While we wre writing the record, John said he wanted to do a duet with a female singer. But we didn’t feel any of the songs were right until we wrote this one. She was the right choice as we are all friends and I see her almost regularly during the year as friends. it was a no brainer.

RtM: In the year of 91 Armored Saint has a considerable time out in their activities, John Bush was with Anthrax and you with Fates Warning. At some point you all thought in stop definitively the activities with the band?

Joey: Saint did not do anything from 92 to 99 when we decided to write and record "Revelations". Scott took a break from Anthrax to do SOD so we decided it was time to make a record. But in our minds it was just a one off.

RtM: 1991 mark a break in the Armored activities, also marks the release of one of the best albums of your career, the classic "Symbol of Salvation". How were the moments of  album’s composition/production? And could you tell us a bit more about the lyrical approach on it?

Joey: That was a tough record to make, just after saying goodbye to our friend and guitarist David Prichard to Leukemia. Most of the songs were written by Dave and we felt like we had a lot to prove and make him proud. So it was very emotional. Lyrically it was a trying time for us. We were dropped from Chrysalis in late 1988 and we could not get another record deal. We wrote, went back to day jobs, for about 3 years. So the lyrics are about that time in our lives. Some of it is fictional stuff but some of it is very personal.

RtM: But in 2000 the band returned active releasing two albums, "Revelations" (00) and "Nod to the Old School" (02). How was to compose these two albums after almost 10 years without new material? And on those albums did you included any old composition?

Joey: Revelation was like a welcome home vibe for us. It was just a fun thing to make and be together goofing around. it was good working together again. Nod was more of a thing we did for the fans. it has a bunch of live tracks and demo tracks. Songs we never recorded but made demos of. It was supposed to be a gift to our fans into how we work.

RtM: Joey you are known for your excellent technique and power of composition, these adjectives caught the attention of Metallica. I know you've probably answered this question a thousand times, but, why did you not accept to join Metallica after the death of Cliff Burton? When Jason Newsted left the band your name was also remembered. at this time they came to talk to you about it? (we guess you do not accept the post, because maybe you would not have creative freedom in Metallica.)

Joey: Well they did contact me but not for the reasons you stated. They were in a terrible place having to audition bass players and they hated it. They wanted to jam with friends, people they knew, so Lars called me to come jam and see what happens. But I was right in the middle of making Raising Fear with Saint. I wasn’t in a place in my life where I was looking for a change. I didn’t feel it was the right time to leave my band, and childhood friends, right in the middle of this. So I declined. I wasn’t the right guy. Jason was. When Jason left he mentioned my name in the press once and that’s the end of it. In hindsight, I don’t think I would have been creatively happy in that camp. James and Lars have a great team going. They don’t need another person in that bubble. But I enjoy the music I’ve made and all the people I’ve worked with since then, I could not imagine my life any other way.

RtM: Besides Armored Saint, where you has written your name in Heavy Metal history, you are part of another giant, the Fates Warning, which has done countless tours and recorded five albums. How was this experience to play with a legend like Fates Warning?

Joey: Playing with Fates has been very rewarding. On so many levels. I made great life long friends, I’ve played with some of the best musicians in the buisiness and i’ve become a far better player and writer. Being in Fates has made me a better musician. Period.

RtM: And with so many years on the road, seeing so many bands arise and also disappear, as well as new styles and sub-styles, how do you compare today's scene with the '80s, where you began your story?

Joey: It’s gone through many phases, some of which were shitty, and some of which are very interesting. There’s so much more out there now than there was 30 years ago but after yoo sift through the shit, there’s quite a few gems out there.

RtM: And wich new bands called your attention and you believe will have a longevity?

Joey: I can never tell who is going to have long career these days. it all rises and falls so quickly. I’ve been noticing Between the Buried and Me for the past couple records and their new one should be another step in the right direction.

RtM: Thanks a lot for your time Joey, and we let this end space to you to send a message to your South American fans! Hope see you all soon here in Brazil and South America! The March of the Saint over the world!

Joey: Thank you to all of our fans. We cannot do any of this without you, you are very patient and we thank you for coming along with us.

Interview: Carlos Garcia/Renato Sanson



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