Interview with Joey Vera
Today I get to indulge in the mind of the mighty Joey Vera from Armored Saint. Having recently completed a new album entitled 'La Raza' Joey kindly took some time to complete the Mystic Metal quiz. Having maintained a lengthy career with this band, since 1982 to be precise, I managed to acquire a little insight into his metal journey thus far.
From where do you draw your musical influence?
I have many influences but the first ones musically are Queen, Thin Lizzy, Kiss, Sabbath, Priest, UFO etc.
Bass wise: Geezer, Jaco Pastorious and Marcus Miller.
How did you come about obtaining the band name?
Our drummer Gonzo thought it up after seeing the movie Excalibur.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
What one thing do you feel sets you apart from the rest in this genre?
We've never made the same record twice.
How long did it take to record La Raza?
It was recorded and mixed in five weeks.
What is the inspiration behind La Raza?
We just wanted to write good songs. We were not concerned with pleasing anyone else except ourselves. In the past, we would think too hard about the music we were writing and maybe even felt as though we had to prove something. But we have none of that now.
Which label did you produce this album through? And how much of a difference does this make to the overall production process?
The record is on Metal Blade records. The label has no effect on the production of our music. I produced this one by myself. We have a lot of freedom to make the records we want to from our label, which is a great thing to have.
Any plans for a music video?
We are planning on shooting a video for Left Hook from Right Field in the next two weeks.
When you go into recording mode, do you find it easy or challenging?
It's challenging. I make pretty elaborate demos of our songs before we go into the studio so part of the challenge is dong them better than the demos which is not as easy as it may seem. Aside from that, getting really good performances from everyone and getting the sounds to sound like they sound in your head, is a challenge.
What kind of message are you trying to relay to your audience?
We are not really trying to do that. We don't set out to be preachers. If there's anything people may take away with them it might be 'perseverance'.
Who's responsible for the bands artwork?
We worked on the cover art with our friend and photographer Stephanie Cabral. We felt like the music had this undertone of the place where we are from which is the city of Los Angeles. So, we were trying to illustrate that with the photos we took. We want to have a connection with our city and also try to tell a story relating to the title which is 'The Race'. The human race.
How hard has it been to get to this point?
This band has been together off and on for 28 years. We've been through getting dropped by labels, players injured in car accidents, we lost a member to leukaemia and our singer left to join another band. Yeah we've had a few obstacles. But that's life isn't it? In 28 years, I think everyone would have a similar story. There's been both good times and bad one's.
Where does your main fan base / support tend to lie?
Mainly in the US and Europe. Germany has been a long time supporter.
Can you recall a favourite venue during your years of touring?
Lots! Cobo Hall Arena in Detroit, Michigan where Kiss 'Alive!' was recorded is one of them.
What are some of your favourite local acts? And have you had the chance to play alongside them?
I assume you don't mean local as in local to our city. If you mean American bands: Metallica, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Y&T, Death Angel, WASP, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Dokken. We've toured with all of these guys.
What would be your most memorable gig / performance to date?
When I'm in Armored Saint, Athens, Greece in 2003. When I was with Anthrax, Sziget festival in Budapest, Hungary in 2004.
Have you got a favourite song you like to play? And is there one in particular your fans seem to prefer?
It varies. I like playing the tunes from our record 'Symbol of Salvation' and the fans seem to like that as well!
If you created your own metal festival, who would you prefer was playing alongside you and where would that be?
In Greece: King's X, Opeth, Spocks Beard, Motorhead.
What kind of instruments do you use? And have you done the 'Rock Star' thing yet and smashed any equipment?
I play Fender P Basses through Ampeg SVT amps. No I've never smashed anything on purpose.
What have been some of the more bizarre signings you've had?
Limbs, Tits and money.
Where can people purchase your music and merchandise from?
Metalblade.com - Amazon.com - Itunes.com
What was the main reason you chose this career path and has it turned out as expected?
I wanted to rock. I am surprised to realize I've been doing this for almost 30 years. I never imagined I'd be doing this for that long, no way. I'm quite lucky.
Fame, fun or finance?
Only for the need to have fun. For most of us, those other things you mention are fleeting. You can only contain fame and money for so long. But the fun part is up to you. If you truly enjoy what you do, then you will have a good time doing it whether you are playing in front of 50 thousand people or 50.
Let's pretend you were creating a tour survival guide. What would be your top three tips for surviving a long tour with the band?
Get plenty of rest, eat well and keep your sense of humour intact.
What words of advice can you offer anyone looking to enter the music industry?
As I said before, you have to do it because you really enjoy it. This lifestyle is not for everyone. You have to be very resilient.
Anything you'd like to add or say to your fans?
I must say how lucky I am, and we as a band too, to have such loyal fans that have stayed with us for all of these years. We couldn't do any of this if no one was listening. So, thank you!
Armored Saint Myspace
Buy Armored Saint here
'Interview with Armored Saint' by Déa di Morté © 08 April 2010
Hails! to Joey from Armored Saint for agreeing to participate and taking the time to complete this interview
All pictures courtesy of Metal Blade Records, Riot Entertainment and Armored Saint