Joey Vera is all over the place these days. Between the last FATES WARNING album (Darkness In a Different Light) and tour, the recently-released stellar MOTOR SISTER record (Ride) he did with Scott Ian (ANTHRAX) and some other heavies, and now the new ARMORED SAINT album Win Hands Down which is out now it’s amazing he has time for it all. Not to mention his being very in demand as a producer and engineer. I had a chance to sit and talk with him about everything he has going on and more. Check it:
Amps: The MOTOR SISTER stuff is a big departure from what we’ve heard you on in the past. Was that refreshing, fun, maybe both?
Joey: Yeah, absolutely. I sometimes get chances to play different things with different people. I was involved on and off with a project with Pearl Aday for several years doing some acoustic gigs with her of her own material which is not really MOTOR SISTER-esque, but some of the tunes she had she was working on with Jim Wilson. I’ve been friends with him for a long time as well. It’s not really a complete departure for me because I’ve been doing it with both of them for quite some time. It’s great because we all grew up on the same kind of bands. It was also great to be able to do this type of record. That part of it was super refreshing. It’s been a blast. Pearl also guests on a song on the new ARMORED SAINT.
Amps: Ride is just a great, kickass rock record. What do you think when you listen start to finish?
Joey: Well it just reminds me of how much fun it is to be involved with this. I still fanboy when it comes to MOTHER SUPERIOR music, so I just sit back and get into the songs. I sometimes forget and I’m like, “Oh wait, is this the version that I play on or is this the original?” (laughs). I’m real proud of what we did and the way it came about was super-organically. It was all done live, no overdubs.
Amps: And the new ARMORED SAINT record Win Hands Down is coming soon, too. You excited?
Joey: Yeah, man. June 2. It’s pretty killer, too.
Amps: What made you get into the producing and engineering side of things? Are you working with any bands in that regard right now?
Joey: I kind of got into it by accident. I’ve always been interested in it since day one when we were just starting out in ARMORED SAINT. This was before I even knew about four-track cassettes. I would use a regular old tape recorder and I’d record something. Once I saw that I could push PLAY on one part while recording a second part and then play along with it I became really interested in the process. And I’d ask a lot of questions when we were in studio. I’d also hang out with the engineers and I think it was probably those early days when I started helping friend’s bands record four-track demos. I got pretty good at making my own little demos, so I started helping my friends. There was a band called MX MACHINE I’d help record and this other band called BASTARD SONS I helped. Even though it’s only a four-track, suddenly I’m an engineer (laughs) and I’m mic’ing everything up. One thing led to another and I started getting different offers to do it in different places. Eventually I started working in a small studio kind of as a house guy, and that’s how I got it.
I never went to school for it or anything. And I don’t consider myself a real engineer; what’s the definition of that anyway? People like Bill Metoyer are who I learned from. He’s my mentor. I learned a lot from him. And I can always call him and ask him questions. I learned a lot from Jay Ruston, too. I’ve worked with him on a lot of things including the MOTOR SISTER record and he mixed the ARMORED SAINT record, too. He’s someone that again, I’ve really learned a lot from. I’m getting ready to work with my buddy Jack on his band SEVEN WITCHES and I’ll be mixing their next record.
Amps: Is there anything you DON’T do at this point??
Joey: (Laughing) I don’t do dishes or windows.
Amps: You’ve been playing for a long time now. What album or project stands out most to you, and why?
Joey: Well, I’m pretty proud of a lot of things. One of the luckiest things for me ever was to be in a band for a very long time, like ARMORED SAINT. I’ve had the ability to play with so many different people and a lot of musicians from different genres. Other metal musicians like LIZZY BORDEN and Kevin Moore (ex-DREAM THEATER), and I’ve played with so many great drummers. My work with FATES WARNING is dear to me as is my work with ARMORED SAINT. I’ve played with so many great musicians who were also great people, so I’m really grateful for everything I’ve done.
Amps: Are there any of today’s younger bands that stand out to you?
Joey: Well you know these days it’s almost like ALL the kids are blowing me away! The level of musicianship nowadays is way higher than it was when I was comin’ up. I’m impressed by so many bands right now. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME for instance, they’re incredible musicians and what they’re doing is pushing the boundaries. I appreciate that, and I’m very impressed with PERIPHERY. Not exactly a new band, but I’m very impressed with OPETH. I’m a big fan.
Amps: What does Joey Vera listen to when he’s in the car or at home?
Joey: Usually if I’m getting in the car or whatever, I’m pretty stuck in my ways, so when I pull up my iPod it’s usually an album I’ve been listening to for 30 years! Right now my wife and I are rotating WAR – The World Is a Ghetto, CHEAP TRICK – In Color, THIN LIZZY – Johnny the Fox…those are pretty typical of what would be spinning in my life and my wife’s too.
Amps: Can we agree right now that it is impossible to be in a bad mood after listening to a CHEAP TRICK record?
Joey: (Laughs) Oh yeah! It’s funny, and you put on one of their first two records and every single song is great. Those basically go in the “Perfect Record” files they’re so great.
Amps: Say something to all the fans of ARMORED SAINT as well as your other bands and projects.
Joey: I guess in general I always say, “Thank you.” For listening, and giving a shit, and following and supporting. I mean, without all that stuff we’re just sitting here playing by ourselves in our bedrooms to a record. You help us move forward and I thank you for that.
Joey Vera is very humble. The guy is so in demand to do a ton of things yet 30 years later he still feels lucky to be doing what he does. And that just shows what type of guy he is. Both the new ARMORED SAINT album Win Hands Down and MOTOR SISTER Ride are out right now on Metal Blade Records, so go ahead and grab your copies today!
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