When you have a chance to sit down with Joey Vera, legendary bassist for ARMORED SAINT and FATES WARNING, you take it, okay? And that’s exactly what I did not too long ago. With the release of smokin’ new live album Carpe Noctum (out now) on the horizon at the time, Joey was kind enough to chat about everything going on in the land of ARMORED SAINT and even briefly touch on what’s happening with FATES WARNING tour-wise. Check it:
Amps: Carpe Noctum is such a great live record. I have to ask, why only eight songs? Did you just wanna get in, smack people over the head, and then get out?
Joey: (Laughs) Well, that’s always our intention, smack people over the head and get out. But the story is this: we never intended to make a live record. We were in Europe in 2015, and we had the opportunity to record some shows in Germany. So we did just to document them in a “Who knows what we’ll use it for?” kind of thing. Fast forward to the fall of 2016 and as we were getting ready to go out on the QUEENSRŸCHE tour Metal Blade Records said, “Hey, this is a high profile tour for you guys. Let’s put something out as a bridge product between studio records to help promote this tour.”
So we put some of those live tracks together. And they also had the idea for putting it out through PledgeMusic as a pre-order and just have it available through the campaign. It was just gonna be something small, but while I was mixing the record I thought it was turning out really good and I said to them, “Why don’t we add more songs and make it an official release?” They agreed, so that’s when we decided to make it a whole record instead of an EP. And I didn’t want to rehash what we did with Saints Will Conquer from 1989, so I didn’t think we needed more live versions of some of those songs. And though it’s a short record, it’s pretty sweet. And hopefully you wanna play it again and again.
Amps: Still, the song selection on this is so good. “Win Hands Down” if possible, sounds even better live. Do you ever look over at John (Bush, vocals) and ask yourself how the Hell he still sings like that??
Joey: Oh yeah. A lot of people have been commenting on John’s voice since La Raza and what’s different about him is that he really, at some point during the late 90’s he realized how important it was to take care of his voice. And that means he does these crazy-long, ritualistic warm-ups and warm-downs, exercises. He changes his diet when he goes on the road, he gets enough sleep, there’s so many things that he does it gets to the point of being annoying for him, but the payoff is that he’s singing better than he ever has. A lot of credit goes to him for having the discipline to make those changes, because some of them are a pain in the ass. I mean, no caffeine, no alcohol, no tomato sauce? That sucks! But it works, and the proof is in his voice.
Amps: Now, since you said this would be a bridge between studio records, what’s going on with ARMORED SAINT in 2017, recording-wise? Anything concrete yet, or no?
Joey: That’s the million dollar question. The short answer is no. We don’t have any plans at the moment to start writing or making another record. It’s been almost two years since Win Hands Down and people have started asking, “Now what? Now what?” We haven’t worked in a normal capacity since we got back together in 1999 for Revelations. We don’t work in a cycle of being signed to a label, record, tour, record, tour. When we got back together we had the great support of Metal Blade and they said, “Look, we’ll support whatever you guys wanna do. You work at your own pace.” And we’re so lucky to have that. That was part of our agreement amongst ourselves in the band. We didn’t wanna get back together and make this our be all, end all, and do whatever it takes to sell more records. We did that in the earlier part of our career, and it caused a lot of strife. We just wanted to get back together and remember why we did it in the first place when we were 19 years old.
All we cared about was scoring some pot, drinking some beer, and cranking out metal, covering JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN songs. And that was so much fun, it was the reason we started the band. It HAS to be fun for us now, and that’s why we don’t get on a cycle or schedule. If we want to do something, we’ll do it. But in the meantime we’re still having fun touring on this Win Hands Down album. Then we’ll let the dust settle, clear our heads, and wait for something that is genuine inspiration to start writing again.
Amps: I just felt that with Win Hands Down you showed the world you have a ton of kickass music left in you. But, as a selfish metalhead crack addict, now you gotta give us more. That’s all I’m saying.
Joey: (Laughs) Hey, you’re not the first person to say this. We’re so humbled and gracious that we actually have fans that wanna hear more music. If they would have stopped, you and I wouldn’t be talking right now. We still enjoy what we do and we still get inspired by a lot of things. This pledge campaign, I feel, brought us so much closer to the fans, and it showed us how much dedication there is from our fans. We didn’t know it went so deep, and it was really humbling to see that. It gave us a shot in the arm to see how many people get it, they get what we’re doing. It’s really, really cool. Again, it’s really humbling.
Amps: Will there be a U.S. FATES WARNING tour this year?
Joey: We’re doing some shows in Europe. We don’t have any U.S. dates yet but we’re hoping to get something for the fall.
Amps: That’s because Europe gets EVERYTHING. Here in the U.S. we get ba fungul!
Joey: (Laughing) You’re right. Europe has a lot of great festivals. On all levels, from 90, 100 thousand, to 3,000 ones they are all killer.
Amps: How does it feel to have such a rabid ARMORED SAINT fanbase?
Joey: It makes me feel super-humble. I never thought we’d be here 35 years later promoting another record (laughs). It’s pretty incredible, the fact that we’re able to do this is because of our fans. We have a lot of fans who have been there since Day One. We’ve probably lost some along the way, but we’ve gained some new ones. Hell, some people didn’t discover us until La Raza. I’ve met some people whose introduction to us was Win Hands Down.
It’s pretty cool that we’ve been together this long and we’re still able to reach people. Again, it is so humbling. You can’t pay for that stuff. It’s just great, you know? And we don’t take it for granted at all. We are so grateful for people buying our records, people like yourself who spread the word with your site, we’re so grateful for all of that.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the ARMORED SAINT fans worldwide?
Joey: I’m gonna say it again, in big giant capital letters, “THANK YOU!” Thank you for supporting us all of these years and if it’s been only a few months, thank you for that too. It’s been great being able to get closer to the fans through social media. When we first started we didn’t have computers, we had fan letters, written by hand and sent through the mail. And we would write back. Now it’s much more immediate and we really get to see how genuine our fanbase is. This is a greater thing than we could ever have imagined when we first started out, smoking pot and drinking beer. We can’t do ANY of this without you, so thank you all for your support.
Joe Vera is a guy who truly gets it. And he’s a guy who is so very grateful for the fans. In a time where self-entitled, ego-driven “rockstars” are making fools of themselves all over social media it’s nice to talk to one of the good guys. I cannot stress how badly you all need Carpe Noctum in your lives right now, so go get it and we’ll chat after it blows your hair back, OK? Good. You have your orders.