When ARMORED SAINT announced a summer tour in which they’d be performing their landmark Symbol of Salvation album in its entirety I, along with many other metalheads rejoiced. Not only have I never seen them live, but how could anyone resist a show like this, right? I was fortunate enough to have a chat with singer John Bush about the tour, as well as what’s next in the land of ARMORED SAINT. Check it:
Amps: You’re doing Symbol of Salvation in its entirety on this upcoming tour. How did you come to this decision?
John: We just started working on it and I’m doing my homework (laughs). It should be a lot of fun. Well we’ve never done one of these “play an album in its entirety” kind of tours, and we felt like that’s the record to do it with.
It’s the record that almost didn’t happen. It’s the middle section of ARMORED SAINT’S career. We had done three records with Chrysalis, then we got dropped. We wrote a bunch of songs because we were like, “What the hell else are we gonna do?”, then of course we were dealing with Dave Prichard’s illness, and it was a really rough period for the band. Dave passed away sadly, and then we regrouped. We had all these great songs that Dave was such a big part of and we decided to sign with Metal Blade Records which was the right deal all along. We worked with Dave Jerden who was a hot producer at the time and the stars seemed to align for ARMORED SAINT. It was an emotional record that touched a lot of people in a lot of ways. To be perfectly honest, is it a flawless record? Probably not. But here we are, we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna play some songs we’ve never played live before, and it should be fun stuff. We’re gonna make Dave proud.
Amps: Speaking of live stuff, Carpe Noctum was excellent. And Win Hands Down, both the song and the album were fantastic!
John: Thank you very much. We’re super proud of Win. We think we made an amazing record. It’s not easy to make a modern-sounding record and also sound like a band in its true form. Extremely proud of some of those songs like “In An Instant” and “Muscle Memory”, the title track and so many others. It’s gonna be a tough record to beat, quite frankly. We dug deep for that one. I guess guys ion their 50’s can put out a legitimate, solid effort (laughs).
Amps: But you fall into the same category, for me, as ACCEPT, OVERKILL, and EXODUS in that you’re doing some of your best writing in the second half of your career.
John: You know, it’s not easy. The thing is that you want to always be growing and developing, but you also want to stay true to what your roots are as a band. So it’s that fine line you walk and you want to be able to do it in the best of ways. That’s not easy for people who’ve been around a long time to do. There’s been some bands who I like that put out new material and it’s an automatic bathroom break for the live performance. We didn’t want that. We wanted people to be excited for our new material. You want to make a record that people hear and go, “This is one of the best things they’ve ever done!” and I think Win Hands Down can rival that. Obviously I’m biased since I’m in the band, but I really believe that.
Amps: You still sing like the young kid from back then. What do you do as far as taking care of your voice?
John: Number one is that I’m a little deeper than I used to sound. Listening to Symbol of Salvation I’m going, “How the Hell am I gonna pull this off?” so I might have to make adjustments here and there as a singer. I just take better care of myself now. The days of pounding a lot of drinks and who knows what extra curricular activities in my 20’s and early 30’s are over. I’m a much better, healthier John Bush because of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like having some drinks, but I pick and choose my spots. I take much better care of myself now that I’m older. I watch what I eat which plays a pivotal role for a singer. People thing singers have it made, but it’s actually the biggest pain in the ass. You have to take care of yourself or you’re gonna sound like crap. You can get ripped and drink 24 beers one night and still play guitar the next day. You might not move around as much, but you can still play.
But if you do that as a singer, you’re probably gonna suck the next night. At the end of the day I want to be the best that I can be onstage. I love singing and I want the fans to go, “Wow, he sounds awesome!” I think in the 80’s the lines between working and partying were a little blurred, you know?
Amps: After this summer tour what’s next?
John: We’ve already done some writing for the next record. Our goal is to try to get out a studio record by the middle of next year. That might be a lofty goal, but that’s what we’re aiming for. And if that doesn’t happen, we’re not gonna stress over it. We always think quality over quantity. When all is said and done your legacy lives on through your records. You don’t want people thinking you mailed it in for the latter part of your career. A record lasts forever so I want it to be amazing. If that means it takes a little longer, so be it. That being said, we’re also not completely ignorant to the fact that we’re guys in our mid-50’s. So there’s a little bit of “time is of the essence” mentality as well. You combine those things and we’ll get it out when we do. We’re headed to South America in June which we’ve never done, so that’s exciting, and we’ll do some scattered festival shows this summer. We’re playing Mexico, which we’ve also never done, which is ridiculous considering three fifths of this band is Mexican! We’re doing Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia, which I’ve never been to so I’m excited for that as well.
Amps: Away from music, what do you like to do to relax or unwind?
John: Well last night I played my Wednesday night pickup basketball game which I do every week. Tuesday we ditched school and took my son and a couple of his buddies snowboarding. We went up to Big Bear where my wife and I have a place. I’m a pretty active guy, I like sports. I help my wife run a business that involves casting in commercials and such. I love to read and watch movies, too.
Amps: Did you catch any of this year’s Best Picture Nominees?
John: I’m lucky in that I’m a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) so we get all kinds of screeners, which is awesome. There were some great ones last year. I could give a rat’s ass about winners and losers. I thought Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was great, and I loved The Florida Project.
Amps: Three Billboards was my favorite movie last year. By the way my son Mini-Amps loves your last two albums as well. He’s 16, and he has autism. He’s non-verbal, but when he loves certain bands, he does this sing-songy thing with glee. He does it a lot to ARMORED SAINT!
John: Wow that’s cool that he digs us. I’m sure having a special needs child is challenging. I admire you, and it sounds like you’re doing a great job being a great Dad.
Amps: Thank you for saying so. What do you want to say to all the ARMORED SAINT fans out there in the world?
John: I’d like to say thank you to everyone first and foremost for your support over the years. We’re very grateful. One of the best things about ARMORED SAINT is that it’s the same guys who came up together. Dave’s no longer with us, but he’d be here if he could, I know that. We are very humble, and there’s just a great feeling in this band. We were never a huge band, but we’re a very sincere band, and I think the fans know that.
John Bush is such a cool, laid back guy, isn’t he? And he couldn’t have been nicer.The fact that ARMORED SAINT is riding this hot streak makes an old metal guy like me smile ear-to-ear. The tour starts on July 10 and runs through August 18. You can find all dates and tickets HERE. I’ll be at the Sellersville, PA gig on July 11. If you’re there, come say hey. Either way, definitely get out to one of these shows. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t!