Interview with ARMORED SAINT bassist JOEY VERA
By Diego Negrete
Rather than your standard interview, SHOCKWAVES paired Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera with long-time friend Diego Negrete for an intriguing chat about the "classic" Saint days. I'm sure all you SHOCKWAVES readers are well aware of Joey Vera's involvement with Armored Saint, Fates Warning, and Engine, as well with his duties as part-time journalist for SHOCKWAVES Magazine Online (Joey did the interviews with Doug Pinnick and Billy Sheehan on the SW site.) And I'm sure your all well aware of Saint's latest album Revelations on Metal Blade Records. But many of you are probably not too familiar with Joey's pre-Armored Saint history. So what we have below is classic metal history through the eyes of long-time Pasadena bros Joey Vera and former MX Machine/Motofury bassist Diego Negrete. Enjoy! ....Bob Nalbandian
I'm sitting here with Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera in beautiful Tujunga, California, having an off-line chat and a cold beer in a local watering hole called Schoonerville. Tujunga...the city where lonesome bikers go to die and tweekers die harder. I live in this mountain side retreat...its a beautiful place, as long as you stay away from the cops.
When I was asked by Bob to interview Joey Vera for SHOCKWAVES, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I was fortunate to have grown up with Joey and the rest of Armored Saint. It started 20 years ago and it's been sometime since Joey and I last sat down for a beer and a chat. Hanging out together was long overdue.
Before there was Armored Saint, there was a small group of kids. Those were the early days, and looking back, it's amazing to think about all the crazy shit we did. I spoke with Joey in great lengths about the early days leading up to the formation of Armored Saint. It was the beginning of an adventure that would last a long time for all of us. The following are highlights of our conversation. This time I brought a tape recorder, and I'm glad I did!
DIEGO: Joey, there are some questions I have about where it all started that I don't even know the answers to. I was younger by a couple of years and didn't meet you guys till I was in the 8th grade. Where did it start?
JOEY: I think it started around junior high school when John, Gonzo and I really started hanging out and becoming best friends.
DIEGO: Where was Phil (Sandoval)?
JOEY: Phil was a few years older and had friends of his own.
DIEGO: Who was the first to start playing guitar?
JOEY: It was David Avila (John Bush's next-door neighbor.) He started playing guitar in the 6th grade. I remember in elementary school, on Fridays, the teacher would bust out a guitar and everyone would all start playing and singing. I think that's where David became interested in guitar. He had older brothers; they weren't really musicians but more like loadies. They were a big influence on him too. So, he was like the first guy to buy a guitar and an amp. We all kinda thought of him as someone who could play real good. He had a great ear and could pick up songs easy.
DIEGO: I remember when I was in high school there were bands on every block. When did it start?
JOEY: I remember the band 'Zarate,' which was Ruben Zarate and his brother. They were kinda like the big competition because they were really good. We started playing in Jr. high school so we had been playing for a few years. Our first band was in the 9th grade. It was me on guitar, John Bush, Channing (longtime buddy, now in Killingfield) on bass, and David Avila was on lead guitar. I think Martin Zuniga was the drummer. The band was Rhapsody. It was our first group ever. We played one or two concerts at lunch time in the auditorium. I'll never forget the first time we played. All the girls who new everybody in the band were up in front of the stage.....they were screaming through the whole show. And I was like....so hooked after that. That was it. We were all dressed in white...striking the rad poses!
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