Armored Saint: Made In . . . Italy? Page 2

And "classic" of course, refers to the band's run of four studio albums and one live document, spanning the years 1984 to 1991, a period full of the usual business pitfalls and one sad tragedy, the death of guitarist Dave Prichard, from leukemia in 1989. The Armored Saint sound, as Vera laments, always began with this traditional riff metal based on the band's '70s and early '80s influences ("early Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Queen, and then later on Priest, Maiden, Def Leppard, Motorhead"), and then inescapably seemed to hit a brick wall when it came to production, each album seemingly stuffed with the next big thing in metal anthems, somehow recorded just a little too safely to work.

"Well, you're right, but the real label meddling didn't start until our third record, Raising Fear," explains Joey. "When we got signed, the songs for March Of The Saint were already done. And then with Delirious, pretty much all the songs were also already written, leftovers from March, and then we wrote some new ones. But at that point we were very rebellious, against the business, against the label. We were sort of seeking revenge on that record for some reason. But you're right, we were never able to get that live sound, which is why this one is so raw. It might actually sound like a demo to you, but then again, that might appeal to some people."

Lessons learned indeed. The Armored Saint saga reads like many a sad tale of this hard biz, although Vera makes clear that the crappy stuff was countered splendidly by playing arenas with bands like Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Whitesnake and Quiet Riot. Ya gotta like that. But this was exposure out of synch with sales.

"The first one was great, it did something like 130,000 worldwide. Delirious was lower; we went downhill from there, around 90,000 for that one, and then Raising Fear was like 65,000, pretty low. That one was really hard to make because there was a lot of meddling. We were really far in debt and our record sales were low, a lot of pressure. It was not fun. Too much money was being spent on our records, right from the get go. A lot of people ask me if there is anything I would have done differently, and for the most part I don't regret anything in my life. But that would have been one of them, not spend so much damn money on stupid shit. I blame it on our business in general, and the people who were running our business. Really, in essence, we should be controlling our own business. But we were 21, basically just potheads at this point, and didn't give a f**k really, let alone know any better. We just didn't care. But five years later, you realize you're in debt over half a million dollars. It's like ╬how the f**k did that happen?' 'Well, remember that first record you made? Well, that place costs $2500 a day, just to be there.' It's kind of a joke, but it's true. How else are you supposed to know these things? This is how the business works. Nobody sits you down and tells you, 'Don't you worry, we're going to make you this record, and we're going to spend a ton of money, but you're going to owe it back to us. Not only do you owe it back to us, but this is the rate at which you pay it to us. This is called your royalty rate (laughs)."

Armored Saint Interview Page 3