NAMM 2008: Conversations of Steel
I met Joey Vera on Saturday while wandering the convention floor. Joey is a really down to earth guy and was nice enough to provide me with an interview and take a photo with me. He’s also down to work on band projects, so if you need a bassist or producer hit him up!
MR: Hey Joey thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, what brings you to the NAMM convention?
I live here in LA so I come every year to meet with the companies that endorse me and then to basically loiter.
MR: Joey you have quite a storied career having played in Armored Saint, Fates Warning, Anthrax, Seven Witches, OSI just to name a few. You recently released your second solo effort " A Chinese Firedrill circles" a cd that will appeal to any fan of the prog rock genre, first off what’s with the name? Also, what would you like to tell readers about this release?
A Chinese Firedrill is a college prank where a group of people pile into a car, and at a stop light, they all get out and run around the car in a circle and get back in. It’s totally pointless. The true definition is “a chaotic and ineffectual exercise”. It appealed to me somehow. But this CD is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s been a good way for me to stretch out writing wise with some of my influences from progressive music. I play all (most) instruments and sing. For anyone who knows me only from the Metal world, they will be quite surprised when they hear this record. They can check it out at my MySpace site. www.myspace.com/joeyvera
MR: Another recent project you were involved with was the "Bass Invaders" album from Helloween bassist Marcus Grosskopf. How did you enjoy working with Marcus and Peavey from Rage (Who wrote and sang on the track Joey appeared on)? Was your contribution transferred to Germany electronically, or was there a physical session between two bass guitar giants?
Marcus approached me when I was playing in Belgium, he was there also with Helloween. I’ve known Marcus since 1987 when Armored Saint toured with Helloween and Grim Reaper. Marcus had done all the recording in Germany and he sent me digital files over the net. I have a studio here at my house and I just did my tracks and sent them back. I’ve been working like that with many groups for some time now. I love it. I think the track I played on came out well, it was a chance for me to solo which I don’t do very often.
MR: Had you remained in contact with Marcus since the now legendary Armored Saint / Grim Reaper / Helloween tour? What do you remember from that tour?
Yeah, I would occasionally run into Marcus if I was on tour in Europe. That tour was great. We got along great with the Reaper guys and I think it was the first tour in the US for Helloween. I remember back then they didn’t speak English all that well, but they were really nice guys. We had some good times.
MR: Fans of the classic early 80’s Fates Warning lineup were treated, shocked and surprised with the release of the "Twist Of Fate" EP in 2003. Do you know if there will ever be a follow up to this release? Do you stay in touch with John?
I don’t stay in touch with John Arch. I had a great time playing on that as well but I don’t think John has any intention of doing another or especially touring. He never enjoyed being away from home that much even in the old days. But who knows, maybe someday he’ll get the itch again to make another record.
MR: In recognition of the 20th anniversary of Metal Blade Records, Symbol of Salvation and an a long out of print home video A Trip Through Red Times by your first band Armored Saint were reissued. Is there currently any news to write home about from the Armored Saint camp?
Not really other than we have indeed started to talk at least about doing some writing. But, nothing yet. We may plan on doing a few dates in some places we’ve never been to also, but that too is tentative.
MR: You, John Bush and Gonzo Sandoval have been friends since third grade. Did you guys all get into metal around the same time? Did you guys have frequent visits to the principal’s office?
Yeah, we shared lots of music early on. Starting in around 1977, it was Zeppelin (we saw them with John Bonham), then Queen, Thin Lizzy, Kiss, then in 1978/9 it was Van Halen and then Priest, UFO the list goes on. In 1981 is when we started getting into the NWOBHM. And yes, we all got expelled a few times for various things. Nothing harmful though. We were so into the movie Animal House. We used to pull pranks all the time and we just got caught during a few of them.
MR: No one will ever forget Armored Saint’s killer but brief appearance in Hellraiser III. How did that come about and what are your memories of lending your talents to the movie?
I think the call came from the label Metal Blade. They had submitted us for the movie and they loved a couple of songs and then they asked if we’d be into the bar scene. We were on tour at the time and we agreed and it just so happened that we cold swing down to North Carolina (where filming was taking place) during an off day and do the shoot. I remember it being a very long day, much like a video shoot. A lot of waiting around. But it was fun doing a movie shoot, even though I look like a dumb ass.
MR: Comedian Brian Posehn (Sarah Silverman Show, VH-1) who is a real life metalhead recently released his debut for Relapse Records, "Brian Posehn – Live In: Nerd Rage" which you play bass on. Do you have any funny stories about working / hanging out with the hilarious Mr. Posehn?
I mean, Brian’s a fun guy to hang out with anyway so something is always funny. The video shoot was a blast because we all got to play different characters and dress up. Just getting dressed and made up was fucking hilarious. That whole thing, recording, making the video was all good fun.
MR: You recently mixed several projects including DC4, Fueled By Fire, and Seven Witches. I know you stay constantly busy either touring, recording or mixing but you obviously have an impressive resume in the studio world (Joey was recently featured in the recording industry magazine "Tape Op") How do you land your mixing gigs, can anyone approach you to mix their music?
It’s all word of mouth. I don’t have a manger right now so It’s all just word of mouth. I get offers from all over the place, some local bands, some with deals. I’ll do it all as long as I think I can bring something to the table. Anyone can hit me up about that, I enjoy the work. Anyone interested should send me an email through my website www.joeyvera.com or at www.myspace.com/joeyvera
MR: Lastly, what can we expect from Joey Vera in 2008? Please let us know about any other recording, touring or producing activities you will be up to….
At the moment I’m mixing a band from New Jersey and then I have some local gigs to play with a singer songwriter, this may also take me to Japan for a few shows. I’m doing some writing for no reason at all except that I want to keep my skills in check. I’ve got a few things coming up also which includes mixing and playing bass on Jack Frost’s (Seven Witches) new solo CD.