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Armored Saint Drops By the Wild Side To Chat About the "2nd Coming of Armored Saint"

By Diana DeVille, Rock Goddess
Monday, June 12, 2006 @ 8:16 AM

Seminal LA Rockers Take to the

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Recently Armored Saint drummer Gonzo and guitarist Phil Sandoval dropped by the KNAC.com Studios to chat with Diana DeVille about their upcoming tour.

Here is what they had to say (interview transcribed by Metal Bubba):

DD: We have Gonzo and Phil Sandoval in studio here with us today. Hey guys!

GS: How ya doin'?

PS: How's it goin'?

DD: Great. How about yourselves? What's new and exciting with you?

GS: We're gonna be playing in Europe!

DD: Yes, I know. We're gonna talk about that. By the way, I have to tell you guys... Phil was cheating before the interview. He was trying to look at my sheet to see what I was gonna ask him. [laughs] So he could prepare his answers. I said, "No!" [laughs] That takes all the fun out of it. You're just going to have to guess what I'm going to ask you. By the way, I got a request for you to sing on the air.

PS: Oh yeah. Really? By...

GS: I don't sing.

DD: By a young man named David.

PS: For him I will sing, though.

GS: That's his son.

DD: A very exciting time for both of you and the band, and for all of us fans here! You guys are hitting the road soon.

GS: Yeah, yeah. We feel really cool here about being able to play in the year 2006 as Armored Saint. This is a neat situation.

DD: And it's something very long-awaited, I would say.

GS: Well, yeah. There are a lot of things that have occurred, but we're just looking at it as a starting point to see what happens.

DD: Are you excited to be hitting the road?

PS: Yeah! There are places we haven't been to. Like Italy. I'm looking forward to that.

GS: Ireland, Scotland.

DD: Lots of cool places to visit. Last year you reunited for one show. I think it was with the Scorpions. July of last year, I believe.

PS: It was October. Was it October?

GS: I don't remember.

PS: It was hot. It was very hot out there.

DD: I just remember that there was one show. Joey was in the studio around then and I kept asking him, "So what's Saint going to be doing?" And he'd say, "We're doing the one show and nothing else." And I said, "OK, what's coming up for you guys?" And he'd say, "We're doing the one show and nothing else."

GS: Yeah, well. Things have changed now for the band. Our lives have changed. John and Joey are proud parents. That in itself is a full time job, I'm sure. Phil would know. We're just taking it a step at a time, you know? We were offered these dates, with the help of our friend Dan Devita. He put together this little tour. We get to go to Europe. We get to play some big festivals. It's getting more and more exciting. First it's the plan, then the preparing for it and now it's a couple weeks away so... it's on!

DD: The difference between this year and last year... why didn't you guys tour last year? Was it just a matter of timing?

GS: Everybody's schedules weren't allowing for it. Joey was busy and John was busy. Things have changed for the better, I think, for Armored Saint. We're excited to play again and reconnect with a lot of people.

DD: Your upcoming tour... the first show is going to be in San Francisco coming up on the 16th. That's about two weeks away. Then you're doing a couple shows in Southern California. Then you’re off to Europe.

GS: Actually, the way it's gonna break down is... June 16th we're doing San Francisco. A friend of ours, Ronnie Bear... people call him "Ollie".

PS: He's in a band called "The Hated".

GS: Yeah. He put this show together. Over at the Pound. Luckily we were able to include it as a warmup date for the European dates. We're also gonna do The Galaxy in Santa Ana. That's on the 18th. Then we go to Europe. We come back and do House of Blues [Sunset Strip/Hollywood]. Then we go to Italy. That's it for this little run.

DD: Very cool. So talk a little bit about the routing. Was it a matter of warming up on your home turf and then off to Europe, because that is the festival season and that's when everything is happening?

GS: Yeah. Well, we haven't played together as a band for a lot of years. Some people say "it's just like riding a bike" and stuff like that. There's actually getting physically prepared to put out the energy. So Phil and I have been rehearsing on our own. Getting used to the songs and pumping up the energy so that when we do rehearse as a band we'll be pretty cohesive.

DD: What do you guys prefer? Do you like being in front of the home audience or do you like going elsewhere to play for people that don't know you so well?

GS: The crowds are different all over the world. Having your friends to start off with a bang is always fun. But like I said, we haven't played together in a long time.

PS: This is a just a summertime thing we're doing. It's a small tour but we're grateful that it happened. It took a lot of people for this to happen. We just want to say "thanks" to a lot of people out there that had something to do with it.

DD: Very cool. So you're playing House of Blues when you come back? So that will be sort of a postscript. And I know that's the day before my birthday. Guess what I'm doing for my birthday?

GS: Happy birthday Diana! Phil's birthday is on July 10th.

DD: That's right. We've celebrated before together, haven't we? We had a dinner or something like that. Everybody showed up. Both of us for the price of one.

PS: We're gonna do sushi again. Remember? No, I'm just kidding. [laughs]

DD: So the first part of the tour you're gonna use the warmup show to kind of critique, maybe fine tune it before you head off to Europe?

GS: We've actually e-mailed each other what kind of set Joey, John, Jeff, Phil and myself want to do. We've kind of haggled and decided what songs we want. Right now Phil and I are rehearsing 18 songs and we will not name them. [laughs] It's high energy. The show's gonna be really awesome.

DD: Do you have a name for the tour yet? Are you even naming the tour?

GS: No, no name. It's just getting together to jam for the fans. To be quite honest, I don't know what it's gonna be like, but it is getting exciting. It's getting closer and I know what the band's been like. At this moment the potential is there. We won't know until we get in there and bang it out. It's definitely gonna be high energy and it's gonna be metal.

DD: Very cool. So you’re rockin’ Europe and the UK. You’ve got some dates in the UK.

GS: Yeah. I believe Joey has talked to Brian Slagel at Metal Blade [Records] about doing our first live production DVD. [It will be] recorded in the UK. So we're excited about that. The pressure is on. We gotta be tight. [laughs]

DD: That's a cool place to do it too, because I know Dio just did one at The Astoria in London. Good place to do a live DVD. So it's the March of the Saint... kind of a theme you came up with, right?

GS: Well, it's not a theme. It's just a little thing I came up with on the website. If you want to check it out, go to armoredsaint.com and there's just a cool little picture of the helmet and a title on the bottom. It says "the second coming" of Armored Saint. The reason I came up with it is that the history of this band... you know, we had some songs that we wrote with David Prichard. We've used all that. Currently Armored Saint doesn't have new music. I think there is a new chapter turning. That phase of our career is past. So we're looking forward to a new page. Hence, the second coming of Armored Saint.

DD: Well, excellent! Everybody's ready for you to get on the road and start playing. So how much rehearsing will you been doing, because you haven't quite started that other than the two of you playing together.

GS: Yeah, we've been doing it all month. We'll only do four rehearsals as a band. We hope that's enough. [laughs] We're just gonna get into it. Armored Saint has always been a live band. That's our forte. Making records is a lot of fun, but it's a whole different experience. When we go live you actually get the feeling of what we're producing. The energy we're putting into the music. There's gonna be songs that we enjoy playing.

DD: What are some of your favorite songs that you like to play? (Each of you)

PS: They change all the time. "Lesson Well Learned" is one. "Stricken By Fate"... all kinds of songs.

GS: I'd say "Tribal Dance" and "Symbol of Salvation". We're actually working out "Tension", which is a really cool song. Great groove, high energy. We like to listen to the songs a lot so that we get them by osmosis or whatever. They've become second nature to me so that when I'm actually playing them, I'm not really thinking about it. I'm just letting it flow.

DD: Do you guys regularly practice the songs so that you're always familiar with them?

GS: Well, we're not a band that's on the road constantly. We're not doing too much stuff on a consistent basis. So a lot of stuff and time falls in between. So we have to sort of relearn the songs. Since we created it in the studio it's a part of you. Certain triggers kick in and the memory banks kick in. All of a sudden you're right back in it. So, I guess it is like riding a bike.

DD: So Phil, you probably play guitar to keep up with it? And Gonzo plays the drums just to keep your chops up?

PS: We have other projects and stuff. Like Yo Diddley. Guys in Armored Saint have other projects. That's how you keep your chops up. So when Armored Saint actually happens to get together, we're prepared.

DD: Are there particular places you're looking forward to on the tour? You mentioned Italy, where you haven't been to be before.

GS: Never been to Ireland. Never been to Scotland. One time, if I may tell a little story. [laughs] We were in Berlin, Germany playing a show and we met this person who happened to be a bit of a vampire. She had really sharp teeth and we kinda tripped out on them. They looked real. She told us about how she became a vampire. At two in the morning after the gig, you're drinking some beers. It kind of intrigues you. Apparently a vampire in Scotland had bitten her.

DD: The things that happen after a gig. [both laugh] How long is your set gonna be?

GS: We're rehearsing about 18 songs, so that's about what it will end up being. Who knows? We may add some or take away some. I really don't know yet. It will probably be around an hour and a half.

PS: An hour and forty minutes, something like that.

DD: In the past you've kind of taken a couple songs off each record.

GS: We're trying to come up with the best songs that would fit in the year 2006.

DD: How much haggling was there to see what songs go on the setlist?

GS: A lot. [laughs]

DD: Coming up after the tour, what's going to be next for the Saint?

GS: We don't know. There are some things that are in the works. Maybe from the Pacific Northwest and down. Four or five dates. Nothing's confirmed. We're just taking it as it comes. The name of the game is... you gotta have some fun. Enjoy it, relax. Easy going. Then let's see what happens.

DD: What about new music? Do you think you may be writing a new record?

GS: Well, back in January I was talking to Phil and I just felt like this whole year was about writing. So we've been writing together since January. We're working on riffs. We've given some raw ideas to John. We'll see what becomes of it. We haven't gotten together as a band to discuss that.

DD: We'll see how the tour goes.

GS: Well yeah. And some other things. But my best foot is forward! [laughs]

DD: That's what you have to do. I know there are a lot of people looking forward to you getting out on the road. It's been awhile.

GS: There are a lot of things to be thankful for. Phil was touching on that. Maybe when this is over we can thank some people.

DD: I've got "Can U Deliver" queued up to play right now. Shall we do that?

GS: Yeah! Let's order a pizza!

DD: Great. Can you deliver? I always thought that would be great for a soundtrack.

GS: Yeah, for Domino's Pizza! [laughs]

DD: So we just played "Can U Deliver" and I think they pretty much answered that question in that song. You boys have got some ideas that you wanted to talk about?

GS: Yeah. I've just been checking out the vibe. We recently got involved with the whole Myspace situation. There's actually an unofficial Armored Saint Myspace site. We want to invite everybody to go and check it out. www.myspace.com/armoredsaint1

DD: I'm a friend!

GS: Yeah, the more the merrier. [both laugh] I've been noticing that there's a whole generation of kids that are locking into heavy metal. They're actually doing some research and want to go back and get where it came from. I think Armored Saint has the possibility to tap into that. Expose our music to a whole new generation that only heard about what happened 20 years ago in the music scene in LA. I see a lot of kids wearing black and looking metal. It's exciting to have an opportunity to get some music to them.

DD: I was talking to somebody before the interview and they were like, "I'm not sure if I'm familiar with them" and I was thinking, "how can you not be familiar with Armored Saint"? Then again, I've known of you guys forever. You kind of forget that there are people who haven't heard the music. They need to be exposed to it.

PS: You know... you just gotta ram it down their throats! [laughs]

DD: Well, there is no other way. [all laugh]

GS: Because it is metal!

PS: It's all good fun. But to enjoy Armored Saint touring in 2006... I'm grateful for that.

DD: I think this is going to be the year of the second coming of Armored Saint. I hope so, anyway. It's way overdue. It would be nice to see a full assault!

GS: That would be nice. It takes a lot of planning. Everybody's head has got to be on the same page. But it's a start. We're grateful for KNAC having us. Thankful for all our friends and fans, all the people who have written to us personally on Myspace. They've shown their support. A lot of stoked people out there. And... this [broadcast] is going out worldwide, right?

DD: Yeah! Anyone who has a computer anywhere in the world. Even in Antarctica!

GS: We get stuff from places like London and other places. People are excited. They can't wait to see the band and we can't wait to play for them. Whatever comes of this, we'll be there.

DD: Even if the goal is to just expand the fan base and get to people who haven't heard it before, then that's a worthy goal right there.

GS: Definitely. I believe it.

DD: So let's plug the website again. www.armoredsaint.com

GS: Yeah. It's got all the [tour] dates. I wanna personally apologize for the lapse in time on the updates. Hopefully we'll square that away and do more with the website. If you haven't checked it out in awhile, please come check it out.

DD: And the other site on Myspace.

PS: Yes. Hey, I wanna give a shout out to ESP guitars and Alan Steelgrave, Jeff Snyder, Al Perez, Ray Burke, family and friends. My sister Rosie.

GS: And all the fans. We can't wait to rock you!

PS: And David and Valerie. Everybody.

DD: Very cool. Welcome to the Grammys. [all laugh] We were talking about some of these older songs and how they've evolved since you guys have evolved. That's the beauty of a live show.

GS: Yeah, like I said before... Armored Saint has always been a live band. Some of the songs we'll play are old songs, but as we've evolved as players, so have some of the songs that we've played.

PS: And we play with new energy.

GS: They sound so fresh and powerful. Even with just Phil and I playing them. One other thing that we should mention is that there is actually a book that is being written about Armored Saint. Jon Sutherland is the author and he proposed that to us. It should be very interesting. Jon is going to be interviewing a lot of people. I believe you're gonna be one of them. [laughs]

DD: Yes! I think I am. I remember Joey asked me if I'd be interviewed for it and I said, "You know, why not... I have great things to say about you guys".

GS: So whatever life has to offer Armored Saint, we're ready and willing. It takes five of us and hopefully we can all get on the same page and just push it.

DD: Absolutely. I think there's still a lot left unsaid for Armored Saint.

GS: I believe there is a new generation to tap into and we can reinvent ourselves.

DD: I wish you the best of luck on that. I'll see you on tour here in southern California.

GS: We want to invite everyone out there who's within reach.

PS: Either the Galaxy Theatre or House of Blues.

GS: Yeah, but this is worldwide. So to the European people out there, come out and support the festivals. Bang Your Head, Graspop, the Italian festival, London, Holland. I wanna give a shout out to all our friends to come out and see us.

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