Bassist JOEY VERA: 'CLIFF BURTON Was A Bigger Force In METALLICA Than Anyone Realizes'

Cameron Edney of Australia's Inside_Out666 recently conducted an interview with current ARMORED SAINT/FATES WARNING and former ANTHRAX bassist Joey Vera. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Inside_Out666: I'd like to start by talking about some of the latest projects in your life. First off, I believe you are in the studio finishing up your next solo CD, what can you tell us about that?

Joey Vera: "Yes, I've wanted to do this thing for quite some time but until spring of 2005 I really hadn't enough time to dedicate to it. I had a few things lying around I had written over the years so I decided to start writing again. I hadn't had the chance to do much writing in quite a long time and so it's been quite a good medicinal experience. I found myself writing in a certain direction that I had not really explored before and I kept my boundaries fairly wide open. As a result the songs are a bit longer than I usually write (about 7 minutes average) and I've been having fun with the orchestrating instruments side of things. Strings, synthesizers, piano, percussion as well as various bass and guitars set ups. Looking back into it, this has been sort of an exploration for me as a songwriter."

Inside_Out666: As you just mentioned you are doing the bass, vocals, piano, guitars among others yourself. Why did you decide to take on so much of it yourself?

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Joey Vera: "More than anything really it's because I was writing and recording as I was going along. Also, this particular experience is pretty personal and I just felt that I wanted to play all of the performances in order for my point to get across. In short, this is for me. I did leave myself open to have some friends play on it and I had many kind offers, but in the end I think I felt like it was my voice that I wanted to get out of my system. Selfish perhaps, but the truth."

Inside_Out666: Over the years you have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with so many great bands such as: SOILWORK, HELLOWEEN, METALLICA, W.A.S.P. just to name a few. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most and can you share a funny road story with us?

Joey Vera: "I have had many good times and with many good people. It's really hard to say who was the most fun. I get asked a lot about road stories and there are again, so many. But since you mentioned W.A.S.P.: before the days of AIDS, all anyone had to worry about was STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] that were usually fixable with a shot in the ass. Remember that W.A.S.P. used to wear chaps without anything underneath? So halfway through one of our tours with W.A.S.P. we're watching the band from side stage and we notice a couple of the guys have small round bruises on their butt cheeks from a shot earlier in the day. It was a riot! I'm not saying they were the only ones on the tour that got shots, but they were the only ones that you could see!"

Inside_Out666: During those early days on tour, you got to spend time with the late great Cliff Burton, on the ARMORED SAINT DVD "A Trip Through Red Times" we get to hear Gonzo's thoughts on Cliff but not yours. What memories do you have of Cliff from those early tours?

Joey Vera: "Cliff was truly a one-of-a-kind person. I've never met anyone since that had such a huge persona. He was pretty multifaceted too. He could be really kind and considerate and also really headstrong and stubborn. Cliff was highly intelligent and very creative. He was a bigger force in METALLICA than anyone really realizes. He was really funny too. You know how he used to wear that denim jacket all the time? Well, on tour he would carry this little ball-peen hammer on the inside pocket for protection. He used to whip it out on occasion. I never imagined him ever using it as he was not a violent guy at all. It wasn't a knife or a gun. It was a little hammer. That was so Cliff."

Inside_Out666: What are your thoughts on the [ANTHRAX] reunion tour?

Joey Vera: "I have to admit that as a fan I was a bit confused when I heard about what they were doing. After making ['We've Come for You All'] which I thought was their best record since ['Sound of White Noise'] it seemed like odd timing. But who am I to say?"

Inside_Out666: Many fans want to know and I know you would get asked this all the time but, will there be any new ARMORED SAINT material released this year?

Joey Vera: "Honestly, probably not this year. We have started talking but there's no real plans for anything & if there is we wouldn't have enough time to get it out in 2006."

Inside_Out666: In your honest opinion what do you think about the direction that hard rock and heavy metal music has taken over the last few years?

Joey Vera: "There are some interesting bands out there — OPETH, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, AUDIOSLAVE and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, to name a few. As with most movements in history, there are always a decent handful of bands that really stand out and most of the rest is just regurgitated and formula-driven corporate crap. This new wave of metalcore bands is getting a bit silly already but I have to tip my hat to bands like KILLSWITCH [ENGAGE], SHADOWS FALL, SLIPKNOT, they are just awesome, and AS I LAY DYING are good up-and-comers."

Read the entire interview at Inside_Out666.

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