Checking in with Joey Vera, the legendary American bass player, known as a member of Anthrax, Armored Saint, Fates Warning and Engine; he recorded with Tribe After Tribe, and OSI ( the album Free and released solo albums in 1994 and 2007 (the latter as “A Chinese Firedrill”) In 2019, he was the touring bassist for a newly reunited Mercyful Fate, filling in for Timi Hansen. And now there are good news regarding his major band Armored Saint (startphoto) …
When did you begin playing music, Joey?
I took some piano lessons when I was in grade school around 1973, but then I started playing guitar at about age 13 in 1976. I still play guitar today, but I made Bass my main instrument when I turned 15 in the summer of 1978.
Any bands that have influenced you?
Too many to mention, because I am always influenced and inspired by bands all of the time. But in the very beginning when I was young, it was Beatles, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kiss, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, UFO, to name a few.
When did you join Armored Saint? Please tell us the story.
John Bush, Phil Sandoval, Gonzo Sandoval and myself grew up together and have known each other since we were about 7 years old. After we graduated high school, the three of them met Dave Prichard and started jamming with another bassist. I was then playing in another band. But after 9 months I joined them in 1982 and we called ourselves Armored Saint.
How was it to be in Armored Saint at the height of Thrash metal?
Thrash didn’t really reach a height until about 1987, so we had already been a band 5 years by then. We didn’t think of ourselves as a Thrash band, although we had some fast songs. But we could play with Thrash bands and still have a great gig.
Who did Armored Saint tour with in the early days?
Well, before anybody had record deals and before anybody was touring, we played the local clubs in Los Angeles. We played club gigs with Ratt, Dokken, Great White, Black and Blue, Metallica, WASP, Steeler. After we got signed in 1984, we did our first tour with Quiet Riot and Whitesnake.
When did you join Anthrax, Joey? And what was it like being in that band?
I played with Anthrax from 2005 to 2006.
It was amazing. I knew the band from the early days, but it was a special thing because my best friend John Bush was also the singer in Anthrax. So, yeah, we had a good time on all of those tours. Also, I began a friendship with Scott Ian during that time and we still hang out to this day.
And now for the good news – what are you working at now?
I have a new DVD with Armored Saint coming out this fall (October 22 via Metal Blade – check the band website for pre-order bundles). It’s our record Symbol of Salvation played live in its entirety! Also I have a new record with Motor Sister coming out in early 2022. And I just recently joined a new project with one of my close friends, but you’ll hear about that soon!
Any future plans and projects?
Next year in 2022, Saint will be celebrating 40 years as a band. We have plans to re-issue all or our early catalog on Vinyl. Also there is a documentary coming out about our band sometime in Spring.
Joey Vera’s pages:
John Bush: Vocals
Joey Vera: Bass
Phil Sandoval: Guitar
Jeff Duncan: Guitar
Gonzo Sandoval: Drums
Upcoming Live Dates
Mon, DEC 27
Virginia Street Brewhouse
Tue, DEC 28
The Regency Ballroom
San Francisco, CA
Wed, DEC 29
Los Angeles, CA
Thu, DEC 30
House of Blues San Diego
San Diego, CA
Fri, DEC 31
interview: John Wisniewski; photos: Joey Vera’s website, A.S. Bandwebsite