JOEY VERA - FATES WARNING, ARMORED SAINT

\r\nThere ain’t much I can say about a man whose hands can\r\nwork equally brilliant on a bass or a sound console or even a computer.\r\nAnd to be honest the outcome of our talk made me an even bigger fan of\r\nhis so objectivity is out of the question! www.metalzone.gr\r\nhad an in depth talk with Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Armored Saint).\r\nJoey talks about all his projects, his point of view on the scene today\r\nand the uprising Nu Metal genre, what progressive metal is all about\r\nbut also what to expect on Armored Saint and Fates Warning for the\r\nfuture. Read top to bottom and then listen to the audio.You don’t want\r\nto miss a thing of what this extraordinary musician has to say!\r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: At the other end of our line we’ve got mr Joey Vera, hello Joey welcome to the Metalzone.
\r\nJoey Vera: Thank you, glad to be here.\r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: I am not quite sure of where I should start from. You should tell me what are you up to these days.
\r\nJoey Vera: At\r\nthe moment I’ve been working a lot as an engineer and producer, again,\r\nso I am finishing up a couple of records. One is for Seven Witches who I’ve worked for in the past, and also another record is for my guitarist with Armored Saint Jeff Duncan, he has a group called DC4 and we’re finishing up his record, and\r\nI am working on both records sort of simultaneously going between one\r\nand the other. It’s a little bit confusing but things seem to be\r\nworking out so far. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: How do you manage having all these run at the same time?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nWell it can get a little scary. But mostly with the nature of\r\ntechnology, because I work in Pro Tools, and everything that I am\r\nworking on when I am mixing or engineering is in the computer. So I\r\njust fall between the groups depending on where we are with each\r\nrecord. We’ve been working on the DC4 record since December. So we did\r\nsome tracking in December and then a little bit more in March, then in\r\nMay, and we’re doing some more next week and I think I am going to\r\nfinish it next week but I am not sure. Partly because of schedule and\r\npartly because of finances, depends on the way they wanted to work.\r\nSame was with the Seven Witches record. They started in March, so we\r\ndid some stuff in March and then a little more in April and because of\r\nmy schedule we had to put their record on hold till now. Luckily both\r\nthese groups have the luxury of not having their record companies\r\nbreathing down their necks that want the record done as soon as\r\npossible, so we were able to take our time with it, for both of the\r\nrecords. In a nutshell I’d have to really make sure I have everyone’s\r\nschedule in my head, maker sure that all the groups I am working with\r\nknow that if it gets busy they have to be flexible with scheduling and\r\nthat kind of things. If they’re not flexible then we’ll make them a\r\npriority. For instance, I just finished mixing a record for Metal Blade Records, for a newly signed band called Fuelled by Fire, and they’re kind of like eighties thrash band, sort of a reminiscence of early EXODUS,\r\nand that record got thrown to my lap on April, and basically Metal\r\nBlade said we need this done now, so I had to put the other two\r\nprojects that I was working on a little bit on hold records and worked\r\non Metal Blade’s project and now I am back in finishing the other two records. So you can see how sometimes it can get a little… \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: I\r\ncan see your mind working like a pc, with folders and sections download\r\nthis file, do some editing on this one… I don’t know how you do it.
\r\nJoey Vera: It’s\r\nvery much like that. Everything I am working on is different\r\ncompartments within the hard drive and I put it in my mind the same\r\nway. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Does time and\r\ndiversity of the projects you’re working on help you reflect upon what\r\nyou do in an imaginative and productive way?
\r\nJoey Vera: Sure\r\nit does. It is very fortunate to be able to work with a lot of\r\nmusicians, people style wise and attitude wise, this makes me a much\r\nmore rounded musician, artist, whatever. In the end I lear something\r\nfrom everyone I work with. For me it’s been great. I just finished\r\nplaying in Italy last weekend, I played a festival there with Fates Warning, and two weeks before I left, I got a call from NEVERMORE, who are also friends of mine, group from Seattle and their base player Jim couldn’t\r\nplay the show and they asked me to fill in. I probably bit off more\r\nthan I can chew but doing it was a lot of work for me to learn ten\r\nsongs which I wasn’t all that familiar with and two weeks before the\r\nshow. We didn’t have any arrangements for any rehearsals, so I had to\r\nlearn the material, go up on stage and play it for the first time live\r\nin front of 5000 people. So when I first agreed to it\r\nI thought yeah I’ll do it’s fun, but after a week of working on the\r\nmaterial, I figured this is a lot of work and how am I going to\r\nremember all these parts. NEVERMORE is not exactly playing like AC/DC type of hard rock. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: It’s more technical.
\r\nJoey Vera: And then I just had to look at it like a challenge. Like\r\nI had to get through this and overcome it. I played the show and at the\r\nend of it felt great. I played twice at the festival. I played with Fates Warning and then I played with NEVERMORE. Even stuff like\r\nthat was much unexpected and I feel like I accomplished something by\r\nbeing able to do it, a personal challenge upon myself. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone:\r\nThat’s more than I can handle. However I feel that in terms of music\r\nand where music is today I think your opinion is the most objective we\r\ncan find being involved in all these diverse projects. How do you see\r\nthe metal scene today?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nI guess it’s become pretty diverse. I remember when we were first\r\ngetting into the scene in the eighties by 1985 or 86 there wasn’t that\r\nmuch diversity in metal. It was relatively small, as far as the genres\r\nwithin the metal scene and then as years go by, everybody starts\r\npicking up on other things, and we have the subgenres coming along and\r\nby now you have all kinds of crazy mixtures..\r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Do you like that? Do you approve of that?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nI do and I don’t. I mean, on one hand I think it’s really cool and it’s\r\ninteresting the music that can come out of it. I think some of it is\r\nvery good and healthy being creative on that side. And on the other\r\nside of it, it’s creating too much music. Too many choices now.\r\nDifferent kind of styles. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: How about the identity of what is heavy metal. Do you feel it’s lost within the experiments and the adoption of new elements?
\r\nJoey Vera: I\r\ndon’t really necessarily think that. It depends on maybe who you ask\r\nwhat their identity of metal is. Different people might give you\r\ndifferent answers. As long as the music has some sort of loud\r\naggressiveness to it. And let’s face it, it all has to have some\r\nsemblance coming from Black Sabbath and if it doesn’t have that maybe\r\nit’s not metal. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: So\r\nhow do you feel about the new bands with female vocals and smooth kind\r\nof melodies the kind that gets into MTV and every pop radio you can\r\nimagine?
\r\nJoey Vera: With female\r\nvoices or just melodic? Well you know like I said, I sometimes feel\r\nlike there’s too much out there. The problem with starting with MTV and\r\nbecoming a someone in the internet with the mass media, and lets\r\neverybody and their brother becomes famous, it doesn’t necessarily mean\r\nit’s a good thing. Everybody can be a star. Anyone can have 15 minutes\r\nof fame now. Anyone. I don’t necessarily think that’s always a good\r\nthing. It was much more precious commodity in the 60s and 70s when they\r\ndidn’t have mass media for music. They were sort of like a secret\r\nsociety. Only very selective few had… the people that had talent really\r\ngot noticed, they had something to say and they came out and made huge\r\nimpact. But nowadays it’s much harder to find that. Everybody and their\r\nbrother, like I said, can have 15 minutes of fame. Anybody can be a\r\nmodel, anybody can be a record producer, anybody can be a star chef,\r\nanybody can be a musician, anybody can be a reality tv personality, and\r\nI don’t think it’s really offering a lot to society anymore. It’s lost\r\nit’s heart and soul. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What criteria can we use to tell the good from the bad stuff?
\r\nJoey Vera: It\r\ncomes back to how the bands were in the early days. In the early days,\r\nif you were a fan of music, you had to search it down, you had to walk\r\ndown to the record store, and look through all these giant lps, if you\r\nwanted to find something new you had to go look for it. Share music\r\nwith other people, or if you heard something on the radio … Nowadays,\r\nthere’s so much information out there, and it’s so much easier cause I\r\ncan look up something I would have never heard off. A band from\r\nLithuania for instance, and I wouldn’t have that access if it were 30\r\nyears ago. There’s so much more information but that means there’s so\r\nmuch more to read through. So it’s more difficult to search for people\r\nwho have something to say. And you shouldn’t wait for someone to tell\r\nyou what you should be listening, or what you should like that’s\r\nadvertising on radio or tv. If you want to find something new you need\r\nto go in the internet and other places and look for it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Do you thing time is a quality that can shorten the quality of something? The endurance in time?
\r\nJoey Vera: Sure, time always tells. It doesn’t always have to be 10 million people. And\r\ntime will tell in 30 years from now which bands we will be talking\r\nabout. Which ones are going to stick that came out now. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Coming back to the bands you play. Tell me what’s going on in Armored Saint.
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nWell not a whole lot. We purposely have set the band on the side\r\nbecause several of us have started families and we’re raising our\r\nchildren. A couple of us have one year olds, or three months old, and\r\nit’s still pretty early on getting that situated. But it’s not to say\r\nthat we have quit or anything. We’ve done a couple of shows, we played\r\nthe Rock Hard festival, we did a show here in Los Angeles. We have\r\nplans on maybe doing some more dates in Europe, but it’s nothing solid\r\nyet. And we intend to do some song writing but we don’t have a record\r\nlabel breathing down our neck for not having a schedule or anything\r\nlike that. So it’s on the side. It’s fair to say we’ll do something by\r\nthe end of the year but it’s too early to say whether it’s going to be\r\nshows. We really are on no schedule. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: I had to ask because here March of the saint is like an anthem, in Greece, I don’t know if you get that a lot from Greece.
\r\nJoey Vera: No I didn’t know that. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: The eighties classic sound of heavy metal is getting back don’t you think so?
\r\nJoey Vera: Yeap it’s happening, especially in Europe. And it’s even happening here a lot, in the US. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Do you think there can be an era like the 80s again?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nNo. We’ve already been through it. The only way I can compare it is\r\nwith what we all call nu metal especially here, cause it’s not really\r\nhappening in Europe, like Kill Switch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Unearth.\r\nWhen I started to go see As I Lay Dying, or Unearth play live, in small\r\nclubs, in front of 400 kids or so, the only thing I could compare it\r\nwith, even though the style was a little different, it reminded me of\r\n1984 all over again. It was exactly the same. The same age group was\r\nthere. The hairstyles are a little bit different, clothing a little bit\r\ndifferent, but it reminded me very much the energy of it all. It\r\nreminded me very much of the eighties. That’s the closest thing I’ve\r\nseen as a resurgence of the 80s. Not so much that the style is going to\r\nbe the same. But the energy itself. The crowd and how big it’s gotten,\r\nit’s the 80s all over again. They’re headlining shows in front of 3000\r\npeople so it reminds me of the 80s all over again. Musically,\r\nstylistically it’s different but it will never be the same again. Think\r\nabout the 80s what it came out off, the New Wave era, and it was\r\nsomething completely new. Totally different than the music before it.\r\nYou can probably draw, parallels between early Van Halen and New Wave\r\n70s hard rock, or even early 80s metal but there aren’t many bands that\r\nfill the gap, Priest was one of them but… not exactly. It was\r\ndefinitely a resurgence of the 70s hard rock, but totally different. It\r\ntook a lot from Punk rock. A lot of the energy and the attitude. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What do you think are the elements that have affected the new scene?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nIt’s funny cause it’s kind of a mix of a lot of things. If you ask\r\nthese kids what they grew up on they’d tell you Master Of Puppets,\r\nearly Slayer, and then you have punk influences like Misfits, then you\r\nhave Iron Maiden, Judas Priest influences, and then you have stuff like\r\nJoe Sadriani or so. A lot of the new metal in the musician side is\r\npretty higher than what it was in the 80s because of the guitar hero\r\nthing. Joe Sadriani or the 3G guys. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Do you like the new style? Where the scene is at the moment?
\r\nJoey Vera: I\r\nlike some of it yes. They’re not exactly reinventing the wheel but I do\r\nlike and appreciate the energy they have. I like it cause it reminds me\r\nof when I came out. The energy of early 80s. There are bands I like and\r\nothers that sound all the same to me. There are too many bands that all\r\nsound alike. There’s a lot of other bands which I don’t think they’re\r\npushing the boundaries a lot, they all just sound the same. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: If I ask you one you like you’ll probably say one but what if I ask you one that you don’t like?
\r\nJoey Vera: No I don’t need to say that! You almost have to define what do you mean by new groups? \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: After the 90s.
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nOr after 1991? Cause there are some bands that have been around for a\r\nwhile. Take a band like Opeth, it’s put out a lot of records, it’s been\r\nthrough a lot of different changes, but their last one is one of the\r\nbest records of the last… great record I love Opeth. But do you\r\nconsider them a new band? \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: They don’t fit the style you describe as rising in the States at the moment. I don’t think you’d call them Nu Metal.
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nNo I wouldn’t say that either. They are much more than that. The bands\r\nI mentioned before I like what they do, Killswitch Engage, As I lay\r\nDying, Unearth… \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Do you want to tell me anything about Fates Warning or is that on hold too? Just the reissues and the live shows?
\r\nJoey Vera: Yeah it is kind of on hold. The band is doing some writing but I wouldn’t say we’re ready to go into the studio yet. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Is it going to be more technical? Using styles and elements of where progressive is today sort of like TOOL?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nI think that fates has already tapped into that. A lot of stuff in\r\nDisconnected or X has shades of TOOL. I am not sure I am at liberty to\r\nsay but as an outsider I would say that we’ve already tapped into that.\r\nAnd I can see we’ve experimenting a little further with that. A bit\r\nmore of experimenting on some other level. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: That’s both vague and inviting you know that?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nYeah! A lot of people want us to be such a band, favorite band, Fates\r\nWarning being Fates Warning, stuff that are for musicians, like fast\r\nparts or musical interludes I don’t necessarily think that Fates are\r\nlike that. That doesn’t always come out right. It’s hard to say when\r\nwe’re going to get back to work but that’s the fun of it. It’s a\r\nmystery.\r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Taking\r\nadvantage of the fact I am talking with you I’d like to ask you\r\nsomething that has always bothered me personally. I always wonder about\r\nprogressive music. I think music is supposed to be a communicative\r\naction. The musician is trying to give a message out to the listener. A\r\nfeeling, a mood, a moment. When the music is so complex that the\r\nlistener is getting lost within it do you feel it fulfills it’s cause?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nThe thing with all music is that it’s not for everybody. Some groups\r\nappeal to a person and some other groups appeal to another. A group is\r\ntrying to play and they’re making it so complicated that they are not\r\nconnecting with their listener or they are not fulfilling what they\r\nshould be doing. That doesn’t mean that someone else in the same room\r\ndoesn’t get it. Maybe the confusion is part of what they like. Maybe\r\nit’s supposed to be confusing and so they are connecting. I can be pop\r\nand still not connect with the listener. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone:\r\nI wanted to ask you cause you can’t imagine the bands coming out saying\r\nwe’re progressive, we’re TOOL meets Smashing Pumpkins, we’re whatever\r\nand you’re trying to listen and you think you know where they’re\r\ngetting and in the middle of the song you get lost. And then there’s\r\nrepetition and stuff the musicians get and feel the guy was great in\r\ndoing that and I just feel stupid.
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nThey’re not accomplishing what they should be accomplishing. Sometimes\r\nthat’s what separates the great bands from the really great bands. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: That’s what I think too. I think that if something is good everybody can get it.
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nThere is one thing that’s been said about the universal appeal. Of\r\ncourse it’s organic, if something has universal appeal and it’s a\r\nbrightly colored bubble gum… If something has universal appeal and it’\r\ns good then it’s good it doesn’t matter. It’s just good. A band like U2\r\nfor instance. Whether you like them or not they’re just good. They’re a\r\ngood band. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Is there any chance of seeing you around Europe? Or even Greece?
\r\nJoey Vera:\r\nNo we love Greece and we often talk about coming. We were supposed to\r\nactually go there this last weekend. When we played Italy but since\r\nthere was another festival going on the promoter didn’t feel confident\r\nwith us headlining and so we decide to postpone it. Summer is a busy\r\ntime to play anywhere. We will probably be back there in the next 12\r\nmonths. The Italy show was the only thing we had planned for the\r\nsummer. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: We all hope something turns up !!!!\r\n

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\r\nStay updated on Joey’s whereabouts and diverse projects he is in by logging into his my space page
\r\nwhich is www.myspace.com/joeyvera or his home page www.joeyvera.com \r\n

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