September 10, 2018, 9 months ago

Nick Balazs

feature heavy metal armored saint


“It was in conjunction with this tour. It’s been fun; we’ve never done anything like this and it’s probably the hardest we’ve worked as a band,” says Armored Saint frontman John Bush about the reissue and full-album tour of the band’s most popular record, 1991’s Symbol Of Salvation. The classic U.S. heavy metallers have conquered the States and will head to Europe in the fall to bring the Symbol to more territories. The plan to bring the spotlight back to Symbol just kind of happened.

Bush explains, “What we wanted to do was connect the last record, Win Hands Down, to our new record. Armored Saint doesn’t work too quickly as we’ve all witnessed and I say it’s more about putting out a great record because that’s the thing that’s going to be here once we’re all dead than just putting out records because we’re not the most actively touring band out there so it’s not like we got to put out a new record just so we can go back out on the road and make a bunch of money. That’s not the way this band works. I think it was Tracy, Joey’s (Vera, bassist) wife that suggested we do Symbol and that’ll be a little hook and we’re like ‘Ok, are we ready to do that? Can I sing that? Can I do it?’ so it was like, let’s do it! That was the primary objective of this tour. It’s to tour, to play it in its entirety, to film some of the shows so we can put a DVD out and that can connect Win Hands Down to the next record. Then it was Metal Blade’s idea to just go along with it.”

With an album that’s 27 years old and Bush now in his mid-50s, was there any adjustments that had to be made singing all these songs from that album. The singer admits there was saying, “We made a couple adjustments with some tuning, but only two songs. It’s about staying healthy and taking care of myself the best I can and it’s going pretty well. It’s a challenge, but it’s a good thing, it’s fun.”

Now with Symbol Of Salvation receiving this vinyl and CD reissue, it would be best if the other albums could receive the same treatment, especially 1987’s Raising Fear. Bush has no idea if there other reissues are on the way. “The first three records, I think those are available on iTunes,” wonders the frontman, “but I don’t know if you can purchase new releases of them. I know Metal Blade at one point reissued them, licensed them and then put it out and then this label in England called Rock Candy did the first two (March Of The Saint in 2006 and Delirious Nomad in 2011), but not Raising Fear.” The singer stresses he’d like Metal Blade to have the rights stating, “To me, the ideal situation would be all of the records being on Metal Blade eventually.”

From the past to the future, new music is being planned and in fact a couple have been demoed. There are no working titles and a release isn’t imminent, but as Bush enthuses, “We’ve got five songs that are demoed and they sound really cool and we’re feeling good about it. In a perfect world, we’ll get something out latter part of next year. It’s just about quality and we believe Win Hands Down was a fucking great record so we can’t just hurry up and get something out.”

The former Anthrax frontman recently made waves stating he’d like to see Armored Saint and his former band tour together. When asked to follow-up on this, he remarked, “What I really meant was the time could be right now for that to happen. It’s not like some co-headline tour; they would take us out and we would open and it would be fun. I just think that so much has been made through the years since I’ve been gone of what’s the vibe, and how everything went down badly and this and that; it’s so water under the bridge now; so I saw Frankie (Bello, Anthrax bassist) the other night and I hadn’t seen him in years and he came to the show; it was cool vibes. So it would be fun to do that just because it would be good for Armored Saint and there would be this connection, but it would have to be something everyone can feel good about and mostly Joey Belladonna (Anthrax singer). I don’t want him to feel like ‘what is John trying to do?’ because there’s no M.O. there. It’s basically just putting a huge peace flag up and going all is cool. I try to emphasize that because I want people to think that because I know people love the drama and the turmoil, but really there just isn’t any.”

(Photo by: Stephanie Cabral)

Bush’s time in the band lasted from ’92 to ’05 before rejoining the band for a brief stint from ’09-’10. Belladonna took the reins from that point and has helped steer the Anthrax ship, leaving Bush’s work in the dust. Does he feel his music with the band has been marginalized?

The former ‘Thrax singer reflects, “It’s just life. Anthrax’s heyday was in the ‘80s and then I joined in the ‘90s and everything was changing. In all honesty, Anthrax will always be known for the lineup it is now, well maybe Danny (Spitz, former guitarist), but it’s the truth. I can admit that, it’s a fact. That’s not taking anything away from the records we made because I really think they’re great records; I just think people have to see them for what they are and in time maybe they can receive a little more of a fair assessment. Otherwise it is what it is. But really the true Anthrax is with Joey.”

Bush had the chance to sing 2011’s Worship Music, but declined because he felt no connection with the music and wasn’t involved in the writing process. Anthrax was juggling singers at this time, including a confusing addition and then firing of Dan Nelson. Bush has no regrets turning down the opportunity for Worship Music by remarking, “For me, I felt no connection with those songs, taking nothing away from them, those are great songs, but I felt no connection and for me to come in the way I would have come in and granted I’m sure I would have contributed and maybe rework stuff, but all of the other records I was part of the whole writing process so for me to come in that circumstance; it just didn’t feel right and I didn’t want to do it.”

Sound Of White Noise, Bush’s first album with Anthrax, turned 25 earlier this year (released May 25th, 1993, Elektra Records) and he has fond memories of that period. “A real fun time, we wrote some amazing tunes,” reflects Bush. “First one was ‘Only’, which was killer. Worked with Dave Jerden which was really great and it was a successful record and I think it was probably a little ahead of its time almost. It sounded like Anthrax, but like a modern Anthrax which is what it needed to do and what we wanted it to do. Real proud of that record and it’s still a classic heavy metal record.”

The focus now is on Armored Saint and the celebration of Symbol Of Salvation and Bush is proud of the fact that the record features the same guys who were part of the album and band, except for guitarist Dave Prichard, who died in 1990.

“The thing that continues to carry us is the friendship of the members; we’ve all known each other, Phil (Sandoval, guitarist), Joey, Gonzo (Sandoval, drummer), and myself since we were like 8-9 years old. We met Jeff (Duncan, guitarist) having Odin open up for Armored Saint at the Troubadour in 1983 so we’ve known him for 35 years and he’s the new guy so there’s a lot of history there with our relationships and not a lot of bands can say that. If was Dave was still alive, he’d be here too.”

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