Shortly after their set, Moshville and I managed to get a few minutes with the drummer of US metal legends Armored Saint – Gonzo Sandoval. We discussed the band’s experience at Bloodstock, their new album Win Hands Down and more.
MT: You just played the Ronnie James Dio stage here at Bloodstock, How did it go? Was there a crazy crowd?
GS: The crowd – there was a lot of new people who took a little bit of time to get into the band but after 1 or 2 songs in, they were very responsive. We were very pleased with the Bloodstock crowd.
MT: Plenty of old-skool fans then? Do you think Armored Saint picked up some new fans at Bloodstock?
GS: Well this is a unique festival with lots of heavy bands. We just did our thing Armored Saint style and the whole crowd loved it.
MT: You recently released your new album, Win Hands Down, earlier this year – what has the fan reaction been to the album?
GS: Win Hands Down is definitely our best record yet and the production is amazing – Joey Vera (Armored Saint bassist) did a great job producing the album. Joey and John Bush (Armored Saint vocalist) wrote most of the songs and we’re very happy with it. We’re looking forward to touring as much as possible with this record and I know there’s some dates coming up next year – I’m very happy about that. Win Hands Down is a record I think every Armored Saint, and every heavy metal fan should check out whether you’re a new fan, or an old-skool fan. It’s high energy and I’m very proud of my personal performance on the record and like I said, John and Joey did a great job writing the music. Joey came up with great drum parts which I learned and played…it was one of the best studio experiences of my career
MT: So it’s a great all-round record with plenty of classic style Armored Saint tunes and a modern production?
GS: Yes, definitely something all heavy metal fans should check out! John Bush is sounding amazing as a singer and the guitar players (Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan) are very much on their game. We’re very honoured to be able to play Armored Saint music in 2015 since we’ve been around for a while.
MT: That leads on nicely to my next question! Armored Saint have been around since the 80s, so you must have seen a lot of changes in the heavy metal scene over the years. Could you tell us how these changes have affected Armored Saint?
GS: Well we we’re really young when we originally got signed and it was a whole movement of heavy rock. Then the thrash style came with Metallica who were, and still are, the kings of that style – they emerged into becoming one of the greatest bands in the world to play the thrash style. We were there right alongside them – we did a lot of tour dates together during the Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets eras. Then we went through our thing but we’re very honoured to be a band as brothers still rockin’ and rollin’ some 30 years later. Like I said, Win Hands Down is our best record – we’re out playing as if were little kids again. We love it and we’re gonna keep doing it until we can’t do it anymore.
MT: Awesome. So that’s what it’s all about – just being in a band,having fun making rock ‘n’ roll and enjoying yourself?
GS: Definitely. I think music is a frequency on Earth that’s beyond just music – it rocks, it heals, it makes you go crazy…I think that in the time today it’s very important for people to come out and support your local rock bands. It’s a lot to keep it going and with the support of people it can grow into something beautiful like it was in the ’80s. So drop your phones, stop Facebooking and get together with your friends, come out and enjoy some of these festivals and let’s rebuild the heavy metal genre!
MT: Great, that’s what it’s all about. So We’ve said that Armored Saint has been around for a while. This year is the 30th anniversary of your classic debut March of the Saint – is there any plans to celebrate this release?
GS: Well we did do a 30th anniversary show for our record label, Metal Blade Records. Metal Blade is definitely stepping up with Win Hands Down – I definitely suggest everyone go out and get a copy. There’s some awesome box sets that Metal Blade have put together. We’re just feeling like all the puzzle is finally coming together in the business, and Armored Saint is out there. Go over to our Facebook page, connect with us, and say “hello” – were here.
MT: It’s great that today in the social media age, the fans and the bands can connect with each other. Is it really good for Armored Saint that you can connect with the fans online?
GS: Oh definitely! We’re very much open to chatting and meeting everybody so don’t be shy! The social media thing is a whole new technology – the world is changing but there’s one feeling that’ll keep the world together in a positive light and that’s called love. There’s love for music, love for yourselves, love for life – it’s a great thing and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!
MT: That’s very true – I think we can all say amen to that!
GS: Amen! God bless all you heavy metal fans across the world – Armored Saint loves you!
MT: So, one last thing about the old days – there’s a little bit of trivia that some fans may or may not know, and that’s that Armored Saint appeared in a movie, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth playing the song “Hanging Judge”….
GS: Yes! Haha!
MT: So how would you say that during those days, appearing in a movie had promoted the band? Also, would Armored Saint consider appearing on-screen again?
GS: Yeah definitely! I’m personally into movies so I’d do anything I can do. A dream of mine is to write soundtracks for film. For Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, we were on the road with Metallica and the producer of the film actually liked the song “Hanging Judge”, and we heard he wanted us in the movie. Originally we had done a gig the night before really late in South Carolina and we got back to the hotel at 5:30 in the morning and at 6 o’clock, we got a paper underneath our hotel room door saying “your call is a 6 in the morning”. We didn’t sleep much but we got to go and meet Pinhead and we got autographs. In the film, we were the band in the club where Pinhead comes in and massacres the audience with CDs and everything. Initially the idea was to throw drumsticks at the drummer and kill the drummer, then hang the guitarists with guitar strings and all of this other elaborate stuff which didn’t end up making the movie…
MT: That would have awesome if that happened!
GS: Yeah…but we were just happy to be asked to be a part of that movie and yes, we’d definitely like to do another film. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do a movie about the history and lifetime of Armored Saint?
MT: Brilliant – I’m sure everyone would be looking forward to that! Moving on, what does the future hold for Armored Saint after Bloodstock – more festivals, more tour dates supporting Win Hands Down?
GS: Yeah Win Hands Down is definitely our best record and we’re really honoured to be out there touring. We have Alcatrazz festival tomorrow and then we’re going back home. We’re then beginning a second phase of touring with Saxon in the US in September, then we have some time off before going to Germany in December. Then next year we’re playing Monsters of Rock cruise on the East Coast then we have plans to return to Europe next summer. I’m very happy to know that we’ll be promoting Win Hands Down into next year – it makes me feel great and I’m looking forward to whatever comes our way.
MT: Great. Last question – The Moshville Times, we are a webzine based in Scotland. So for your next tour in support of Win Hands Down, can we expect to see Armored Saint come and play in Scotland?
GS: We played Scotland a while ago and I totally loved it! I would definitely want to push for some gigs in Scotland so maybe something would happen. Don’t quote me on that though since I don’t know if it would happen, but I’ll talk to the booking agent and see if we can make it happen.
MT: Awesome. We’ll definitely be looking forward to that! Thanks for your time Gonzo!
GS: Thank you!