An Interview with
that took place 8th April, 2019.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Gonzo: What's up Glenn?
Glenn: How are doing brother? How's your day going so far?
Gonzo: It's good. We're working on new material. We're in the music mode right now.
Glenn: Sweet. What can you tell us about the new material?
Gonzo: Well you know, when ' Win Hands Down' was released in 2015, it was definitely what we feel is our best endeavour as far as our recording career in Armored Saint. We said, “We're really going to have to work hard and come up with some cool stuff to outdo that record”. I feel that everyone's in writing mode, trying to put together an Armored Saint record that will kick it up to another level. I'm sure it's going to be very song orientated and very riffy. John's voice is sounding amazing. I don't want to give away too many things but we're just in the midst of it. There's still a long way to go.
Glenn: Yeah. When did you start? Was it earlier this year?
Gonzo: Well we'd been talking about it for a while. It's been going on for a while – almost a year.
Glenn: So you can't give any titles away or anything at all? It's still in embryo form?
Gonzo: It's very much embryonic. I haven't heard some of the material. Most of it actually. My brother and I are writing and submitting to John and Joey. We're focussing on creating the most memorable and hooky riffs of all time for Armored Saint. That's where we are at. We want to kick it up to another level of existence.
Glenn: Yeah! I was checking out some of your stuff and it's phenomenal. Just for the production alone – never mind the actual arrangements, riffs, vocals and everything else. It's just fantastic production.
Gonzo: Yep. Thank you very much. On 'Win Hands Down' you are talking about?
Glenn: Yeah and a lot of the other recent stuff of Armored Saint. Production-wise, it's just phenomenal.
Gonzo: Yeah. With 'Win Hands Down', Joey teamed up with Josh Newell and recorded really amazing drums and everything else. We worked with Jay Ruston – he mixed it, so that was a new ear to the Armored Saint Camp which we definitely appreciated and welcomed. Also, Bill Metoyer recording guitars and stuff. It was a multi-faceted recording production team on the 'Win Hands Down' record that did a really fantastic job. I'm really proud of it. But there is that whole creative process of the songs themselves. Then learning the parts, creating the parts, recording the parts and really making a record that will have a long-lasting quality through time and will hopefully be timeless.
Glenn: Nice. I've known Bill Metoyer for quite a few years. He's such a nice guy. I've hung out with him at Skinny's Lounge, then I bump into him at Namm and such like. The guy is a sweetheart. He's a really great dude.
Gonzo: Yeah. He was with us in the beginning when we did our first recording our album way back. Brian Slagel of Metal Blade Records allowed us to be on the second 'Metal Massacre' because someone had backed out of the record. It was a compilation, the second, when Metal Blade was just starting out. It had some amazing bands on there. That slot opened up for us, so we went loaded in to Track Records on Melrose in Hollywood. About midnight was our load-in time. We worked until about four, came back the next day and finished up. We just got sound and messed around the first day, getting it ready for the next day for recording and Bill Metoyer was the Engineer.
Glenn: Nice. That's cool that. How was your time at NAMM?
Gonzo: NAMM is awesome. We always have a good time at NAMM. It's always good to run into people and working on creating the business element of what keeps musicians alive, which is instruments – all the different drumsticks and drum cymbals. Every company has something to do with the live performance. It's all there at NAMM and just amazing to be able to attend and be a part of it.
Glenn: Yeah. It's such an addictive thing. I've said to one or two people, “Oh I'm not going to go next year, I've had enough with this year.” It gets close to NAMM and I think, “I'm going to go again. Why not?” To see friends, catch a few jams and do shows at night. (I laugh) It becomes an addiction.
Gonzo: Right. It has gone super big and parking is a mess. Everything is expensive. It's masses of people everywhere. I can see why people who maybe aren't into large groups will shy away from this gathering. We're musicians and it's all about getting people together, celebrating life through entertainment and live music. There's nothing better in the world.
Glenn: Yeah exactly. On the Friday, it was estimated that about 100,000 people were there. It was ridiculous trying to get from one end to the other. It's like you were missing so much because...
Gonzo: You've got to plan ahead.... you've got to plan ahead...
Gonzo: ...to make your time-frame.
Glenn: Yep. Very much so. So are you actually involved in Cymbal Sox? Is that one of your companies?
Gonzo: Yes. Cymbal Sox is an amazing thing I ran into. Cory (Evans) owns it and I hooked up with him about two years ago. Cymbal Sox is a great idea. It's revolutionary. If you spend all this money on great cymbals, you've got to protect them and Cymbal Sox is fast, easy, chic, colourful and very, very practical. That's why I endorse and he endorses me. For any drummer, you have to contact CymbalSox.com and get yourself some protection for your cymbals.
Glenn: Well that makes a lot of sense because as well as sounding good, they've got to look good as well. They are going to get messed up as some people are touring all over the world all the time. Therefore, they've got to be at their best haven't they? Keep 'em clean and pristine.
Gonzo: Keep 'em clean – fingerprint clean. Cymbals are metal so they are going to get dirty. They are going to get sweat on them, fingerprints so they have to constantly be cleaned. But once they're cleaned you can protect them with your Cymbal Sock and keep them cleaner for longer times. It's very practical.
Glenn: Nice. While you were at NAMM, did you get involved with any of the jam nights or specific events at all?
Gonzo: We did Dimebash. We do it every year. This was the most phenomenal Dimebash ever. We had David Grohl cooking tri-tip (steak) and ribs. It was amazing from his Backbeat BBQ company. With regard to the performances, everyone was playing amazing. It was a great heartfelt gathering in honour now of Diamond Darrell and his Brother, Vinnie Paul.
Glenn: Of course, because now it's become something bigger hasn't it because we've lost Vinnie as well. It's going to be a magnitude of way more.
Gonzo: Yeah. Those brothers left behind amazing music. That genre or style – they made it their own, in their own way. There's a little bit of void in music like that. We need to bring that back – that heaviness. Dimebag Darrell and I had a conversation one time about carrying the torch for Heavy Metal. He was saying, “Gonzo, you know, we've got to carry this torch for Heavy Metal!”. That was in the 90's when music was changing. It was something that stayed with me what he said, “Carrying the torch for Heavy Metal”. Heavy Metal is here to stay. It changes its skin every now and then but it's still heavy, aggressive rock with meaning and good melodies, good songs. It's going to hopefully take it to another level. We're all in the same game and that's what we're trying to do with our new record – take it to another level!
Glenn: Yeah! You get all that 'Rock Is Dead' / 'Metal Is Dead' – it never has been. It's just that people want to ignore it and put it in the ground or something. We're all still there doing something with it.
Gonzo: Well it's just something to say and something to pick at. Maybe it's not as popular and maybe people aren't making as much money as they used to, maybe all these things are changing but it's called 'Evolution'. We have to ride the waves and that's what we're doing. We're riding the wave. Armored Saint's been busier than ever in our career. We're very, very grateful and appreciative of everybody who comes out and supports not just Heavy Metal but Armored Saint.
Glenn: Now it's 37 years on, you've got kids growing up and checking out Armored Saint as well as the people that have grown up with Armored Saint. It's all different generations that its influenced and what people have liked over time. It's bound to be a lot bigger than it was then because you've got the younger kids checking you out.
Gonzo: Sure, sure. There's definitely a whole new generation of kids. Their parents were kids when we started out. I think it's a blessing because not only were the parents into Armoured Saint back then, they are passing it on to their kids. Now their kids are old enough to bring them to the show. So we get a lot of new people which are young people which we love. Their parents bring them to the show and they have a good time together and it becomes a family affair. It's really what music, entertainment (is about) and Heavy Metal fans are the most loyal and very friendly. They like to have a good time and get crazy but that does not mean we're not a family and don't care about each other because we definitely do.
Glenn: That's it. I find no matter where you – say the UK or over to America – we're all the same – it's like a certain Brotherhood (or Sisterhood). Everyone gets on. There's not that football thing where one teams fans hate another and there's all that rivalry. It doesn't exist in music, especially in Metal whatsoever.
Gonzo: Well I think at one point it kind of did. Whether you were having the different genres of disco and punk rock, hard rock, heavy metal, thrash rock and all these different ones like pop rock, pop pock and whatever. There was a lot of labels at one point. I think the way it's going is everything is being put into one giant database.. one giant pool in which people are able to access millions of songs through streaming. That seems to be the direction of what music is going in. Before we had a medium – it was called the CD or LP or product that people buy.
Through the streaming they've eliminated the product which has eliminated a lot of revenue which has put the music industry in a whole different light or darkness if you want to call it that. I think that somehow or other it'll get back to revolutionary status. I don't really know where it's going. I just really want to concern myself and focus myself in the task in hand that at the moment is writing the best riffs and coming up with the best drums parts. Trying to elevate our understanding of the craft called music. Music is an immensely vast frequency. In order to get it I think you really can't.
It's an endless understanding of elements and at the same time, being simplistic. It's like a catch 22 – do this, do that – be simple but use your original creative nature to deliver it in some outer level, other level perspective so people will think it's new music. Music has been around for a long time. It's up to the artists to use the paintings and the paint at hand to create new canvasses for new generations to hook on and have a good time to.
Glenn: Yeah. There's only so many notes and so many beats before things get rehashed or people say, “Hang on a minute you've stole that from so-and-so” or “I've already heard that...”, but what can you do these days (I laugh).
Gonzo: But that's 'Rock N Roll'!
Glenn: Yeah. Exactly.
Gonzo: That's how you learn. That's how everybody learns. You learn a song and then you change it a little. Then you play it and pretty soon it becomes your own. You grow into your ability. There's so many different ways. It's been going on for a long time. I think in the end Armored Saint has managed to record by record really stack up a library of songs that will hopefully be timeless through the years. We've got better at our craft and we're looking forward to delivering the goods in 2020 with the new Armored Saint record.
We're also delivering the goods this year. I'm hoping a live DVD of the 'Symbol Salvation Tour' that we did in the United States and in Europe. We recorded it. That's coming out hopefully in the Summer or Fall. Then we're busy going to Europe. We're playing with Metal Church. We're playing 'Bang Your Head' Festival. We're doing the 30th Anniversary 'Dynamo' in Holland. Then we're doing the Megadeth Cruise in October. We're playing with UFO for the first time in our career together. We're doing Vegas, Anaheim, Los Angeles on my birthday and San Diego.
Then we're doing the boat - a couple of performances there which is going to be amazing. You've got Megadeth, Anthrax, Armoured Saint, Overkill, John5... - some cool bands. There is going to be a lot of surprises. That's our whole year. At the end of the year I am sure we will be in the recording studio getting this production ready for all our Armored Saint hooligans around the world.
Glenn: Yeah. I think it's cool that you mentioned Metal Church because I was going to ask you about Metal Church. I've know my buddy, Stet (Howland) since 2002 and I said to him, “Have you got any questions to ask Gonzo?”. He had met you back in the 80's and said, “Send Gonzo my regards and he's going to laugh all the way through the dates”. He's such a laugh a minute Stet and he's a really good guy.
Gonzo: Oh cool, cool. Yeah. We're in contact and we're working it out. We're looking forward to Europe in July. It's going to be fun. We have a nice little tour there. It's a busy year. For me personally, I just have to focus on staying limber, loose and keep playing drums daily so that I can perform at my utmost top performance level every time we go out. That's my goal and with God's blessing and God's will, I will make it through.
Glenn: Yeah. How long do you practise per day to keep your momentum up?
Gonzo: Well I'm constantly busy. I just do. I'm involved in a lot of different things. Both physically and mentally as well. I'm doing a lot of work so that keeps me (going). But as far as drums, I definitely have to go through my warm-up which can take up to two to four hours or maybe it's a half hour I got. But every day it's got to happen because it's your muscle memory and your muscles that have to stay limber in order to perform at the level that Armored Saint live shows are.
Glenn: That's it because a lot of people would last about three songs and they are just knackered aren't they? It's really strenuous stuff. You've got a hard job back there.
Gonzo: Oh yeah, I know. I like to look at it like that and I like to call it... this is what I say to the guys. I say, “Armored Saint is a sport”. It's a sport because I have to be physically fit just like an athlete. I have to sustain and hour and a half of constant balls-out drumming with minimal time off. When you get on a tour you're playing 5 or 6 nights a week. After a while your muscles begin to ache (we laugh).
So as long as you stay limber, stay hydrated and focus on eating as healthy as possible... all of that matters. Now we're blessed enough to Rock and Roll at the level we're putting it out at our age and our career 30 years later – we're still pumping it out! I feel very blessed. I feel thankful and grateful and I do not take it for granted. It's up to me to just keep pounding away at the skins daily.
Glenn: Do you find it tougher now than when you first started Armored Saint? You think to yourself, 'I'm getting older now, my limbs are ageing and getting a bit sore, so I've got to push at it a bit more, but not too much so I don't wear myself out'. How do you deal with that?
Gonzo: I practise enough before the tours and do it in a situation here I'm in a very hot environment for hours and hours. Basically I put myself through rigorous warm-up sessions, maybe 30 days before we are going to perform. Then I play every day so my stamina by the time we're ready to play is there. The magic of it all is physically demanding but make it look like it's second nature. Like it's nothing. It's physically demanding but you have the hidden energy enough to pump it to other levels so the audience enjoys the power of Armored Saint.
Glenn: Do you say there are certain drums and cymbals etc. that you prefer to use as opposed to others that have got that sound plus you can rely on them? They are not going to let you down through the tour. Why would you use those particular makes as the drummer of Armoured Saint?
Gonzo: I'm using Paiste Cymbals. They are the best in the world. They sound great. They are crisp. They've got a different depth and sound quality. Also, I'm endorsed with Cympads out of Switzerland. Cymbads.com – you've got to check that out. They enhance your cymbal sound by a modulating the K. You just leave it like that. I think they're brilliant and I use them from now on forever.
I have Paiste Cymbals – the best in the world. I have tried different cymbals throughout my career which at the time I loved but as soon I got to Paiste it just was home. John Bonham is one of my top influences as far as a drummer and he played Paiste. That was always something that I looked at which was cool. Now that I do play Paiste as well, I'm very honoured and humbled to represent the company worldwide.
As far as drums, I'm working on a drum endorsement right now. It's going to be pretty amazing. I'm working with a guy out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His name is Paul Milkovich. We're going to create the first Gonzo Drumset. It's going to be amazing. It's going to be 'Gonzo Drums made by Paul Milkovich' of 'Ratrod Drums', Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Glenn: Nice! Of course, I can't ask what it's going to look like or what's going to make it the 'Gonzo Drumset'. I guess that's all state secret right now?
Gonzo: Yeah. Right now that's all I'm going to say. I play 'Vater Sticks'. I play the Vater Rocksize. They hold up. They've got good good balance. They've got a little weight to them. I'm able to pound away and hit as hard as I can without them snapping in my hands which makes me happy. (I used) Remo Drumheads – there's just nothing better than Remo drumheads. Andre at Remo really has treated me well throughout the years. I really love that company. Remo Belli was an amazing guy. He used to play at the Remo Percussion Centre on Tuesday nights. The drum circles there were phenomenal. I miss it a lot and hopefully one day I'll return. He's no longer with us but he was there every day that I went when he was alive. So props to him and to the Remo Company and Andre as well.
Also, my 'Attack Rack'. Eric Meyer built my attack rack – a cool guy. I recently moved from Spinbal to my first rack. It's called Attackrackusa.com – check that out! I'm also coming up with 'GonzosDrumsOfThunder.com'. That's going to be a little educational thing that I'm doing through YouTube. It's going to be offered to anyone who's interested in percussion, learning drums and beginning drums. It's going to give you some tools to get on your journey to becoming a great drummer. I want to influence the youth. I want to influence them to pick up on percussion, pick up on playing drums, pick up on learning music. It's great for the mind, the body and the soul. It's something that in schools is being dropped off. The creative arts is something that is great for humanity and great for the human heart. So I'm going to start a channel to help feed the seed and the youth of tomorrow.
Glenn: Nice! That's a really cool thing to do as well. Very much so. As well as drums, you are really into photography. Where did this interest come from originally?
Gonzo: I've always been interested in Photography. For me, at the time when I was younger, I didn't want to go to school and learn how to deal with chemicals and processing film. That just didn't appeal to me. When photography went digital and I got my first little camera, I could press the button, take a picture and look at it and say, “Oh, this could be better”, then take it again and really make your picture talk, I started to fall in love with that. Eventually my camera broke and I needed to get something new. That's when I stepped into my first SLR camera which was a Canon EOS. I learned a lot through that.
My sister, who is an amazing photographer – her RosauraStudios.com. She's an amazing portrait photographer. She's got a great, great energy about her. She been working with Sue Bryce. She's out of this world – a phenomenal photographer. She gave me a Canon 40D which was an upgrade for me and I was very thankful for that. Now, after taking my classes through one of the most phenomenal Rock 'N' Roll photographers in the world – Egor V from RockExposure.com. He's offering classes. I took his classes and I ended up buying a new camera which was a Nikon D750 Full Frame. My first full frame camera.
Anyway, I've always been into beautifying, beautiful and beauty, nature, people, flowers and anything that's eye gathering and awe-inspiring. There's a lot of parallels. I'm a creative individual. Photography allows me to paint – but I'm a lousy painter. It allows me to paint with one snap which to me is something that blows my mind that I can do that. With all the elements – not only that I know as far as being a musician – the elements of music – the mood, the framing, the composition, the colour, the message – whatever content is involved in making a song, well it's also involved in making a good picture. Creatively correct exposures is what I seek every time I snap the camera. This is just through years of experience put together that I love music and I love photography. That is what I want to do the rest of my life.
Glenn: The thing about it, you are seeing it from both viewpoints. You are seeing it from the stage and the photopit. You recently shot your brother (Phil Sandoval) at that jam session that were incredible pictures. You know that some of these venues are hard to shoot in due to back lighting and a lot of shadows and their use of red lighting etc.
Gonzo: Yeah that's why I took those classes with Egor V. Also, Neil Zlozower was one of the first photographers. He became a great friend of mine. He's always been a mentor of mine. He was another reason I got into photography. Just watching him work and all the fun that we had. You're right. I've been a band member and people have been taking pictures of me for a lot of years. But it's all a circle. Me being able to say that I'm the musician and I've been doing this and people have been taking pictures of me – now I'm behind the camera looking at musicians.
I know what's going on. I know what people are thinking and I know where to position myself so that what's coming I'll be ready for to capture that moment which lasts probably a micro-second. It's really something that I learned from Egor – to be prepared. To press the button. You can't think that you are going to be snapping and if by magic your camera is going to get those moments. No – you have to be aware, you have to look, you have to pre-set, you have to position and you have to think about things or just got for it and hit and miss.
Gonzo: There's no rule like that but I'm trying to seek creatively correct exposures every time. I don't want to waste my time. That's why I want to be ready. That's how I am ready so I capture a lot of the live shots in these clubs that are full of expression, motion or are just outright beautiful.
Glenn: What I find as well is that it's good at times to actually know the songs and what's coming next in the songs so you can think, 'Right, this is going to be a good bit because there's going to be a guitar solo or there's a major fronting part where they come up to the microphone and their mouth starts opening up' – all that sort of stuff comes into play because sometimes if you don't always know the songs, you might miss bits and sometimes you are just ready for it.
Gonzo: Right. Well that's all part of the homework that any good rock and roll photographer or any good music photographer or any good photographer. It's the homework that one does and does not include the camera. It includes the research of what you're going to photograph. Whether it's nature or a Rock band or a model or a portrait session, a family or babies or flowers or landscape. Each one has its own little knowledge base that will help you capture that beauty at the upper level. The industry has made it so easy for people to buy cameras, press the button of the camera and the picture looks great. Consumer-friendly cameras are out there and people using them and thinking, 'I'm a photographer'.
Glenn: Yeah. I was going to say that. They all think they are cool because they've got their watermark under the picture. They think they are something special. I think 'No!'.
Gonzo: Yeah. But the truth of it, is that, what about capturing an amazing picture in low light with constantly changing flashing lights and you're able to use your tool, which is your camera, dial it in , which are the tools in the camera, which is understanding the technology of your camera, then using that to produce the picture in any circumstance. At that point, I think that you can say you are a photographer because you are using the elements that are given to you without automatic settings or without anything. You're using your mind, you're using technology understanding, you're using the technology in your tool which is your camera and then you are using all of that and going for it.
Nowadays, photographers in Rock 'N' Roll only get to shoot the first three songs. It's not a lot of time to get it right. You have to do a lot of stuff beforehand to understand your position so that in those three songs you've got it. That's my other level of photography where now I'm going to finally. I believe I've reached a nice plateaux where maybe people can buy my pictures. I'm going to start to sell them and see where that goes.
Glenn: Do you have any particular pictures that you are really proud of that you think, 'That's my money shot'? I know myself, when you're shooting some band and you think, 'Oh man, that's the one'? Which ones come to mind now that have blown you away?
Gonzo: I have so many and I am conceiving to put together a Gonzo Sandoval of Armored Saint Rock 'N' Roll Photography book. There won't be a lot of text. There will be a lot of imagery because I think if the image itself speaks, you don't need a lot of words to describe it. It's just going to be like, 'WOW!' and then 'Wow', more wow and then you get a hundred wows – that's a very nice book. That's what I want to do.
My favourites... well I've taken a lot of amazing pictures of my brother – one of the best guitar players in Heavy Metal – Phil Sandoval. I'm really proud of a bunch of stuff I've shot with him. I've been blessed to be able to shoot on the road and at festivals. I remember shooting Marco Mendoza in Thin Lizzy at Bang Your Head many years ago. I remember that as being one of the really cool shots. But I've shot John5 recently at the Whisky and got amazing stuff on a Saturday.
But before that, I got some really great stuff of Rob Zombie and John5 from Ozzfest. Those are great stories. I was in the pit and I was just getting slammed around. I was front row to try and get good angles. Then I saw these guys up front row, the crowd keeps bumping into me and I keep bumping into this guy. I'm trying to stay stable with my camera to snap, then all of a sudden I say, “Dude, I'm sorry I keep bumping into you but they keep bumping into me and you know, it's just their wave”. He said, “Don't worry about it. That's cool.”
Then he said, “You can lean on me if you need to”. I said, “Really?”, because I realised that he was turned around because his girlfriend was throwing up over the railing. So he was taking care of her instead of watching the band which is cool. Then I was starting to lean up against him just so I could get stable enough to keep my camera still enough to get great shots. He helped me out and I have some great John5/Rob Zombie shots because of it.
Gonzo: There's so many different ones. Right now I can't think of like 'Wow' but recently I shot Joey Vera at Dimebash. He's in my band so I never thought that I would be able to shoot my own band member because we're usually playing together. But this time around it came that he was playing with other people, I had my camera, I was there and I thought, 'Wow – this is cool'. (We laugh). I got some really good ones with Joey playing with Gene Hoglan from Testament. I'm always shooting. It's getting better. I'm just loving it more and more.
I have Monsters Of Rock with another great session. I shot some amazing pictures with the guitar player, Gus G. I got some great Dave Meniketti. I mean, it goes on and on and on. That's why I decided I have too many, I have to share this with the world and figure out how to make some money. (We Laugh)
Glenn: That's the hardest bit. It's a nightmare. I think the fact that we love doing it, that is almost like a reward in itself then other people like it as well. But yeah, you are right there. It would be good to make some dollars or pounds out of it.
Gonzo: The thing about it is, being an artist in ancient times, has it really changed being an artist in modern day times? I mean, the business still takes advantage of the artist. The artist makes the least money. The company makes the most money. Not a lot has changed throughout the years. I don't know, I think artists: they need to get paid just like the athletes or the video game producer. All the big time money, the artist needs to become a part of that group. I'd love to be a part of that group one day. That's what I'm working towards. (We laugh)
Whether my craft is photography, whether my craft is music production, playing drums, producing records, making music or writing songs. To me, it's the craft of creativity. That's where my heart lives. That's where I live and that's where Jesus Christ. The Lord Almighty has given me these talents. I just want to use them to the best of my ability to help and heal the human condition.
That leads me to the other record that I love to promote – my 'Black Raven' record with Daniel Hicks from Sedona, Arizona. He plays the American Indian Flute. We produced an amazing record called 'Native Night'. It's intention is to help heal the human condition and that includes all humanities. It's a deep intention. It's not Heavy Metal. My Brother, Phil Sandoval is on it playing guitar but I blended the American Indian Flute with lead guitar to create a hybrid music which we love to call 'Progressive Native American Music'.
Glenn: I'm going to check this out. It sounds incredible. Just by the way you are talking about it.
Gonzo: Yep, With all this creativity in this world it's almost a challenge to keep shining your light and doing what's right in your heart. Through all the distraction that the world has bestrode upon our daily lives. I think it's really smart to try to peel away all distractions and use focussed power in whatever you want to do in this world. Then whatever lives in your heart as in your dreams, you wan to challenge all your stored energy towards that goal to make your dreams come true. Focus power and blocking out distraction is a new form of art.
Glenn: It's true because I find that I hardly watch television these days, news – forget it. You hear people talking about negativity. I block that out. It's not part of my world. My world is creativity. Being positive and joyous. I'm not interested in the negative side. That just kills creativity.
Gonzo: Exactly. The lures are luring you away and making you join 'The Cesspool of Sorrow'. They're all over. They lure you this way, they lure you that way I'm pretty sure you find yourself (thinking) 'Oh shoot, what happened to my creative dream? I've been derailed. I've got lured. I got strayed. I let distraction into my life and now I'm not even focussed'. That's why I say, “Block out the distraction and focus power on what you want to do in this life which includes your dreams and do it. Move forward daily because the distraction will be there daily”.
It's a balance of nature within the human mind and this is a way to combat it because your own mind will feed you your own distraction. That's what people don't know. Within yourself, you're creating an illusion and berating your own walls. The reality is that there is no fear, there is only love and God and the dreams that are in your heart, mind, body and soul are real and you can do anything you want. That in a nucleus is what I want to promote in 'GonzosDrumsOfThunder.com'.
Glenn: You know, you said something there: 'Cesspool Of Sorrow'. That's a great title for a song.
Gonzo: It's a song. It has a ring to it.
Glenn: It does. It works to today's mentality, media, politics and all the rest of the sh*t that goes with it. It's perfect.
Gonzo: Yeah, yeah. I like it. I'll look into it. I like it a lot.
Glenn: It's awesome.
Gonzo: I'm going to use this. Right on!
Glenn: Do you still enjoy making promotional videos? I've been watching some of your videos like 'Win Hands Down' & 'Isolation'?
Gonzo: Yeah. Well it's a lot of work. Again, it's all part of the creative process. You make a record, you want to promote the record. You make a visual piece, a video – it's all creativity. So yeah, I love it. It's a lot of work but I don't mind it all. I love to work.
Glenn: Nice. You've played all around the world over the years. Would you say there are certain parts of the world that have had a big impact on you? Things that you have remembered from certain places?
Gonzo: Armored Saint when we started back when we were kids, we really looked to Europe. We looked to English bands, We looked to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, We were into Michael Schenker, AC/DC, Queen and Thin Lizzy. This is what we wanted our band to be like. It was a dream of mine to be able to play all over the world and my dream has come true because I'm doing it. Now I have other dreams too but I think that being blessed with the talent to take us all over the world which is something I dreamed about.
Europe itself was a big impact on our band because it was a dream to go there – be successful and all of that. Unfortunately when we signed our record deal in '84, we told our Record Label, we told our Manager at the time which was Cliff Bernstein – the biggest Manager in the world that we need to go to Europe. It was our dream. This is what we worked for. We got signed – the next step is “Let's got to Europe”.
For whatever reason, it always got excuses. It's too expensive, you need to sell more records.. whatever was said, we did not go to Europe when we were 20 years old, fresh – ready to pop. That was one of the biggest mistakes and it was at the hand of our record label and our Management because it wasn't up to us. We did the music. We got our band to a level of where we wanted to be. We wanted to launch into Europe and it didn't happen.
That was back in '84. That's old hash. We're busier now and we've been to Europe so many times now we're loving where we're at right now. But at that time, that angered us beyond belief. It still stays with us because things could have been a lot different of we would have been.. the would've, should've, could've – whatever. It's a done deal. It's fact, true and it's not going to be forgotten but whatever you know? There you go. I let it go and I forgive.
But now we move forward on another level so that's in the past. It's a done deal but it is a fact that has weighed on us and our career since it didn't happen. So now, we're busier now, we're playing Europe all the time. We're growing. We're playing the huge festivals so we're happier than we've ever been growing our band, Armored Saint into other levels.
Glenn: Nice. You've mentioned a few acts you're going to be working with or touring with. Are there certain things you are looking forward to in playing with those acts and are there other acts you'd still love to perform with? Whether it be on a festival bill, as a support, a headliner or whatever?
Gonzo: Yeah. The Rock show is the rock show – we love it. Armored Saint is a live band – period. That's what we do, that's what we are. We are first a live band and now we're getting good at recording records in the studio. That's a whole other skin. Our thing – what we do – live music. That's what we're really good at. We're just nurturing our crafts individually and growing as musicians individually. But when Armored Saint gets together, the chemistry that is that is also growing. We look forward to sharing and shining our individual lights and collectively the Armored Saint lights to the world and beyond.
Glenn: Sweet. Are there certain bands you are looking forward to performing with or being bills on the with?
Gonzo: Yeah. Any band that are influences.. like UFO – that's going to be a treat. It would be great if Michael Schenker would drop by and do some solos on some of the songs but that's another dream. An Armored Saint and Judas Priest Tour would be off the hook. Of course, Metallica and Armored Saint concerts throughout the years and in the beginning were magical. Like in 2019, 2020, 2021, I think the world might be ready for an Armored Saint/Metallica Tour in honour of the 80's and in honour of present times. In honour of survival and in honour of brotherhood and the love of Metal across the world. That would be awesome.
Really, to me any band that inspires me like whether it's a musician, drummer, bass player, keyboard player or singer. Anybody who stands out who takes their craft to another level is inspirational to me personally. I look forward to those bands and those times because I appreciate what they're doing and I can learn and feel the magic. So specific bands, Judas Priest.. I want to play with Alice In Chains, AC/DC – those types of bands. But as far as opening, middle slots or headlining, Armored Saint have done all of that and ready to do a whole lot more at whatever level our career takes us. We have a lot of fun and its the love of music, the love of our brothers and the love of Armored Saint that is beginning to shine a lot brighter.
Glenn: Yeah! When it comes to brothers, do you find that you two get on well all the time?
Gonzo: Ahhh.. Brothers are Brothers. We have our thing. Mainly we try to stay on the positive but there's definitely times where there's battles going on. Real as real, it's not paradise all the time. But in the end, brothers is the same family. Once we realise in our own hearts that we're from the same mother and the same father, the blood runs thick in the family, we want to strive to do our best. We are – we're a songwriting team and we are blessed to be able to play music together throughout the years. We look forward to bringing a lot more of what we do. Phil is getting into other levels of guitar playing. He's probably going to be doing a solo album in the future that hopefully I'll be producing with him. I've got some projects also that are very personal – unrelated to Armored Saint. But if you're asking about Brotherhood – I love my brother. He's one of the best guitar players in the world and it's just an honour to be able to play music and photograph him. The world will benefit from this.
Glenn: Awesome. You mentioned projects – what other projects can you talk about? What else are you involved with as well musically?
Gonzo: I've been singing worship songs since I became a Christian. I look forward to recording them as well and helping people who may be in the dark or non-believers, introducing them to the possibility of Jesus Christ entering their hearts and welcoming them to a new path. A new journey to eternal salvation. That's kind of a big thing but it's the most important. I look forward to recording that. GonzosDrumsOfThunder – I want to get that going and provide 'beginning drum education to the youth of the world'.
My photography – that's always amazing to me and I'm blessed to be able to do that. Writing music, playing drums – I mean it's just all the stuff that I love. I feel very blessed and thankful that my awakening has taken a couple of steps. I look forward to shining my personal light through all I do and hoping that people come to their own realisation and open their hearts to God.
Glenn: Awesome. I was going to ask you about proud moments in your life but think you've talked about the things you seem to be proud about anyway. Things you've done and achieved in your life.
Gonzo: Yeah. What I have achieved, Yeah! Sometimes I don't feel I've reached where I'm meant to be so I strive to keep the doors open of possibility so I can be lead and reach my ultimate potential with God's help.
Glenn: Nice. We've talked about loads of stuff. Is there anything else you want to bring up that we've not touched on?
Gonzo: Well I think in closing, I appreciate your intellect. I appreciate this interview and I appreciate being able to speak freely on my points of view. I just want to say that at the end of the day, the whole world in one moment realises that its only one world that we live in and that world is not my world – it's our world. Our world is going to survive and we're going to help it live or we're going to hurt it.
I'm just thinking that if everyone realises that kindness to fellow human beings is a door that can be opened and to open the human contact and love that's in this world and at the same time slam the door to negativity and the evils of this world. I think that's really important that we realise that if kindness in our hearts that we need to shine the light on in our own personal circle – our friends, our family, our co-workers, our workers, our bosses – everybody that surrounds you.
Maybe someone who is a non-believer or is in the darkness or lost can get a little light so that their lives can also change. A lot of it has to do through the frequency of music. I'm just very thankful to be able to express myself freely and hoping that people get on their path, come correct and help others.
Glenn: Nice. Well this has been a magical experience having a good chat with you Sir.
Gonzo: Nice! Thanks Glenn.
Glenn: Thanks mate. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for your time and it's been an absolute pleasure.
Gonzo: Likewise, take care.
Glenn: You too man.
Gonzo: I love England.
Glenn: Thanks Bro and have a good time with Stet and the guys in Metal Church. You'll love it.
Gonzo: Definitely. For sure.