Monday, January 09, 2006

Three Bands

Saint was just about the only other L.A. Metal band besides Slayer that Umlaut liked during the early-80's Metal Days. One of Metallica's 1st roadies, a guy named Dave Marrs, always raved about them to me (Does anyone know where Dave is now?? I haven't talked to him in almost 15 years..). The 1st time they played in S.F. I was down front and Dave was standing stage right watching for my reaction. When I looked over at him with METAL in my eyes he said "I told you!' Now, the concept of a Metal band taking the stage wearing armor definitely seemed as silly then as it does now... But Saint were such a great live band that you could forgive their costumes in the same way you forgave KISS for their costumes. Between 1983-85 I saw Saint at least 6x... Even after all these years, when I hear the opening riff of 'Can U Deliver' my head starts to bang involuntarily... Saint were also cool to me whenever I met them, which was always nice. I once sat with them in their band van after a show listening to a tape of the just completed gig. Guitarist Dave Prichard passed away in 1990 from cancer and John Bush (vocals) and Joey Vera (bass) both spent time in Anthrax after Armored Saint was laid to rest. I don't know what the other 2 guys are up to.. Saints Will Conquer! (Photo: The Keystone, Palo Alto, CA - 1983. Pic by Umlaut)

Metallica / Armored Saint - Kabuki Theater, S.F. - March 1985 (TEN BUCKS...)

It's hard for me to appreciate how legendary Sleep are because I've know Al for so long. I met Al in the late-80's when he worked at Tower Records in Mt. View, CA and before Sleep was born. Big Wayne and I would hang out in the stock room with our friend John, who worked at that Tower too. Al was "the kid" who always wanted to talk about Black Sabbath and who was gonna start a band. And fuck if Al didn't do just that in a massive way. Are Sleep the best band to ever come outta San Jose? Uh, YEAH.. I have no idea how many times I saw them, but it was definitely well into double digits. Their best shows were when they projected NASA archival video of astronauts in space on a screen behind them as they played. Stoner A/V Rules! Sleep's Holy Mountain is still one of my favorite albums - "I believe the signs of the reptile master..." I won't go into the story of Sleep's demise, but the guys did go on to form a pair of great bands: Om and High On Fire. I still have my glow in the dark Sleep 'Stoner Astronaut' shirt. (Photo: Al onstage circa 1992 - From Thora-Zine #5)

Grotus / Neurosis / Sleep - Kennel Club, S.F. - 5/27/92 (According to the review in Umlaut #5, I wore a new pair of glasses to this show...)

The thing I loved about the Vue was they had a confident swagger onstage that you don't see in many S.F. bands. They were one of those bands who translated better live than in the studio. When I visited Cleveland in June 2004 I met some cool Music Geek bruthas and to my surprise they were Vue fans too. After a stint with SubPop, they signed with RCA in 2003 and opened for the Rolling Stones in Holland. Things seemed on the verge of breaking for the Vue. Alas, it wasn't to be. One of the best albums no one will ever hear is the band's RCA recording Down For Whatever (produced by Davy Vain of the 80's S.F. Glam Rock band Vain). It was only released in France and Japan before RCA unceremoniously dropped the band and cancelled the U.S. release. Thankfully, Umlaut witnessed the Vue's final show (The Blank Club, San Jose, CA - 8/14/04). There were only around 30 people in the club, but it was still one of the best performances I saw all that year. Another great band that time will forget, but I won't. 3/5 of the Vue are now in the S.F. band Bellavista. I haven't seen 'em yet. (Photo: RCA Records Advance CD-R for Down For Whatever... The closest it got to a U.S. release..)

Vue - Great American Music Hall, S.F. - 7/29/04 (The drunk girl selling merch gave me free stuff...)


Umlaut would like to apologize as yet another Old Metal Geekfest erupts in this space. Some people mark their youth by sporting events they saw.. Umlaut and his tribe gauge their Salad Days with METAL.

Submitted by John Marshall:

During the Ride The Lightning Tour, Armored Saint opened for Metallica and Wasp for most of the Summer across the U.S.. Saint were a great bunch of guys, and really fun to hang out with.

They were a really good live band, and held up well opening for Metallica (Metallica and Wasp were actually "co-headliners", alternating who went on last in different cities..... a fuckin' joke if you ask me). In fact, at the end of the tour Metallica and Saint did a few gigs without Wasp, and Saint actually headlined the show in L.A.. They were THAT big there at that time.

A couple of Saint's crew guys have since been pilfered for other gigs: Zach Harmon has been Metallica's bass tech and equipment manager for almost 20 years, and their only full time crew guy for almost that long. Neil Schaffer did sound for many other bands, including Metal Church.

It was a sad day to learn that Dave Prichard had died. He was one of the good guys.

Another tidbit that some people may not know: At one point John Bush was asked to join Metallica as their lead singer. He declined, because of his loyalty to Armored Saint, and because their future looked just as bright as Metallica's. Funny how the cards fall innit?

Submitted by Lauraloha:

Lauraloha loved Armored Saint. One more rest stop on the Metal Highway that Umlaut and I were visiting together and no one knew.

I first saw Armored Saint at the Keystone Berkeley (loved that club! loved it!). It was the first time I had EVER witnessed moshing and it burnt a vision into my brain that I will never forget. The club was little and I remember the armor and the theatrics and I think John Bush even walked on some tables if I remember right. The crowd was moshing and I was off to the side sitting on a table or a bar or something... The opening to 'Can U Deliver' is amazing. Makes me want to pull out the CD right now...

Zach Harmon, the oldest Metallica roadie still in existence, was a roadie for Armored Saint. Zach grew up in Pasadena and there was a Metal connection there cuz Saint was from SoCal as well. Being a roadie for Armored Saint is how Zach hopped on the Metallica bandwagon. In the later years when I was one of Zach's runner girls, he would always tell us great stories about Armored Saint and the "Good 'Ol Days".

Anyway, I loved Armored Saint and saw them as many times as I could around The Bay. I wonder if Umlaut was in the mosh pit or hanging out in the back taking it all in like me. The coincidences around here are spooky.

Can U Deliver? I wonder.

Umlaut's Addendum:

Dear Lauraloha: Umlaut was fucking DOWN FRONT at those Saint shows!! I took no shit in The Pit while getting classic blurry photos like this one.

Yes, I CAN deliver... "It's just the FEEVAH... Here's your chance to PLEEEEAAZZZE.."

This addendum is dedicated to the 4 readers (you know who you are) who are laughing out loud right now.

Umlaut drove down to San Jose today and listened to the March Of The Saints album the entire time... Nostalgia is a good driving companion sometimes, dyaknowwhatimean?

Oh, millionaire Rock Star and Art Collector Lars Ulrich was a big Armored Saint fan too, back when he was a Metalhead Geek like the rest of us:

Lars Saint Shirt - Keystone Palo Alto, Halloween 1983 (Pic by Umlaut)

"Inner voices scream: GLORY BOUND! GLORY BOUND!!"

Added by Umlaut 1/17/06:

THANKS to Hayne for this one: Sleep is featured in the recent Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers AND they also appear on the soundtrack CD!!

There's a scene at a trashy ranch in the middle of nowhere. Lots of motorcycles parked outside. A Redneck guy is working on a car in a garage...and the Sleep song 'Dopesmoker' is blasting.

WOW. As Hayne said "Jarmusch always picks cool music." INDEED!

I hope Al & Co. got paid handsomely for that... Sleep: Gone but obviously not forgotten!!