Rock Gone Wild, America’s newest and most diverse rock festival, will feature over 50 rock legends on two stages during the festival’s four-day run. One of those bands, L.A. metal gods Armored Saint, will be making its return to Iowa after playing the legendary Iowa Jam in 1986. We talked to Saint vocalist John Bush about that show and the band’s plans for this year’s RGW.
What do you remember about the Iowa Jam? “I remember the bands-Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Dokken, Metallica and us. It was at a racetrack in Des Moines (the show was held on May 26, 1986 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds), I believe. It was held the same night as a Van Halen concert downtown. It was the biggest show that we played in America. We’ve played many big shows in Europe (festivals), but that was the biggest for Armored Saint in the States. We were touring with Metallica at the time.
Was it a good show? One of my favorite bands, Aerosmith was a little shaky; I don’t think that they had reached that rehab period yet. Nugent was great, everyone did a good show. We went on at 11 a.m. or so, your typical opening slot at a festival. We played the night before in Chicago and spent the whole night on a bus to get to the show.
Any other Iowa memories? We did a great show with Dio in Cedar Rapids years after that. A few club shows, nothing like the Jam or Rock Gone Wild.
Why do you think that this sort of festival (Rock Gone Wild, others) plays out so well in the Midwest? People in the Midwest aren’t as trendy as those on the Coasts. They value entertainers and don’t get caught up in the scene as much. The fans in the Midwest are dedicated to a certain type of music-rock, country-and are loyal to it. I think it’s great.
What is Armored Saint up to these days? We’re working on a new record—we’re now about nine songs into it (note: RGW heard four of these songs while in L.A. in November, and they rock!). It should be out later this year or early next year. Metal Blade is still our label in the states; we’re working out some of the legal stuff for an international release.
Will any of these new songs feature in your set at RGW? Yes, one for sure; the rest of the set will be the typical Saint stuff.
What should the RGW fans expect from the show? We don’t play that much anymore, so when we do, we give it our all; it’s an event. It will be an in-your-face, high energy, metal fest. I expect the crowd to participate as well.
It’s rumored you are going to make a vacation out of your Midwest visit? Yeah, that’s true. My wife, Tori and I, and the family (John and Tori have two young children, daughter Jezebelle and son Guiseppe) are going to rent an RV and drive back thru Yellowstone after the show-make a vacation out of it.
If you had to pick five songs that best represent Armored Saint, what would they be? “March of the Saint,” “Can You Deliver,” “Nervous Man,” “Aftermath,” “Reign of Fire” maybe “Chemical Euphoria.” (Writer emphatically agrees but misses “Isolation.”)
Is it true you were offered the gig in Metallica after Cliff Burton died? I actually was invited to join the band around the Kill ‘Em All period. It was a hard decision, but Armored Saint was already up and running, and these guys (in Saint) were my childhood friends. Who knows what would have happened if I had? I don’t think about it much. Joey (Vera, Saint bassist) was one of the bassists that were asked to audition after Cliff passed, but never did.
Visit www.rockgonewild.com for updates and festival news.