Ruben Mosqueda of Sleaze Roxx spoke with Armored Saint frontman John Bush, portions of the discussion appear below. The band’s new album, Punching The Sky, will be released on October 23rd.

Sleaze Roxx: You have a streaming event happening on October 10th. It’s a virtual album release party. Who suggested you do that?

John Bush: It was our agent who suggested that we do something like this and play a show. Then it was suggested that we play the Whisky [A Go-Go] which is a legendary club. Places like that are hurting. They’ve been doing some streaming performances from there. We want to support them, while at the same time promoting Punching The Sky. That place has been part of our history. We’ve played there many, many times. If we can help them, we’ll do it. We get to do some new songs for the first time. That will be great. It will be weird and unusual to do an entire show without an audience. We’ll be performing in front of a bunch of cameras, pretty much. Ideally, we’d love to hit the road or at the very least, do a release party in front of an audience. We’re fired up about the new songs that we have been rehearsing for the set. It’s going to be fun, but a little weird.

Sleaze Roxx: You have more than enough material to do a solid 90 minutes of hits and fan favorites. How many new songs do you have planned to inject into the set?

John Bush: We’re doing four new songs for this show…You’re right. We go back to the early ’80s, so we have quite a bit of material. We have to balance it out. We try to throw in some deep tracks. If we’re supporting someone, I’d like to do three new songs and seven classics. If we’re headlining, well then we could do a lot more. We’re doing some deep tracks on this live stream…I don’t like playing the same obvious tracks every time. I don’t want to do all the songs of March of The Saint. You know the ones. It’s a great record but I want to keep it fresh. I want the “Oh, I love this song! I can’t believe they played it,” reaction from the fans.

Sleaze Roxx: Would ever consider re-cutting some of the classic Armored Saint material?

John Bush: You know, I don’t want to do that. We did March of The Saint on Nod To The Old School which was cool. As far as going back to redo those records, I don’t have the desire to do that at all. Those records sound the way that they sound and that’s the way it is for better or worse. I don’t mind recording live renditions of the songs, but re-recording classic studio songs? I’m pretty much against that actually.

Sleaze Roxx: In 1999, you cut a song with Joey Belladonna for Return of The Killer A’s an Anthrax “hits” package. You two traded off on Ball Of Confusion. Were you two in the studio together? Was the song pieced together from two separate performances of the song? Who suggested that song?

John Bush: We were in the studio together when we recorded that. I don’t remember whose idea it was exactly. I don’t want to take full credit, because I don’t actually remember, but I am a huge Temptations fan..Again, I don’t want to take complete credit for that song, but I certainly supported it. I like how we traded off on that, the Temptations had four guys singing on that. It was cool for Joey and I to get to do that together. It didn’t have the impact that I felt it should have had, but whatever. It was such a cool time and fun song to do together. Joey Belladonna and I are cool. We did some signing together, when we did the Mega Cruise last year, Anthrax was on there and we got a chance to hangout. I think some people want there to be this rivalry but there really isn’t. His wife and my wife have become friends and they keep in touch and text each other back and forth. I love Joey, he’s a great singer, he’s been the voice of Anthrax for many years and justifiably so.

Sleaze Roxx: Who’s your favorite replacement singer and why?

John Bush: I think of [Ronnie James] Dio. He did a couple of times. He fronted Rainbow after [Ritchie] Blackmore left Deep Purple and he did that in Black Sabbath. He was an amazing singer and did it incredibly well. I also have to mention Brian Johnson. Some of the latter albums I wasn’t as big of a fan but Back In Black is such a phenomenal album. I don’t want to forget For Those About To Rock. That’s got some great moments on it. I don’t love the Van Halen Sammy Hagar years, but I love Sammy Hagar. I love his Montrose records and there’s some really cool stuff on his solo records. It was funny. Van Halen got Sammy in the band and then they got a bit “sappy.” I didn’t quite understand why they didn’t make a record that was more along the lines of those Montrose records. There were all these keyboards and I never thought Sammy was utilized in a hard rock way, if that makes sense? I love Sammy. He’s still amazing.

Sleaze Roxx: It would have probably freaked you out if Anthrax would have wanted to incorporate keyboards.

John Bush: [Bursts into laughter] There were some keyboards. There are some keyboards on Black Lodge.

Read more at Sleaze Roxx.

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Darlene Aderoju of People reports:

To the public, Eddie Van Halen was known for his extraordinary guitar playing abilities — but to his friends, the late icon was an all-around inspiration.

…[KISS bassist] Gene Simmons recalls the moment he learned of Van Halen’s death on October 6th.

“…I was shocked to find out Eddie had passed, the first image that hit me — so help me God — was Eddie Van Halen grinning from ear to ear with that big, huge, million-dollar smile.

He always had that on, whether he was onstage playing for packed houses or in videos or meeting a stranger. He just smiles and says, ‘Hey, how you doing?'”

“He would smile and his eyes would disappear. His cheeks would shoot up and they would take his whole face, like a little 12-year-old kid smiling when you’re not trying to impress anybody or you’re not aware of what you look like,” Simmons vividly remembers. “It was a full-face smile. It was catchy. It grabs you off-guard.”

…Simmons continued, “He was unabashed and just comfortable in his own skin…I was not just amazed by his talent, but I admire him so much as a human being.

Eddie was aware that he had this God-given talent, but I never saw him push that in anybody’s face. At the core, Eddie just seems to be a happy guy.

Every once in a while, God gets it right…He did a good job with Eddie Van Halen, I’ll tell you that. He was a far better man than I’ll ever be, that’s the truth.”

Read more at People.

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Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, The Almighty) has announced today that he will be releasing a brand new studio album, his first since 2015. The new album is titled When Life Was Hard And Fast and will be released on February 19th through Nuclear Blast. The album’s first single Fighting Heart has also been released today and is available on all streaming services right now. You can also watch the video here.
Pre-order the album on various formats, including a 2CD Digipack which includes the bonus covers album Stairwell Troubadour, now from:
Ricky comments. “Fighting Heart is a celebration of how music, literature, art and movies can inspire and motivate us on a daily basis. Can these things change the world? Who knows for sure. But I believe that loud guitars and rock ‘n roll can save a little piece of us all.”
For the process of recording the album, Ricky was joined by Robert Crane (Bass), Xavier Muriel (Drums) and Keith Nelson (Guitar) as well as a number of special guests including Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Andy Taylor formerly of Duran Duran, Thunder’s Luke Morley, Dizzy Reed of Guns ‘N Roses and even Ricky’s daughter, Pepper. Keith also produced the new album, having previously worked with Buckcherry, Blackberry Smoke and Alice Cooper. Keith noted that Ricky is a true Rock-n-Roll soul… he’s got incredible stories to tell and a unique way of telling them. It’s been an honor to be asked to partner and contribute to this record.”
When Life Was Hard And Fast Tracklist:

1. When Life Was Hard And Fast
2. You Don’t Love Me
3. I’d Rather Be Hit
4. Gunslinger
5. Never Corner A Rat
6. Time Don’t Seem To Matter
7. Fighting Heart
8. I Don’t Feel At Home
9. Still Alive
10. Clown Of Misery
11. You’re My Rock N Roll
Stairwell Troubadour Tracklist:

1. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Dead Or Alive cover)
2. Ooops!…I Did It Again (Britney Spears cover)
3. Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran cover)
4. 1000 Dollar Car (Bottle Rockets cover)
5. Cocaine Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
6. I Don’t Want To Grow Up (Ramones cover)
7. I Fought The Law (The Clash cover)
8. Burning Love (Elvis Presley cover)
9. Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t (The Almighty cover)
10. Wrathchild (Iron Maiden cover)
Ricky with his band The Fighting Hearts have announced the following UK tour for April/May 2021 with full date schedule below.

28 April 2021: Cambridge Junction*
29 April 2021: Norwich The Waterfront*
30 April 2021: Bedford Esquires*

1 May 2021: Swansea Patti Pavilion – Sound Bay Festival*^
2 May 2021: London O2 Academy Islington*
4 May 2021: Newcastle University Students Union^
5 May 2021: Glasgow The Garage G2^
6 May 2021: Belfast Limelight 2
7 May 2021: Manchester Club Academy^
8 May 2021: Carlisle The Brickyard^
9 May 2021: Buckley The Tivoli^
12 May 2021: Reading Sub 89*
13 May 2021: Wolverhampton KK’s Steel Mill*
14 May 2021: Blackpool The Waterloo – Massive Weekend (Ricky Solo Acoustic)
15 May 2021: Blackpool The Waterloo – Massive Weekend *^
16 May 2021: Leeds Warehouse^
19 May 2021: Bournemouth Madding Crowd^
20 May 2021: Nottingham Rescue Rooms^
21 May 2021: Lincoln Call Of The Wild Festival
Special Guests on all dates (except Belfast, Blackpool & Lincoln) are Vorginmarys. Plus, The Howling Tides on all shows marked* and Anchor Lane on all shows marked^
Tickets are available from all venue box offices, websites and usual outlets from 9am October 19th, 2020. 

Follow Ricky online at:, and

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David Crosby, who drew much criticism for what seemed like a curt response about Eddie Van Halen as a guitarist, following the legend’s passing on October 6th, once again apologized for his blunder.

After receiving much backlash, the musician once again tweeted on October 13th, “Yes, you Van Halen fans, I did just toss off an answer that was not cool.”

He continued, “The even more embarrassing truth is I didn’t even remember he had just died or I would have kept my mouth shut. … I do make mistakes. No offense intended.”

Crosby also retweeted someone who wrote, “I’m a Van Halen fan for sure, but I can also understand your ‘meh’ response to mean that he wasn’t your cup of tea, but you didn’t mean to disrespect a recently deceased person.”

“Exactly,” Crosby added.

Crosby’s Twitter apology has received support online.

Another fan tweeted, “I was going to jump on here and send you a message about being respectful of those artists who pass away. But this tweet is pitch perfect. We do all make mistakes and we need more forgiveness in this world.”

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In a recent interview with Keith Roth of SiriusXM’s Ozzy’s Boneyard, AC/DC guitarist Angus Young addressed the rumors that Malcolm [Young’s] guitar playing can actually be heard on their forthcoming new album, Power Up

Young said [via], “Malcolm’s contribution is mainly the song ideas, which he did with me. So that’s basically what Malcolm’s contribution is to the whole album. He was there in spirit, and you always feel him. He’s there, especially with me — he’s always part of my thoughts. I’m always thinking of him. As [is] everyone else.”

Power Up will be available in multiple configurations, including digital, CD, and deluxe versions. The limited edition, one-of-a-kind deluxe Power Up box is the ultimate fan package. Hit the button on the side of the box and watch the flashing neon AC/DC logo light up while the opening bars of Shot In The Dark blast out of the built-in speaker. Inside the box is the full CD package in a soft-pack with a 20-page booklet that features exclusive photos and USB charging cable allowing the box to remain powered up and on display. The vinyl LP will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in a gatefold jacket. Limited-edition variants of the LP will be available at select retailers nationwide, as well as the band’s online store. The album will be available on all digital platforms and is scheduled for release on November 13th

Power Up track listing:

1. Realize 
2. Rejection 
3. Shot In The Dark 
4. Through The Mists Of Time 
5. Kick You When You’re Down 
6. Witch’s Spell 
7. Demon Fire 
8. Wild Reputation 
9. No Man’s Land 
10. Systems Down 
11. Money Shot 
12. Code Red

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In honor of legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s passing on October 6th, Popular Mechanics reposted an article that Van Halen wrote for them in 2015, discussing his patents, rebuilding his guitars and amps, and searching for his signature sound. Read it below.

I’ve always been a tinkerer. It comes from my dad. Growing up, we lived in a house in Pasadena that had no driveway. You used an alley that ran through the middle of the block, behind all the houses, to get to your backyard or the garage. Well, the neighbor behind us had a U-Haul trailer up on car jacks and loaded with cinder block.

One night my dad came home from a gig at three in the morning. He had a little heat going, he’d had a few drinks, so he says, “This thing is blocking me from getting in again.” So he got out of the car and tried to move it. As soon as he lifted the trailer, the jack fell over, and it chopped his finger off.

This was a problem. Besides the obvious reasons, he played clarinet and saxophone. On a sax, you don’t need to seal the hole with your finger. A valve closes over it. But with a clarinet, you have to seal the hole, so he took a saxophone valve cover and adapted it to work on his clarinet.

Another funny thing was later in his life, when he started losing his teeth. You need your bottom teeth to play a reed instrument. Instead of going to the dentist, he made himself a perfectly shaped prosthesis out of white Teflon that filled the gap where his teeth were missing. He slipped that in when he had to play. Watching him do that kind of stuff instilled a curiosity in me. If something doesn’t do what you want it to, there’s always a way to fix it.

Stock Guitars:

My playing style really grew from the fact that I couldn’t afford a distortion pedal. I had to try to squeeze those sounds out of my guitar. The first real work I did was in my bedroom. I added pickups, because I didn’t like the sound of the originals.

I couldn’t afford a router—I didn’t even know what a router was—so I started hammering away with a screwdriver. That didn’t work at all. Chunks of wood flew off and there was sawdust flying all over the place. But I was on a mission. I knew what I wanted and I just kept at it until I finally got there.

Most guitar necks are too round on the back, so I took sandpaper and reshaped the neck to be very flat. I actually refretted a few guitars early on because I wanted to shave the fingerboard down and make the neck even flatter. The flatter it was, the farther I could bend a string without fretting out, or choking the sound when the string hits a fret higher on the neck.

The other issue, with Fenders, at least, was the clear lacquer they’d put on the neck. When you sweat, your fingers either slide all over the place or get sticky. I couldn’t stand that, so when I built my first guitar, I used natural wood. My own sweat and oil would soak in to make it smooth. It took a lot of playing to get it that way but, eventually, it just felt so much better than any synthetic product you could put on there.

The Whammy Bar:

Vibrato bars (also called whammy bars or tremolos) just didn’t stay in tune. The problem was the nut—the string guides at the end of the guitar neck. On the first album I used a standard, nonlocking Fender tremolo. The string is angled down from the nut to the tuning pegs, creating tension that, after the string slides back and forth when you use the whammy bar, keeps the string from returning to its original slot. I made my own nut with really smooth indentations—big and round like the bottom of a boat. I put a drop of 3-In-One oil in there, too, so the string would be extra slippery.

On top of that, instead of winding the string down on the tuning peg, creating an angle and causing that tension, I would wind it up so that, from the nut all the way back to the bridge, the string was level. Otherwise there could be hangups in the nut that would make the guitar go out of tune when you went crazy on the whammy bar.

The only problem this caused was when you hit an open string, where your fingers aren’t holding it down. Without that tension, the string would pop out of the nut slot, so I’d have to remember to put my finger on the far side of the nut to hold things together.


If it was movable, or turnable, or anything that resembled something that could go up or down, I would mess with it to make the amp run hotter. I opened the amp up and saw this thing. I found out later it was a bias control, which controls the power to the output tubes. I’m poking around, and all of a sudden I touch this huge blue thing and my God, it was like being punched in the chest by Mike Tyson. My whole body flexed stiff, and it must have thrown me five feet. I’d touched a capacitor. I didn’t know they held voltage.

The Marshall amp I brought home from the store where I worked was only good if you turned it all the way up. Any lower and you’d lose the distortion. I needed that, but it was impossible to play anywhere with the volume that loud, so I tried everything, from leaving the thick plastic cover on it to facing it backwards to putting it face down. I’d blow a fuse twice an hour.

Luckily, I stumbled onto the Variac transformer soon after. I’d bought another Marshall amp, and I had no idea that it was actually a European model. I plugged it in, and I’m waiting for it to warm up and thinking, I got ripped off here, there’s no sound coming out! Pissed off, I came back an hour later to give it another shot.

I’d left the amp on the whole time. I didn’t know it was set on 220, so when I turn my guitar on it sounds like a full-blown Marshall, all the way up, except really, really quiet. That was when I realized there was something going on with the voltage. There were these cheesy light dimmers in the house, and I hooked it up to one of those.

Of course I wired it backwards and shorted out the whole house, so I went down to a place in Pasadena and asked if there was some kind of industrial-size variable transformer that would let me adjust voltage, and they introduced me to the Variac. It’s just a huge light dimmer. I plugged it into the amp and controlled the voltage from that. That became my volume knob. I would set the voltage depending on the size of the room we were playing, getting all that feedback at any volume.


My first real guitar was a Les Paul Goldtop. I was a total Eric Clapton freak, and I saw old pictures of him playing a Les Paul. Except his had humbucking pickups, and mine had the soapbar, P-90 single coils. The first thing I did with that guitar was chisel it out in the back and put a humbucker in. When we were playing gigs, people kept saying, “How is he getting that sound out of single—coil soapbar pickups?” Since my hand was covering the humbucker, they never realized that I’d put it in.

When my guitar was black and white, I cut out my own pickguard so it would cover the holes from the pickup I’d removed. But when I painted red on top of the black and white, which is how it is now, it didn’t look cool with that black pickguard. It covered most of the paint job. I decided just to take the switch and cram it in the middle and put a nonworking pickup in the front because I didn’t use it. I wasn’t trying to trick anyone. Bottom line is, I didn’t know how to hook it back up.

The last real step for me was adding paraffin wax to my pickup. Pickups can have this really high-end squeal, like the annoying screech of feedback you sometimes hear when someone speaks into a microphone. I thought maybe what was causing that with a guitar was the coil windings vibrating. So what I did—and I have no idea where this idea came from—was buy a hot plate and bricks of paraffin, and borrow a Yuban coffee can from my mom to put the wax in.

Of course I ruined a lot of pickups, because the plastic frames would melt before I had a chance to yank the pickup out. But finally, when I had a chance to really keep an eye on it, as soon as I saw the pickup start to heat up and shrivel a little bit I’d yank it out.

Man, the first time I put that in—between the Variac, the beast that Marshall was, and now the pickup not having unwanted feedback—the combination was just ideal. That was heaven to me. When all those things came together, it was like, okay, I’m going crazy with the whammy bar, I got my Marshall with the Variac, there’s no stopping me.

Read more at Popular Mechanics.

Photo credit: Nigel Parry

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