What is the secret to Armored Saint's longevity? "We learned quick about how to be resistant and resilient and just to do it for the real reason that you started, which was the love of the music, because that's really the only thing you can control," says John Bush in this week's episode of Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show.

The Armored Saint frontman dropped by to speak with Full Metal Jackie about the band's spring tour with Queensryche, but also gave us an update on their new music as well.

He also dropped a little historic note, sharing with us his very first performance stepping up to the mic and revealing the first two songs he performed as a singer at his junior high talent show. John also reflects on still being able to experience "firsts" on the road and finding new audiences in places they didn't realize the band's music was reaching.

Check out more of the chat below.

It's Full Metal Jackie. On the show, this week we welcome Armored Saint frontman John Bush. It's so great to have you on the show and so great to have Armored Saint being out there doing shows with Queensrÿche, of course, longtime friends of the band.

Yeah, it's killer. It's great. We're stoked.

You guys have toured together before, and you'll be bringing a great double bill to fans this year as well. What is it about Queensrÿche, where you've managed to connect so well with them and their fans over the years, and what are some of your favorite moments spent with that band?

Obviously, we both come out of the 80s. And we had kind of similar styles, especially in the early days, as far as being influenced by a lot of the bands that came before us, The Priests, The Maidens and all the groups like that, and of course, the bands developed as time went on. Queensrÿche became a very, very successful band, one that I would aspire to be, but we're friends, we get along really well.

They're great guys. Todd [La Torre], Michael [Wilton] and Eddie [Jackson] are just awesome people, and they treat us really well. The tour we did back in 16 was when we had Win Hands Down out and it was a great run for us, and we had some fun times. I remember my son, Scott Rockenfield, who was in the band at that time, I brought my son behind him because my son was into drums at that time and he let him sit right back behind him, gave him some sticks and I'm sitting there watching my son watch Scott who's such a phenomenal drummer, play these incredible songs and those are great moments. It was really fun to watch that.

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Metal Blade

John the live show is one of Armored Saint's strengths. What was it that initially got you up onstage to sing and has your appreciation for performing stayed the same or evolved to something different over time?

That's funny, the first time I ever actually took the stage was in junior high when a buddy of mine formed a talent show and we played a couple songs - "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin and "Feels Like the First Time" by Foreigner, which is a weird kind of choice but great song by the way, Lou Gramm, awesome singer. It was just a cool little buzz for guys who were like 13-14 years old again. So, that kind of stayed with me all these years.

It's always fun to get up there and perform. I tried to just be kind of myself. Sometimes I can do some babbling in between songs about who knows what. I try to always approach it just kind of like from a real perspective.

I always say that Armored Saint is like a glorified garage band and I mean I say that in the most endearing of ways because that's kind of where we started. we always have this kind of vibe that we're just really raw and we've carried it on so it's always fun performing and the guys get along really well on the road. It's the same guys, it's the same five dudes in Armored Saint - has been for years so it's really cool.

That's not something that every band can say these days.

Without a doubt.

Last year, we got the great Band of Brothers documentary, plenty of your musical pals talking about the band and one of them mentioned that there was no band quite like yours when they started. Can you talk about initially crafting the Armored Saint identity as young men and making it into what it is today? Also, how much thought do you give to staying true to who you were starting this group and when you add and push to what you want the group to be in 2024?

We knew each other for the most part. We all went to elementary school together. We've known each other, other than Jeff, who we always joke about is the new guy who really joined the band like in 1989, which is was comical. We were always friends. We knew each other from the neighborhood. I grew up in this little enclave of East LA called El Sereno and Phil, Gonzo, Joey, myself lived about a quarter mile from one another.

We just went to school with each other and started figuring out about what music we liked and had some of the same adventures and that just kind of carried on into writing songs and making music and then by the time we were going on our first tour, opening for Quiet Riot and Whitesnake in 1984, we were playing arenas, and we were like 21 years old. It was just like a wow moment and eye opening.

So, we always really embraced it in a sense that we were young, and everything was so new to us, and we never took it for granted and anything that carried on as time went on, the music business gives you a couple of punches, and you realize that ain't gonna be such an easy road to success. Unless you're Metallica, which everybody wanted to be, but yeah, the music business can be pretty heartless and ruthless, and it just can kind of give you a bunch of kicks in the butt.

We learned quick about how to be resistant and resilient and just to do it for the real reason that you started, which was the love of the music, because that's really the only thing you can control. Success, you know, fame, monetary, those are things that you just really cannot control, but you can control the quality of the music that you make and that's really the way we've always looked at it up until the most recent recording, Punching the Sky in 2020.

It's all about the quality of this music. This is the one thing that we know we can control, and then that's the way we look at it. In the end, it's always about the integrity of that if we can keep that integrity, then we're doing good.

Armored Saint, "End of the Attention Span"

John, it's rare for bands to have everyone in it for the long haul. What's been the secret to keeping everyone together and happy for this long?

I think it's a common thread between us that we just want to be a great band really, but as we've gotten older we're not always on the same page. I’m not going to create some illusion that that's the case because it's not and I don't think that's the case for most bands, but here we are, four decades later.

We have known each other since we were 9 years old for the most part. You just kind of see the common thread that everybody should have. You kind of put some of the other stuff aside to try to make sure that emails don't get carried away too weird.

It's usually when we get on the road and we see one another, everyone gets along really well. It's kind of like the pre-tour stop, or the writing process that sometimes can get a little bit kind of dicey. Again, I think I can speak for most bands, a lot of bands probably struggle with that.

I was in Anthrax, and I know how those dynamics work so it's not always easy figuring out those things, but once you get together and you get good, you're performing every night that becomes a lot easier. That's worked for us so finding everybody's space, you're on a crowded bus, trying to find solitude and those things kind of help and just knowing that the main desire is to be a great band, and that's really carried it.

John, for as long as the band has been around there are still firsts happening for the group. I noticed that this year brings your first ever show in Slovakia for instance; when you have moments such as these, do you take a little extra time to take in your surroundings and does it impact you each time you find you have an audience in corners of the world where the band hasn't even played before?

Yeah, you gotta really just savor all those moments. I still love going to new territories, it's really exciting. My son's hockey coach for years was from Slovakia. So, it's really cool to play Bratislava. I’ve never been there.

I love just these little nuances of life where you discover new territories, or you play places you have never been. We haven't been to Rochester, New York in like 35-38 years. It's really cool to go and play there. I never take that stuff for granted. One of the best aspects of being in a band is actually one of the hardest things and that is the traveling.

I always say that I didn't go to college when I was, 18 or 19. I went to the school of rock and roll and that was my college education. By traveling you learn a lot about life. So, I never take that for granted. I always love going to new places and going back to places where I really enjoy meeting fans from all over the world. That's one of the big perks of this job.

It's been a couple of years since the last Armored Saint album and I know you started writing some last year. What's been inspiring you of late and can you give us an update on where Armored Saint are with new music?

We've got about six songs done, which we always kind of move a little slow. We try to push it a little bit. But it comes when it does and I always rather view it as quality than quantity. So, that's a way I have to look at it.

We're moving along and really, life and everything surrounding us with everything that's going on in the world, especially as a lyricist. It's an endless supply of information out there that I can choose from. So, it comes rather easy on that level. I still love writing lyrics and I feel like I do it pretty well. So, I embrace that and musically, we always just challenge ourselves. We kind of feel like the boundaries are becoming broader and broader.

We ask ourselves is this metal enough, does it sound enough like the band, we're really honest with ourselves. It's like if this works, we just run with it. I think that's how the diversity of the group from the beginning and continues on till now. So, in a perfect world, we make records a little bit more often, but that's just not the way that this band works.

In the end, we just hope that the record is great, and I felt like that is the case. Punching the Sky was awesome, Win Hands Down was amazing. Before that I put those on par with or the same as Delirious Nomad and stuff from the beginning of our career.

John, last time you and I saw each other was on New Year's Eve. Scott Ian had a 60th birthday party with this unbelievable jam. I can't even count how many musicians were there and it was such a fun time. It was so great to see you up onstage and I even remember when you were up there singing, I saw everyone turning to the person next to them and like, 'Oh my God," because you sound amazing and you're clearly still having a good time out there. That was so fun for me, besides the fact that it was just the blast in general.

Yeah, it was awesome. Surrounded by tons of musicians. Scott put this thing together. It was insane. It was over 40 songs. He played like I think 37-38 of them. So, it was a really phenomenal night, and we had a blast, and it was wild. It was a crazy thing and all these musicians that were there from various bands from Jerry Cantrell, Zakk [Wylde], Robert Trujillo, you know, Johnny Tempesta. You know, so many guys, so many amazing musicians through the years. It was just awesome, and everyone killed it.

We were playing various songs from Creedence Clearwater to Van Halen and it was awesome. It was a lot of fun. It was challenging. There was a lot of work put into it. It was a great night on New Year's Eve. It was awesome.

Also, and I'll apologize now because I didn't realize when I saw you walk through the crowd, I was like, "Oh, gotta go say hello to John" and I started talking to you and I see you inching away and then I realized you were supposed to be up onstage. Oh my god, I feel so bad.

No, no, it's fine, but it was like trying to herd cats or something! I was trying to pick my spots about what that night was when I was going to be able to have some drinks. I was trying to schedule it accordingly, but it was pretty funny. We had a great time and like I said all the musicians were incredible and it was an amazing one, I'll never forget.

READ MORE: John Bush Strives to 'Make Music That Stands on Its Own' With Armored Saint

Absolutely. That was an unforgettable night and I look forward to this Armored Saint, Queensrÿche tour and I thank you again for your time. Always great to have you on the show. Thank you so much.

Thank you. Thanks for always having us and we really appreciate it. Thanks so much Jackie.

Thanks to Armored Saint's John Bush for the interview. You can stay up to date with the band through their website, Facebook, X, Instagram and Spotify accounts. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.

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