APRIL 9th 2013

photo credit Dean Guitars

Vicious Rumors the Bay Area metal act have been kicking around for over 30 years. The band lead by guitarist and founding member Geoff Thorpe are set to release their new album ‘Electric Punishment’ in May. MetalTitans caught up with Thorpe to talk about ‘Electric Punishment,’ their live album ‘Live You to Death,’ and the Vicious Rumors ‘six year plan.’ “I have a goal of releasing six albums in six years. ‘Electric Punishment’ is our 3rd album in three years,” says a determined Thorpe. He goes on to say, “If I don’t see use playing more gigs, making more money, and selling more merchandise then I’m getting a job at a gas station in Hawaii and go surfing every day.”  If ‘Electric Punishment’ is any indication Thorpe and company will certainly not be ‘packing’ it in anytime soon; it’s Vicious Rumors’ most diverse album of their career and will crowbar it’s way into top 10 lists at years’ end.

By Ruben Mosqueda

Ruben: Let’s start with ‘Live You to Death’ it’s a great career retrospective that you released. It’s an excellent way for ‘newer’ fans to get a feel of what Vicious Rumors is all about.

Geoff: We were touring with Hammerfall --their guitarist Pontus Norgren recorded us live. We weren’t going to do anything with the tracks but when we went back and listened to them there was this energy and fire that we couldn’t not use them.  It just presented it’s self as a live album—though initially we had no intentions on using it as one.  So in short that’s how ‘Live You to Death’ happened—now we have plans to record ‘Live You to Death II’ and ‘Live You to Death III.’ All with different set lists.

Ruben: And you have a new album in May ‘Electric Punishment.’

Geoff: Yeah it’s our 11th studio album and out 14th official release.

Ruben: I have to admit since rediscovering Vicious Rumors I have to say that ‘Warball’ and ‘Razorback Killers’ are neck and neck as far as Vicious Rumors’ best work. You know if you check in with me in about six months ‘Electric Punishment’ might topple them both.

Geoff: Oh, thank you! You know I’ve been doing interviews all day and I the response from the press have been very positive about the new album. ‘Razorback Killers’ was a hit record for us; it out sold ‘Warball’ 3-1. Listen, I’m very proud of ‘Warball’ but ‘Razorback Killers’ really took off for us—it kept us on the road for close to 8 months. We did a total of 92 shows in a period of 18 months and there was a lot of pressure to come back with a record that was just as strong. I’ll be honest it would have been easy for us to just put out ‘Razorback Killers II’ but in our 33 year career I don’t think we’ve released any album that sounds identical to the others; I certainly don’t want to start now. I started the writing sessions for ‘Electric Punishment’ with three books of lyrics and a fresh perspective. I didn’t see any of the guys for a while then we got together at our rehearsal space and jammed a little bit. I wrote from January of 2012 to November of 2012. The result is ‘Electric Punishment’ which is our most diverse record that we’ve done in years. ’Electric Punishment’ is a very diverse record; there’s a ballad, there’s an anthem, there’s a KISS cover—there’s a lot to listen to on the record but I feel that it’s all strong. ‘Electric Punishment’ takes the listener on a completely different ride and I’m extremely proud of the production. I feel that this is our best sounding album--ever. I’m so pleased to hear you say that. In the interviews that I done--the press have said they liked it even better than our last album. We’re looking forward to 2013—it will be a big year for Vicious Rumors because we’ve got 70 shows booked already including the United States, Europe and Canada.

Ruben: You’ve used the same team on the last series of Vicious Rumors albums it’s safe to say that you’ll be keeping the team intact for the next studio album?

Geoff: I’d love that but one of the things that I’ve learned in these 33 years in the music business is that you can always count on things to change. I really hope that we can stay healthy and happy together but if things change—it changes and I’m prepared to move forward. So to clarify a line-up change has never prevented me from continuing forward with Vicious Rumors.

Ruben: How important is sequencing an album for you? You’ve done a brilliant job selecting the opening track and the closing track and everything in between.

Geoff: It’s funny you say that, because as you asked that I thought to myself that no one has ever asked me that in an interview—thank you for asking that! I believe that sequencing is incredibly important—the sequence is how you set up that ‘ride’ that I was talking about earlier. I refer to our albums as ‘rides’ because I’d like fans to put them on and feel like the album took them somewhere. In order to do that you must pace the record in the right way—I think that’s hugely important. Seriously I think this is the first time I’ve been asked that in an interview so thank you.

Ruben: I’m not a huge NASCAR fan but I’d like to compare your albums to a stock car race where you don’t  take the lead right off the bat. You build up to it and you end big.

Geoff: Right, you finish strong. You pull back a little bit—you give it to ‘em strong.

Ruben: You recorded a couple of great covers on ‘Live You to Death’  you cut (Black) Sabbath’s “Sign of the Southern Cross” and (Judas) Priest’s “Running Wild” how did you pick which tracks to record? Did you throw song names into a hat?

Geoff: As I mentioned we had no intention to do a live album but when we heard the tapes we knew we had something special.  Unfortunately we were in a support slot and we only had 45 minutes so that’s what led to us selecting a couple of covers. We sat around and drew up a list of song titles. In our discussions we elected to stick to the ‘meat and potatoes’ that made Vicious Rumors what it is---so we went with Sabbath and Priest. Brian (Allen) suggested “Sign of the Southern Cross” and I threw in “Running Wild” because I’ve always loved that song.  When you listen to our live album and hear all those classic songs together and then listen to the covers at the end---it all makes sense.

Ruben: You tackled KISS’ “Strange Ways” on the new album how did you select that one?

Geoff: I’ve been a huge KISS fan and I’ve always loved that song. I’ve always thought that was one of the heaviest KISS songs ever. I’ve always wanted to do it but I’ve thought it fit on any of the records.  As ‘Electric Punishment’ started to take shape and became an eclectic record I thought it was a good album to put “Strange Ways” on. I handle all the vocals on that song and it was very fun to record. On this album I did a lot of vocals the most I’ve done since ‘Something Burning’ which I did all the vocals on. I also did all the vocals on “Eternally” and Brian and I did a duet on “Together We Unite.”

Ruben: As I was prepping for the interview last night I noticed some parallels between you’re self and Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer. Another great guitarist, great song writer and a visionary who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid of change. You much like Schaffer steers the ship and as a result might be viewed as ‘difficult’ or ‘hard’ to work with as a result.

Geoff: I’m a huge fan of Jon’s work. I’m a productive, motivated, driven person. I like to finish things I don’t like to leave things unfinished. Yeah Jon and I do have a lot in common; we’re both visionaries and we see things through. I’ll take that as a great compliment—thank you.

Ruben: So you mentioned there will be a lot of touring behind this album.

Geoff: Yeah man it’s going to be a nice run. We start a huge European tour on May 3rd that will take us
through June 1st---we’ll do 26 shows in May. We’ll head back to Europe on July 25th through August 10th. We’ll be playing ‘Headbanger’s Open Air’ with Metal Church and Overkill, we’ll also be doing the ‘Alcatraz festival’ with Anthrax, Death Angel and several other cool bands. Then we’ll be doing a North American tour the ‘Metal Masters’ tour with Leatherwolf and Seven Witches. All three bands will be on a package across North America with about 25-30 shows from September 18th through about October 25th. It’s an exciting time for Vicious Rumors we can’t wait to get back on the road.