Geoff Thorpe (Vicious Rumors) Interview11th July 2016
I managed to catch up with Geoff Thorpe of Vicious Rumors in Hanover to shoot the shit & find out that little bit more about the new album Concussion Protocol
Now the new album, Concussion Protocol. How the fuck did you come up with that? The album is an insane body of work.
For me this was the most intense recording project ever. From the writing & the thought process that went into it. I just wanted to come out in our 37th year with the most powerful, intense album of our career. I didn’t want it to be just going through the motions. We’ve always been a band that’s operated on fire, passion & just fans of heavy metal & playing heavy metal. I’m just so proud of the guys, the band, the production team, our artist that’s been working with us on the last 5 albums. Everybody stepped up to the table to make this album what it is.
When the music started coming out so powerful, I was like, OK now the challenge has been set even higher.I need a title, a cover, concept & I need lyrics that are just as brutal. That’s when we came up with the ultimate nightmare of just destroying the entire planet.
It’s certainly destroyed my ears (laughs)
(laughs) We’re just operating on all cylinders right now & we’re working together as a team. I’m just super excited. I’ve been in Hanover now for 3 days. This is the 45th interview & the last one in 3 days. So you’re my last interview brother.
I’m honoured to be the last
They told me they were expecting just 1, 11 hour day, but because of the response of the album that turned into 3. I was expecting a good response to the album, but I’ve just been blown away. Every-one has said that it’s either our best record or at least 1 of our best records.
Some of these guys in the press I’ve known & dealt with for 25+ years & they’re straight shooters. These european guys don’t cut any corners.
We try not to (laughs)
(laughs) & I appreciate that & I can take it when they’re not digging it. I make no excuses or apologies, if you don’t like what we’re doing you can kiss my entire fuckin’ ass.
Some fans like 1 entire period of the band better than the other & that’s also fine. I have absolutely no problem with it. Just don’t try to box me in. Don’t think I’m going to be something that I was 25+ years ago because I’m moving forward. No excuses no fucking apologies.
Let’s be honest here Geoff, you’ve always been a very heavy, guitar orientated band & in my opinion you haven’t done a weak album. They’ve all been slightly different yet keeping the Vicious Rumors edge that die-hard fans are used to. I don’t know how you feel about that.
I really appreciate that. The industry has changed immensely. We have tried to stay on the same path. Even tho we’ve kept our basic formula of just doing the best metal that we can. I think Vicious Rumors is one of the most versatile bands in this genre. We’ve never limited ourselves to just speed metal, power metal or just anthems, we’ve tried to be a band who can do many different styles & do them all well & make it sound like Vicious Rumors.
The bottom line is the fans. The press & the industry is all part of it but we run on passion & fire. We’re for the fans as we’re fans ourselves.
You wouldn’t have been around for 30+ years & recorded 17 albums if you weren’t passionate.
We have a rich history that we’re incredibly proud of. Although we’ve never relied on that history. We’ve always been a band that’s moved forward. In the last 6 years we’ve done 5 records
(Razorback Killers – 2011, Live You to Death – 2012, Electric Punishment – 2013, Live You To Death 2: American Punishment – 2014, Concussion Protocol – 2016) & we’ve toured behind every record.In the 3 years that Nick (Holleman – Vocals) & Tilen (Hudrap – Bass) have been in the band, we’ve toured Europe twice, South America & the United States & made 2 records. We’re a working band.
You’ve not really taken a break.
In the years where we haven’t put anything out we’ve been working behind the scenes. Re-building, writing & doing stuff. Vicious Rumors has never broken up since August of 1979.
There’s not many bands that can claim that.
I think it’s just us & the Stones (laughs). I get asked 90% of the time ‘why have you had so many line-up changes?’ & it’s a simple answer. WE’VE BEEN AROUND FOR 4 DECADES. Take any band that’s been around a long time, Maiden, Priest, Stones, The Who, Exodus, Megadeth, none of these bands have original members. That’s because life brings changes. Just look at the divorce rate, it’s hard enough trying to keep just 2 people together. So really it’s no surprise that we’ve had member changes. What IS a surprise is that we’ve just continued to plough forward & kick ass despite whatever’s going on with no excuses & no apologies. I don’t owe anyone anything.
Did you ever think Vicious Rumors would have an active career for so long?
My original goal was to have a legendary band that made 10 albums. When I hit 10 albums I was like ‘man, I guess anyone can make 10 albums I gotta make 20.’ Now we’re at 17 so it looks like I’m gonna do it.
I think you’ll record a lot more than 20.
(laughs) You know what, you couldn’t make up the adventure I’ve been on. I’m just a very fortunate person & we have an amazing fan base that’s made it al possible. Vicious Rumors is a band for the metal heads. There’s been some great highs & some deep lows along the way & the key to the whole riddle has been to land on your feet & keep it going.
How did you write Concussion Protocol?
I write riffs & put them together.I then demo songs in kid of a rough form so there’s a sort of outline to it & then I like to shape it with the guys so that way we have the thread of what is Vicious Rumors & the uniqueness of the line-up. Everybody contributed on this album. Tilen came up with some great titles & some great parts for Victims of a Digital World & Every Blessing is a Curse. Nick did a great job adding some melodies to my lyrics & coming up with some great lyrics on Circle of Secrets. Larry is just a goddamn human machine gun. Thaen is a melodic & awesome shredding guitar player. Him & I just work really well together. Whenever we get together we have a real blend . I think we have an interesting mix of 3 old school heavy metal veterans & 2 fresh young bloods. We work together in a very positive way. Even tho there’s this generation gap, especially when you look at pictures of our line-up right now, we just look like a band.
Even tho we’ve got 3 guys in California, a singer in the Netherlands & a bass player in Slovenia, we rented a house in the Netherlands for 4 weeks & then we got together & wrote songs. When we made the record, we didn’t have guys emailing their parts. We flew Nick & Tilen to California & we made the record together in the studio. It makes everything we do more special & sometimes more expensive. But I personally think that when you listen to the new album you hear a team. I maybe the leader of the team but we that’s exactly what we are, a team.
This is the most intense recording I have ever been through & our goal is to just come out in 2016, 37 years after the start of the band with the most powerful & kick ass album of or career & I think we did it.
Is there a track off this album that you’re looking forward to playing live?
The 1st 3 songs (Concussion Protocol, Chemical Slaves, Victims of a Digital World) Take it or Leave It & Circle of Secrets which Nick just gave such a vocal performance on.
I can see us playing maybe 4 or 5 tracks off the new album & then just a classic set of or 1st 4 albums. Stuff that everybody loves from Vicious Rumors.
We just plan on working on a new show that includes the best of our classic albums & the best of our new album as well. Just giving people a night of heavy metal to remember.
I hope you’re putting Life for a Life in the show
That’s probably the weirdest song we’ve ever done. We’ve never done a song like that. But it’s one of my favorites too because it’s so weird & so dark. We ended the record with that & at the end we destroy the entire fucking planet.
That song for me was so cool to record & write. Also I did all the vocals so I’m really glad you like that one as it’s a special one for me.
It’s my favorite track on the album. It’s just a ‘right’ track if you know what I mean?
You’re the 1st one in all of these interviews that has mentioned that song before I did. I really appreciate it.
Have you heard anything lately that you’ve been impressed by?
I think the new Death Angel album is incredibly. They’ve done a fantastic job. I’ve always like Warrel Dane‘s stuff. There’s always stuff to seek out. But right now it’s all about Concussion Protocol.
What’s been the most memorable show you’ve done?
Wow, there’s been so many. But there was a show we did in our home town in the late ’80s at a place called The Omni. It was an incredible venue that held around 1500 people. We always had great shows there. I knew the stage very well , we packed the place whenever we played there.
This night we started the show & fog starts rolling out. Digital Dictator intro is playing really loud through the P.A. & there’s a photo pit in front of the stage with a steel grate over it & it’s always there with the monitors under the steel grate. Bearing in mind I know the stage. It’s like 2nd nature as we’ve played there a lot. I’m pumped, ready to do the show. I come running out & some-one had moved the steel grate. The next thing I know is that I’m waking up (laughs). I fell into the pit & slammed my head. I was completely unconscious with my guitar just feeding back. This is the 1st song. I woke up to my guitar techs pulling me out of the pit. It was a crazy night & that’s one of the nights I certainly remember. I finished the show & then went straight to the hospital.
We opened for Paul Stanley at the same venue & that was the night we got signed to Atlantic Records. So that was a special night too.
There’s so many great shows. From stadiums to club gigs, to outdoor festivals, we’re a band that’s done it all. They’re all important & we don’t play any different for any one of them.
Who has been the most fun to play with?
We had the best time with the Hammerfall guys back in 2011. They personally invited us to be on the tour with them. When a band reaches out to you like that, you know you’re welcome. They treated us so well & we had the greatest time with them & also at the shows. I would certainly say they were at the top of that list.
For me personally I’ve got a lot of childhood favorites. The Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Dio & every time we got to support one of those groups, it was always a special night for me.
One night we got to open for Ritchie Blackmore. I’d heard these stories about Ritchie Blackmore being this really eccentric person & I was told to be careful around him as he’s this really intense guy to deal with. The guys at the veue told me to get all my stuff out of the venue by 4 o’clock as after 4 it’s Rainbow only. All of a sudden I look at my watch & it’s 10 after 4 & I’ve got to run & get my bag. I get backstage to grab my bag & there’s no body there. Then Ritchie Blackmore & his wife walk in. I start feeling like a starstruck kid. I start hearing the riff of Smoke On The Water in my head. So, I can’t just grab my bag & walk out of there without introducing myself & tell him how honoured I am to share the stage with him. Basically start putting my foot in my mouth & sounding like a complete idiot. He & his wife were laughing & in a split second I’m thinking to myself ‘ya know, he’s not crazy, he’s just a cool guy like any other rocker. He’s not a bad guy at all.’ So I say to him is ‘I guess what I’m trying to say is, I want to give you a hug.’ He & his wife laughed & thought it was funny, So I’m thinking he’s a cool guy, what the hell,I’m just gonna do it. So I reached in to hug him. So I did. I saw his eyes get really big & he puts one hand up. He was almost like ‘Oh My God this guys almost violating me’& I gave him a big ol’ hug, his wife is laughing, I’m laughing, but he was not laughing. It was then that I realised that this wasn’t going so well . So I let him go & walked out. About 2 minutes later I hear all this stuff slamming around & people are yelling & running backstage. Next thing the venue owner comes over to me & says ‘Geoff, what did you do to Ritchie?’ & I say ‘I just gave him a hug.’ It kinda proved that the stories were true but it was a harmless thing.
There are quite a few stories I have like that. There are ones I wouldn’t say in mixed company as well. It’s been an incredible journey. 37 years of Vicious Rumors that you couldn’t make up.
From a fans perspective it’s cool to know that you still get giddy & starstruck around your heroes.
It’s a thrill for me. If I wasn’t a fan or didn’t love this music I don’t think I would’ve stayed in a business that’s this hard. If you get into the music business for the business side of it, then you’re completely insane. Way more insane than I am (laughs)
Me, Nick, Tilen, Thaen, & Larry are all fans. So to be artists as well as fans & get to do both sides of it all, it’s a fucking privilege.
Have you thought about doing an acoustic & spoken word show?
It’s funny that you mention that. I just did a real atmospheric acoustic gig in Dortmund, Germany at a place called Cafe Banana. It was the 1st time I’d ever done anything like that completely by myself with just an acoustic guitar through a P.A system with all this echo & liquidy delay. People were totally tripping out on it as I was playing all these metal songs in this kinda Pink Floydy way. It was completely nerve-wracking as after all these years I have never done anything on my own before.
Yeah I can see myself doing more of it as I had such a good time doing it.
Sometimes it’s great just to give yourself that kind of fear to prove to yourself that you’re still alive.
I havent felt that nervous before a show in as long as I can remember. So it was a good feeling. I’m still alive (laughs). The new album is so heavy & aggressive, this was just the complete opposite to that.
We’re looking to tour mid October. Play South America, the US, back to South America then over to Asia. On the back of this album we plan to be on various tours from October through to the end of this year & all the way into next & at that point we’ll look into doing another studio album.
That rapid for another album?
Yeah, there’s no time like the present.
Are you writing all the time you’re out on the road?
Not really. I want to try to do more of that so it’s not so overwhelming when it’s time to write a new record. But right now it’s all about Concussion Protocol.
We’re ready to take this thing on the road, around the world & back again.