ARMOROS (Can) - MIKE SUDAR (guitars)
So Mike, ARMOROS was formed in 1985 shortly after you & Terry Groom met in Vancouver, BC at a Metallica concert on the „Ride the Lightning” tour with Armored Saint (Terry moved back to his hometown of Victoria where you resided) and you soon recruited Todd Verch on bass, Jed Simon as 2nd guitarist and Kevin Wright on vocals, can you tell us more about the band’s formation? How did you get together exactly?
Jed was leaving a local Hard Rock band he played in called Northern Thunder and I got his contact info from their other guitarist. He and I met and went to our jam spot, rocked out and totally clicked. By autumn Terry had moved back to Victoria, and we began jamming under tentative band name Chrysknife, posting flyers in local music shops seeking "real headbangers...original material ". School mate Todd Verch soon joined on bass/vocal duties and we continued on as a trio playing covers. In search for other like minded musicians, ex-Northern Thunder member Jed Simon was recruited as second guitarist, and after placing an ad looking for other metal musicians Kevin Wright of embryonic metal act Tantrum completed the line-up as lead vocalist.
What about the musical influences and experiences of all of you? I mean, was ARMOROS your very first outfit or did you play in some underground ones prior to ARMOROS?
Jed had quite a bit more band experience, prior to NT he played in a band called the Intruders.
How about the Victoria and British Columbia (including Vancouver) scene as a whole? Were you familiar with bands, such as ANNIHILATOR, ASSAULT, BLASPHEMY, NEMESIS, KICK AXE etc.?
I would say all these bands were coming out of the woodwork during the mid 80’s. Victoria had a good bar/live band scene in the early 80’s but they were mostly cover bands. Metal was only just arising.
Was it a good soil being metaller? I mean, did the hard rock/heavy metal music have a strong background in British Columbia?
Metal was a new genre and I think alot of people misunderstood it, even feared it. We conributed in bringing it to the forefront in our city.
In Canada, bands such as RUSH, APRIL WINE, BTO, HAYWIRE, HEADPINS, LOVERBOY and TRIUMPH have been classified at one time or another as heavy metal, although in some cases the description might be more accurately applied to a particular period of their career (eg, RUSH in the 1970s) or perhaps even just a single album or song, what do you think about it?
There were plenty of Canadian outfits that rocked and had some influencial musicians and songs. Many acts like those you mentioned and also Max Webster, Prism, Helix...
Early Canadian bands in the power rock, hard rock or heavy metal style included RUSH, THUNDERMUG (London, Ont), MAHOGANY RUSH (Montreal) in the early 1970s, followed by ANVIL, GODDO, KRAKEN and MOXY in Toronto late in the decade, would you say, that they opened the doors for the next generations and put Canada on the map of the heavy metal scene?
There were many great Heavy Metal acts from Canada: such as Anvil, Sacrifice, Exciter, Piledriver. The scene became saturated with this genre worldwide but at this time it was mostly underground.
Especially in Toronto was a big underground bauzz back in those days, correct?
Toronto always had a big music scene and soon introduced their version of MTV called Much Music. They acknolwedged and supported their local acts and the metal genre with a weekly metal videos show.
How do you view, that ANVIL’s LPs 1981-3 for Attic, „Hard 'n' Heavy”, „Metal on Metal”, and „Forged in Fire”, were among the first from a Canadian band to use metal terminology and Anvil has found its greatest popularity outside of Canada, as have several of the heavy metal bands that followed in the 1980s, among them SWORD, KILLER DWARS, VOIVOD, and ANNIHILATOR, all of which toured in Europe and/or the USA, both on their own and as opening acts for the leading international bands of the day?
We all enjoyed these acts and what they added to the genre, and are pleased they were acknowleged & appreciated.
So, what do you recall of your rehearsals? Did you start writing originals or were you mostly jamming on covers?
As any band starts, we played covers. AC/DC, Scorpions, Maiden, & Metallica, but we had plenty of orginal ideas for composing. I wrote our first originals: Winds of Bacata - a fantasy lyric of a fable city, followed by Forbidden Zone in a similar theme… and finally with the help of Kevin, the classic song Sacrifice. I found band name Armoros in a book of fallen angels, resulting in Jed's first musical contribution, the track Armor Us.
Would you say, that you started as a pure heavy metal act and you became heavier and more brutal during the years?
Absolutely, we evolved and were influenced by the many great thrash acts that came to rise.
As the band progressed you became more inspired by bands such as SLAYER, EXODUS and DARK ANGEL and geared towards the Speed Metal vein, how did you discover these bands? What were the materials that you started listening to with?
As in our bio, we had connections with underground tape traders who introduced us to the many metal bands & styles coming about. We recieved a great deal of advanced releases, many months before they actually came out in record stores
This eventually brought about a reformation as you were recording your first demo titled „Debut Assault”, what do you recall of the recording sessions? Can you give us details regarding the tape?
It was an exciting time and fair experiencefor none of us had ever been invloved with the recording process. It was all new to us. We had poor equipment, little time and only fours tracks to work with. Unfortunately Jed was away at this time, working the oil rigs in Alberta.
Todd Verch was replaced by Rick Lee for bass, and eventually he also took over vocals as well, why did both Todd and Kevin Wright leave the band? Didn’t perhaps Kevin’s voice fit to the music?
As the group began to focus, Todd's bass playing was found inadequate, resulting in Rick Lee replacing him only about a week before recording. Rick had been jamming with John Hircock (drums), a friend of Lorne Wright who was in an Applied Communications program at a local college; Lorne offered to record the group for free as part of his class studies. Jed would however be away due to work in Alberta, leaving me to play all but one solo. Our music style was evolving to thrash and it was not a style Kevin was comfortable with. We realized we needed a higher caliber of bass player, so asked Rick to join, and with very few vocalists familiar with this music style, Rick decided to give it a shot. Advance tapes of Master of Puppets, Reign In Blood, and Darkness Descends were heard on Overkill radio and given to Armoros, that influenced me greatly, and I began writing towards this genre. My band mates were reluctant at first, and Terry even threatened to quit, but slowly they started to appreciate the power and we began to write music in this style. Unfortunately this was not the direction Kevin wanted to take, so we decided to part ways.
Were there any personal struggles among you or did you part ways with them on a friendly term at the end? What have they done after their departure from ARMOROS?
We all remained friends, sure there would be resentment at that time, but all still pursused and stayed involved in music and bands still to this day.
How did the demo sound like? Did it really represent your goals and ambitions, that you wanted to achieve ARMOROS with?
I think we were all somewhat disappointed at the quality of the demo. It sounded weak and did not at all represent the band as we came to be. It was simply a starting point.
Did the demo have a cover? How did it look like?
We used the picture Satan Falls by artist Gustave Dore, however we drew on the earth our symbol. http://www.artsycraftsy.com/dore/dore_satan_falls.html
Was it distributed through the tapetrading/fanzine network? Did you try to make a name for the band with this effort?
It made it out in the local scene, but we pretty much put it on the shelf for we were evolviong ARMOROS as a whole. 30 to 40 copies of the Debut Assault demo were distributed locally. Armoros received local coverage through Thrashdance Fanzine by Jamie Fulton, and on FM radio show Overkill Radio hosted by Hircock and Lorne Wright.
Known for their local party-crashing and wild live shows, Tantrum and Armoros crews were inseparable and gigged together regularly. Violent fights and excessive vandalism at early shows reached heights that Victoria venues and concertgoers had never experienced before. Vocalist Kevin Wright recalls the early Armoros shows, "We were the band that really kicked everything into gear. We were the first heavy metal band in Victoria - the heaviest. Back then you were either an 80's cover band or a punk band. As we rehearsed and got heavier they wanted me to sing like Araya, I didn't want to do that." Kevin first quit, but later returned just in time for the completion of epic song Headsmen; however this reunion did not last long and Wright was soon out for good. "We were one of the first bands of our kind in this area." - Rick Lee (bassist/vocalistsinger).
This final formation of four would then go on to record their next recording „Ressurecdead”, were you more prepared then with the previous stuff? Did you have enough material written for a second demo?
Absolutely; riffs, songs & lyrics never wer an obstacle for us. We were a close knit group who practiced and worked on new material on a frequent basis.
Can you tell us detailed about this second demo? Were you more satisfied with it, then with the previous?
We were very satisfied with Resurrecdead. Our music style evolved tenfold and considering a budget of only $400 it came out sounding great and capturing our new agressive sound. Especially in a time when most producers were not familiar with the metal style of music. The demo featured three new songs with Rick on vocals, a re-worked version of Headsmen titled Dementia with Jed on vocals, as well as an instrumental. In retrospect, it would be our collective favorite. The cover bore my artwork, which would become an integral part of future releases. Controversial lyrics on aids, drugs, abortion, and serial killers mirrored the level of sonic aggression that was evident in the newly resurrected Armoros.
By the way, did you continually write new songs?
Always, I had an endless surplus of riffs and ideas.
Did the demo better represent your thrash metal style?
It did for sure, I don’t think we were a true thrash band until this time in our formation.
In ’87, you gained a growing local fan base and decided to send your demo to the top underground Metal magazines at that time, Metal Forces, & Kerrang, does it mean, that you didn’t do any promotion for the first tape?
Correct we did not feel Debut Assault represented our style or the final formation of just us four members.
Did this tape help to expand the band’s popularity in the underground?
Absolutely it was quite well received!! -\m/. Overseas the demo received excellent reviews in both Metal Forces and Kerrang magazine, while locally we made friendships through gigs with Northwest groups such as Karrion, Witches Hammer, and Forced Entry. 50 to 75 copies were sold of the demo, and then the tape trading mania began. Suddenly a significant impact on the international metal underground scene had been made, and fans wanted more.
Did you also shop the demo around to attract labels interests? Were there any labels that started showing interest in the band on the base of the second demo?
I don’t recall so, we we focused on getting Resurrecdead to as many ears as possible around the world. We now rising in the local music scene, plaing many shows and continually writing new material.
Resurrecdead received positive reviews by both and soon requests for the demo came from all over the world, it means, that it succeeded in drawing a lot of fans attention to the band, correct?
On July 11th 1987 you recorded a nine tracker, was it the very first ARMOROS show? What do you recall of that gig?
This seems to be a misconception, this recording was never intended to be released on our part. I suspect a local fan was responsible for this. I recall all our early shows were well attended extremely violent, and the venues trashed. This agressive music seemed to bring out the bad in some people...lol
What about the early ARMOROS shows as a whole? Were you mainly opening act for bigger names or did you do some headliner shows too?
We did both. We began headlining larger local shows, doing more out of town gigs, and writing new material.
What type of audience did you have? Were they rather speed/thrash metal fans, heavy metal/hard rock ones or perhaps both of them?
It was all varieties, the whole music genre brought curious people by reputation. Predominately it was your typical male teenager with angst.
By 1988, they recorded their next demo thrasher, „Remember Michelle”, what about the recording sessions?
We actually attempting recording this with another studio before going to Downtown Sound, The producer withdrew from the project for he was too unfamiliar with the metal genre and did not feel he could capture us properly. We were hungry and ready to record it but Jed & I wished we had put a bit more into our solos. It did not quite have the same quality and sound as our Resurrecdead recording.
As for the demo, did you continue the musical path of the first two demos or did this stuff become heavier compared to the previous ones?
We got heavy & faster as we matured as players & friends. The demo showcased lyrical content focusing on reanimation, ghosts, Satanism, and death. The title-track was a song which Terry wrote after reading "Michelle Remembers", an autobiographical book about a local Victoria woman whom under hypnosis recalled having been the centerpiece of a number of Satanic cult rituals at Victoria's Ross Bay Cemetery in 1954-55, when she was only five years old.
Again you received international underground praise, was this demo better sold than „Resurrecdead”? Have you ever counted on any underground success or did it come as a surprise to you?
I think the same fans who found Resurrecdead ordered Remember Michelle. We were humbled and greatful for the recognition and appreciation from fans around the globe.
Would you say, that all of the demos have every thrasher’s demands satisfied?
I would think so, yes!
This brought about many opportunities to open for such metal legends as: Vancouvers’ WITCHES HAMMER & KARRION, Seattle’s FORCED ENTRY & THE ACCUSED, and metal greats KICK AXE, ANVIL, SACRIFICE, and DARK ANGEL, did these shows help getting new fans for the bands? How do you remember these shows? Do you think, if the demos wouldn’t have been so successful, wouldn’t have you had the possibility to open for bigger bands?
I think we made new fans everytime we played live. It was an honor to open up for some of our favourite bands. And we developed very close friendships and played many shows with Karrion & Forced Entry. The shows & turn out got bigger and better over the years. It was the birth of a scene.
After placing 2nd place in a battle of the bands in Vancouver, you were awarded some recording time at Profile studios, can you tell us more about it? What kind of competition was it at all?
It was simply a battle of the bands at a Vancouver amusement park. The win for Armoros meant a grant from Canada's SOCAN music publisher to recording time in Vancouver's reputable Profile Studios. Karrion took 1st place.
It was there that you recorded your full length album, „Pieces”, how did the recording sessions go? Did you have a decent budget to record the material?
The recording of Pieces was a challenging experience. We got additonal grant funding and some $$$ from a few investors. Had to find temporary accomodation and luckily one fo Karrions’ guitarists arranged to have us stay at his parent’s house. Recording was stressful for there was lots of late nite/early morning sessions, so our performances were sleep deprived.
The album featured the last two demos and two new songs „Forever CMDK” and „Earache”, does it mean, that you didn’t have newer material written or did you have lack of time to write some new tunes? Did you simply re-record the old songs or…?
That was pretty much our song library at the time and we wanted to capture our previous material with more professional production.
By the way, how did the songwriting process go? I mean, who was responsible for the music and the lyrics? Did you work as a really group or everybody came up with their ideas?
I wrote about 90% of the music and Rick handled most of the lyrics. We all were involved in the arrangements.
Would you change something on the record or were all of you satisfied with the result after the recording sessions?
My biggest beef was the bass guitar, it was gated too heaviliy so kinda pops in places. And still wish Jed & I had some better solos in some of the songs.
Who designed the cover of the album? How did it look like? Was it the cover, that can be seen on the „Piece By Piece” 3 CD Box Set collection?
The album cover was to be simply black and we were hoping to have our Logo embossed and in gold. Pieces text would have been red. The rest of the record layout was much to that of Metallica’s Kill’Em All.
The album was supposed to be released by Seattle, Washington’s EverRat Records but it never happened, why? Did you a sign a deal with them? Did they plan to release other materials too besides „Pieces”?
We signed a contract with Everat but under stand they went through financial troubles.
Didn’t you start finding a new label? Weren’t other labels interests in the band? Was the material shelved or…? Did EverRat own the rights and stuff? Didn’t have you the opportunity to buy the rights and to release as a self-financed material?
We had hoped to be picked up by another label, but it took awhile for our material to be returned and a series of unfortuante events contirbuted to the eventual disbandment.
Although the Album was never actually released, but it did make it’s way around the underground through tape trading, how did it happen exactly?
We shared copies to close friends/fans and am sure that they shared, and so on, and so on. I’ve even seen someone put their own CD package of Pieces up for sale on eBay just several years ago.
Have you done some shows after the material was recorded?
For sure, we were also writing & performaing some kick ass new material. Fans can even hear one of them, Crown of Thorns on Jed’s Tenet Cd,. I am happy to have recorded the first guitar solo on it. Did you remain in touch with each other by the way? Were all of you disappointed because of the career of the band?
We were and will always be brothers, but it was a time in our lives were we need to focus our our attention on our own individual lives. Some of us had the priorities of parenthood and finding work. We moved to Vancouver with the intention of finding further opportunites for the band but in the end it ruined us.
You reformed in 1992, and recorded another demo that never got completed nor ever ended up being released, what kind of material did it contain compared to „Pieces”? Was it the traditional „ in the vain of classic ARMOROS” written material?
We had all evolved as musicians and had new influences. We wanted to experiment with a more progressive style.
Why was the reformation so short lived? Lack of motivation, personal and musical differences or…?
It was alittle bit of everything. I had also decided to move a bit out of the city and I think the others interpretted that I was no longer interested in the band.
By 1994 members went their separate ways & sought other opportunities, how did you view the metal scene at this point? Would you say, that traditional heavy metal seemed to be dead and being killed by grunge and pop/punk bands?
Yes grunge was over shadowing everything at that time, but metal stayed underground. We were all at a point in our personal lives where we needed to focus on our own personal growths. It was just not the right time for us to continue as a band.
A lot of bands changed also their music and hasn’t anything to do wit their original approach, correct?
Well I suppose bands that were seeking success and notarity following the Grunge wave and adjusted or experimented with their style. I feel metal never died and was adopted for soundtracks to many sports shows and commercials. It also redefined music studio production and the use of frequencies ranges, and Guitar amplification performance.
Do you agree with, that Armoros is/was one of the best Canadian Thrash Metal bands ever? Did you have the potential to do a breakingthrough?
Well thats a tough question for everyone has their own perception of best, and it’s not like ARMOROS reinvented anything but I think we definitely had the right ingredients to please the speed/thrash fan.
In your opinion, were the Canadian bands always underrated and overlooked? Why did fail them making a name for themselves with the exception ANVIL or VOIVOD? Did the Canadian thrash bands, such as VOIVOD, D. B. C., SACRIFICE, INFENAL MAJESTY, RAZOR etc. play an important role in the evolution of thrash metal? Were they known on underground level? Did they have a big amount of followers?
I would say that all these bands were influenced by the greats that brought about this genre: Metallica/ Megadeth/ Slayer/ Exodus/ Anthrax. In 1985 – 90+, metal was still underground, but were exposed in many of the metal magazines and tape trading scene. I have no idea how many followed them thou.
I always state, that the Canadian thrash bands were more brutal than the American ones, some of them had more talent, energy, power than the American ones, what are your views on it? What was wrong with the Canadian music industry as far as Metal is concerned?
I don’t believe a certain country or place contributes a better style or player. It is simply the combination of players and the style they devise. Canada has a smaller population than America, and fewer people were aware and supported metal at this time. 25 years later it is quite different everywhere.
Last year Brazilian Marquee Records released a 3 CD Box Set with all of your materials you had back in the day , who came up with this idea and how deeply were you involved into the making of the stuff?
See bio. We were fully involved with this package, but would not have included some of the live stuff.
Did you immediately agree considering the release? In your opinion, did Marquee do a cool job? Is it a good way or chance to make aquainted the band’s name with the fans? I mean, young ones, that never heard of you…
We are honoured to be remembered and that Armando believed that our material should be shared officially. Would never have expected for this to come about! And it would be great to bang some young new heads!
Didn’t you think about to reform again and to hit the stages? What do the former ARMOROS members do these days? Are they still involved in the music business?
When Marquee first released this I would have told you there was no possibility of a reformation, but this release has brought us together again and we are considering possibly writing some new material. I have had the pleasure to jam with Rick & Terry recently. Our main obstacle is that Jed is out of the country.
What do you think about that SACRIFICE reformed and released a new album? Have you already listened to it?
Yes I have been lucky enough to hear it and I think it’s absolutley awesome. Perhaps their best material! I love Rob’s voice and its true thrash!
A lof of ’80s bands regrouped around 2000 and after and released records, such as AGENT STEEL, NASTY SAVAGE, DEATH ANGEL, ONSLAUGHT or HEATHEN and ARTILLERY these days, do you still follow what’s going on in the underground scene? Do you have time to listen to new stuffs or are you too busy with your musical involvements? What kind of materials do you listen to? Do you prefer the old, classic stuffs that you were growing up on or are you opened into new ones too? Do you have some faves as for the present scene?
I personallly have never stopped listening and following metal. I live for it and seldom listen to anything else. I think there is plenty of new talent such as Gojira, Cavelera Conspiracy, The Haunted, The Destro, Black Dahlia Murder, Goatwhore.... and the latest efforts from the Grandfather’s such as Exodus Slayer & even the new Metallica.
How would you sum up the career of ARMOROS? The best and the worst memories?
Well it was all our first real band expereince and taught us so many things. We evolved as players and friends and got to share our passions with people around the world and be appreciated for our efforts. We got play with and meet some of our influences! It is too bad that we did not venture further, get signed to a major label and tour the world. We grew and changed as individuals. I will never forget the experiences. Armoros is still remembered and recognized
Mike, thanks a lot for your answers, anything to add what I forgot to cover or to mention?
Please check out my band SONIC DOOM, we hope to have CD out soon and to shop it to some labels. And be sure to pick up TENET!
(June of 2009.)