The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Jeff Duncan of Armored Saint
The NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center was bustling with an exciting amount this year, and making an appearance doing press and meeting fans was none other than Jeff Duncan, guitarist for the almighty Armored Saint. In addition to his participation with the iconic Los Angeles based metal band, Jeff Duncan has found himself busy with Odin reunion shows, a new DC4 album on the horizon, as well as recording and touring with the legendary Frank DiMino of Angel! We caught up with the omnipresent Mr. Duncan at this year’s edition of The NAMM Show to discuss his brilliant and varied career, the upcoming Armored Saint live album Carpe Noctum, working with Frank DiMino, and a whole lot more! Read on…
What are you looking forward to the most about NAMM this year?
Well it’s been good to be here. I come every year. This time I came to say hi to the companies that I actually am with, which is ESP and Peavey and Joyo Pedals. I’m doing a signing tomorrow with Ace Products, who work with Pig Hog Cables, which is a company I’m with. Reunion Blues Cases. So it’s been great seeing everybody. It’s always good talking and I’m hoping meet some Armored Saint fans or just friends. I’m from Los Angeles, I look forward to all of it. Always a good time.
On stage, what’s your weapon of choice to play?
I’m with ESP so lately I’ve been playing the E-2 ST2 which is a great guitar. It’s like a super strat. It’s got a maple cap, maple fretboard and neck. Just a great guitar. One of their newer lines when they came out with the E2. That’s been my main one lately.
Armored Saint has a new live album coming out called Carpe Noctum. Tell me about that show, and what made you decide to release that show?
Well the original idea, we did a Pledge Music campaign. We were going to make the live record, which is two shows in Germany (Wacken). So we were going to make that available for that campaign, exclusively. Then the response for it, people hearing about it, the demand was good. So we decided this would be a good bridge record between Win Hands Down which came out in 2015 and whatever we do next. So, let’s put out a live album. Armored Saint hadn’t put out a live album since, I think 1988 with Saints Will Conquer. So we hadn’t put out any live material or a live album. Armored Saint hadn’t put out anything since then, that’s a long time. So there were other records that were made since then like Revelation, The Symbol of Salvation, La Raza of course Win Hands Down. There wasn’t any released material of any of that stuff. Figured it’d been enough time and enough records, I think it’s the same amount of records that Armored Saint had when Saints Will Conquer came out. We’d done as many records since then.
When was the first time you played Wacken and what band was it in?
That was Armored Saint. The first time I played Wacken was in 2000. That was when we did Revelation, and that was our first Armored Saint record since Symbol of Salvation. So it had been quite some time, a good ten years and John Bush had been in Anthrax. He was still in Anthrax when we did Revelation. It was kind of a return of Armored Saint and a lot of people weren’t expecting Armored Saint to do anything, they figured it was over. But it wasn’t. We never said it was over, just John joined Anthrax. But that was a real special gig, we went on – we were the first band on stage that day, the main stage with lights because it was right at sundown. Everyone was real excited – it was a good probably 15k people and there were no technical issues, it just went real smooth. It was a real special night, I remember. One of my top 5 gigs of all time, I think.
Odin recently played Hair Nation. What was it like for you to revisit those Odin songs again?
Oh it was great. We’ve done some reunion shows here and there. We actually are doing another one at the Whisky A Go Go in April. But Odin, that was the first band I was ever in and we put that together coming out of junior high school, which is when we started it. It’s kind of a home base, most of those songs I wrote and they’re part of my DNA. So going back and doing that every now and then is a lot of fun and I love those guys like brothers. It’s just always a really good time. We can do it, everyone is healthy. Everyone gets along. I mean, Odin won’t be a band again like, as far as pursuing it to any great length of course. I doubt we’ll do any other records, doubt any of that. But to get together now and then for the fans who are out there who enjoy those songs, it’s always a blast.
Did Odin and Armored Saint ever do any shows together?
Yeah, that’s how I became friends with Armored Saint. Back in the club days, the first real club gig Odin had done was opening for Armored Saint. We did a lot of gigs together back then in the early days, The Troubadour. The Country Club out in Reseda we did together. There were a few venues, a few gigs that we did – Perkins Palace. We became friends way back then. So that kind of explains how I ended up in Armored Saint. We were already friends for quite some time. They liked the way I played guitar, we were friends. It just made sense. Odin had kind of run its course by the time they really wanted me to come in. Finally said alright, I’ll do this now.
What’s going on with DC4?
We just signed a deal with a label called Highball Music out of Baltimore and we start recording a new album in April. We’re going to start cutting drums. It’s been awhile since we put out a record. The good news is that we do have a new deal and we’re going to put out a new album and it will definitely come out this year.
What did you do Frank DiMinos solo album and are you an Angel fan?
Oh yeah. When I was a kid I had some Angel records. I had Helluva Band. I had Sinful. I had White Hot. So yeah, I really liked Angel and I met Frank when I moved to Las Vegas. He was playing in this band, just doing Zeppelin and Deep Purple and stuff and Oz Fox was the guitar player, for Stryper and Oz was going out with Stryper and recommended that I play guitar to fill in for him in this band. So I did that and then fast forward, Frank ended up doing his solo album and he asked me to play on it. I played on a song called “Mad As Hell.” A trade-off solo actually, me and Paul Crook trading solos. Then Frank just asked me to play in his live band, he does a few shows – a couple of shows and we’re getting ready to do some shows in February and March. We’re going to do them with The Graham Bonnet Band and Uli Jon Roth. So I’m gonna be playing guitar for those shows. So the show is half Angel songs and half Frank solo stuff. So it’s real fun to play those songs. Sometimes you go into a song like The Tower and you hear Frank singing it, it’s really something else. Like wow, how did I get here? It’s great. Really awesome.
What’s up next for Armored Saint?
We’re going to Europe, we’re doing a week’s worth of shows in March and then in May we’re doing a string of shows in the Midwest on our own. Then the live album of course coming out in February. That’s what we have on the books now, I’m sure more will come for summer, etc. As you can tell I like to keep myself busy.
(Review and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photo by Joe Schaeffer)
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