Vicious Rumors: Raging With Accept In The City Of Angels
The legendary Accept was playing select dates across the country in support of their just unleashed The Rise Of Chaos magnum opus, making a stop at The Saban Theater right in the heart of Los Angeles. And if an entire set by Accept was not enough to send your fist high and proud in the air, the presence of the almighty Vicious Rumors would infinitely seal the deal. Personally selected by Accept to open their Los Angeles date, Vicious Rumors from the Bay Area devastated The Saban with their own thunderous brand of kick ass power metal.
Based of the San Francisco Bay Area, Vicious Rumors has been placing the pedal to the metal since 1979, with 12 staggering studio albums to their credit, including the recently unveiled Concussion Protocol on SPV Records! Just right after Vicious Rumors‘ mesmerizing opening performance at The Saban, we caught up with founding member and lead guitarist Geoff Thorpe to discuss their opening for Accept, current and future studio endeavors, Ronnie James Dio, and other topics of intrigue – which would include an appearance by the one and only Star Williams! Read on…
Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Vicious Rumors.
Geoff: My name is Geoff Thorpe. I’m the ringleader, the instigator, the guilty one. I’m here tonight with the star of our Electric Punishment single ‘I Am The Gun‘ – Star Williams is here. She did an amazing job in our Electric Punishment album, our ‘I Am The Gun‘ video and so we’re here in LA. It’s great. We just got back from Europe playing the Bang Your Head Festival and some shows with Death Angel. So it’s great to be here in LA.
How did you become involved in that video?
Star: I was hired to do hair and makeup and then we just hit it off and they asked me to be in the video and it just clicked. It was just magical and everything took shape and everybody’s brains were spinning and it was really wild. It was amazing.
Had you heard of the band before the video?
Geoff: Just so I can elaborate on that – the first couple of times that I met Star, she’s in the style and beauty industry. And the first couple times that I saw her, she just had such a striking presence and look, and it was completely different then both times I saw her. We were putting the video together and that’s when I was just like ‘Oh I found the star of the video right here.’ Then we’ve been close ever since so it’s been really awesome. I just wanted to throw that in there.
How did your show with Accept go just now, and what were some of the highlights?
Geoff: Oh man well for one they are like childhood heroes of mine even though they’re not that much older than me. When I first discovered Accept, we just loved them so much. That was one of those bands that were like “this is my band.” You know what I mean? When not that many people knew about them yet. I’ve always loved them. I’ve been lucky enough to have our paths cross many times in our career. We did festivals together in 1994, we did a big European tour together in ’96, we’ve done a lot of festivals together since then and had a good relationship with them the whole time. They actually called me and invited Vicious Rumors personally. We didn’t get this gig through the promoter of the venue or anything. Accept invited us down to come and do this. So it was a real honor for us and we’re really happy to be here. Accept rules! German metal Gods!
Let’s talk about the previous album Concussion Protocol, is there any story or concept behind that title?
Geoff: There is. Concussion Protocol originally is a sports term injury for a head injury. Now what we did is we twisted the whole meaning of it around to be like a global head injury. The whole album is about the extinction of the earth through a global killer asteroid and how humanity finds out about it and sort of unravels in the process. So the album really tells a story from the beginning to the end. We kept it kind of vague though. There’s like liner notes in the C.D. that kind of explain a little bit about it and the songs themselves tell a little story. Yeah man, but what a better day for heavy metal than the end of the world?
How close are you to writing and recording new material?
Geoff: We’ve already begun putting riffs together and doing some writing and stuff. We just got picked up by SPV for 2 more albums. We got our rock star license extended for another 4 years. That’s pretty cool. We have some new members in the band with Gunnar DüGrey on guitar and Brian Allen back in the band. We have a little base in Portland also. Just by coincidence I have family in Portland also so the Bay area and Portland are kind of our US hubs right now and of course, Star Williams in LA. And of course Europe is our main market and we do the most of our work there just because they want us to and we love it. We love to play for them. We’re one of the hardest working bands in show business. 38 years of heavy metal! Us and the Stones baby!
Now your newest member Gunnar DüGrey is definitely not born when your first album came out. He’s only 18, right?
Geoff: Yeah, only 18.
How did he become involved?
Geoff: Well, his dad was a real good friend of Brian’s. As Gunnar has been growing up, he started playing guitar when he was 8 years old and for the last 10 years has been mastering his instrument. He’s a phenomenal talent. Not only does he play guitar all different styles, really well. he’s like a concert pianist, incredible artist. Super, super talented guy and that’s what I look for in people when I try to hire someone. If they just happen to be young and beautiful, hey bonus.
How frustrating is it to go through so many members over the years?
Geoff: There’s a town in Cleveland, OH where they all live. It’s about 300 of them. I like to go there for the holidays and visit once in a while. I don’t know if frustrating is the word. I know where I’m going, so when I have the right team around me and we’re all clicking on all cylinders, and you know – it moves in a very powerful forward direction. But when changes come around and directions split, that’s OK too. You just fix it and keep going.
You had Brad Gillis of Night Ranger in your band. Even Ira Black, and he’s been in every band in history.
Geoff: Yeah, we even had Chuck Berry in the band in the 50s. We don’t give a fuck. We’ve had a really big history and a really big family – the good thing about that is, like tonight, we had a couple of substitutions tonight. Our drummer Larry couldn’t make it, and our bassist Tilen couldn’t make it. We have a big enough family where I can go back to someone like Stephen Goodwin who was in the band for years and have him come in tonight.
What did he do?
Geoff: He’s the bassist tonight.
And who else is a substitute?
Geoff: The drummer. Joe Spencer from Portland, also did a great job coming in very last minute notice and busting ass, learning those songs and doing a great job. We had a real fun time tonight, so the show goes on man. Life is too short to cancel anything. The only bad show is the one you don’t do. Do them all.
Do you have any Ronnie James Dio memories that you can share?
Geoff: I love that little, evil man. Dio, man, he’s just the king of everything. We opened for him a few times in Dio and in Heaven and Hell. He was one of those guys that, even if you just met him for a few minutes, he’d look you right in the eye and like, just say something profound to you. I don’t know, when I met him – I introduced myself as Geoff from Vicious Rumors, and he said “Oh I understand that I’ve influenced your music.” I was like, I almost passed out. I didn’t even know he knew who we were. I was like, man that is incredible. I said, yeah I can’t thank you enough. I can’t even really tell you how much you mean to us. He just put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, “take what I’ve done and make it better.” I was like, I’ll never forget that! Just the way he was looking at me, I could feel like in the back of my head, like holy shit. This guy is looking right through my soul! Everyone in my band worshiped Dio, that was a big loss.
What’s up next for Vicious Rumors?
Geoff: We’re continuing tomorrow night. We’re playing in Concord, CA and then Santa Rosa the next night. We’re back to work on a new album. We’re planning a big package tour in Europe for April next year with a Nuclear Blast band that I can’t name yet. It’s gonna be badass. New album coming and just the – tornado starts again, man. Just need to keep trying to stay healthy and keep rocking as long as we can.
What do you think keeps you so passionate as a band after all this time?
Geoff: Did I introduce you to Star Williams? [laughs] Man, you know music is passion, so the passion is already there in the music. So, for me, I still love the action.
Star: You’re born to do it. When you’re born to do something, you can’t not do it. There’s no real reason, it’s who you are. It’s who he is. He lives his life that way. He’s a mastermind, just to be across the table and watching his brain work is incredible.
Geoff: That’s it right there. It’s just passion and love for the music and love for the people and the lifestyle. I’m not done yet.
VICIOUS RUMORS Line-Up 2017
Brian Allen – vocals
Geoff Thorpe – guitars
Gunnar DüGrey – guitars
Tilen Hudrap – bass
Larry Howe – drums
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
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