Hard Talk

Interview with Drummer Larry Howe

For two and a half decades, I’ve been hearing stories about a concert that happened in my hometown of Medford Oregon… a show where the band played a blistering set to only a handful of people… where the drummer’s ride cymbal broke, so he threw it into the small crowd and it exploded into pieces! He also had a floor tom covered in beer to make it splash when he hit it. Crazy stuff.

Well, that drummer was Larry Howe & he was playing in the band VICIOUS RUMORS! I got a chance to catch up with Larry and talk to him about a few different vocalists they have had over the years, some of his other projects and upcoming plans with VR since after a break, he’s back in the band!

BallBuster Music: Hey Larry! Thanks for talking with us. You’ve been with Vicious Rumors for a long time… since the first album right? What do you remember from back then? How did you initially hook up with the band?

Larry Howe: I’ve known Geoff Thorpe since the early 80s! I was with bands that opened up for Vicious Rumors 2 or 3 times back then, they always had a different drummer. But it was fun to go watch them too when they started doing some crazy stuff as Geoff would come out in a closed coffin carried on stage , as it opened up he was inside playing a wireless guitar, A rarity for that time (one of Nady’s first)! A good friend of mine from work also knew him well, Doug Troxel (RIP) He told me that the band had just received a two album contract from shrapnel so I figured I’d go join these guys! Also I was 24 and felt it was time to get recorded and see if I could pursue that musical dream like the bands I idolized, Led Zeppelin Black Sabbath Deep purple etc. Doug got me a demo tape with five or six songs and I showed up knowing the songs better than those guys! Plus I had a real hot 80s rocker chick with me and the guys were kind of impressed by that I think ha ha Ha! At that time it was just Geoff, Dave, & Gary St Pierre. I had heard Mike Varney had another protégé in line for his guitar God label for us, some kid from back east by the name of Vinnie Moore! of course when he flew out to learn the soldiers of the night material, we had become friends and I was really hopeful he would part of the band, i’ll never forget the time he made me stop in the middle of the San Rafael bridge so he could take a leak off it ha ha ha!! He said he finished before it hit the water!…needless to say I was pretty damn sad when he finished the photo shoot and hopped on a plane and was never to be seen again.

I have a CD by a band called Chastain you played on with VR band mate Dave Starr. How did that come about?

I was married to the singer at that time! And that is another story! Somehow, Dave and I had become friends again after I demanded Geoff fire either him or myself back in 93 because he was impossible to work with! but sometimes time heals wounds I guess and we didn’t have the same pressures on as Vicious rumors did! Being 2002, it was the new millennium, analog was dead and it was the first CD I ever recorded using a click track! Plus it was also done in what would become vicious rumors future home in Trident studios!

I’m fascinated by how many great singer’s you’ve had in the band. I’m gonna ask about a few of them, if that’s cool. In 2009, original vocalist Gary St Pierre was singing live for Vicious Rumors. Was that for a whole tour or no?

That was basically an experiment and proof that money makes things happen! The promoter for the Headbangers Open Air in Germany, Juergen is a big fan of old classic metal and he really wanted to hear Gary St Pierre so he paid us well enough to make it happen! Gary fared well for the gig but that’s about as far as it went! Gary has his own issues. Also, at that time we had another singer to do other shows with, It wouldn’t be the last time we would have that type of situation! in 2012, the promoter of the “Keep It True” festival commandeered a reunion of sorts using Keven Albert (Carl’s similarly talented son) Mark Mcgee and Tommy Cisco ! just the rehearsals of that were incredible as well, VR is like a family and a lot of old friends came out to the rehearsal studio from that era and it felt real good , unfortunately, the one gig is all that lasted as well! Geoff and I were rehearsing with two versions of the band at the same time, we had released Razorback killers the year earlier and we were on a roll! it was funny to be at the airport with 8 vicious rumors members!

I used to live in Portland in the 90’s, and I would always go see this insanely good Judas Priest tribute band with Brian Allen on vocals. He sang on a couple of your studio releases as well, yeah?

Brian Allen is a talented individual as well as one nutty guy! He’s on two studio and one live CD. He had some work related issues and couldn’t tour with us.

I was always a fan of Carl Albert & I’ve owned other releases with him singing… Back in May, I got a remastered CD recently of my favorite Carl era Vicious Rumors album (s/t 1990) on the great UK label called Rock Candy. Beautiful packaging. Want to talk about that?

Well as far as I know Carl only had one release with a band called “Villain” and another band called “Ruffians” The bands he was with before he joined us for our second shrapnel album Digital Dictator, we’ve only done four studio and one live CD with Carl, all of which have gone on to be released by many different labels around the world! if only I had a better accountant and a lawyer, there may be some good checks waiting for me! Ha ha Ha so we all like to think!

You know, I saw you perform live a couple years ago in a Metallica tribute band with your guitarist/founding VR member Geoff Thorpe, opening for Lizzy Borden. Is this something that’s still happening? You guys play often?

I’ve played in many tribute bands over the decades! during my time out of the band while I was married, I had a Van Halen tribute band, and that was fun, I find it a challenge to learn styles of different drumming and Alex is no slouch ! but when my wife divorced me and I contemplated rejoining VR, that just would not do! A buddy of mine Aaron Pearson, whom I’ve recorded two CDs of his original music at Juans Trident studios as well with, was a guy I had been working with… And he did an amazing impression of early James stylings singing and playing and had a Metallica tribute, which certainly seemed more appropriate for me to be in to rejoin vicious rumors! I had been learning Lars parts to the “T” I even learned his mistakes ha ha Ha , and it did seem to help my stylings for the warball CD We did back in 2005, and then of course when VR had some downtime, I kept busy with these guys and at one point I actually talked to Geoff into joining the band, which actually kind of took attention away from VR so it probably was not a good thing!… But the gigs were fun and we did a little bit of touring and it was all good while it lasted! but Aaron needed more permanent members and Geoff and I needed to stay busy with VR so we are not with them now.

Let’s jump to now. All these line-up changes and you’re still in the band! Very cool. What is the current line-up of VR? Who’s this kid that’s been singing for the band the last two years? I saw Geoff a few months ago when he was on the road with the band FROM HELL and he spoke highly of him!

Yes we’ve had many lineup changes, just like just about every other band in the world! even I had quit in 1998 to try to be married!… But whether it’s because of death, financial, emotional, or personal differences… The only term that applies here is “shit happens” as I stated earlier, when Brian couldn’t make a tour schedule, we found a 23-year-old kid Nick Holleman in lovely Holland through a friend of ours there and also acquired our bassist Tilen Hudyrap from Slovenia through some friends in Europe as well , Along with Thaen Rasmussen… At the time of this interview, that is a lineup now!…

Right, Nick sings on the newest live record! Want to tell us about that? Where was it recorded?

Nick and Tilen did the tour through the states in 2014, we were very impressed at how easily Nick handled the singing, he certainly has no problem with Carl’s range unlike many we have found that tried! Also Nick is a great guy and we love having him around! ….Same goes for Tilen! we recorded the The live CD at impromptu show in Oakland California at the end of the tour.

OK so can we expect a new VR CD in 2016? Are you gonna tour or maybe do some festival dates? What are the future plans of Vicious Rumors?!

As of two weeks ago I’ve concluded my drum tracks for our newest upcoming CD on the SPV label out of Germany, Geoff is busy now doing a gazillion guitar tracks with every different type of guitar imaginable! He’s really addicted to different tones! He got me to let my roommate loan him an SG and a telecaster just so he can round out his collection in the studio! He also has a Strat, a couple of Les Pauls , a flying V and of course the signature Dean axe murderer guitars! We will have Then do some solos, we may even get mark mcgee to do one or two as well as our old buddy Brad Gillis from night Ranger, that has just become a tradition now! VR has always been about insane guitar riffing and I have no problem with that because it is very metal! So then our boys from Europe will fly over in November to finish tracking and the album should be out by the end of spring and yes of course, we are hoping for a big year in 2016 with lots of festivals and touring of Europe, South America Japan, and beyond!

Alright, thanks again for talking with us, Larry! Any last comments? Anything you’d like to plug? Let’s do that now!

No problem, I’m always happy to try to keep our fans informed!… Geoff and I are now both 54 and of course you can imagine the jokes flying around when we have a couple of skinny twentysomethings in the band and us old guys! Ha ha but we’re going to keep ourselves healthy enough to continue this as long as we possibly can! we love to rock! So please keep an eye out for our new CD! I cannot reveal any names or titles yet, but it is destined to be one of our heaviest ever! And thank you for your efforts in bringing the info to our fans my friend! hope to see you all out on the road at some point! Heavy Metal forever!

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