Vicious Rumors is an American heavy metal band founded in 1979 in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.
The band co-created the bay area metal scene in it’s beginning. Brainchild of Geoff Thorpe, the band has been active on the metal scene since forever, actively touring through the last 30 years. Vicious Rumors is recognized for their guitar works and harmonies, as well as the variety of their tracks.
Born in the Bay Area of San Francisco, in the years when the metal scene was really becoming stronger and stronger in that part of the States. Bands like Laaz Rockit, Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel are all seeing the light in the same years. Even though Vicious Rumors shared the same stages, venues and were (still are) even close friends to many of these young musicians, they focused on another music direction, only marginally influenced by the bay area thrash that in a few years will become very popular worldwide.
VR, without a definite line-up, (between 1982 and 1985) plays everywhere in the US and appears on the compilations KMEL’s “New Oasis”, U.S. Metal vol. III and U.S. Metal vol. IV gaining finally an important record deal with legendary Shrapnel Records.
The first album Soldiers of the Night published in 1985, is considered a cult milestone in US-power metal and features a future guitar hero Vinnie Moore(guitar, UFO).
The second album Digital Dictator in 1988, fixed Vicious Rumors’ classic and most famous line-up with one of the best singers in heavy metal history, Carl Albert (Villain, Ruffians) and the guitarist Mark McGee (Overdrive, Starcastle) along with Geoff Thorpe and Larry Howe.
In 1990, the band released their self-titled album Vicious Rumors on a legendary major label, Atlantic Records. In support of this album the band tours the US and in Europe with Death Angel and Forbidden. The band was featured on the main stage at the Dynamo Open Air Festival, in Holland in front of 25,000 fans and the band’s first video for the song, “Don’t Wait for Me” is put on heavy rotation on MTV’s legendary Headbanger’s Ball, starring Vanessa Warvick. After returning from Europe, the bands set out on their first full US tour for 2 months.
In 1992, Vicious Rumors released their best seller: Welcome to the Ball. This album received a Bay Area Music Award nomination for “Outstanding Metal Album” alongside the ranks of Metallica and Tesla. The band goes on a 1 month European tour with Savatage. The 2nd MTV video, “Children” goes beyond the exposure normally limited to metal bands on the Headbanger’s Ball and gets regular daytime air play. And to top all of this off, VR is nominated for a “Bammie Award” (from Bamm Magazine) for best new metal album. VR tours the US for 4 months, building and strengthening their fan base in the States.
After the tour with label-mates Savatage, and the live-album Plug in and Hang On: Live in Tokyo, guitarist Geoff Thorpe became ill with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The band wasn’t sure to continue. They also fired the bassist Dave Starr.
In 1994, with new bass-player Tommy Sisco (ex-Villain), they released their more particular album Word of Mouth for the label Rising Sun. This record includes the song “Thunder and Rain” (part.1 & part.2) dedicated to the memory of Criss Oliva (Savatage) This album generated immediate attention and put the band back on the road. In Europe, VR is back to perform at the “Dynamo Festival” in Holland once again, then joins up with Accept for more festival dates. After the completion of that tour, VR is called back for a second European tour, this time with Metal Church and Paul Di’Anno’s Killers.
After a successful tour with Savatage, singer Carl Albert “The Voice” (born 1962) tragically died on April 22, 1995 as a result of a car accident.
The band decides to go on in memory of their talented singer. The CD A tribute to Carl Albert (including recordings taken from the Word of Mouth European tour) and the home-video The First Ten years were released first. The song “Perpetual”, included on the Something Burning album, was the last track he wrote. Mark McGee, for one of his solo projects (actually unpublished), composed and recorded the song “Find Your Way Home” dedicated to the memory of his lost friend.
In 2001 the band releases Sadistic Symphony with a new singer (Morgan Thorn, who will suddenly be replaced by the return of O’Connor). These three albums are different for their more groovy, experimental and modern approach but also for the vocal style.
The band is totally renewed in 2002: Cornbread is the new bass player, Ira Black (ex Heathen) fills the spot of the other guitarist after Smyth, while world famous session man Atma Anur, Dan Lawson and Will Carroll (later with Death Angel) replace Larry Howe until he returns in the band. In 2005 those musicians (and the classic ones) appear on the “Crushing the World” DVD that sums up various eras of Vicious Rumors and offers audio-video footage of three unreleased tracks: Poveglia, Broken Wings, Fight, present also in the demo “Immortal” (2004) which never became an album. “Crushing the world” marks the end of the experimental era of the band.
In 2006, the Warball album, produced by Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head…), sees the light with the surprise of an all-star lineup due to the return of Larry Howe together with two big names of the scene as vocalist James Rivera (Helstar) and guitarist Brad Gillis (Night Ranger, Ozzy Osbourne). Also guitarist Thaen Rasmussen (Heathen Anvil Chorus) takes part to the recordings of “Warball” and later will be the second guitar in the live shows. “Warball” is a return to a more classic sound. But the stability of the line-up is still not destined to last. Dave Starr, unable to tour and not happy with the direction of things, is replaced at this point by Stephen Goodwin as the live bassist. At the end of the world tour also Rivera and Rasmussen part ways with Vicious Rumors.
Rasmussen is replaced by Kiyoshi Morgan. The line-up finally finds a new frontman when Stixx is replaced with old style screamer Brian Allen (Last Empire, Malice).
Classic members Thorpe and Howe rebuild Vicious Rumors with Allen, Goodwin and Morgan. To celebrate the new blood of the band they pay tribute the bands prestigious history. In the act of occasion of VR’s 30th anniversary some songs of the first album Soldiers of the Night were played together with the original singer Gary St.Pierre. at the Headbanger’s Open Air festival 2009 in Germany. And in 2011, at the Keep It True Festival (always in Germany) a special event sees the temporary return after 15 and more years of historical members Mark McGee and Tommy Sisco. On the vocals, there is a meaningful presence of Kevin Albert, Carl’s son, for a unique night of tribute to the golden-era.
Meanwhile the new line-up works hard also in the studio. The band’s tenth album Razorback Killers, is produced by Juan Urteaga and released on March 28, 2011 with guest appearances by several musicians including former guitarist Mark McGee, Testament guitarist Eric Peterson, Brad Gillis, and the first VR studio appearances of Stephen Goodwin,Kiyoshi Morgan,and Brian Allen. The band does an extensive European tour supporting HammerFall with Thaen Rasmussen occasionally stepping in again in VR in place of Morgan.
In late 2012, after some summer gigs in Europe (with touring member Bob Capka as second guitarist), VR mainman Geoff Thorpe announced two new releases for the upcoming months: a live album “Live you to Death”, out in November 2012, and a new studio chapter “Electric Punishment”, again produced by Juan Urteaga, released in 2013 with appearances – alongside mastermind Thorpe – of a first class team of guitarists: Rasmussen (who returns as official member), McGee, Gillis and Capka. In the first leg of European tour Allen was temporarily replaced by James Rivera due to serious family matters.
According to Thorpe, the band is still “hungry” so they played more than 80 headline shows and festivals in 2013, including several metal festivals in Europe (Bang Your Head (Candlemass, Saxon, Rage…), Alcatraz Metal Meeting (Death Angel, Exodus, Anthrax, Doro…), Headbangers Open Air (co-headlining w/Metal Church, OverKill…), Metaldays (King Diamond, Iced Earth etc.) Stonehenge Festival (Asphyx, Dying Fetus, Gama Bomb…). One of the festivals, the Bang Your Head festival in Germany, featured special guest appearance of Kevin Albert, Carl Albert’s son. Before the festival tour in 2013 Goodwin was replaced by a Slovenian bass player Tilen H., who became an official member. The festival season saw the band play major festivals for thousands of metalheads p.e. Alcatraz Open Air (with Exodus, Nightwish, Anthrax, Doro…), Metaldays (with Iced Earth, Sabaton…), Headbangers Open Air (co-headlining with OverKill and Metal Church), Stonehenge Open Air, Bang Your Head Fest, Turock Summer fest and more. The fall of 2013 saw the band conquer North America on a 30 date headlining tour with Seven Witches. The tour saw the arrival of a new lead vocalist, the talented Dutch youngster Nick Holleman. VR recorded a live album, LYTD II: American Punishment on tour. The album was released in June 2014, just before a new major summer tour, playing festivals all over Europe (Dokkem open air, Basinfire fest, Underwall fest) and headline gigs. In 2014 VR returned to London for the first time in 23 years and played the cult cruise festival 70 000 tons of Metal for the 2nd time! 2014 ended with the first ever South American tour, which saw VR co-headlining 2 festivals with Destruction and more solo gigs. Vicious Rumors will release a new studio album in late 2015/early 2016 on SPV/Steamhammer records. Non-stop touring! The best is yet to come! Heavy metal masters are here to stay. This is Metal! \m/