By Todd Houston
Following is an interview with Rex Scott of the band Armed Vision.
Rockford Rocked Interviews (RRI): When did you really start getting interested in playing music?
Rex Scott (RS): First of all, when I was 15, my dad died, so that was really an intense time for me, and I was completely lost! It sort of set the stage for what happened next, as far as the music goes. My buddies Jay Samp and Rick Zillhart were into guitar, and we were in the garage one day goofing around and jamming a Clapton song or whatever, and I belted something out and everybody went: “Wooo! This guy can sing! We can put this thing together and have a band!”
RRI: So, it was you, Rick and Jay?
RS: Yes, Jay knew Troy Lee, but Troy had never played bass! Lance Porter was a friend of mine and had been playing drums. In the beginning, we scrutinized every aspect. We even put mirrors in front of the practice room, to avoid the un-cool moves!
RRI: Sounds like you guys thought you were the bomb, so to speak!
RS: Yeah, we were!
RRI: What was next?
RS: We changed our name to “The Numbers” first off, then we did the Harlem High School talent show! The talent show comes up, and we were the last act to go on! The whole gym was dark and the guy comes up and says, “Ladies and gentlemen … THE NUMBERS!” The whole place lights up and goes wild! I just threw my arms up and said “Wow!” Now THAT was quite a beginning!
RRI: So, Rick Zillhart leaves and Cesar Bruno comes in?
RS: Yes, Rick left. (pauses) We then started putting our “feelers” out and went to see Cesar Bruno play. He did this rendition of Van Halen’s “Eruption” and blew us out of the water! He was an amazing player and a strong showman!
RRI: You guys really starting to play out quite a bit by this point.
RS: Yes, We started getting gigs through Kelso jam and playing constantly in Beloit. It was an amazing time. Another part that you don’t hear about is the dedication from the people that did all the offstage stuff for us! Our crew went above and beyond to make us look and sound cool. We would not have been what we were without them. Greg, Craig, Tom Vern, Carlos Oldigs and a lot of other guys.
RRI: Tell us about the infamous Armed Vision bus accident, if you would.
RS: We had finished a weekend gig in Jacksonville, Ill., (pauses) it must have been 3 or 4 in the morning, but we decided we would not spend the night. We loaded up the bus and started home. We were cruising down a hill (most of us asleep) … I was half awake when I felt the bus swerve. I guess I blacked out. The next thing I remember was waking up on a cold, damp hillside with a clanking sound behind me. I looked around, and the bus was upside down and split open. We had painted eyes on the top of the front of the bus, and those upside-down eyes were staring back at me in the morning light.
We crashed very near a farm, just about in the front yard, and everyone had been thrown from the wreckage. I got up and went to the house and asked them to call 911.
RRI: I can’t imagine how you guys must have felt, not necessarily just physically, but emotionally as well.
RS: Yeah, while in the hospital, they told me that Lance Porter had been transferred to a different location via helicopter because of his severe back trauma. I did not believe them and thought him dead. … Imagine my relief when I saw him in the hospital a few days later.
RRI: How long before you guys decided to give it another go? It must have taken quite some time to heal.
RS: Regardless of the tragedy, we tried to put it back together, but it was months until we were able to rehearse again.
We all went through such a tremendous struggle after the accident, Todd, and for me, it would never be the same. Too much changed after that. I think one of the strangest parts of the story is in the following months and years how we lost some of our closest friends. Jay’s brother, Greg Samp to a truck accident, Craig Speiss to a motorcycle accident, Tom May to a car accident, Brent Keniski was lost in a work-related incident, and sadly, Cesar took his own life.
RRI: Thanks for taking time to share this story with us.
RS: There is a lot more to the story, as many of your readers may recall. The gigs, the people we met, the traveling, the fights … the good times.
From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue