Space Vacation vocalist Scott Shapiro grilled.

Deep within the dark heart of San Francisco, forged from molten steel with a nod to the galloping riffs of Iron Maiden, the speed of Motorhead and the stick-in-you-head choruses of “On Through The Night” era Def Leppard, Space Vacation was born!

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?

Van Halen, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard and Twisted Sister were probably the first rock/metal bands I got into. MTV was a big part of that back then. The Friday Night Video Fights were worth staying up past my bedtime.

How did you become a guitarist and are you proficient in any other instruments ?

I bought my first guitar out of the Sears catalog with money I had saved when I was 11 years old. I wanted to be the next Eddie Van Halen. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of talent. Kiyo is the real guitar talent in the band, I just try to keep up. I have also played bass at various times, but my main instrument is my voice. I’ve been singing on stage since I was 3 years old and have sang pretty much every genre imaginable over the course of my life. I love metal but I was always drawn to the bands with singers who have real talent. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Queensryche really grabbed me. But I think the best rock/metal singer I’ve ever heard is Brad Delp from Boston. That guy’s voice was effortless and his range was limitless. I’ve never heard anyone who can do what he did on those early Boston records.

What was the San Francisco local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

Come on! I’m not that old to have been here at the beginning of the San Francisco music scene! Obviously there is a long history with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, Santana, Journey, Huey Lewis and the News, Y&T then the thrash movement in the late 70s early 80’s with Metallica, Exodus, Death Angel, etc. When we first started playing here in 2007 we played with Walken and Hightower which was always rad. I wasn’t a big fan of the majority of the bands that were around at the time. It was like everyone wanted to sound like High On Fire. That stuff is pretty rad but it never really inspired me to want to chug a beer and scream at the top of my lungs. That’s one of the reasons we started SPACE VACATION. We wanted to hear more traditional, good times heavy metal and no one was really doing it. The scene has evolved since then and is pretty rad right now. A couple of my favorite bands in the area are Hell Fire and Glitter Wizard. I also just got turned on to Blackwulf, who are pretty rad as well.

Has there been times when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band?

Ha! What’s a party in space if there isn’t beer and drugs? Not one that I want to go to, that’s for sure! Our music is meant to be the sound track to your party.

How would you best describe your sound?

We sound like a space ship crashing into 1982.

What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?

The first record I ever bought was Kenny Rogers, believe it or not. Van Halen 1984 was probably the next. I’ve bought the first 6 Van Halen albums at least 3 times (tape, CD then vinyl). I’ve bought the first 4 Metallica albums multiple times due to the tape breaking for overuse. Same with Live After Death by Iron Maiden.

Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?

The biggest show we’ve ever played is either opening a sold out club show for Satan or opening for Orchid. We’ve also played with Cauldron and Thor which were super rad as well. As far as getting nervous, yes, I defiantly still get a little nervous before a gig.

Is commercial rock radio dead?

I’d take it a step further and say radio is dead. Why does rock radio play the same songs from the same bands that were active 40+ years ago? While those bands were and are great, radio was the place to discover new artists – now you have to dive into a K-hole on YouTube.

Favorite songs on the new album and why?

Hard to choose favorites on this record as I really like how the album turned out. If I were to pick a few I’d say the title track, “Black Divide,” is my favorite because it has a some dynamics to it with a really catchy chorus. Next I’d have to pick “Live By The Sword” because of all the twin guitar leads throughout the song. It’s a real ripper. Then I would have to go with “Reason or Rhyme” because I’ve always wanted to have a piano based song to work on because it opens up the music to much more complicated arrangements than we can do with our standard lineup of 2 guitars, bass and drums.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing, sunglasses and text

Out of all your songs which one touches you the most when you perform it?

While our typical song topics include Satan, fighting, booz, motorcycles and getting awesome, I also tend to write about things that are going on in my life – so there are a few songs that I have a more personal connection to. The title track form our second record, “Heart Attack”, is about my Dad who had a major heart attack. Summer Knights is a letter to my daughter with ideas that I wanted to memorialize for her. On the current record, I wrote “See You Again” for my mom who passed in 2016.

Are there any political or social issues hidden in Space Vacation songs?

We typically try to keep that kind of stuff out of our songs because we want to be an escape for the everyday bullshit people have to put up with. “Save Your Breath” is probably an exception. It includes some social commentary on the current bullshit that is going on in Washington these days.

What was the process of putting the songs in order?

We wanted it to have a good flow – something you could just put on in your car without needed to skip songs. We wanted to take you on a ride with the various dynamics and tempos of the individual songs. Also, we need to make sure it was 22 min per side for vinyl so there were a few restrictions there with the song lengths.

What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?

We are (were?) Gibson Artists but after they let go of the artist rep we worked with, its been crickets over there. Kiyo was sponsored by Sfarzo strings but they haven’t done anything for the band. Gear-wise I would love to get an Ernie Ball sponsorship. I’d also love to get a tour sponsor to help us get to the next level touring-wise (are you reading this Budweiser?). Maybe a weed sponsorship?

Bands you would love to tour with and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?

I would love to tour with Judas Priest. My brother, who was a founding member of Space Vacation and played on the first 2 records, is friends with Richie Faulkner and he has some hilarious stories about the band. Love to hang out with those guys. We had a great time playing with Cauldron and could see us doing some shows together in the future. Dudes that I would want to interrogate is long. I’d probably start with Sharon Osbourne to ask why she is single handedly ruining Ozzy. That dude can still sing yet she pairs him with Gus G? That was one of the worst records I have ever heard. I’m sure Kiyo would love to share his road stories from when he toured with Gus. That guy is a clown. The he did the “Almost Sabbath” tour/record which she also fucked up by keeping Bill Ward out. WTF!!? Next I’d want to find out who really fucked up Van Halen. Was it Eddie or Dave? The people deserve to know!

Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?

At my funeral – “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. Cliché? Maybe, but fuck it it’s my funeral!

3 albums to take to the grave:

1. Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden
2. Hell Bent For Leather – Judas Priest
3. Boston – Boston

Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?

Metal is a community. Its one of the last inclusive groups out there where people from all walks of life can meet up bang their heads and agree (or argue about) their favorite bands. I’m friends with people all over the world because of metal. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. People like you help keep us all connected!

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