Along with the specials, Peter 'Peavy' Wagner took the time to answer to our questions. He shed light on many things for the history of this legendary band. Read on... |
Dimitris: Peavy, this interview is meant together with the two specials on Metal Germany, to give a guide to new people on the metal music, to get to know maybe the most important power metal band in Europe. As it is for me, your musical child called Rage is by far the most respected band out there. Your history as a musician and as a person really deserves the best, and not only respect. So, you will allow me to ask you a few questions about the past and move to the present and future. Reading your biography I saw that you started learning classical guitar from your very early years, if I am not mistaken. What really turned you on the hard side of things?
Peavy: My first musical experiences were to learn the classical guitar when I was a child. I was about 9 years old. Besides the Classics I also loved the Beatles at this time (I still do), they were my first love in Rock music.
In the following years I started collecting records of all kinds of Rock bands, my faves developed to be the Hard Rock Acts like Deep Purple, Led Zep, Black Sabbath and so on, out of this developed Heavy Metal and as I was already actively playing in Bands it was obvious for us to play this style. Although I love interesting harmonies and technical well executed music it was always important for me that music had this majestic energy that you find perfectly in Heavy metal music, so this will always be my preferred way of musical expression.
Dimitris: After all these years, how do you feel for the releases with 'Avenger'?
Peavy: The Avenger releases are pretty good. I like the songs and also the sound of the album very much. It's good that they were re released a few years ago, so the younger fans can check this out.
Dimitris: Around a year after, you split Avenger and moved on to make Rage. What was the cause behind this decision? And how much did the constant changes in the band keep you back on the composing section? Are you now satisfied with 'Reign Of Fear' and 'Execution Guaranteed', according to the opportunities you had back then?
Peavy: The band was never splitted at these times. We simply changed the name to Rage, which was demanded from the record company we signed to (Noise). Reign of fear showed the same line up like the Avenger releases and it shows our development composer wise. Execution was another step forwards, we got more and more technical. After this album the band broke and I started anew with Manni & Chris.
Dimitris: So, around 1987 Rage became a trio. Manny Schmidt and Chris Efthimiadis and it was like beginning from scratch. With this line-up, you have recorded for many the best records for Rage. How much did they help you with Rage (Manny and Chris), and really, how do you feel for those years since from 'The Perfect Man' until 'The Missing Link', Rage became known to larger crowds?
Peavy: Yes, this was a pretty good band and we really grew together. We made some really good albums in these years and created a very typical unique sound that made the band popular all over the world. The reasons that Manni left the band were personal, like always. I have never quitted a musician from the band, always this were the personal decisions from them as they had different plans for their future. In Manni's case he wanted to start a family (Kids&Wife).
Dimitris: On 'Lost in the Ice' you had some first touches of classical music. How much had the idea of mixing heavy metal with classical music been in your head? Was it something that you always wanted to do, or has it grown as a need?
Peavy: It was always in my head to work with classical musicians, but as this is expensive I had to wait until the day when our record company BMG in 96 decided to finance this with an extra budget. This happened due to our manager Boggie Kopec (in this time, not any more our manager) who also dreamed of a project like this.
Dimitris: 1994, Manny departs from Rage to be replaced by Spiros Efthimiadis and Sven Fischer. Can you explain me why he left and what were the main reasons for deciding to make the band a quartet again?
Peavy: I already explained in answer four the reasons for Manni's leaving. I replaced him with the two guitarists because Spiros wasn't good enough to play what Manni had played; with a twin guitar it was OK. Actually, seen from my today's view it was a big mistake to bring him in the band. After a few years he started to abuse my patience and trust. He is responsible for the crash of this line-up when he started to build up a pop band (subseven) behind my back. He was getting so vicious against me (jealousy?) that he tried to kill Rage in 99 and be the last nail to my coffin (that's his own words). I think people especially in Greece should know that, because there are still some that wish this old line-up back, as it was their landsmen in the band. Unfortunately it's the bitter truth that these greek guys focused massively against Heavy metal in these days. When you hear the two BMG releases of their pop band (which was the complete old Rage line-up with a different singer) you will understand what I mean.
Every person who likes HM ['HM=Heavy Metal'/Editorial Note] and especially Rage should be lucky these guys left and that Victor & Mike joined. ['Personally I am, so sad to read all these'/Editorial Note]
Dimitris: How was the experience recording 'Lingua Mortis'? As you may read on the special I consider it to be the best try ever made by anyone to marry Heavy Metal and classical music.
Peavy: Thank you for this classification. I'm very proud we were able to record this album as the first HM band ever. Years before Metallica we already walked these tracks. The sound is not as perfect as I wished but it's a live recording. It was truly one of the most impressive experiences in my life.
Dimitris: From 'Black in Mind' to 'XIII' Rage recorded really good records. But - in my humble opinion - 'Ghosts' does not really meet the standards the band has set all these years with all the killer releases. How do you feel about 'Ghosts'? And after that, there were more changes in the band. Victor Smolksi and Mike Terrana joined the band and they are still in the band. I bet they are of a big help to you with Rage?
Peavy: 'Ghosts' was made in a very difficult situation. During the production all the musicians left me, so I had big trouble to finish the album. Thanks to god that Victor came my way, he saved the session with his guitar tracks, so you can hear it's still a metal band behind the songs. None of the musicians of the old line up was interested in HM any more (see above), so the material was mainly created by me with the Orchestrator Christian Wolff, who is mainly a pop musician, that's the main reason why Ghosts sounds so poppy. The songs are superb, I'm still sure of them, but they are not interpreted the right way. If Spiros and the others would have been upright and fair to me, letting me know about their plans, I would have never started this production with them and get new musicians already before the studio date to write and arrange the songs in the right way. But unfortunately they had lied to me, saying they would continue playing with me in Rage (I had several meetings with them discussing our future) Ghosts had suffered from this terrible situation. I was truly blessed that I could find Victor and Mike immediately to continue Rage. As you can hear from our releases later, they are really into this music. Meanwhile we found our own and unique sound which is much more related to the sound of Rage in the line-up with Manni, but with more technical perfection and a wider song-writing range, as we now have two real composers in the band.
Dimitris: Last year, 'Unity' was released and I really need to congratulate you for this one. It blew me over and couldn't believe how fresh and amazing this album sounds. 'Every tone, every beat, every note sounds right on Unity', says your website, and I agree totally. What are your thoughts for this album and what was the reaction of the fans and people around the world for 'Unity'? Generally, you must be satisfied with it?
Peavy: Unity happened to be the manifestation of the new Rage. With this album we got worldwide recognition as the band we are today, we were able to establish the line-up as the best ever, like a rebirth...
We're all satisfied with it.
Dimitris: The tour with Primal Fear is finished I think. How was that? After all these years of touring, do you think you had enough of it or you still have the thirst for walking on the stage and live the magical moments of the 'lights go out'? Do you have any more plans for concerts?
Peavy: The last tour was very good for us, I'm sure we made a lot of new friends with that. The fun in playing live shows is very special for all of us, we won't lose this spirit, I'm sure. After recording the next album we have already new plans for touring.
Dimitris: So, I hope you are working on something new. Can you maybe tell us a few things about the new ideas you may have, maybe reveal to us something and if the 'Lingua Mortis Orchestra' will return with the new album?
Peavy: We are composing at the moment. In the next days we'll have the first rehearsals for the new songs. We want to continue what we started with Unity. The studio is booked for April and May. We'll continue working with Charlie Bauerfeind, who worked on Unity with us. Release is planned for September. We have the working title 'Soundchaser'. Also we're planning to record live material for a Live CD/DVD next year for the 20th Anniversary.
Dimitris: Generally what do you think of the current state of European Metal and what are your current influences? I would be really happy to learn who are the composers from classical music that mostly influenced you on composing.
Peavy: The European Metal scene is very stable I think. There are a lot of good bands around, also younger acts, from all kinds of different countries. I listen a lot to progressive bands at the moment (Spock´s beard, Transatlantic, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension...). My classical Faves are Bach, Villa Lobos, Rachmaninov, Dvorak , Debussy and more...
Dimitris: I have to ask you. 'Not Forever' from 'Trapped' has some really amazing lyrics. What is the story behind it?
Peavy: Not forever is about someone that desperately tries to break out of his limitating small world. I can imagine that a lot of people are not happy with the life they lead in this society. I personally experienced this and was very lucky to break out when I had the chance to live from my music...
Dimitris: Since many young people will read this that are trying to make their first steps to music (including me :-) ), I wanted to ask you, what advice can you give to all those that start to play heavy metal and music in general?
Peavy: The best advice is to firstly become good and original in what you do, so you have something interesting and good to offer to the world. (No one needs a badly executed copy). Then you need a lot of luck to find people in the business that can put you in the right spot so that the world can hear you. Don't waste yourself for liars and bad record companies but also don't wait too long to step out in the light. Don't put your expectations too high, you have to be aware that it's very hard today. You also need a lot of endurance and a long breath...
Dimitris: The end. I have no words to thank you for taking the time to reply to my questions. I know it is really tiring to make these kind of interviews, and I hope next time we could talk in person. Maybe on your next visit to Greece.
All I want to add is thank you for 'Unity'. Some songs in there are the best you have ever written - as always in my opinion. If there is something I have forgotten to ask you, please feel free to say it. Thank you once more Peavy and all the best. 'All I Want' is to always listen new things from Rage.
Peavy: Thank you also for your help to spread the news. I hope we find our way back to Greece. I know it's not easy to play there at the moment, as the promoters are really shy to book you and pay enough (at least as much that we get even). I guess we lost a lot of fans there since the split of the old line-up, which is a pity as this was not my fault, I think there's a lack of information. Hopefully we can win those back; the band is worth it definitely to be checked out again. [Sometimes I am ashamed to be Greek. I will do anything in my power to inform people here and the band deserves all the support from any country/Editorial Note]
So see you all soon!