Greg Wagner - H.A.T.E.
The multi-talented Greg "Wags" Wagner remains quite active by fronting three major American Metal acts: Cleveland's Classic Metal Gods: Breaker, the thrasher Shatter Messiah with his partner in grime - Curran Murphy (ex-Annihilator & Nevermore), and his own metal infused - H.A.T.E. (Halfway At The End) band, with long time bassist Chuck Ruszin.
After having seen Breaker warm-up in Cleveland last month before their landmark Bang Your Head Festival appearance, fronted by "Wags"; and having just witnessed H.A.T.E. tear it up, giving me a concussion, last Saturday, while opening for Destructor, who themselves were preparing for Headbanger's Open Air and Wacken, I knew I had to have a chat with this archetype of aggression.
MettleAngel: Hey there Brother, how is it going?
MettleAngel: I'll bet, everything you do has a killer mettle edge to it. Just seeing you play last Saturday at The Jigsaw with H.A.T.E. was an awesome experience. You and Curran tore the place apart. You have actually been keeping H.A.T.E. active since its inception in 1988, correct?
Well, it is a good thing you did not sign with them, as they screwed over
Seduce & Nuclear Assault. The good thing, is now H.A.T.E. has returned,
and you are working with Bill Peters recording new material, some of which
you played Saturday night. Your only other CD is the self-released: Metal
MettleAngel: The songs on your My Space page for H.A.T.E. can give the metal fan an idea of your musical capabilities, and what is to come. Chuck has been you bassist in H.A.T.E. since the beginning, right? Now, you also have Curran Murphy, your partner in Shatter Messiah, playing guitar with you. He really adds a new dimension to the overall sound, providing that classic 80's Speed Metal feel of Megadeth, Overkill, Exodus, and Annihilator.
MettleAngel: Will the new H.A.T.E. be released on Auburn Records, then?
MettleAngel: You mentioned to me at that show, that you have some 50 new songs from which to choose for the new album by H.A.T.E.
MettleAngel: There is no doubt that you definitely keep busy, with so many bands. You also played at one time in the progressive band Archetype.
MettleAngel: I have that EP, but I did not realize that it was you. Then again you did play a song called "Schizo", at that show. Let's talk about your key role in Breaker, as this is what fans really want to know. Originally, you left them in 2006, but now you are back, and you just played Bang Your Head, creating quite a stir!
MettleAngel: So now you are officially Breaker's full-time vocalist, right?
MettleAngel: After your incredible live performance at Bang Your Head, I'm sure Breaker fans will welcome you into the fold.
MettleAngel: I also heard that Breaker sold more merch than any other band who played. I'm sure that after your ridiculous stage dive into the crowd, against all surmountable odds, the fans won't forget the stellar performance.
MettleAngel: Well he tested your mettle, and it paid off. That was quite a leap you did, no easy task. You actual flew into the crowd. What was going through your mind as you soared with the metal angels?
MettleAngel: Well, if you had not made that sizable leap, I doubt we'd be speaking right now, as you could have been paralyzed. Anyone familiar with the Bang your Head stage, and the aperture between the crowd, knows that that was no simple jump. Thankfully, you made it, and now you have made metal history! In the Iron Maiden fashion, Breaker also performed with three guitarists: Don Depew, Michael Klein, and Nick Giannokos of Wretch.
MettleAngel: Other than Maiden, the only bands who made a difference with three guitarist are Racer X and Leatherwolf. With each band whom you front, you contribute unique character elements. With H.A.T.E. you mix that AC/DC Bon Scott vibe with "Zetro" Sousa of Exodus, Dave Mustaine of Classic Megadeth, Jeff Waters of Annihilator, and a hint of Udo Dirkschneider. Whereas, with Breaker there's a more classic rock vibe akin to UFO, Scorpions, Accept, Saxon, and Ted Nugent. With Shatter Messiah, there is that new thrash approach with a Fight like Rob Halford contingency.
MettleAngel: Breaker just released a new EP entitled: Peace Love Death. On this you sing on many songs, new and live; while Jim only has a few contributions.
MettleAngel: My first Breaker experience, surprisingly, was the warm up show with you on voclas, last month in Cleveland; even though I've been a fan of the band since the mid 80's. It was cool to see you step up to the plate on such short notice, and hammer out those classic cuts like "10 Seconds In", "Get Tough" & "Blood Money", along with the newer choices. I loved it when Jim came up to the stage to do my favorite Breaker song "Still Life"! I knew that your performance was a bit rough, as you had to iron out the kinks.
MettleAngel: So I've heard, if only I could have been there. All the reports I've read including the one Mark Gromen did for BWBK*, and the one in "Metal Maniacs" elucidate this. (*http://www.bravewords.com/news/92592)
MettleAngel: Definitely, I love your vocals for all bands. I'd hardly call it gruff, but even Lemmy of Motörhead gets referred to as that. With H.A.T.E. there is such a rippin' 80's speed metal ennunciation, which you seldom hear anymore. This is why I choose to compare you to Jeff Waters, "Zetro" Sousa, and Dave Mustaine. Your pronounced percolations, show that you have been singing this way for a long time.
MettleAngel: Yeah, they don't realize that H.A.T.E. stands for "Halfway At The End", hardly a negative reference. The title Metal Forever, I feel sums up your might, mettle, and overall attitude. I think that classic metal fans of Breaker, as well as old school thrashers will totally dig the new material.
MettleAngel: In keeping with the true 80's vibe, this just makes sense. Now, you often refer to yourself as "Wags" on stage, from where does this nickname stem?
MettleAngel: That is cool, and it is a clever stage name, easy to remember and articulate. I am so excited for hearing more new H.A.T.E. and Breaker songs. It was so cool to see you perform live this summer with both bands, and chat with you as a fan, and now friend. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview for me, and your International fans.
MettleAngel: I do enjoy what you are doing, and I'm sure many other metal enthusiasts will, as well. Keep up the good work, and stay in touch.
MettleAngel: That sounds awesome, have a pleasant day.