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Interview conducted June 5 2017
Interview published July 13 2017

"They want the band to have the typical sound that the band was known for in the 90's."

Bass player and vocalist Peavy Wagner and his Rage, which since 2015 also includes guitar player Marcos Rodriguez and drummer Vassilios "Lucky" Maniatopoulos, will put out a new record, Seasons Of The Black, on July 28th.

"We are preparing an album for Refuge."

Tobbe: If looking at today's standards, it wasn't really long ago since you released your last album [The Devil Strikes Again, Out June 10th 2016.]. So how come you have already a new album out now so soon?

Peavy: Yeah, that's more the standard of the 80's or the early 90's all right. But, you know, I come from that time and it's not really hard for me to do that and the situation in Rage now, with the boys that I work with, is so great at the moment that we're so inspired by each other. We're just writing songs constantly and we have way more stuff and ideas that we could release, you know.

The fact is: before the Devil album came out last year we already had, like, 5 or 6 new songs done and by October the new album, Seasons Of The Black, was completely written. So we decided "Okay. Let's just record it!", you know. As long as it's hot and inspired, you know. Better than wait for another two years and don't really know anymore what it was about, like "What do we have here?", you know.

Tobbe: Did you even have some ideas that were from a time even before The Devil Strikes Again? Like older ideas?

Peavy: Nearly all of the material from Seasons is completely new. There is one little skeleton idea in the long, 20-minute epic in the end of the album, The Tragedy Of Man. One part is called Bloodshed In Paradise and its skeletal, harmonic parts were left over from 21 [2012]. Everything else is completely new. It all happened after we wrote the Devil album.

Tobbe: When you sat down to write the songs, did you follow some kind of formula with the new songs, like really looking at the elements that made Rage to what it once was?

Peavy: We don't really have to take care of this and actually it just happens by itself. I'm so used to write stuff, which is the main reason to how Rage is known, you know. I can just write freshly and freely and when Marcos got into music and into playing guitar, Rage was one of his biggest influences, so his way of composing is very much influenced by my way of composing. That's the reason why it's so inspiring and the way it fits so good, you know.

You know how it is nowadays, with all this technology; you can just send a WhatsApp with a new idea or so, you know. This is a matter of a couple of minute or so and as soon as I write something… For example, I'm here alone at home, sitting in front of my fireplace and jam a little with my guitar, and I get an idea and I get some harmonic structure with some melody in it and I have a cool chorus and stuff, then I just record it quickly with my mobile phone and send it over to Marcos and to a 100 percent just 5 minutes later he will come back like "Yeah! Do that! It's a fucking good riff. It fits perfectly.", you know. It's really easy. The possibilities nowadays make it so easy to work together, even if you don't meet physically for rehearsal.

You know, 20 years ago you had to meet in a rehearsal room or in a studio to get into creativity mode and now you can do this wherever you are and whenever you want to, even if you wake up at 4 in the morning. Just send it on WhatsApp and see if he is awake or not, you know. Maybe he is awake and still in the studio playing guitar or so.

Tobbe: 23 albums. So where do you personally find that creativity to just put out album after album all the time?

Peavy: Oh, creativity, you have it or not, you know. I've been playing guitar since I was 9 years old or so. And I always was a songwriter, from the very first chord I could play and I wrote a song with just one chord, you know. [Laughs] I am constantly writing. If I wouldn't be a metal singer I would probably be a singer/songwriter or something, like Bob Dylan or whatever, you know. I am just writing constantly. It's a part of my life and it's a part of my personality, of my expression. No matter if I would make a living from this or not; if I would be, I don't know, a baker or whatever, I would still be writing songs.

The question was "Where does this creativity come from?". The creativity is always there, but I have a pretty good antenna to the universe to channel all this, all these ideas that are coming, and I know how to do it. I have a guitar everywhere, in every room, and as soon as some spark of an idea just comes flying I just grab the guitar and work on it. Not because I have to, but just because I want to. I'm always curious, "What is this? What was that in the back of my mind here?". I just wanna hear it, you know.

Tobbe: So you never feel any pressure at all to write songs?

Peavy: Absolutely no. This is not a job for me. There's no pressure. This is just pure pleasure and something like breathing, eating and drinking for me. And now the situation in the band, especially with Marcos who is my co-songwriter, is absolutely perfect and very productive.

Tobbe: But still, something must be challenging? Even for you. I mean, even if you have written so many albums, something must be challenging when you go into the process of making another record.

Peavy: Most challenging for me is always to bring out these songs that we wrote in a form so the world outside can listen to the ideas we have. It was and always is a challenge. It's not like a competition for me, that I wanna have the most albums recorded. It's basically the love for what we're doing. We're music freaks, you know. I am a music freak and I just want the world to hear this stuff that I have. Not to be a star or that everybody is, like, clapping or so, you know, or "Oh! You're so creative! You're so cool!, whatever, 'cause that's not the thing. This is a kind of communication for me.

Tobbe: As I guess many people have told you, you have kind of returned to an older Rage sound on the two last records and even if it's hard to predict, is this the type of sound we will hear from Rage from now on again?

Peavy: Surely. This is the way that I sound. There's no one around me anymore that is harming this and is changing it to his own idea or so. As Marcos and Lucky both are really freak fans of the band since their teenage days, they want Rage to sound like the way that comes out of me. They want the band to have the typical sound that the band was known for in the 90's. I'm pretty sure that all the future stuff coming out from this band will sound in this direction. It's not that we try to push it in some direction or so and this just happens naturally.

Tobbe: So this is the second album with the new lineup and in what way have you been able to build a stronger musical bond since the last record with the two new guys

Peavy: The musical bond was already absolutely strong before we got together, because both are my long-time friends. Lucky is my friend since 1988. [Laughs] And Marcos, we're friends since 10 years now. So the bond between each other and the personal and also the musical understanding was already very strong. So we didn't really need time to grow together, as we were already pretty much together when we started, you know. Of course, since we released the Devil album we've played around 100 shows together, so we are way more into it now, you know.

Tobbe: I guess you weren't really satisfied with the last couple of albums with Victor [Smolski, former guitarist] and he was maybe stifling you a little bit in your way of creating music and is that also a reason that you're putting out two albums so quickly? Like to really, really get back to the Rage style as fast as you can.

Peavy: Nah, you know, the first part of your question; I wasn't really unhappy with the albums and it was also a good output, but it was not that much my stuff anymore. Victor is a very demanding person and he just put his stamp on the whole thing more and more. For example, on the last album, 21 [2012], and also on the Lingua Mortis album [LMO, 2013], which were the last two productions I did with him, I couldn't find myself anymore. When I listened to the album it was more and more like "Yeah. It's a cool Smolski solo album that I'm singing on.". [Laughs] Even if there were still songs from me.

You know, he was taking those songs and modeled them in a direction he wanted them to have, but not the way that I would make them sound and not the way that I would arrange them. I don't wanna criticize him or so. He is like he is, so it's okay. But obviously he was just the wrong guy to work with me, or that I should work with, you know. As Rage is my band and if I cannot find myself anymore in my own band, then there's something wrong, you know. [Laughs]

Tobbe: But Victor and you and also Mike Terrana [Former drummer], like, 15 years ago, took Rage into some kind of revival almost, with albums like Unity and Soundchaser and those albums were very popular, so...

Peavy: At that phase this lineup worked really good. Especially, Mike Terrana had a good influence on Victor's ego. [Laughs] Yeah, I have to say, especially around Unity and Soundchaser, it was a pretty good working machine and a really good output. So you can always say that every lineup had its good times, you know.

Tobbe: But Rage is divided in, like, 3 parts. You know, you had the 80's with that kind of speed metal part, and then you had the heavy metal 90's, and then you have, like, the Victor stuff with more guitars.

Peavy: Of course, when you're working with new musicians the whole thing has to define itself as maybe something new, you know. When you start to work with a person that you don't know before, it's a kind of experiment and you never really know in which direction everything will develop.

Especially as it looked really good in the beginning with Victor and Mike, I was like "Okay. This could work for a long time." and I gave it a try, you know. Probably I gave it a try… maybe 2, 3 ,4 years too much, you know. [Laughs] This is not meant in a negative way and you know how life is. You can never really foresee what's coming and before you change something and before you end something, you still give it a try and "Maybe it gets better again?".

It's the same with a relationship with a woman, for example. You're married with someone and you're getting problems and the whole thing is getting difficult, then you don't just get divorced right away. You give it another try, or you go to a therapist or whatever. You split with the whole thing really at the last moment, when you realize there is absolutely no way to have a future with it, you know. That's how it was pretty much with the lineup before. But now I'm happy. I'm in a new relationship and I'm really happy. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Let's get back to the new album a bit. You have recorded a bunch of old Avenger songs from the Prayers Of Steel album [1985]. So why have you chosen to record those songs at this point?

Peavy: That was pretty much connected to the fact that we're gonna re-release the Avenger album, the Reign Of Fear album [1986] and the Execution Guaranteed album [1987]. They will come out in a box called The Early Years [Out June 30th], on my own label Dr. Bones. And when we worked with these re-releases we remastered everything and we went through all those old tapes with demo stuff and unreleased material from those phases.

So when we worked on the re-releases we just realized that those songs are really timeless, cool songs that just don't have the 100 percent shape that they should have had. Back when we recorded the Avenger album we were teenagers and this was our first steps in the music business. First time in the studio, you know, and we were not such good players as we are today, obviously. So we just imagined, like "How would this song sound if we would record it today?" and I said "Why don't we just do it? Let's pick out the best of those songs.".

So we picked out the 6 strongest songs, in our opinion, and re-recorded them and now we're gonna put them out as a separate bonus disc on the new album. And if you think about it, also history-wise, it makes absolutely sense because that stuff was released under a different band name and I guess a lot of younger fans don't really know about this material or don't really connect this to Rage. So, I think by re-recording them we brought these song kind of back into the Rage catalogue.

Tobbe: So out of all Rage records, give me a good reason why someone should buy Seasons Of The Black before buying one of your other records.

Peavy: Because it pretty much holds all the essential trademarks that this band ever was known for. It's a really good album. That's the main reason, you know. Of course, you can also buy Black In Mind [1995] or whatever, which is not less good, but just for having a good metal album, Seasons Of The Black is absolutely perfect, I would say. If you like this style of Rage, then you just gotta have it. It's a good album; it's not just another filler or so.

Tobbe: There is so much competition out there today and there are like thousands of metal bands, so what does Rage do to try to stay on the level that you're on?

Peavy: What can we do? I mean, honestly we have no chance than just releasing new albums and playing shows. That's the only thing we can do, like everybody else, you know. We just have to live with this competition. But the good thing is that we have true fans that have really stayed very true to the band over all these years. For example, when we released the Devil album last year I think it was a gap of at least 4 years from the 21 album, but we actually could hold our sales figures, you know. Which is totally rare nowadays, but it really shows how true fans we have. They really hold us align.

Tobbe: Do you see younger fans coming to the shows today too? Because a band of your generation have to gain new fans and you can't rely on your old fans all the time.

Peavy: It's always a challenge to get new fans, younger people, interested in the band. But this is mostly nowadays a promotion topic. We try to get more into the internet promotion, which is how most of the younger people inform themselves. So we can just try to modernize our promotion work, playing good shows and do good albums and in the end it spreads from mouth to mouth. That's the only thing you can do nowadays, you know. That's how it is and you just have to deal with the situation as it is.

Tobbe: And before we finish this off, just a couple of quick questions about Refuge: So, have you guys thought about increasing the number of gigs you play with Refuge, like playing a bit more often than you in fact do?

Peavy: Actually, at the moment we're nearly not playing at all. We have very few shows where we switch over between the Rage lineup and the Refuge lineup and play a couple of songs with Manni Schmidt, guitar] and Chris [Efthimiadis, drums]. This is just for our own fun basically. We're a big family, you know.

But we're not really that active in the live section at the moment, because we are writing new songs now. We are preparing an album for Refuge. We have 8 new tracks ready; really great stuff. So the plan is to enter the studio by September/October this year and record the new album with Refuge. You know, the The Missing Link [1993] follow up. [Laughs] We have a new deal with Frontiers Records and we suggested that we have everything done by June next year.

Tobbe: So those songs will sound more like the early 90's?

Peavy: It sounds a bit different to the Rage material nowadays. It's obviously a bit more vintage, just because of Manni's playing style, as he plays a completely different, more older technique style and of course also of his input mixed with my ideas, you know. This gives the original feeling we had on albums like Trapped! [1992], for example. We always had, like, songs that, for example The Body Talks, that were a bit unusual, you know. We are pretty open minded with adding different styles into the stuff. It's gonna sound pretty much like what we did in the early 90's with this lineup.

See also: review of the album Seasons Of The Black

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