It’s after midnight in Australia and with normal work still happening from home, it may be a little bleary eyed I face the day tomorrow, but it’s not often you get to speak to a person that has been a part of your life since you were nineteen, even though you have never met them in person. After a slight issue with passing calls, I get to chatting with Peter ‘Peavy’ Wagner, the driving force in the band that is Rage. Peter finds out that it is midnight here, which is the other way around than the last chat we had.
Resurrection Day – the twenty fourth new album is almost ready for release. Has there been anything different in the approach to writing this album release to previous releases? “Pretty much the same as I always work. I had the basic ideas, the skeletons of the songs with a rough lyric concept. Everything was together by the end of 2019. Before we released the last one, Wings of Rage. Unfortunately, it was a bit chaotic, with the impact of the line-up change, Marcos (Rodriguez) had to leave the band and we got the new guys in. So, I just showed them my ideas, like I would’ve shown to Marcos. I was lucky with both new guys, they added some nice ideas to my stuff. I think the material worked out really good, it was the first time to work with them and they fitted very easily in to the whole thing. Of course, besides this, everything was normal…” (laughing)
Lyrically you have now twenty four albums, but still continue to create interesting lyrics which is one of what I consider to be the real strengths of Rage. I remember listening to Secrets in a Weird World the first time and being captivated by the lyrics of Without a Trace. There seems to be such a range of topics you’ve covered on this album, is there a particular story you want people to be aware of when listening to this album? “Before I start something, I don’t really think about what I can really achieve with this. I am just having some things in my head. You know anthropology is one of my big hobbies, and in this case this is where I get to write about the origin of where the world’s problems started from. Which is in the New Stone Age around ten thousand years ago. I have a lot of artefacts and bones from this period – my collection. This brought me to write about this point where the Neolithic explosion, when humans changed their lifestyle from being nomads, hunters, and collectors – living with nature. We changed our lifestyle to interfere into nature by settling down, breeding cattle, farming, all this stuff. This was just a little change of lifestyle, but it all led to all the problems we have nowadays. We have changed our environment and world that much; I think it’s an interesting thing. You know this is also described in the Old Testament of the bible, this scenery of paradise lost when Adam and Eve gets kicked out of Eden. I think this is a parable, the picture that describes this moment. I’m not sure if too many people are aware of where this all comes from today, why we have all this habit to change our environment and to interfere into everything. So, I thought that may be a good topic to write about.
This album shows that Rage is not slowing down in anyway – over thirty years of writing and performing. What drives you and motivates you to be so prolific with your albums. “It’s astonishing, twenty six albums (counting Avenger) all in all and within thirty seven years. Because we were active and there were no breaks between. That’s a good question, why am I? I am happy that I have this creativity, more than five hundred songs written, of course not all of them have gotten to release. I have written a lot more of those, not every song has been released over the years. It’s a gift and I am really happy that I have this, and I am able. What is driving me is basically, it’s not because I’m getting rich with this… (both of us laugh) I can make a living with this, cannot afford too much, have my house and a car, and the standards are affordable. I’m not a millionaire as some people might think. Making this kind of music, it’s a smaller audience compared to what you get in pop music. But however, I love this music, and this was always important for me to do it. For the love of the music and I don’t know what else could I do. Even if I had a different job, I would still write these songs, I would still try to record and perform them. So, I’m really blessed I can make a living from this, from my biggest passion”.
Rage has been a four-piece band several times throughout their history, and great albums like XIII, Black In Mind and End of All Days were the result. Why was it the right time to bring it back? “Another good question, probably it’s just a coincidence. When I had the line up with (Victor) Smolksi and (Mike) Terrana, the guy intended on being the only guitarist in the band. After XII, the line-up changed from the four-piece to the three-piece and he intended to be the only guitar player and I got used to it over so many years. I think it was about twenty years we were a trio. Even after he was fired, and I got Marcos in the band I was so used to having this three-piece line up that I didn’t really think about being different. But now as we orientated more to these albums in the nineties, like Black in Mind, End of All Days that you’ve mentioned already… this kind of stylistic would be orientated more, even in the years with Marcus, so the idea came up of “Why don’t we add a second guitar player as we are playing this stuff in our live sets all the time.” I remember for one tour, we played the complete Black in Mind album a couple of years ago, we had already a guest guitar player to play the stuff properly on stage.
Then the discussion came up again in 2019, when we worked on Wings of Rage, and we got the idea to ask Stefan (Weber). He was playing in Marcus’s second band at this point, he had a Dio cover band called Dio Legacy, Stefan was the guitar player in this band and Marcos was just singing. We already had the idea, but then Wings of Rage still came out as a three-piece. So, we said after we toured for this album in the first part of the tour, then we will ask Stefan. In between these concerts, Marcos had things that forced him, in the end, to leave the band. It made him really sad, it was such a shame, he’s a great guitar player who is my friend. However, then Stefan was already in the discussions, so I asked him to join the band and then as Marcos had to leave, we replaced him with Jean (Bormann). I have to say I am lucky with both guys, they work together really good, they accept each other, there are no egos or competition which makes it very easy to work with. They help each other and share everything; you can hear it on the album that there is great respect between the guys. How they added their ideas into my song skeletons, it is very cooperative, I think”.
I was going to ask how they were fitting in with you and Lucky? I did see the streamed performance from Essen and on the new album, you can hear them play off each other. It’s like they are different sides to the one coin. “Actually, they are playing both, on each song. Both are playing rhythm guitars, not like some other bands where one guy is doing his thing and the other just doubles it. The other guy is playing the other song, some bands work like this. We actually have both guys playing on their song and they are so good with each other that you can hardly hear this”.
One of the things for me about Rage is that while your albums are heavy and thrashy, the songs have amazing melody throughout. I particularly love the orchestral strains on some of the songs on Resurrection Day. This is yet another collaboration with Pepe Herrero, he must be great to work with? “Exactly, Pepe is a fantastic musician, and he comes from Madrid in Spain. We already worked with him; he was the conductor of our Lingua Mortis Orchestra. We played a full tour over here in Europe with his full orchestra. Pepe helped us on Wings of Rage with some orchestration and for this new album I gave him full freehand for the four songs that he orchestrated. He did a fantastic job, I have to say he is really a very professional and outstanding musician, specialising in this kind of stuff. He works with all big Spanish music acts, like not only metal. More traditional music, he works with all the classical orchestras there, and there’s this one big singer who’s like the Spanish Madonna, Mónica Naranjo. She’s huge over there, playing only the big stadiums. He does all the orchestra for her, so he’s pretty good in the business, he doesn’t need to do something for a small band like Rage when you look at who his customers are. But he’s a big fan of the band. He told me once that he came into becoming a musician through our album XIII and it was a very big influence on him. So, it’s a very nice and respectful relationship working with him”.
It’s another layer to Rage’s songs and what makes them what they are. “Yeah I try to give the music what it needs, sometimes the songs need more than just a simple phase. It also needs a bit bigger painting… A song is like a painting”.
Live music is starting to kick off a bit more in Europe now after COVID 19 brought all to a halt. How much are you looking to get out on the road again? Noting that you have done a couple of shows recently… “Yeah, we have done a few shows, a few have already been cancelled again. The people in Wacken Open Air wanted to do – it’s called Bullhead City, it’s cancelled already. Which made me really sad as it would have been right on our release date of our album. Unfortunately, now it’s not happening, nobody’s sure over here in Europe what exactly will happen this Autumn this year. Depends on the whole situation, how many people get vaccinated. We still have too big number of people refusing to get vaccinated, I think we are about sixty to seventy per cent but it’s not enough that the pandemic will be controllable. So, we don’t really know what is going to happen, if there’s still going to be restrictions which would make tours impossible. Or if we pull down all the restrictions because the situation gets better, this could also happen. We’re hoping it’s going to get better, and we can be able to get on the road. We have set up a tour for November, December already. Let’s see what happens, we would love to, and we need to, we haven’t been playing for such a long time. This is the basic for a band, for a metal band, to be on the road and playing for the fans. Let’s knock on wood”.
So, if you do get your tour, what of the new songs are you keen to bring into the live arena? “The title track, Virginity and Monetary Gods“.
The other one that really caught my interest, was Travelling Through Time, a very different sound. Where did you come up with that as it was very different to anything I’ve heard from Rage before? “This is based on an Italian renaissance composer, Giorgio Mainerio, so it’s an old classic. I played it on my acoustic guitar to Jean and he also liked it, we had a few ideas of how to make a metal song out of this. When Jean was doing the drum programming, he started to work on it and he got something wrong with the rhythm and when he played it, it sounded even better than the original idea. The track developed and when it got cut back to its origins, fantastic orchestration form Pepe. So, it’s based on classical music, a track from the renaissance. I’m happy it worked out like this, because in the beginning we weren’t sure if we could release this but at least we gave it a try…”
Last time we spoke there was talk of bringing Rage to Australia, obviously with the current situation that isn’t going to happen anytime soon until the world improves? Will us Aussies ever get to see you guys on our shores (once we open back up to the world of course)? “Yeah I’m also hoping”.
Alright we’ve gone a little over time, so I had better say goodbye. Thank you very much for taking the time out to talk with us on Sentinel Daily. i Really love the new album, and hopefully everything will get sorted, you’ll get your tour in and we will get to see you one day in Australia. “Yeah, that will be great. All my best wishes and greetings to all the Australian fans that get to hear or read this”.
Rage’s Resurrection Day is out on September 17th; Read Paul Kerr‘s review of the album HERE