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Interviews : “Australia is the part of the world I haven’t been so far” – An interview with Peavy Wagner (Rage)

By on August 18, 2017

Rage – Peavy Wagner

Rage’s front man, bassist and vocalist extraordinaire Peavy Wagner might need some introduction to the Australian audience.

Australia is the part of the world I haven’t been so far, and I’m really curious! I hope we can make it next year. We found a serious promoter now for Australia so it looks really good. We’re going to world tour for this new album, so we hope to see you in March”.

Peavy has been producing thrash inspired heavy metal for over three decades, he has managed to publish no fewer than 35 studio albums and EP’s with a few live recordings offered for good measure. The latest offering is called Seasons of the Black and continues in the vein of modern sounding metal from classic metal bands that fans of Teutonic legends Accept and Blind Guardian would certainly enjoy.

How does Wagner describe the album?

(Seasons of the Black) is a twin to its predecessor, The Devil Strikes Again from last year. We wrote both albums pretty much in the same room, and recorded the stuff right away, so that’s the reason why we’re out quick with this one. I want to say it has great riffing, great choruses, great melodies and a pretty natural sound with it, all the good trademarks from Rage are featured here”

When I reviewed Seasons of the Black for the publication you are reading, I mentioned that previous guitarist Victor Smolski, left rather large boots to fill as he set the narrative for Rage’s guitar sound since 2001’s Welcome to the Other Side. Much like Tankard’s superb guitarist in residence, Andreas Gutjahr, Marcos Rodriguez’s performance on the album is reliant on his excellent picking technique that locks in nicely with the ‘Cliff Williams-after-dark’ bass playing of Wagner.

Replacing a guitarist as identifiable as Smolski could not have been an easy transition… or was it?

(Rodriguez) is a long-time friend of mine, we were friends for 15 years already, same as wizard drummer “Lucky” (Vassilios Maniatopoulos), he’s my friend since 1998, and it’s a completely different situation in the band now as we’re working as friends together. This is not this thing, kind of like professionals trying to make a job together like it was before. This is a family thing now, also (Rodriguez) and Lucky have known each other for ages. So, we’re really personally very close. It’s such a great pleasure for us to make this music together, especially as they’re both a bit younger than me and they grew up with Rage. They always loved this band, and so it’s so great for them that they can contribute to the history of Rage.”

The history of Rage includes a very interesting episode involving strings and orchestration accompanying the bands brand of metal. That was in 1996 via the album Lingua Mortis which contained songs interwoven with orchestration provided by none other than the world class Prague Symphony Orchestra. I made the point to Wagner that I found it interesting that Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield would go on to release an album using the same concept over three years later and muse that the Rage offering is a much stronger statement of metal and orchestra. Coincidence or just a sign of the times?

Wagner offers a frank appraisal of my comment.

We released the Lingua Mortis album, this was before Metallica and all the other bands were doing this kind of stuff. I don’t really know, I never talk to Lars Ulrich about it, but I can imagine that he might have listened to this, and might have been an inspiration for the band. Of course, I don’t really know, I never spoke to him. I just know that he was collecting all these European bands and stuff, so probably he has heard it. However, at the moment, we concentrate with Rage on the metal side of the band, but this is also a topic for the future again. We might have to create some shows with orchestra in the upcoming years. I always saw this like a special event thing. This is probably not a constant art of the Rage sound, but it’s a kind of event thing.”

Acknowledging that Deep Purple released the Jon Lord arranged masterpiece, Concerto for Group and Orchestra way back in 1969 and that Japan’s X performed with an orchestra in 1991, Lingua Mortis is nonetheless a peerless example of the potential between the two disparate genres. I for one find Metallica’s S&M virtually unlistenable, so implore listeners to seek Lingua Mortis if symphony and classic metal sounds intriguing to you.

I do try and obtain insight from performers and musicians into their technique, so I mention to Wagner that he makes singing and playing the bass look easy such is the dexterity he displays on videos I have watched on You Tube. What advice does he have for those wanting to adopt his style of playing and technique?

Bass playing and singing together, you have to practice it out. I think it’s just a matter of practice. Of course, sometimes you have difficulties because you have different rhythmic phrases you have to do with the fingers than what you usually vocalize, but you can learn everything. Just check on Geddy Lee. This guy is doing it incredibly.”

Yes… Geddy Lee, or my personal numero uno, the simply astounding and virtuosic Mark King from UK funk/ pop outfit Level 42.

Wagner is a humble chap and was a joy to interview. I will certainly be in the crowd when he does come to Australia with Rage so fingers crossed the tour happens in 2018.

Click here to purchase your copy of ‘Seasons of the Black’ via Nuclear Blast Records.

‘Seasons of The Black’ out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of QLD. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @i_c_e_man