Rock Out Stand Out’s Martin White recently sat down with RAGE lead vocalist/bassist Peavy Wagner about the new album Resurrection Day and how things have been during the pandemic.
Hi Peavey, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today at Rock Out stand Out. Firstly, how are things for you?
Good, good, everything is fine, busy with interviews haha!
I can imagine so! It’s been just over a week since the release of the new album Resurrection Day, how has the album been received?
Really, really good. Better than the last one, we entered the German official album charts at Number 14, that’s the best number we ever made so far. And yeah, it’s starting to go everywhere in the world, you know more chart entries wherever and the reactions, are really good I have to say. Even better than we were hoping for!
I really enjoyed the album myself as I reviewed it myself for Rock Out Stand Out as well, did really enjoy it, so yeah awesome work.
So obviously you have got a new line-up for this record, to me it sounds like you have been playing together for years. Was the album title of Resurrection Day chosen because you are now utilising two guitarists again once more in Rage or just because of the new line-up. Or is it more in relation to the world renewing itself and starting to return to some level of normality?
So, it has nothing to do with the line-up or so with the pandemic. Actually, I had the story that runs through the lyrics like a red line going through the lyrics. I had this already for the end of 2019 and let me say it’s kind of a philosophical view of the cultural evolution of mankind from stone age to now. You know 10,000 years ago man changed its behaviour very drastically from living as nomads with nature, to becoming farmers settling down and gathering, and possess things you know and all these problems we have nowadays, like the climate change, overpopulation, the wars, everything. It roots back to these times in my opinion. So, the Resurrection Day is the creation right now where we have it in our hands. If you want, how we can come out of this crisis situation. Are we coming out in a good way like a resurrection, or if we just, you know fall down and erase things.
So it’s purely coincidental then with regards to the line-up change.
Yeah this was just pure coincidence. I had no idea when I had the concept of the album would happen. It was all too surprising for us that Marcus (ex-guitarist) would have to go last year in April. He told me he could no longer continue playing with me because of very drastic private problems that caused him to move back to Tenerife where he originally came from. It had nothing to do with the band or the music. It was really a private thing, but we are still friends, I promised him to not put this out in public what were his reasons. It has nothing to do with the band, for him it was the worst thing you know. He really had to give up his dearest thing I have to say, and I am sorry for him and wish him all the luck possible.
As you mentioned the leaving of Marcus from the band. We recently found out about the passing of Jochen (Former Avenger and Rage guitarist and co-founder) so both myself and ROSO offer our condolences to yourself and his loved ones. I was wondering if there was a track from your back catalogue that instantly reminds you of him and what is your best memory of him is as a player with the band and/or a special memory on tour?
I have lots of good memories of Jochen. Actually when we started with the band. I joined them 3 months after they signed up to do this band. It was back in 1982 towards the end of 82 when I joined. He was basically the founder of the band I would have to say, he and the other guitar player in the band of the first line-up Alf. I joined the guys 3 months later or so. And I was a bit younger than him. I was like 16/17 or so and he was already 20, so he was 3 years older than me. He already had a car you know? Haha. He was kind of protecting me a little bit and helping me get into everything. He was like a mentor. Maybe everybody knows in his life, people kind of have a key position, that if you would not have met this guy you would have gone a completely different way and maybe everything in your life wouldn’t have happened in this way. He was definitely one of those people who was a key person for me. Unfortunately, we all had lost the contact with him as he was isolating himself from public, in the last years. We all lost contact and had no clue how to reach him anymore. I heard later from his family that what happened with him so it’s a sad story and what can I say, I miss him.
Understandably so, especially someone that took you under his wing and helped you become the person you are today, so you have a lot to thank him for.
I guess I owe him a lot, and may he rest in peace and wherever he walks.
Exactly, may he continue to play guitar wherever he is and rock out and stay metal. If you could pick one song from your back catalogue that instantly reminds you of him, what song would that be?
Song that is typically for Jochen would be Grapes of Wrath (Execution Guaranteed from the 1987 Album by Rage). It’s an instrumental and it shows perfectly the kind of weird thoughts, musical thoughts and ideas that he had. Kind of weird topics but still remembering a good melody but it’s very weird you know? If I would think of Jochen then I would listen to this one haha.
We will be sure to share that one with our readers too. I see you have some European shows confirmed for over the next couple of months and leading into next year too, are you looking forward to getting back on the road and playing the new material?
Well it would be great, haha! We of course are still in hope haha! Depends on if it will happen like 2020 plans. The pandemic situation in Germany is still not perfect we have the vaccinations at 60 something % which is not enough so we cannot have like you did in Britain this freedom day as I remember?
To an extent yes, some of us are still you know being very cautious and such forth.
Sure, we still have a lot of restrictions here and it depends on how the situation will be in two months or so on if we can play all the shows like we planned. Or we have to push it again to next year in Spring. However, we already have a Plan B if its not working we already have dates for I think April or so. But so far, we are still in good hope that we can do it.
Fingers crossed that it does go ahead for you guys anyway. Peavy, I believe you are also known as “Dr Bones” can you explain to our readers how that came about?
Dr Bones? Haha! Because I have a huge skull and bones collection. Bones are my passion, if I hadn’t of been a musician, I definitely would have been a taxidermist. I did taxidermy when I was young and specialise in bone preparations, skeleton mounting, and casting. I make casts of skulls and you see there (Peavy then pans the camera around to show some of his skulls in preparation) it’s all there amongst the *hit I am just working constantly. In all my spare time I am working on this *hit. It’s not to make money for me its more an extended hobby. I do of course something when I do real good works for example for zoos, when they have a school there and they sometimes ask me if I can prepare a skeleton or skeleton’s of the animals that have died there for them and suppose I get something for this.
That’s really insightful.
However, this is not my first job. My first job is, if you want to call it a job! My first thing in life is music and everything else comes after this.
What is your favourite item in your bone collection?
Haha! You know this is really extensive that I have here, its huge haha! To just pick one piece would be not fair I guess! I have lots of stuff this goes from fossils, through to a big human collection, an animal collection and it has really big skeletons. I have an elk here (Peavy then pans the camera round to show a show a skeleton of an elk) I have an elk skeleton although you cannot really see it too good here. However, haha.
So you love them all equally?
Yeah, and it’s constantly coming in as I go out and such haha!
Have fans ever given you any bones as a gift or anything?
Yes, fans that know about my collection, give me presents sometimes. I remember in Japan, there was a fan. Her father was also a taxidermist and she gave me a bear skull from a moon bear which is an Asian bear. In case I struggled to bring it through, I asked to see if she could give me the paperwork for it. The permission to ship it out. Before we headed home she was able to arrange this for me. Otherwise it would have stayed and I wouldn’t have been able to take it out of Japan haha!
Going back to the new release, the opening track gave me goosebumps and instantly put a smile on my face, the transition of Memento Vitae into Resurrection Day worked beautifully. How much direction did you give Pepe for the overture and towards the symphonic compositions or do you give him free reign?
Both! I had of course some rudimental ideas, I told him that I wanted to use a theme of the chorus of Resurrection Day for Memento Vitae. We would have this kind of snare drum thing in it going on but all in all, I gave him the most possible freedom to compose it the way he thinks would be good. Because he is a real professional in this more than I could be. So it would be stupid for me if I were to give him too much instructions haha. I could only make it bad!
Are there any plans to perform with the Lingua Mortis Orchestra again in the future?
Yeah, there should. Initially you know the next release of the band will the 40th Anniversary of the band in 2024 which is not so long away now. So, we actually thought about not only having, only one album but maybe have a double album. Where we have a complete or a bigger part that is fully orchestrated with lots of guests you know? So, lots of ideas so far, nothing is really perfect at the moment but we are discussing this already with how it’s going to look like. You can imagine that we are going to do something bigger with this one.
So that was a bit of a teaser for us then, we will keep that on the quiet!
I did get to see you guys back at Wacken with the Lingua Mortis Orchestra I think back in 2007 you did the song No Regrets and such?
Yeah, that one, I actually played 3 times at Wacken with the orchestra!
Yeah, it was certainly 2007, a long time ago.
It was one of them, I remembered this was also released on a DVD as a bonus DVD on the Carved In Stone album.
I really enjoyed how you reworked the classical piece for Traveling Through Time, so how did the decision come to adapting this with a heavy metal injection that Rage do so well?
This was also a coincidence initially. This musical theme I knew since I was nine or so when I first started to learn classical guitar. It was one of my practices. For instance, I played it to Jean (guitarist) when the lockdown was really hard, and here in Germany we couldn’t meet in person. So, we exchanged ideas on the computer on Zoom etc. We were just hanging out in front of the screen and playing a little bit to each other. We were just playing this and it wasn’t really a plan. I already had a couple of ideas to this theme but I never thought it would fit to Rage. So, I told him “I don’t think it makes sense to work on this” and he was like “yeah but I like it! Just give it over to me what you have.” I gave it to him and forgot about it, and he started to work on it. For some reason he misunderstood me a little about the rhythm of the whole thing, so he set the rhythmic structure a bit different to what I had initially. But when he played the demo to me, I liked it even more than my original ideas. It was the basics for what we worked on for the song. In the end the orchestration came in too and brought it back to its origin. In the end I was really convinced that it would fit for Rage. Still at the time when we were working on it I was like, no okay let’s see if we can kick it out around again, haha!
Sometimes, you need to be bold and do things differently, but it’s the joys of working with different musicians, you get the different input.
Yeah, sometimes its an experiment to release stuff that you are not sure of. If it really fits or if the fans will accept it or so. And if you do not give it a try you will never find out haha.
It’s also shared a classical piece with a modern audience too which keeps that music alive too, which can only be a good thing.
Actually, Rage, is not the first artist to have something with this theme. It is still very popular in Italy where that classical composer comes from. He came from the Renaissance age and I know that many Italian artists, especially in the folk scene they already work a lot with this theme so we are not the first haha!
Maybe the first in metal perhaps?
First in metal probably yeah, haha!
Are there any specific classical composers that you draw inspiration from?
Oh yeah, plenty, plenty. I like these deep dark Russian composers Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov the piano virtuoso, really is the stuff that inspired me. Bach of course, because I guess no classical guitar player is really. You cannot be a classical guitar player without loving Bach. It’s the hardest *hit to play on the instrument but it’s also the most fulfilling stuff. It’s amazing how he composed. What else? Also, modern stuff like Arnold Schoenberg the German composer that did a lot in twelve tone music. But I wouldn’t say it is the inspiration for the metal songs. I like this kind of stuff but its too weird. This would be good inspiration for Dream Theater and these kind of bands haha!
Were the themes for Resurrection Day as an album you mentioned this was already in your creative pipeline before the outbreak of the pandemic, or were they an outlet for you?
Some of the basic ideas I had already be the end of 2019 that was when it started. It was already planned that we would work on it after we started the first part of the tour which was last year in February. Then the pandemic broke out and everything started with the *hit you know? When the departure of Marcus happened, we had to push it back a bit. First, we had to find new members, new guitar players and rehearse the live set with the guys. But as we couldn’t go back on tour in the beginning, we thought everything would be fine and we can start touring again so we learned all the live songs haha! But we couldn’t use it and we were all a bit disappointed about it, oh *hit, we are still in lockdown, cannot play, all the festival are cancelled. So, what can we do with the time? Let’s start working on new stuff, what else can we do and it’s the best we could do and how to use this time. Otherwise, Resurrection Day would have been delayed and would have come out a bit later like next year. If we would have had the time to tour that is! I guess this pandemic hit all the plans for the bands haha. We were not the only ones!
I think it’s good in a way, like yourselves there has been so many new releases that have come out so in a way it is a blessing for fans of music that there is so much to digest.
It is astonishing. It looks like everybody really used the time to write the songs. Now one and a half years later, everything comes out all at once!
I thought the album was essentially a greatest hits of Rage. Utilising all the elements that define you as a band such as blending symphonic elements with thrash/speed metal and having full on metal tracks too. Was the album intended to be done this way or was it just how it happened?
So, all these elements are part of the Rage sound. We have symphonic elements since 1996, with Lingua Mortis. Since then it’s been a part of the stylistic range of the band and it was a plan to bring all of these elements into one album. I guess we kind of made one giant mix that works, I hope so! haha.
As I said, I did find it worked like a greatest hits of Rage throughout the years, not in a sense of tracks from other albums but the bits and pieces and merging them together so.
If it appears like a greatest hits, then yeah it brought all the elements that the band is known for.
During the pandemic as we have mentioned it has been incredibly difficult for everyone including bands, we at Rock Out Stand Out also promote mental health awareness. What would be your advice to promote a healthy mindset be?
During this situation or in general?
Why do you just ask me? I am mentally insane anyway! Haha. Yeah, I myself a big problem with depression sometimes. It’s not that bad that I would go and kill myself but I sometimes have bad days. I don’t know, what can I advise? I am still struggling with myself. Yeah, don’t avoid contact, and have good friends. For me, my help is my band. They always pull me out of the *hit when everything falls down. I can just call my drummer who is my best friend. We talk for an hour or so and things really are better. It’s what I would do. I don’t know if you can mention this in general to everybody but for me it works. Don’t hide in yourself, don’t struggle with your mind. Just talk. Of course you have to, have someone that is willing to talk to you. Some people do not have it though, some people are really lonely and don’t have anybody to talk to, which is a big problem.
Thank you for sharing your own experiences and sorry to hear you are going through your own problems too, I am glad you have got people around you to be able to talk to which is a good thing.
Maybe that is the reason I started doing the band? A bit of self-therapy haha. What else I would suggest is to write a song, it is a good thing for me, and I know not everyone can write songs but for me if you can do this then just do it, get creative.
I know people that draw, and I used to write lyrics myself when I was younger when I used to jam with friends in a band, I can totally agree that it is a good creative outlet.
Something else that helps when you are really in the hole is maybe just get out in the green. Look at the green colour itself or get outside, it really helps, I think. Which sadly is *hitty advise when it’s Winter or when it rains haha!
Is there anything you would like to say to both our readers and the Rage fanbase?
Yes of course. I am very, very, grateful for the support from everybody. All the support from the people enables me to do what I am doing here, and it is a great gift. You cannot expect this from life. So, I am very grateful to everybody who supports and likes the band. Yeah, hopefully we are able to tour again and see some of you.
Peavey, thank you so much for your time to talk to us today it has been an absolute pleasure speaking to you, we wish you all the best for the upcoming live concerts and with the album too.
Resurrection Day is out now via SPV/Steamhammer