Moscow, April 20, 2002
We never expected to see Rage here again after the disastrous show they played in Moscow two years ago and accompanying troubles like a tour bas crash leaving their drum tech nearly dead and the local promoter doing nothing to help him get an insurance. We're not mentioning the sound of that show which was the worst we've heard from a foreign band in Moscow. Even when the new gig was announced it was hard to believe that it would happen, but nevertheless, it happened and we're really glad it did - it was by all means a worthwhile experience. Probably the most exciting thing for us was the news conference that took place in the morning before the show in a very comfortable basement of a new record store of the Soyuz chain. MetalKings.com had already had an opportunity to interview guitarist Victor Smolski, but as to his bandmates Peavy Wagner and Mike Terrana, it was our first chance to get to know them in person (a brief encounter at the signing session at Wacken last summer does not count). Even though the band's upcoming album is called "Unity", they are all very different people and it's surprising how they can stay together. Victor is always calm and self-assured, he always knows what to say and has a solid opinion on everything. Peavy produces an impression of a very modest and even somewhat shy person, even despite his size and role in the band. Mike is the loudest and noisiest one in Rage, he's making fun of everything, cracking jokes and catching everyone's attention all this time. Maybe the three are a perfect combination, but we'll have to see how long it is going to work. The news conference gathered a considerable number of reporters, but strangely enough, almost all of them were sitting silently having no idea of what to say. Yours truly had to save the show and ask as many questions as we could, which we gladly did for it was our intention anyway. Here are excerpts from the news conference, the most interesting parts in our opinion.
Q: Peavy, is it true that you were a satanist in the Avenger times or it was an image?
Peavy (confused): I was a true pagan! (everyone laughs) No, not really, it was more like a joke for us. We didn't really expect to make a record with this.
Q: This one goes to Peavy as well. What happened to Rage during a U.S. tour in 1987? I heard that you got imprisoned.
Peavy (again confused): Where did you get this information from? It's not true.
Q: A question to Mike. How did you join the band Squealer, is it a permanent project and will you continue with it?
Mike (obviously not pleased with the question): The Squealer project, I just play drums on it, I'm not a band member. I've made a lot of records like that, people call me to play drums and they pay me, so I come and I play. I play for the "dengi" (Russian for "money" - ed.) (everyone laughs).
Victor: In fact, people often take some studio work for a new band, especially in Mike's case. In fact, it is just regular studio work, we are always engaged in some studio projects, it happens every two months.
Q: Both Victor and Mike have a lot of side projects, but what about you, Peavy? Are you planning to release a solo album or take part in some project?
Peavy: Basically I'm very lazy. I really have a lot of work with Rage, at the moment I'm concentrating on the new album, but I think about doing a solo release somewhere in the future. But this is really pushed far away so far, I'm just collecting songs at the moment that I can't use for the band, as now I have to share this with Victor. Half of my songs are not used anymore like before, and I can use them for something else later.
Q: Rage albums before 1995 had no slow songs or ballads at all. Is it true that Noise President Carl Ulrich Walterbach disliked slow songs and would not allow to include them in your albums?
Peavy: Yeah, it's half and half. On the one hand, he actually didn't like his bands to play ballads, it was not only us, he basically tried to make all his bands not to play ballads. But on the other hand, for some reason we didn't like ballads at that time. Our first try was on "Missing Link", we tried to do a half-acoustic song, but it did not come out that great, it was only a Japanese bonus track ("Another Kind Of Madness") in the end. The first real good ballad that I thought was worth to release on a record was "All This Time", it was written by chance basically.
Victor: In fact, no record company can ban a musician from writing something. The musician is always the one who decides.
Q: What is the meaning of three symbols on the "Unity" album cover?
Peavy: These three symbols symbolize characteristic features of each of the members of the band. We all chose them really for ourselves, chose what we liked the most. I took the yan for my symbol, it is an Egyptian symbol for eternal life. I don't know what Mike's symbol means, it's also always on his T-shirts. Victor chose his initials, you should ask him for what reasons. Basically, it's what we all liked originally.
Mike (in a slow and powerful voice remaining a bit of Joey DiMaio in his most glorious moments): My symbol dates back to the ancient Celtic times. It's a kind of interwoven triangle which is a form of protection. And I think that when you play heavy metal, you need to be protected. So that's why I protected myself. (breaks down, changes to a more casual tone). Ah anyway, I like John Bonham and he had these circles on the bass drum. I think John Bonham is one of the coolest drummers in the world, not as sexy as me, but he's pretty damn good anyway. (laughter in the audience) So I stole that idea, I think that if you're gonna steal, steal from the best, and I made this my symbol. Now I will hand the microphone over to my Russian friend Victor and he would describe his symbol.
Victor: In fact, there is a man in my T-shirt standing over there. And this symbol is based on that design. (the man was wearing a T-shirt with the cover of Victor's solo album "The Heretic" - ed.)
Q: A question to Peavy, there is a picture on your website that is an advertisement of Rage's joint gig with the Russian metal band Kruiz. Where and when did this tour take place? Do you have any remembrances of that?
Peavy: It wasn't a tour, only a single show in Saburden (??? - ed.), Germany. It must have been in 1989, I think. I hardly remember anything about it, it's too long ago. I just remember that they were great musicians.
Q: Another question to Mike. You took part in the recording of Artension's latest album. Is there a future for this band, and are they ever going to play live?
Mike: I don't know if Artension will ever tour, there was a talk of doing something in Japan, but it never happened. As far as doing another record, I will do the next record. For me I find it interesting to play with different artists like Artension or something because it helps me become a better drummer, it's good exercise for me, you know what I mean? It's one of the reasons I do it aside from the money, it's always a pleasure to work with different artists and learn from them. The keyboard player in that band is also a Russian guy, and he's a very good keyboard player, very talented, it's difficult to play his music, that's all I can say.
Q: You experimented with industrial sound on the "XIII" record, for instance in the song "Heartblood". Do you consider the experiment a failure or will you do something like that in the future?
Peavy: What do you mean "industrial sound"? There are some metal effects on this, there were some metal banging sounds, but I don't really see it as an industrial experiment (laughs). We're still trying to develop some unique sounds and on the new record there are also some special sounds and effects, but it's not really this Rammstein direction or whatever.
Q: Does "Unity" have a certain lyrical concept?
Peavy: There is no concept story behind "Unity", the main difference from the previous albums is that most of the lyrics are very angry and aggressive, and as to the music, the album is also a lot more aggressive than the previous one. The title "Unity" was a suggestion from Mike to point out that we've developed a sort on unity in this band, we're three individuals as embodied by these symbols, but we're united in one.
Q: One more question to Peavy. Do you know what previous band members are doing, I mean, Rudy Graf and Jochen Schroeder?
Peavy: I know what Jochen Schroeder is doing. He relocated back to his home town, were Rage come from, he's working as an architect or something like that, he's completely out of the music business. I haven't heard anything from Rudy since years. I think last time I saw him was when he played a solo for "10 Years In Rage", which is already 10 years ago. I don't know if he's still alive or not.
Following the news conference we had an opportunity to talk with Mike a little bit more. We found out the story of his acquaintance with Ferdy Doernberg, keyboardist and mastermind of Rough Silk. We also found out that singer Tomas Ludolphy had just left Rough Silk and that they were going through major line-up changes. It's really a pity that such an incredible band always has so many problems on its way up.
OK, now let's pass on to the show that occurred the following evening and just blew our minds away. Unlike what Victor promised in our interview, there were no opening acts, it was just Rage coming out at 8:00 p.m. and raising hell. The show concentrated heavily on the material from the band's latest album "Welcome To The Other Side", which was a great thing, for new songs definitely sounded better than the few old ones. Probably the reason is that Mike and Victor did not even try to play close to the original parts, and Peavy's voice sounds very different these days. As a result, songs like "Solitary Man" and "Firestorm" become hardly recognizable and very, very difficult to accept for a die-hard and long-time fan! Another reason is the mixing that brought forward the bass and drums and drowned the guitar. Such a mix would make even a very familiar song totally different. As a result, the new songs were the ones that we enjoyed the most - "Paint The Devil On The Wall", "Back In Time", "Straight To Hell", "Deep In The Night" (finally I hear that live!) and even "Sister Demon" (introduced by Peavy as "Sister Terrana", by the way). Rage even played three songs from the upcoming album "Unity" - heavy and sophisticated epic "Dies Irae" with a sampled choir, downright smasher "Down" (can't wait to hear it on the CD!) and an instrumental tune called "Unity", the demonstration of each band member's capacities where Mike Terrana shined. His nearly 10-minute drum solo was the most impressive I've ever seen, and probably the first I really perceived as an independent number, not a filler to lest other bandmembers rest a little. Victor performed a decent solo as well, and as to Peavy, he limited himself with some bass improvisations around the themes of "Run To The Hills" and some Rolling Stones. The crowd's response was fantastic, the audience was very loud even according to Russian standards (and they are very high in this sphere), which was especially noticeable on the traditional closing tune "Higher Than The Sky". When the band dared to leave the stage for the first time, the noise was so loud that I was afraid the roof may fall, and of course Rage returned to play "Overture" from the album "XIII" and one of my favourites, "From The Cradle To The Grave". This was continued by a bizarre cabaret-like version of "Don't Fear The Winter" (the way it is done by Russian cover artist Kirill Nemolyayev on his acoustic album "Comic Verses") and the grand finale - "?Winter" in its original form. What shall we say to sum it up? Sound-wise, Wacken's gig was considerably better, but it was way too short. This time the band played long enough (2 hours) without losing a single bit of intensity and both the musicians and the audience were much more enthusiastic. After all, a great night and I hope that the band would fulfill its promise and return around Christmas for a one-off gig with orchestra. Man, that would be the blast of a lifetime!
2. Paint The Devil On The Wall
3. The Mirror In Your Eyes
4. Back In Time
5. Dies Irae
6. Solitary Man
8. Days Of December
9. Unity (feat. drum solo)
10. Sent By The Devil
12. Deep In The Night
13. Lunatic (feat. guitar solo)
14. Sister Demon
15. Straight To Hell
16. Higher Than The Sky
18. From The Cradle To The Grave
19. Don't Fear The Winter (chanson edition)
20. Don't Fear The Winter (heavy version)
Special thanks to Adam Belyayev (GOST Music) and Maxim Bylkin (Soyuz Music) for accreditation at the show and news conference.