Peavy Wagner from RAGE talks about the new album, being live on stage again and the importance of the Neolithic period for mankind

Rage came to my attention in 1987 when the band released their second record ‘Execution Guaranteed’. Since then, Peavy Wagner and his powerful metal outfit unleashed 26 longplayer showing the importance and strong fanbase of the band. In all the years, Rage always stayed true to their sound while never standing still, just thinking about the Lingua Mortis time. With ‘Resurrection Day’, Rage has a new longplayer in the pipeline and it is interesting to get a few more insights from bandleader Peavy Wagner and here they are.

Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Last weekend you played a show in Ostrava at the Ostrava v plamenech festival. How was it after all the months without live shows to finally be on stage again?

Peavy Wagner: It was great, especially because it was such a big festival with about 5000 people. No rules of distancing and the people were jumping around in front of the stage like in the old days, something that had been completely forgotten. It was a big adrenaline rush for everyone. That was fun.

MHMB: I can imagine that, also because I think it was hard to stay in contact with the fans during the whole last months. That was probably a tough time for everyone.

Peavy: Yeah, tough. You could only keep in touch through the internet and what are you going to do there. Last summer we played a couple of streaming shows. We were able to do 2-3 Corona-compliant concerts, where only a few people were let in, and they had to sit in a beach chair. Or once we played in front of cars. That was not so overwhelming.

MHMB: But there are also positive things going on now. Not only that you can play live again, but you also have the new album in the pipeline. Soon you will release ‘Resurrection Day’. I think the name says it all, doesn’t it?

Peavy: The title, the whole basic concept of the record and most of the songs I had everything together already in December 2019, when there was no such a thing called a pandemic. It was already planned to make an album with that title and the songs were for the most parts already fixed, at least in their raw version. So, the album did not become the way it is because of the pandemic, and neither did the title, as you might assume.

MHMB: It fits nevertheless super into this time when concerts slowly start again. Peavy, you have released more than 20 albums. How do you look on ‘Resurrection Day’

Peavy: It is our 26th album in 37 years and for me, of course, the latest album is always my personal highlight. I always have the feeling or also have the ambition to continuously improve. I always try to improve on what I’ve done before. I’m very happy with the result, not only from the technical execution, but also from the creative output. We had an unintentional line-up change and we were lucky that we could solve the situation. Stefan was already set as second guitarist before Marcos’ departure. We had already planned, being a trio, to bring Stefan in from the middle of last year, but then Marcos had to leave for private reasons. For himself it was certainly the most painful situation because it was his childhood dream to play in Rage. He has been a fan of the band since he was 14. It is hurting him the most, but there was no other choice. To complete the line-up, we brought Jean in and that worked out in great fashion. Both (Stefan & Jean) fit very well into the band and as guitarists they also harmonize very well with each other. It all worked out great and I think you can hear it on the record that it was created under very harmonious and enthusiastic circumstances. We were all on fire, really having fun together and I also got the guys involved. I told them, “get creative.” There are still a few riffs missing here and there and so on. We recorded the pre-production and the demos at Jean’s place. Because of the Corona lockdown, we couldn’t all go to Spain as originally planned. So, we instead invested the money in studio equipment and recorded the vocals and guitars at Jean’s place, who has a small studio.

MHMB: Speaking of the two guitarists, to what extent did that give you more possibilities, especially in terms of a later live performance of the new songs?

Peavy: Exactly. That was the original idea and why we brought Stefan into the band when Marcos was still with us. I started with Lucky and Marcos in 2015 to orientate ourselves much more towards the 90s phase. Once in a while we had a guest guitarist with us who helped out on the second guitar, because we always reached our limits at the live concerts. We thought, let’s do something with it now and bring in a second guitarist. Why not. The trio line-up is not set in stone and not a mandatory for me. We are very happy with it now. Especially for the live concerts it is a real enrichment. You can do all the arrangements that you have on the records much better.

MHMB: With Pepe Herrero, you have once again made use of an important contact. On four songs you use orchestration, a classic stylistic element for Rage. Why do you constantly use it and why only for four songs?

Peavy: These orchestrated parts, these epic pieces, have been one of the stylistic elements in the Rage sound since the mid-90s, when we did the Lingua Mortis album. I think that’s very good, and I also try to express all the trademarks, all the stylistic elements that Rage stands for on every album. So, from these thrashy elements to the epic sound. This time there are four orchestrated songs. We’ve known Pepe for a few years now. He also worked as a conductor with us on the orchestral tour we did in 2019 with the Lingua Mortis Orchestra. I asked him this time directly before the start of the production if he would like to get directly involved. He was on fire and then somehow made this extraordinary and super professional arrangements. Much better than we could have done it ourselves. The songs work great with these orchestrations and bring the tunes to a next level. That’s also the reason why I don’t do that with all the pieces. On some tracks it doesn’t necessarily fit or need to. We didn’t design the record to be a full orchestral album and we didn’t specifically compose songs just for that sound. It should reflect the entire bandwidth of Rage and I think that this mixture has been implemented very well.

MHMB: A real blast on the album is ‘Monetary Gods’. Great riffs meet a good sense for melodies. Also the lyrics show that for Rage lyrics are more than words to good music. Lyrics are important to you. What exactly is this song about?

Peavy: It’s about the fact that in today we worship the god of money. Money rules the world and you see, depending on where the money flows in the world, that’s where the buzz is. Everything that happens has a reason because somebody makes money with it. No war happens by chance, it’s all a huge money machine that’s ongoing. That is one of the very many topics in the nowadays that prey on my mind. The common thread on the new album is rather a philosophical consideration of human evolution since the Neolithic until today. In the Neolithic period, our lifestyle has changed dramatically. Formerly we were hunter-gatherers with no possessions, very small groups only and relatively little contact with each other. Neolithic people became more settled, started farming and raising cattle, and accumulated possessions. The population exploded. The more people there were, the richer some were, and the bigger the differences were, the more wars arose. All the problems we have today on this planet go back to that time, to that change in our lifestyle. I noticed that in the Old Testament in the Bible, this very image, this very transition, is described in the metaphor of being thrown out of paradise. That is basically exactly this moment that is described there, and I found that very interesting. That’s a bit of anthropology, a topic is interesting. That’s why I thought it was a great idea to write a song about it.

MHMB: With ‘Virginity’ you released the first single a few days ago. Why did you choose this song?

Peavy: That was a coincidence. We all decided that way. We thought the song was very good as a first introduction to the album. It kicks off well and yes, we could have used another song, but somehow, we felt it was the most suitable one. The second single will be by the way ‘Monetary Gods’ and will be released in two weeks.

MHMB: Let’s look a bit ahead. We already touched on the subject of festivals and live music. You’re playing at Rock Hard Festival, the One Day Edition. What can fans expect?

Peavy: Especially on release day we will have a new stage presentation, a new stage design. We will present the new songs. I hope people will like it. We also basically must introduce the new band for the first time. We already did two Corona shows last year but there was not much audience. So, we didn’t have the real live premiere in Germany yet and I think Rock Hard One Day is a great opportunity to present us to the whole fan scene, what Rage looks like in 2021. 

MHMB: Peavy, we all don’t have a crystal ball at hand, but what is your take on live shows and live music in the coming months?

Peavy: There are two possibilities. If people are a bit smart and get vaccinated, that we can at least get something like a herd immunity, then I think the restrictions will fall. Then music will work normally again as it did in the past. Or it will continue endlessly, and this winter will be even more shitty. It could happen that many restrictions remain in place, not only in Germany, it also applies to the whole of Europe. Our tour is spread all over Europe and such a tour can only be done if you can travel without any restrictions. Basically, it depends on that whether live shows will happen this winter or not. But at some point, I think, a situation will be achieved where the virus has reached the people to such an extent that we no longer must talk about a pandemic situation. At some point it will be the same as with the flu. The people who are particularly affected, where life and death are at stake, will have to be properly protected by vaccination. The others risk their own health on their own responsibility. Just as it is with the flu or other diseases such as measles. We hope for the best now, that it works out so quickly, that we soon can get back on the road. For the entire music scene, from bands to fans, that would of course be very desirable. 

Photo Credit: Julez Braun

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