San Diego-based band Cage is around for several years, but it's been awhile since their Darker Than Black album was released. Now 4 years later they return with Hell Destroyer. Time to talk to singer Sean Peck again.
In 2003 you presented Darker Than Black. Are you still satisfied with the result? Or would you like to change things?
First of all sorry for taking so long, I appreciate you waiting so long we have been busy shooting videos and actually writing the next CD already. As far as Darker Than Black goes we are very happy and I can only think of one thing I would have liked to change and that was some of the vocal effects on Wings Of Destruction. Everything is killer on it, but the time was running short and that was one of the last songs we mixed so it got rushed a little. I think you are the only one I ever told that to!
Why did it take 4 years to present Hell Destroyer? What happened in the meantime?
Well, the Hell Destroyer CD has so much music it is like we did 2 CDs worth of music. Several of the songs we re-wrote and a song like Christhammer we re-did over like 10 different ways until we ended up with the final composition. We also had to face Massacre Records in court, so we could be free of their complete ineptitude. The results speak for themselves and all I can say is that the new CD will be out late 2008!
With Hell Destroyer you tell a fictional story, even if based partly on the bible.... Even if Astrology wasn't a conceptual album the songs are linked. Was it more difficult this time to write the music?
Yes, a concept has to tell the story and the music has to flow from song to song on the disc, so it is very tricky. We really had it good as everything ended up flowing perfectly together. There was a lot of research involved and we knew we had to really tap into the metal to continue our run of topping each album. I wondered how it would all turn out and now we all know!
A huge story with different elements... like conspiracy theories, etc. How challenging was it to write the story and cover it with the lyrics?
Well, not only covering 2200 years of a timeline and covering all the different parts including years after the end of days was an immense story to tell. There is a lot to the story that was not even told yet that will be released on our upcoming www.helldestroyer.com. The challenge was writing a good story. Forrest Butler, the artist who did the interior, worked with me for several months and we had the entire thing story boarded for a comic book. We ran out of time as we only got 14 or so images, but maybe one day we will do the whole book. The story has like 3 off shoots to it and we were really putting some killer comic book ideas together as we wrote the thing. So far we have gotten a lot of praise on the whole story line.
How much 'research' did you do for the story?
I did a lot of research as I have done for all of our CDs. It was cool, because a lot of revelations shows and documentaries were running along side the daVinci Code movie and such. I also listen to a very popular radio show that talks UFO's and religious conspiracy and ancient manuscript stuff, so I fed off of all of it as well as reading Revelations and other chapters of the Bible which I had not done before. I have definitely become a more spiritual person over the last 5 years and that helped in the writing as well.
In the story you talk about a New World Order. A topic which is been use a few times and there are several groups / secret societies who had the idea of a New Word Order. On which group / idea is yours based?
Well, the Bohemian Grove is the obvious reference to this and for people that don't know what it is they can go to www.infowars.com and trip out, because it will freak people out the history behind this place. It is basically the meeting place for the Illuminati, if there is one that actually exists. This along with the rise of the Antichrist is rooted very much in reality as I refer to bio chips and RFID technology that has big brother creeping in all the time. The Hell Destroyer's assault on Hell City and satans assault on Earth during Legion Of The Demons is where my comic book influences appear.
About the spoken word parts... You kept them short, many bands make the mistake to do too long 'speeches'. Was it difficult to keep it short?
Most people think ours are too long ha! No, I knew that they had to be brief and get the meaning across quick. My wife hates that shit and cringes when they come on, so they probably would have been longer, if not for her. We recorded them and did not know, if we would use all of them or release a special version, but then we decided to throw everything on for maximum fan value. It all barely fit on one disc.
The booklet has beside the lyrics also some notes - and some images. Who did the sketches?
Forrest Butler. It was killer working with him as we like all the same stuff. He is a black guy who loves hip hop, but eventually became a huge Cage fan as we wrote the story. I love his art style as it looks bad ass where some comic art looks too cartoony. He is working on several other projects now. The extra text was important as it really clarified everything in the story and gave a real value to buy the CD and not bootleg it.
You are a comic fan - I heard... Have you ever thought about presenting the story in form of a comic? I know that's all about money, but... Wouldn't it be cool?
That was the original idea, but we ran out of time and marketing and packaging it was totally unconventional. Maybe next time, but I am currently shopping the movie and graphic novel rights.
Or a kind of animated video clip for some song?
My plans for some computer animation may one day see the light, but yes, you are thinking right up my alley. I wanted the HD destroying some buildings in our video.
With King Diamond you recorded a homage to the Danish singer. Did you get any reaction from him?
Not yet, but I just got his address and am sending him the song. I would assume he would dig it, but I can tell you his fans do. We introduce it like "How many people know about King Diamond out there?" and the people go nuts. They sing along with the chorus and just rock. I think he should cover it on his next record.
Have you ever thought about asking him for a guest appearance?
My next CD idea has a lot of that included, but I don't know, if I will get permission to do what my grand scheme is supposed to comprise. But yes, the King would be invited to the party.
Somewhere you mentioned as one of your influences Savatage and you also played with them some shows. Ever thought about a cooperation with one of the guys?
Criss Oliva was the essence of Savatage, so I think when he passed the heart and soul of the band went with him. We played with them and Nevermore on 9/10 right before the terror attacks which is a show I will never forget. I got to meet Criss just a few months before he died.
I know you played a lot on the States and also Mexico... Is there anything planned in Europe?
Yes, the latest will be April 2008, but our new booking agent will be working on some other stuff. We are deadly live right now and I will put our live performance up against anybody's right now!
Btw, how was playing in Mexico at the Mägo de Oz fest?
That was probably our biggest show ever! They had huge crowds in sports arenas and it was sick! We had the full light show and we made the most of it. The Mexican fans are really the best and they love Cage style heavy metal. After both shows we went into the crowd and met the fans signing autographs and taking photos for 3 hours or more. We were the only band that did that and to me it is the best part of the whole experience.
On Darker Than Black you had Chupacabra - a song with Spanish lyrics. Can we expect something like that again?
Yes, I am working on 2 other songs in Spanish now and the bonus track Skinned Alive that has not been released yet, was going to be a Rammstein style song all in German, but my guitarist voted it down. Next time I won't listen to him.
With Forces Of Freedom you made a song about 9/11... But you also don't want to mix metal and politics... Anyway, I have to ask... The war in Iraq is still going on and these days there is a lot talk about mismanagement. I think you have an opinion about that... Can we expect some kind of statement about this on a future release? Perhaps kinda hidden in a story...
Not hidden in a story, but I believe we should continue to pound them over there mercilessly. There is a lot of historical lessons that have already been learned that those radicals understand nothing but brute force. Anyone who talks mismanagement is just a victim of the left wing media trying to defeat the American forces from subverting us from within, because no military force can. The situation has no easy answer and if we withdraw it will be a massive humanitarian holocaust. I sleep much better at night knowing the Iraqi people are free from a madman who had public executions and threw people from buildings. The attempt by Bush to transform the region by implementing freedom and capitalism is a very bold attempt that hopefully in 20 years time will have worked in changing the minds of a bunch of oil rich countries that have all of their people living in poverty. The thing I love about George Bush is, he doesn't give a shit what people think of him. He just does what he thinks is best for America. He still got re-elected when his popularity was super low. There is no popular answer and no one likes war, but if 9/11 didn't happen we wouldn't be in there. They are lucky Reagan wasn't president or the whole place would have been nuked, because he was the most heavy metal president ever! There you got me to say some political stuff, but I won't write it in the songs or preach it on stage. Half the people will agree with you and half will hate your guts. I am just asking for people to give war a chance. Fight for peace and remember violence solves everything unfortunately.
Somewhere I read that you think European metal bands often sound too happy - and I partly agree -, but bands like Evergrey, Children Of Bodom and In Flames aren't sounding happy... Do you think the European metal scene changed a bit lately?
Yes, I dig all of those bands. Children Of Bodom is really popular over here with the kids. The power metal is really hard for me to find a band that I like the whole album. Music is all personal taste so there is no right or wrong answer, but I think there always is something missing. I have almost all of the new CDs that come out constantly searching for something killer. But either they rip and there are no memorable songs or the singer doesn't have it or it's too happy or something. I liked the Beyond Fear stuff that was one of the last CDs that I come back to still.
It seems that there are always new bands from certain parts of Europe and the US, but what do you think is the reason that we rarely hear from bands from e.g. Brazil, Mexico or European countries like Poland or Czech Republic?
I can tell you there are a ton of killer musicians in Mexico! Those other regions are I am sure filled with talent, but the music business is the hardest profession in the world. It is easier to be a brain surgeon than make a good living at this so good luck to everyone no matter where they are from.
When you come on tour, I guess you won't play the whole album... But have you thought about doing some special show to present the album in it's wholeness and record it for a DVD?
Yes, a lot of that is being tossed around now so keep your ears and eyes open.
I remember that you talked about a DVD when Darker Than Black came out - and I haven't seen anything yet. Did I missed it totally? Or did the DVD never get out?
It is coming out first on itunes and then as a hard copy this fall! It has mostly Astrology stuff, but another one is being worked on now!
Can you tell us a bit about the coming Live In Switzerland DVD? What can fans expect from this DVD?
Well, like I said it is mostly Astrology stuff, but it has Kill The Devil and a cover of Savatage's Dungeons Are Calling.
Different topic.... You wanted to build up your own studio... Is your studio finished? Have you already worked their with bands?
Wow, you really remember a lot of details and no, it is not unfortunately. It has been a small nightmare of plan changes and details, but it will be killer when it is done!
Any newcomer bands you would like to recommend? Perhaps someone you worked with... Or will work with...
Well, new bands Audkik is Dave Garcia's sons band who is getting huge down here. They are kind of a Pantera vibe... Super heavy with a groove. They have really cool songs though so check them out. Thanks to all and check us out every week for updates on www.cageheavymetal.com and www.myspace.com/cageheavymetal. Thanks so much and sorry it took so long. This was one of the best interviews I have had!
I think I have to thank Sean for answering my questions and I think it was worth waiting a bit. ;)
Hopefully they get the chance to tour more and perhaps we can talk face-to-face next time. Meanwhile listen again to Hell Destroyer!