In summer 2000 we did an emailer and you told us that you have already found a new singer about two months ago and that it was turning out absolutely great. Now we have 2002 and it seems that everything took longer than you expected. So, please tell us what happened in the meantime! Tell us about Rob Thompson!
Yeah, at that time vocalist Rob Thompson had just become a new member of Pegazus and we really needed to get stuck into rehearsing the older songs with him right away, so we spent the rest of the year in 2000 doing just that... Giving Rob the opportunity to get comfortable within the band and to let the earlier Pegazus songs become a part of him as well. Then in early 2001, we took off to play a mini Australian Tour of the east coast through Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney to give our fans in Australia a sneak preview as to what the band was sounding like with Rob on vocals. For the first half of 2001 just after the tour, we got right into writing the new songs for the album The Headless Horseman and we entered the actual recording studio in September. We didn't come out of that studio until about early November when the album was all recorded, mixed and mastered by December.
As I mentioned, we have already played some live shows throughout Australia to introduce Rob Thompson and I must say that the fans have not only accepted him as the new vocalist, but they have extremely enjoyed the band's live shows so much more than ever before, so we would definitely say that Rob has risen way above any expectations with both the older and new songs. Rob is a true front man in every sense. His voice is so charismatic and unique which truly gives our songs a very strong character, and live on stage he is just as crazy and wild as the rest of the band... 100% committed to this Heavy Metal Beast called Pegazus!!!
How much did the new line-up effect the songwriting? Did Rob Thompson give some inspiration to the new tracks?
The great thing about this new album is that there are different writers on it. I have been a major writer as on past albums, too, but Rob Thompson has written Dragon Slayer and Victim, and co-wrote some lyrics on The Patriot and Neon Angel with me, and our previous bass player Cory Betts also wrote Look To The Stars. So there's been a lot more input from the other guys on this album than there was on any previous Pegazus albums. I had always tried to encourage this input from members in the past, but thus far it never happened. Rob in particular has a great sense of song writing when it comes to Pegazus... Even when we briefly wrote together on a couple of songs, it just seemed to click automatically between us, like we are on a similar wave length or something? It was a strange but great feeling actually!
Some critics as well as fans think that Rob Thompson's voice ain't as powerful and strong as Danny Cecati's. They think that this weakens the album.... What do you think about that?
I actually haven't heard that before, especially after all the great reviews that the album and band has been getting lately. The Headless Horseman has actually received the highest ever album ratings and praise than any of our previous albums, which we have been so proud of, so I find it hard to believe that many critics or fans would be saying anything like that at all... But hey, it is possible, after all you can't please everybody, right? Even when Danny was singing in the band, even then it was impossible to please everyone, so it's a tough situation whichever way you look at it? Each vocalist definitely has a great style and voice of their own, so comparing them is pretty silly I think! They both add a special element to the sound and style of Pegazus!
Please tell us about what inspired you lyrically this time?
Well, the album is actually titled The Headless Horseman which was influenced from the great movie The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, which is a very cool movie that I must have seen about 5 or 6 times now... I was very intrigued by the movie itself, so I felt that writing about it was a very cool idea. Pegazus has always been a band that likes writing about fantasy and mythology type themes from time to time and The Headless Horseman story and legend seemed like a really cool and natural idea to write a song about it. I personally have always had a lot of inspiration to write songs from movies that I have seen... It's something that I have done on all Pegazus albums so far! The other things that inspired me were the usual fantasy themes like Nightstalker, Spread Your Wings and Forever Chasing Rainbows, songs about battles (The Patriot) and the typical heavy metal anthem (A Call To Arms). The variety that I personally like to hear in a band and an album is all there... Even a tribute song about Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy (Ballad Of A Thin Man)...hehehe :o)
How did you come up with the song Ballad Of A Thin Man? Johnny, why did you sing it?
It was about 2 years ago and Philip Lynott's 15th anniversary of his passing was looming. I remember everyone was getting onto the buzz of recording some Thin Lizzy covers for an anniversary tribute album and as a fan I had an idea that it would be really cool to write and record a special tribute song as a true mark of respect to an artist and true inspiration to me and the band personally. That's where the idea for Ballad of A Thin Man came up, so I came up with a rock driven guitar riff and twin guitar harmony idea and started writing the lyrics, which were cleverly written from song titles from the many cool Thin Lizzy songs. I showed the guys in the band the song in it's raw demo form and they really liked it and so too did the record label!
At the time of writing this song, Rob Thompson wasn't in the band just yet and so we decided to go ahead and still record it as a 3 piece band, with myself singing the vocals... We didn't even expect the song to be on the band's new album, so it was totally unexpected that the first demo version would be liked so much that it was strongly requested to also be on the The Headless Horseman album.
Where have you recorded the album? How was recording?
We recorded the new album once again at St Andrews Studios in our hometown of Melbourne which is where we've recorded all four (4) Pegazus albums... We really enjoy working in that particular studio and the surroundings and environment that we are able to work in are really laid back, stress free and great!
The actual engineer and owner of the studio Mark McCormack is not only a great and easy guy to work with, but he is also a very dedicated rock and metal fan himself, which is always a bonus! We've had some excellent times there every time we record, whether that be albums, demo's or even bonus tracks for tribute albums.
Has the song writing been completed before you entered the studio? Or did you change some while recording? Or do you spontaneously write a track?
Our songs are always created well before entering the studio and it's at band rehearsals where everyone in the band hears the new songs for the first time. Once a song is presented to the rest of the guys, we just play through it a few times 'til we get the exact feel that was intended for it by the original writer/s and then everybody ends up being able to give it their own personal touch too.
We purposely spent a lot more time writing for this album (about 6 months) and the recording studio time was also extended so we would be able to get better results with our songs, ideas and production.
The new album is called The Headless Horseman. Why did you choose this title?
Johnny, was the cover concept from you?
Yes, I came up with the initial idea and concept for the album's title and album cover artwork theme, which I mentioned and discussed with the band and everyone thought it was a great and very cool idea, so we went with it! The album is actually titled The Headless Horseman due to the main opening album track which is a true fast paced metal KILLER!!! The song itself was influenced from the great movie The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, which is a very cool movie that I must have seen about 5 or 6 times now. I was very intrigued by the movie itself, so I felt that writing about it was a very cool idea. Pegazus has always been a band that likes writing about fantasy type themes from time to time and The Headless Horseman story and legend seemed like a really cool and natural idea to write a song about it. I personally have always had a lot of inspiration to write songs from movies that I have seen... It's something that I do from time to time on most Pegazus albums!
Now the album is in the stores. When you look at the album now with a little distance, is there anything you would change?
No, not at all... This is definitely an album that we can look back on with great pride, just knowing how much of an effort went into creating it to be the best it could be. I personally know that we all put in 100% of blood, sweat, tears and pain into this album and I think the passionate playing of everyone really shows on the finished album... The Headless Horseman is also very proudly by far the bands best and heaviest album to date... I think the fans agree!
I guess you already got the first reactions. How are the reactions so far?
You can't always please everybody but most of the worldwide media reviews have been giving the new album the two thumbs up by rating it so much higher than any of our previous albums and that in itself has been awesome!... Most of the comments in reviews have hailed The Headless Horseman to be by far the best Pegazus album so far and without a doubt the best metal album to ever come out of Australia! Totally unexpected that the media has been so praiseful of the bands latest offering... It's always a bit of an unknown, especially when you have a new lead vocalist in the band and you just never know how that line up change will be taken or accepted but it has been extremely well accepted! After all, it is ALWAYS about the actual songs and the band and NOT one particular band member. Most of all, I think the fantastic feedback by the many fans all over the world has been the best feedback and reactions to take in so far!
Due to music exchange platforms like Napster fans often get the songs weeks before the release. Did you already received emails from fans commenting the new material?
Yeah, I was actually amazed at how many fans would be writing to us many weeks before the album was officially released... That was pretty overwhelming to know that so many fans were too anxious to wait the release date. I'd say about 99% of fans writing in were extremely and very impressed with the songs they had heard, mostly commenting on the heavier and faster sounding songs and Rob Thompson's very unique voice!
In general, what do you think about Napster & co.?
I think Napster and all the other MP3 sites around are a great internet tool for fans from anywhere on this planet to be able to download some songs by bands that they might never really get a chance to hear about. So, I do support it, if people use it as a hear before you buy service, then I think that is great, but if you have people downloading whole albums and then won't go out and buy the albums to actually support the bands, then I don't support that at all!
It's quite awhile since you toured. Are there already plans for touring? Or some festivals this summer? Europe or also USA? South America?
Yes, it has been a long time since we last toured in Europe... It's been way too long actually! Over the past couple of months, we have been discussing and talking with promoters about coming to tour in Europe and so far there hasn't been anything strongly confirmed but we are working on it, because we really would like to be back over there amongst the greatest metal fans in the world! We are also right now looking at possibilities for touring Japan and South America too! The festivals for 2002 are long gone now, but we will look at hopefully playing some of them next year in 2003, if that is possible with the actual festival promoters???
What can we expect live from Pegazus this time?
As always, Pegazus isn't just a band that gets onto a stage to simply play songs... We literally HIT the stage like a ball of energy ready to explode in your face! It's one of the best moments for us when the band is alive like a live wire just playing off the raw energy of our music on stage for the fans! Nowadays, the band has a really great live set of material, taking the most requested and wanted songs off of our past three studio albums. With so many classic Pegazus songs that the fans want to hear at a live show, it really has become like a best of package and it really shows at our live gigs where the fans have an absolute wicked time... We just can't wait to hopefully bring the show over to Europe one day soon too.
Since the last album / tour it's been a long time and music business is changing fast. Have you ever worried about the future of Pegazus?
We've never worried about the possible changes within the music industry, because that is something that you have absolutely no control over. You just have to get on with it, just like we have always done before. I mean, we as Pegazus were around back in 1993 when heavy metal was considered dead by the music industry and media's, but we were always playing true heavy metal from day one, whether it was considered trendy or not and we DO plan to be around writing and recording great HEAVY METAL songs and albums for a very long, long time to come...THAT IS A PROMISE!!!
Even if it takes awhile until we heard again from Pegazus, they are back! And if they'll hit the roads to play for their fans then you should be there to witness it. In my opinion this is the strongest album of the band and I can't wait to see them live again...