|Cage. Do they even need an introduction these days? It would have been necessary a few years ago prior to their 2007 smash “Hell Destroyer.” Now that album has been surpassed by “Science of Annihilation,” arguably the finest example of American speed metal in recent years. Without further ado, here’s vocalist extraordinnaire Sean Peck, he of the bald pate and glass-shattering wails, answering our questions (again).|
MM: Hey! Nice to have you guys back here at Maximummetal. With the band touring for “Science of Annihilation” and getting very good audience turnout (not to mention the moshpits) have you decided to incorporate more theatrical aspects to your live show since, after all, Cage is at its element live?
Sean Peck: As the lead singer I am always pretty theatrical with my presentation for sure. We always bring side scrims of the album cover or our huge Darker Than Black backdrop to make it look like a mini Iron Maiden show. We have the synchronized stage rocking we all do too, which the audience really loves. So yes, we try to employ the elements you need for an over the top metal show whenever possible.
|I was going to tell people to mosh but right before we went on I was informed it was not allowed at the venue so I had to modify my line a bit. The head banging was so ferocious at that show it was like a mosh pit!|
MM: On the cover of the new album there are bondage chicks on either side of a wicked looking knight riding a demonic beast. Will the erotic stuff continue to figure in future Cage albums? Anyway, next time you want to include hot women on the album cover maybe you should contact the Spanish artist Luis Royo (www.luisroyo.com). I’m telling you, the way this guy paints (incredibly hot) women is breathtaking.
SP: Yes, of course I know of him as I am a big comic fan. I think hot women are a big part of heavy metal and we are all sexual creatures. That is definitely part of the allure of metal, and a tribute to the testosterone involved. We may have some more of this, I am not sure, I know our video idea includes a lot of that though!
MM: “Science of Annihilation” has been out for some months now and the reception has been rather overwhelming. It was actually release via the band’s own label Heavy Metal Media. What kind of resources did Cage have when you set out to start your own label?
SP: Our own label satisfies our needs primarily although we have been able to help some of our friends’ bands as well. We really took a smart approach to it and thanks to our fans this has been our most profitable album to date. Because of this we are able to travel and play in places we never were able to with a label. I think bands starting out need labels and bands that have been around a while and have a loyal fan base built in do not anymore. We have kept the quality level up to our standards with great art and booklets and lots of musical content.
MM: The album was also recorded in your own studio. You don’t have to give exact figures, but how big an investment was it and how long did it take before the whole band was ready to give their all to the “Science of Annihilation” sessions?
SP: Well we probably put $50,000 into our studio to start but it was a great investment as we are recording lots of other bands and projects now as well as the CAGE stuff. We also are doing some guest spots on other people’s records and it makes it real easy when you have your own facility. You also are not on the clock so you can make sure everything is just right how you want it and you do not have to rush or settle for less. Dave Garcia does all the engineering, I just write and arrange stuff and give my opinion on how it sounds when it comes time to mix and master it.
MM: “Science of Annihilation” was also the first album you produced together with Dave Garcia. You even consulted with Roy Z on occasion to get the process right. Were there any glitches you were afraid would end up on the final mix that would reach stores?
SP: Yes, we were worried a bit and there are some things that could have been better but overall the reaction has been great. It was CAGE’s first all digital cd too. None of the stuff went to tape like on all previous cds. That created a fresh sound for us from that standpoint alone. We definitely learned a lot and you can expect the quality to increase as we go along. We are mixing the live DVD now.
MM: I’m a big fan of Roy Z’s work in the arena of power/heavy metal, especially the Halford albums he produced and played on. What’s it like to have the guy as an accomplice on your biggest record to date?
SP: He really just consulted us for a few things and gave some listens and told us what to sharpen up and stuff. He is always super busy with projects so when we went to an NFL game together he got a chance to spend some quality time with us and listen to where we were with the record. His guidance proved very helpful on a crucial spot we were at. He is a cool dude that has a great wealth of knowledge in the studio, obviously. He really was pretty heavily involved in “Darker Than Black” and played some leads on it too. It was great tracking vocals with the guy who works with Halford and Dickinson.
MM: Since you guys handled everything yourselves, did any of your professional backgrounds in business and finance help in securing the right kind of distribution for the album?
SP: No, just more of our connections we had already established over the years. Our professions allowed us to have the cash to invest in the studio, touring and all the previous records. Now we are poised to really start putting out all the stuff we wanted to do, and play around the world so that the fans everywhere can witness the CAGE experience.
MM: The album opens with a really cool intro titled “The Power That Feeds” and ends with an apocalyptic yarn where the whole universe literaly gets flushed down the toilet (a black hole actually). How long did it take to finish the writing for the grand concept themes along with the stand alones?
SP: The last title trilogy was the last song we wrote and actually came really quick to us for the grand epic that it is. This was the fastest we ever wrote and recorded an album. I think the addition of Norm Leggio on drums really inspired us and motivated us to get to work and create this shredder. I wrote more fiction on this cd than ever before and that is pretty easy for me to do. The themes and concepts came quick and really created a cosmic vibe of sorts.
MM: Feel free to blame my short attention span, but what exactly is going on in the last three tracks of the album? How does the character from “Spectre of War” and “Science of Annihilation” get to where he is by the time the omniscient evil force at the very end asks him to decide the fate of the cosmos?
SP: Ha! The force at the end is God, so he’s not evil, just kinda part of the natural flow of the universe and the destruction and creation process. I came up with an embodiment/demi god called ”the Spectre of War” in kind of a Greek God-type idea. I talk about his origin starting back in Roman times and going through the ages. I had another cool verse that we could not fit in that revealed more also. He is the manipulator of man and becomes the cause of all man’s conflicts. Like any God he becomes bored with his immortality where he sends himself as far into the future as he can where he has the final confrontation with God. It is there that he is given the ultimate choice and the entire universe and album ends on that note.
MM: “Die Glocke” and “The Longest Day” are two of the album’s World War Two themed epic tracks. You watch The History Channel a lot for song ideas?
SP: On Hell Destroyer the song “Fire and Metal” was all about that until we later decided to go with the concept idea. I then changed those lyrics to adjust for the story. The D-Day thing came to me purely being inspired by the music of the song. I could just imagine being on a landing craft speeding towards the beaches of Normandy. “Die Glocke” was just another killer sci fi conspiracy topic that is the perfect metal topic in my opinion. I just now saw a TV show on it but I had done a ton of research using all the names of the players involved and adding in some factual conspiracy stuff like Serum 525 etc. Only the hardcore UFO people will recognize some references like Kecksberg and some other things. My hope with these songs is that someone will be inspired to look this stuff up on the internet and discover the relevance of all the killer references I layer in.
MM: Horror also abounds with “The Scarlet Witch,” “Spirit of Vengeance,” and “Black River Falls.” It’s the last that I find the creepiest. I know it’s set in the 19th centry, but what story is it based on?
SP: The area in Wisconsin known as Black River Falls was the inspiration of a semi famous book called “Wisconsin Death Trip.” It is a collection of photos and newspaper accounts of just how crazy and harsh the Winters of the 1890’s were in that area. I read the entire book and made note of the more sinister events, weaving them into a fictional tale of horror that was inspired by true to life atrocities.
MM: Does having King Diamond actually sing on a Cage album sound like a good idea?
SP: Yes that would be cool we have the perfect song that we are working on now for it. If not we have communicated with some other involved persons from King’s past that may contribute which is almost as exciting. You understand I can say no more on the subject of course. If King will not sing I will just continue to impersonate him in parts, ha!
MM: Do you know the band Benedictum? The one fronted by the chick who sounds like Dio, Veronica Freeman? They play a more down tuned, groove oriented style of power metal. Is doing a duet with her—the same way they always do over in Europe—something you look forward to in the future?
SP: I am quite good friends with Veronica and we have played with the band countless times here in San Diego. She is a great singer but always gets pissed at me for my ability to do my super high notes. Doing a duet would be bad ass, but I will have to call her. Generally I am not a big fan of chick singers in metal bit I like some female voices like Veronica, the singer from Hysterica, and Crystal Viper.
MM: The band got into an airport spat at some point before the short East Coast tour. What are the members of Cage like when they’re angry?
SP: I am not sure what you are referring to. We missed our flight coming back from New York that cost us an extra $1000. Now that was a spat! Before that I do not know. Between Dave’s muscles and golden gloves boxing record and my Mix Martial Arts training and 2-0 record with two knockouts in the metal world people should try to keep us happy, ha!!! We are seriously though a band that in person tries to be super humble and friendly and appreciative. I think our line up now is virtually drama free and that is such a joy. Our old drummer had a tendency to embarrass us quite often with his rock star attitude. Now that he is gone we just have my lead singer disease to deal with!
MM: Mr. Sean Peck, you actually have a separate career in football which you balance with a day job in real estate and the band. How do you manage?
SP: Football is not a career because I did not make the final cut for the pro team which was very disappointing. The final tryout I could not have played better but they said I was just not fit enough which is probably true. I play goalkeeper for indoor soccer and I argued that I barely have to move around. Instead we submitted a theme song for the team which may be too heavy for them. We are still waiting to see if they will use it. If not we will probably put it out somewhere as a bonus track. The Real Estate is great because no matter where I am I can do my business and make things happen. I remember being backstage in Slovakia five minutes before we were going on, dressed in leather and studs, negotiating the final details of a five million dollar land transaction. I love it!!
MM: You actually told the people at ProgPower to “mosh in their minds”? That sounds pretty hilarious. What did it look like?
SP: People loved that line. I was going to tell people to mosh but right before we went on I was informed it was not allowed at the venue so I had to modify my line a bit. The head banging was so ferocious at that show it was like a mosh pit!
MM: When you’re not busy with band related stuff, what’s the best moment of the day for you?
SP: When I wake up and come out of the room my dog is there just waiting by the door, freaking out that I have entered his life for another day. He literally sits there for hours waiting for my emergence and goes nuts. To have that kind of devotion and love to start your day is quite nice. Besides that I work from home mostly so I get to be with my hot wife all day long and believe me, that is a good thing!
MM: You ever drink coffee from your Mexico-bought Cage bootleg coffee mug?
SP: Ha! Yes the bootleg ones we got in Mexico City! We were so excited to see the Mexican fans cared enough about us to bootleg some merch. We all went out and bought stuff from them.
MM: Speaking of merchandise, what would be the ultimate collectors item piece of Cage merch you’d want to sell some day? Is there any chance for Hell Destroyer action figures where you get the giant angel from your last album plus separate weapons and movable wings? How about plastic Christ Hammers?
SP: I freaking love that idea. The Hell Destroyer thing had so much we were going to do. We had an actual working video game for it that we bailed out on when our Japanese deal fell through. The HD mythos included the super angel warrior group called the HAND OF GOD. They are drawn in the Fall of the Angels page. The Hell Destroyer was the thumb so to speak. The comic book that we were working on was just too slow to develop but we had tons of left over artwork from it. The battle scene of the Hell Destroyer in Hell was all mapped out and story boarded it was sick. I still may put up the www.helldestroyer.com and release the rest of it. Action figures would rule! I can tell you here that we are doing a song called “Hell Destroyer vs. Metal Devil.”
MM: We’ve reached the bitter end. We’re really honored to have you guys back here. Maximummetal’s staff goes bonkers on almost every punishing power metal release that hits the market, especially new Cage albums. For my last qestion: If Cage will soon become the Kings of American Metal, what’s gonna happen to the self proclaimed “Kings of Metal,” Manowar? Will you share the crown?
SP: We would be happy to share the crown with the original Kings of Metal themselves MANOWAR.