Cage: Darker and Blacker!
Cage's Sean Peck talks about the band's quest to become bigger and better with each release.
Hi Sean...congrats on the new Cage album - it seems to be attracting some rave reviews!
There aren't too many bands doing what Cage are doing in the USA right now - it seems to be mainly European. How have you found the reaction to the band both in the USA and from Europe?
The reaction has been great because the sound has managed to appeal to a wide variety of metal fans. A lot of the journalists were telling me how their 9 year old kids loved it just like they did and were taking it to school and stuff. That has been one of the secrets of our success I believe.
Just how did Cage get started?
We had 2 bands going around 1991 called NOMAD and CRUSHER. We were all friends and both bands split about the same time. The remains of those 2 power metal bands became CAGE. We are still taking parts from those 2 bands old material and are using it in CAGE songs. WHITE MAGIC, SECRETS OF FATIMA, and others off of ASTROLOGY were some examples.
How has the band grown to the point you are at now?
Just persistence and hard work has begun to really pay off. I was just looking back at our 11 years and realizing how few bands have stood the test of time and have not broken up or been a one hit wonder. It says a lot that we have continued to climb up the ladder of heavy metal while others have broken up, reformed and done 10 different side projects since then. We still march on and continue to deliver even better songs then before.
How is the local metal scene in San Diego? How does Cage fit in?
San Diego has a really good metal scene and we are local legends here. We have of course played with every major metal band that has ever come through town like DIO, IRON MAIDEN, and JUDAS PRIEST. People here totally rock out and don't have ego trips like they do in LA.
What did you grow up listening to and did those bands influence the sound of Cage?
WASP, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, CRIMSON GLORY, LIZZY BORDEN, METAL CHURCH, KING DIAMOND and others really make up what influenced me and motivated me to continue making records. OZZY OSBOURNE and the SCORPIONS and even DOKKEN really delivered to me a sound that changed my life. CAGE continues on in their honor delivering that heavy metal sound that so many seek but few truly deliver.
How about the rest of the guys in the band - can you tell us about working with them?
We have a great time playing, traveling and writing together. We keep the drama to an absolute minimum. That is a key to our longevity. We have had a few roster changes but since the new guitarist Anthony McGinnis joined it has been really fun. You can just tell by listening to the DARKER THAN BLACK CD.
The debut album was a sensational way to get started, how do you feel about that looking back now?
Of course it seems really basic now, and we have come so far since then. But it was received and hailed as a breath of fresh air to heavy metal like someone finally got it right and it really took off. There are some still brilliant songs on UNVEILED like SHOOT TO KILL, DEVIL INSIDE, DANCING AROUND THE FIRE and the title track. We were really fortunate that the fans embraced it like they did.
And how did that album influence the recording of the follow-up?
We got a new drummer, the now legendary Mikey Niel and it allowed us to explode musically. My singing also really exploded. I was able to increase my range and aggression, and also use different voices to create different attacks. The critics loved it and it sold well, so we moved ahead another 2 spaces on the heavy metal playing board with that one.
Did you feel a lot of pressure to better Astrology?
Yes absolutely, but we knew people would view this record as an exponential leap from UNVEILED. ASTROLOGY really was much more than people expected from us for a sophomore effort. Then when we went back to Europe and showed the world our live power and presence and it made the metal world take note.
You certainly did - Darker Than Black is a heavy, mean, metal album!
This CD is even more of a giant leap than from UNVEILED to ASTROLOGY. Now we are working on number 4!
As far as songwriting goes, how did you approach writing the songs for Darker Than Black - what was the outline you had for the album?
We wanted the vibe to be dark, sinister, malicious, and foreboding but not necessarily evil. We wanted it to look evil but deliver messages of hope, mystery, and that of heavy metal - powerful aggression emotion. We wanted to make a CD that would stand the test of time as one of the great heavy metal CDs with Screaming for Vengeance and Number of the Beast. We wanted to make a CD where there was no skipping any songs and everything ripped. We wanted to press the limits of the vocal arrangements but make songs that all had memorable hooks.
How do you go about writing the songs?
There was a combination of coming up with a chorus line and building it from there and just jamming together. We play together 4 days a week and aren't some supergroup that trades tapes across the globe. That is a reason there is such integrity in our sound and music, the fans can tell it is not just a bunch of shit thrown together. We pre-produced the entire record and kept fine tuning it and then working with Rick Carr and Roy Z was the final straw that made the cd as sick as it is!
You secured a good label deal for the album in Europe, United States / Canada, Mexico and Brazil - How did you come to choose the companies you did?
Marketing, royalty rate and commitment to the band. We are in this for the long haul and landing Massacre in Europe was cool because they totally flipped for the CD. They released the CD with a 3D cover.
And what's the plan for the US release?
It is out through Fugitive Records and they have embarked on a massive radio campaign as well as print add spree. So far so good as sales are up!
What kind of crowd shows up at Cage live shows?
We play shows where a lot of death and black metal kids show up and dig on it. That is one reason we added the black metal voices as a tribute to those fans. But young and old crowds love the songs and sound. We play all ages shows and also big 21 and up shows and everyone screams fro more. A wide demographic of rock and even non rock fans come out.
You get out and play as much as you can which is great - what can folks expect if they come along? What's the band's playlist?
Now it is mostly songs from DARKER THAN BLACK with the FINAL SOLUTION and SHOOT TO KILL thrown in. We were also playing the SAVATAGE cover DUNGEONS ARE CALLING.
What's the thing you are really looking forward to with each set of live shows?
Showing the fans how far we have come and how lethal of a metal band we are. I thing we possess elements that not many others have and that separates us from the others. I really want to do our best to steal the show at any of the festivals we are going to play. Our songs really get the crowd interacting with us and I like to always thanks the crowd and show our respect and appreciation to them and let them know we appreciate them.
We have really been concentrating on our visual presentation and stage movements. We mastered all of the backing voices and have a complex backing vocal arrangement with 4 of us singing. Now we are finishing up all of the stage movements as if it were a play or something. We are always working hard to perfect our show and get better.
There has been a line-up change or two - how have you dealt with that?
It has been always a fantastic blessing for us first with Eric Horton joining for UNVEILED and ASTROLOGY, then Mikey Niel the drummer for ASTROLOGY, and now Eric Horton leaving and being replaced by younger fresher Anthony McGinnis. I hope we are able to keep this line up forever. Dave Garcia, myself Sean Peck, and Mike Giordano have been there since the beginning.
Where do you see metal in the USA going over the next few years?
Classic metal and our style has really begun to grow in popularity just within the last 6 months. The kids are now saying that 80s metal is now the hip shit and there are videos on everyday on TV with the stuff. We have been saying for 10 years now that it was going to come back now it looks like it really is. It seems like it has taken a long time but in the grand scheme of things I guess it is not that long. We are positioned just perfect for the second coming. We hope to be playing on for another 10 years or more and someone has to carry on what the legends have created for us all.
What's next for Cage?
We are working on the new CD now after playing the Fiestas Del Sol in Mexico which was huge and the BANG YOUR HEAD USA festival in San Diego with KING DIAMOND. Now we are settling into writing mode before Spain in February 2004.
What do you have in mind for album number 4?
We have to surpass DARKER THAN BLACK somehow. So far we are off to a good start and probably have almost half of it written. There will be some experimentation like we have a RAMMSTEIN sounding song that I think I am going to do in all German, a song called KING DIAMOND that I will do the full impersonation on and some others that might be a little thrash metal sounding. I want to still provide the classic CAGE sounding heavy metal songs which we have a few in the bag now that are just legendary.
Anything you would like to add Sean?
Thanks to all of our friends around the world and we love and appreciate you all. Please e-mail us from the website and support all of the fan clubs around the world. We give them all of the inside scoop first! Also visit the official CAGE website at: www.cageheavymetal.com
All the best!