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Interview: CAGE
Title: Anticipated timelessness

Their third album masterpiece „Darker Than Black“ is a dream of an Heavy/Power Metal release. With without exception powerful compositions and going through enthusing guitar working of sometimes explosive nature.

Everything on it is highly efficient performed by a charismatic voice whose trembling timbre ensure ongoing ears amazement.

High time that originating from San Diego, California US rounders Cage and their current killer disc be celebrated accordingly here in Europe. Exceptional vocalist Sean Peck love to talk about the upcoming release of „Darker Than Black“.

Exists in your area a living Metal scene?

„We are from San Diego California and we have one of the best Metal scenes in America here. There are lots of good bands and the crowds are very animated and enthusiastic unlike the fools in L.A.“

Please describe yourself with a few words as a person!

„I am an aggressive personality who tries to always get his way, yet at the same time making people think they are getting theirs. I am a critical thinker and very much a political activist who is outspoken not only on the Metal stage but in other venues as well. I am a Real Estate Broker during the day working with large amounts of money making decisions that greatly affect peoples lives everyday. But I am also a very generous person and have down a lot to help other bands and the scene here grow to the killer point it is at now.“

Can you please name a few Metal bands, who are close to the music of Cage?

„I would say: mainly Iced Earth, Steel Prophet and Nevermore. I personally like straight ahead Metal with mean vocal melodies that still has some cool experimentation without being too proged out. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and old Queensrÿche got me started, but the first two Crimson Glory records, King Diamond for its' mood and vocal melodies and musicianship, and some sparse Iced Earth I guess. I really am drawn to the CDs that you listen to the whole way through and so many of the current attempts at Metal mastery fall short due to some weak songs mixed with only a few good ones or good parts of songs mixed with happy, gay vocal melodies and thin voices. That's why Nevermore is cool to me sometimes, with their thick singing and good hooks although they get a little too abstract for my personal tastes sometimes.“

Are you all satisfied with the new artwork from Marc Sasso for „Darker Than Black“?

„I love it. I recommend any band out there looking for art to check out his website at: www.marcsasso.com and hire this guy. I am a big comic book collector so we had a lot in common and we just talk for hours. He totally lives for Metal music and thought our new CD was the best he's heard in years. He has great taste in music too.“

„Darker Than Black“ sounds aggressive, but much more melodic than the two earlier albums and offers a great production. Do you agree?

„I guess so. My main goal for this CD was to write great songs that were memorable and all had hooks. Like I implied before, bands today are too busy trying to impress with over the top musical musician shit that the regular rocker won't relate to, and no songs are memorable that you want to play over and over again. We wanted an album that would set the standard for 21st century Metal like it was when "Screaming For Vengeance" and "Number Of The Beast" came out. You don't skip songs on those CDs and you still play those today 20 years later. Timeless Heavy Metal. Yet we wanted to cover many bases in Metal like the anthem rocker, the speed songs, the mid tempo headbangers and still experiment by mixing Black and Death Metal elements as well.“

Your style of singing is really fantastic! How has it developed and since how many years do you sing in Metal bands?

„Since 1985 I have been singing but only now have I been fully pushing my limits. I wanted to show what the human voice was truly capable of in a variety of different ways. I tracked everything with Richard Carr, who worked with Roy Z to track the vocals on the Halford and Dickinson CDs, so I was in good hands. He would share stories with me on what was done on those discs and how I was comparing and it was really motivating and encouraging. I incorporated rasping Black Metal voices in with King Diamond falsettos and low Death Metal voices on songs like "White Magic" and "Secrets Of Fatima" for fantastic results that stunned even guys in the band with how well they all came out. I also tried to have more shrieking Halford style screams in this one because that is the stuff I love as well. The mixture of vocals and voices is like nothing I have heard yet and I think it all fit as well.“

What's behind the title „Darker Than Black“?

„We just wanted to let the fans and public know that this was going from the spiritual Astrology theme that had some love songs and more of an introspective vibe, to a purely dark, vicious Metal record. The cover just capped off the whole message we were trying to send.“

Exists an epic concept behind the new album?

„I Just wanted to explore some topics of wonder again like, the shadow people phenomena, the Philadelphia Experiment legend, the Wicken religion, fictional stories like "Kill The Devil", and good old fashion songs about things blowing up like "Wings Of Destruction".“

Exists in your eyes a more or lesser change on the new album to the both previous albums?

„We really enjoyed writing this CD and the change is in the attitude of the members. We are all very happy and work together much better now that the old guitarist left. He was a big hindrance and really stifling for other members of the band. Our true Metal fury finally was able to fully manifest itself once Eric Horton was out. His bluesy, cheese was a constant battle and now the proof is in the pudding as this is by far our best effort.“

How successful were your albums so far in the parts of the globe?

„Very good but we believe the "Darker Than Black" CD will be the one to really expand our fan base, as so many Metal heads are out there who need this CD as their answer for the question: Is the genre of the Heavy Metal Gods going to be adequately filled by someone new to carry the torch and continue to the same level of quality that style of music?“

Who had written all the brilliant epic tracks on „Darker Than Black“?

„Dave Garcia and myself wrote most of the CD but everyone took part in the creation of the CD. Our writing system has really expanded over the course of this last CD. I was able to hum riffs or kind of sing guitar melodies that either Dave or Anthony would translate. I did this for songs like "Kill The Devil" and "Philadelphia Experiment" and some others. We all get together and jam the parts as I ad-lib vocal melodies. This I feel is an advantage over "supergroups" who trade tapes and play shit over the phone for each other, or where one "boss" writes all of the music, beats and vocals and has someone perform them. That is weak 99 % of the time. Even though Dave and I wrote most of the parts, everyone by participating, added to the final result. Once some songs were completed, we went back and sat and reviewed the songs and added extra melodies and harmonies. An example of this was "Eyes Of Obsidian" where we re-structured the whole song at the very end and then added the extra guitar harmonies. The 10+ years Dave and I have been writing together has really created a chemistry that can only be duplicated with time and blood!“

Which were and still are the main inspirations for the music of Cage?

„My inspiration comes from my serious desire to rock! The feeling you got the 1st time you heard the song "Painkiller" or "Resurrection". We started the band to try to recreate the musical style of the Heavy Metal kings and advance the sound into the future. The music comes from the heart and the songs are written from the standpoint of "what makes me rock". We never are writing thinking what is the latest trend or what will sell; we just go for the most ripping Heavy Metal we can think of. I often think of a quote from KK Downing from Judas Priest "It is not if it is too much, only can it be done."“

The unique US Power Metal style of Cage is totally breath-taking filled with strongness in my opinion! How has it developed?

„I have spoken of this before and to the failure of so many bands to truly deliver the goods. The first thing I notice from my counterparts in the US like Iced Earth, Nevermore, Lizzy Borden, or Agent Steel is the vocal melodies. The happiness of the melody is not a part of the American Power Metal sound. I find it very interesting at times and it must be the difference in cultures. Europeans are more animated in their music even at sporting events like the world cup. (I played soccer for my University and pro indoor soccer by the way) The other countries have all kinds of songs to sing for the team and the USA only has U S A, U S A. So that example leads my to believe that the European Folk songs through the ages have woven their way into even Power Metal. That can also account for the castles and knights in armor, and fantasy themes so often found and pushed to the limit. We don't have any castles or old architecture so our perspective is different. You end up with a more vicious, aggressive, style of Metal without the fa la la which to a lot of people over here is at times laughable. The stuff still sells and gains fans but in the end, to me, I don't think it will stand the test of time like the great albums of the past I have previously mentioned.“

What does the bandname Cage mean?

„We wanted a single syllable name for the band when we were first starting and to my surprise Cage was not taken. I quickly trademarked the name and have legal ownership of it, protected by international treaty. We have had to take legal action against many other false Cage's and have shut down almost all of them. There is only one other left but they are just a pimple on the ass of Heavy Metal so we are not very concerned about them. It has no secret hidden meaning but I think is just a great Metal name.“

Be so kind and explain the lyrics of a few songs with your own words!

„"Kill The Devil" is a fictional story about a satanic cleric who is recruited to join other representatives from other religions to perform the ultimate exorcism. Then I again investigated several unknown, X-files type themes exploring what really happened during the "Philadelphia Experiment", the massive amount of people who have seen shadow entities as children in "Eyes Of Obsidian". I actually do research on the songs by searching the internet and buying books on the subject matter. "Secrets Of Fatima" is a fascinating story that all the fans in Portugal will be familiar with and appreciate, I hope. It is an incredible story people should read about and I love the way the song came out. "White Magic" shows how an innocent religion was hijacked and turned into a supposed evil sanctuary. "Blood Of The Innocent" is a song I researched also about the American Indians and how manifest destiny swept across the West causing conflict. The spread of Indian casinos all across the USA is in a way seeing the Indians now metaphorically enslaving us to their vices that they provide. Where as we enslaved them with alcohol and modern conveniences, we now are hooked on the drug they control, gambling. Many other Indian songs have been done but none have drawn this analysis into things interestingly coming full circle.“

Which were your early idols out of the Metal scene and which of them have influenced you for Cage?

„I think I listed them before but vocally I began singing by myself to Judas Priest CDs and Ozzy and Queensrÿche. Imitating the greats gave me inspiration to try this for myself and I eventually developed my own signature style and sound. Developing your own sound and style is the most difficult of all things as a singer to achieve I think. That is why, to me, there are so few unique Metal voices out there and so many Helloween clones. I was talking to Warrel Dane from Nevermore about this very topic in Belgium last year and he is really irritated by that. I was recently featured in the book "Pro Secrets of Heavy Rock Singing" and my section is in between Geoff Tate's and Ripper Owens interview, which I found very rewarding and ironic at the same time. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to be included with such great vocalists.“

Which bands do you listen to nowadays?

„I usually only listen to Metal. For some reason it bugs me when I am reading an interview of some cool Metal band and they are asked their influences or who they are listening to and they say the same old "I like all kinds of music" Shit. I don't like Country or Rap or any of that shit. I can barely tolerate the Nu-Metal shit as the talent and songs are usually so weak. If someone has a good "song" it doesn't matter what type of music it is, a good song should transcend all boundaries of time and preference. There just happen to be fewer and fewer of them these days. Eminem has a couple of cool songs with good hooks, but Rap "music" in general is a complete joke with one beat, one melody and half of the lyrics saying "Yo Yo" or "Put your hands in the air!". How can someone with a third grade vocabulary make a living at rhyming words? It blows me away. I am contemplating seriously on making a Rap CD just to show the industry how pathetically easy it is. I am currently listening to Arch Enemy, and I actually like the new Hammerfall CD just because they are writing songs and not a bunch of shit. Also, I still am playing the live Halford and the last Gamma Ray CD. Everything else to me has like one or two good songs and then I put something else in.“

Last special words to the fans?

„The fans of Europe have been fantastic and we finally are going to be doing a full tour to show the fans our live show. Anyone who has seen us live knows that is where we truly shine and it is vital we get out to the fans and support "Darker Than Black". Many fans who have stuck with us from the beginning when "Unveiled" was released independently even have sworn that Cage "would be huge one day" and we hope that this new release makes everyone proud and reinforces their loyal dedication validating what they believed we would become. Thanks to everyone in the press and the fans and we are writing CD # 4 as we speak. Things look good indeed! Thanks everyone! Sean R. L. Peck and everyone from Cage. We love to read the fans e-mails it really keeps us motivated so let us here from you at www.cageheavymetal.com - cheers!“

© Markus Eck, 03.02.2003

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