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RAGE – Machinery Of Fear
Mike Exley
Metal Forces, Issue 20 (1986)

Rage (l-r): Jochen Schröder, Jörg Michael, Rudy Graf
and Peter “Peavy” Wagner
Pic: Fred Baumgart

When man took that first step into space the world could never have guessed where it might lead. People speculated, but it was only in the minds of the chosen few that the real truth really dawned. It was just so in the minds of the people that now sit in front of me backstage at the Hannover leg of the Hell Comes To Your Town tour: Peter “Peavy” Wagner (vocals / bass) and Jörg Michael (drums) had a dream, and now that dream is on its way to becoming reality. This duo, plus guitarists Jochen Schröder and Thomas Grüning, took their first metal steps under the name Avenger, but found this early work unrewarding. Now, however, sporting the name Rage, there are very wide avenues opening up for the band. The first Rage album, Reign Of Fear, has received wide acclaim from the press and the band are enjoying a new life in the spotlight. People are beginning to look at the talent locked up in this band as though they have never seen anything like it before. Rage are a strange combination of thrash and melody which is sadly lacking in some of today’s metal scene, and this has attracted praise from areas previously only known to the band in myth. To find out the reaction, we got together on the said night. Unfortunately, Rage were unable to take to the stage because of a very nasty cold wedging itself firmly in Pete’s throat, but he managed a few words on the progress of the Rage dream.

Peter: “Rage was basically only a change of name for the band. We were getting confused with the English band Avenger and we tried to make the band more individual. People heavily into the European metal scene got used to the change very quickly, but we also picked up a lot of new fans as well. We didn’t think Avenger had had its fair share of attention, but as Rage we are beginning to see a lot of new people getting interested in us.”

Did that help you find the deal with Noise? Jörg: “I think so. We were thinking about approaching Noise, so I telephoned them. They were very interested after the release of the Prayers Of Steel album which we released as Avenger. At the time we had just released the Depraved To Black EP, but they had not heard it so I sent them a copy and that lead to the deal.”

Would you say that Reign Of Fear is a debut album for Rage, or a culmination of what Avenger was trying to do? Peter: “No, not really. We’re not a new band in that sense. We still remember the old Avenger material. When we play live we still include tracks from those early releases – on this tour we’ve been including three tracks from the old material and the fans really like them. They make our set more varied because they’re very heavy but slower. Basically, the faster style of Reign Of Fear just came as a natural development.”

Did Noise advise you on the contents of the album in any way? Jörg: “Not really. We wrote the songs and then we played them to Noise. Sure, they made some suggestions as to what songs were best for that time, and they left us with two that were not on the album, but there was no dictating from Noise. They let us get on with it, so we brought in Ralf Hubert (producer) and went straight into the studio and made the album.”

You mentioned the variety in the songs earlier – I especially liked the slower songs like ‘Chaste Flesh’ – but were you pleased with the album as a whole? Jörg: “Yes, I think so. We don’t want to fall into a rut and play total death metal all the time, because I think we can be more varied than that. We want to play very heavy metal, but I think the feeling of the riff is more important than the speed. The album is still wild, even though it’s not all fast.”

I would agree there, but I had the feeling that the album was a little under-produced in that songs like ‘Raw Energy’ could have had more the feel of, say, a Judas Priest anthem. Would you agree? Jörg: “It’s a good question! We are certainly influenced by Judas Priest, but it’s all a case of time and money I’m afraid. If we had had more time and money in the studio I guess we could have made it better. As it was, we did our best with what we had and I hope in the future we will be able to improve much more.”

Peter, your singing stands out as one of the band’s most individual qualities. Do you think you’re still maturing as a vocalist? Peter: “It’s not easy playing bass as well, but I think I could develop a bit more. One thing I do need to do though is to stay sane on tour. I made a mistake on this tour – we were out in town and I didn’t have a jacket on. Next morning I couldn’t talk, now I can’t sing either. I just have to be more disciplined I suppose, because I have a greater range than most metal vocalists I think it’s more of a psychological problem for me – I think I can’t sing and sure enough it stops me from singing.”

What bands influenced you in your writing and playing? Peter: “Well for a long time I was influenced by John Gallagher of Raven, but I listen to a lot of the metal scene. Nowadays, I like Geddy Lee and Rush, Judas Priest, Metallica… once I was even influenced by Venom!.” Jörg: “I was influenced by John Bonham and Ian Paice, but at the moment I like Tommy Aldridge – I think he is the best.”

Tell us about the reaction to your type of music so far on this tour? “Well, so far it’s been really good for us. Kreator and Destruction have a very similar style and a very similar following, and most people come to see them, but I think they get a nice surprise when they see our slightly unusual style. Berlin was not so good, I hear there was some trouble there, but in the other places the reaction has been fantastic.”

So, what’s next for you? I heard that new material was being planned for the New Year. Jörg: “There was the idea of us doing a maxi, but we have had second thoughts about that because that would put back the release of our next LP until September, which is a bit late. So we’re hoping to get an advance tape done quite soon to learn about the choice of songs for the LP, then we should be ready to record by January. Hopefully, we can come back out on tour as well. We really want to do our best over the next few months to make Rage greater.”

Although the Rage was silent that night, it was nice to see their varied collection of songs make their live attack on the Bochum crowd the following evening. Peter had battled with the cold all day and it finally let him loose – for that I must thank it, for it was indeed a pleasure to hear Reign Of Fear in all its glory.

Shortly after the tour had finished, Thomas Grüning – who apparently had been unhappy for some time – left Rage and has since been replaced by ex-Warlock guitarist Rudy Graf. So now the band seem to have their future plans well laid out, and I wish them luck and look forward to hearing the new songs when they see the light of day. Long may the reign continue – God save the Rage!

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 20 (1986)

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