|Hey man let me just thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this. I'm sure you are pretty busy with everything.|
Cage seems to incorporate a lot of different types of metal and musical styles into their albums. Is that due to different influences or what?
A lot of different things are involved. Some of our influences are Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, W.A.S.P., King Diamond, and Savatage. So we incorporate a lot of elements that you would hear from their records but do it in our own way. We like to change the tempo up in the songs a good deal, you know really get a gammet of tempo changes in there to make it different.
When you guys formed the band did you set any goals to try and reach while the band was around?
Not really. I mean we just go together to do this for a love of metal. There weren't any new killer Priest or Maiden albums so we decided that we would make an album that you could put in your CD player, hit play and listen to it all the way through with skipping anything. We started to get a following here in California after doing some openings for Priest and Maiden and just kept on going from there. We don't want to sell out because selling out is compromising the music you play and love.
Did you guys expect to have as much success and such a response over in Europe when you started out?
No, not at all. You know, Europe is kinda where a lot of bands get their big breaks. We are still trying to get exposed here in the States, but Europe is a good thing for us. I guess playing at the Dynamo and other festivals really helped us out. The Dynamo Festival in particular made the difference for us as far as breaking out over in Europe went.
How do you guys prevent yourselves from making the same album twice?
One of the keys to our success is our continuing to evolve our sound. Anyone who listened to "Unveiled" and then went out and picked up "Astrology" told us that it seemed light years ahead of its time when it came out. And with the new album, "Darker Than Black" we again have changed up our sound and just keep evolving. We like to try and experiment with new stuff and see how it goes. A lot of the current metal all sounds the same. We try to make an album that just comes out and grabs you by the balls. We also try to make an album that even if you don't listen to too much metal you can definitely get into what we're doing.
Is there a particular formula you use when it comes time to record an album?
No there isn't really a set formula we follow. Usually the music is done first and then edited here and there. The last thing to be done are the vocals, just because it takes a little longer to do them with all of the different voices that I do and different styles I throw in there.
You do the majority of the songwriting correct?
As far as the lyrics go, I do the biggest part of those. I also do some of the arrangements and some of the guitar stuff. But everyone really chips in and works together and that makes it all together real nicely in the studio. It's really cool to just go in there and jam and throw down some stuff.
Where does the lyrical inspiration for a song like "Chupacabra" come from and why did you also record a version in Spanish?
Chupacabra is a folk legend prevalent through Southern and Central America. They have something on it on the Animal Channel. I mean when you're a farmer and you wake up and there are thirty goats slaughtered with what looks like vampire bites on them, you wanna try and figure out what the fuck it is. It's a big legend in that culture so it was logical to do a Spanish version of the song and put it on the album. Roy Z. helped me out with the enunciation on the track. The hidden track is number 47 and that goes towards my 47 conspiracy. You see the number 47 a lot in the stuff that we do.
I have to know how in the hell you hit those high notes like at the end of "Final Solution" and "Blood of the Innocent"? Also, how do you keep your vocal chords healthy with doing all those voices? Do you warm your voice up before a show? With all the different voices you do, are those done with effects or just you yourself and why do so many different voices?
It's all a matter of closing up my vocal chords and just forcing the air to come out through there to get that falsetto feel to it. I'm always asking people if the high notes sound good and they're like "Oh man it's awesome". The high notes are cool to do and stuff, but my real strength I feel is in the thick, high head voice like on "Kill the Devil". Keeping it healthy, well I quit drinking and smoking so that's helped a whole lot. Just doing all these different voices help keep my voice going. Although, I got kinda freaked out at one point though. After doing the new album and some of the new voices for it, I couldn't get back to the Astrology voice and was starting to get worried. But about three months ago I had a breakthrough and I think my voice is better than ever now.
I don't do warm ups when we do a show, I just have the set list serve as a warm up for me. I don't know if you know or not, but Halford doesn't warm up his voice, he just uses his set list to warm his vocals up. Power metal singers for the most part sound somewhat the same, so I like to change it up and do things that you wouldn't expect. I don't use effects like Pro-Tools or anything like that when recording my vocals. I think that those effects take away from the grit of the vocals and not using them give them their thick quality.
You guys just got Eric Horton in the band right?
No, we just got rid of him and got Anthony McGinnis.
Oh that's right, apparently I forgot how to read my own handwriting. What happened with Eric Horton and how are things working with Anthony McGinnis?
(laughing) Well, Eric quit the band and that was a good thing. He was a bit of a drama queen. When we did an album we would all wonder what Eric would think. "Is he gonna like this you think?" stuff like that. I mean before Eric came to the band we had a more thrashier sound to us, but he came in and brought the bluesy stuff in and that was cool to have something different. But he also had a lot of negative energy too that rubbed off on us, so it was cool to get Anthony into the band. You can hear the change on the new album.
As far as having Anthony in the band, it's great. It took him awhile to get used to the way we did our songwriting. I mean he came up with the majority of "Chupacabra" and brought it to us and we just cannibalized it. We told him "Well, this part is good but this needs to be in here" and "We could use this part, but you might wanna change it a little" but in the end it all came out really well. He has got a great ear for melody and harmony and plays everything exactly like he played it the first time, whereas Eric would play a solo or something and you would never hear the exact same thing twice, he would just kinda wing it. But Anthony has actually written two new songs for the next album, so things are moving along nicely.
You guys are already working on a new album?
|"It's hard to make a living in this scene, but piracy makes it even harder."|
Yeah we are getting songs and stuff ready right now. We have four songs at the moment, one of which is titled "King Diamond" and I will be doing some King Diamond style vocals/speaking parts on the song.
Any plans for touring right now or are you just gonna focus on the album?
Well, we don't really do full blown tours, just mainly festivals and a few shows here on the West Coast. But we will be working on the new album and once that's out, we will probably try and have our label set up a European tour and do some shows here in the States if it all works out.
Speaking of record labels, this is your third record label in as many albums. Are you guys pleased with the way Fugitive Records have handled things?
Oh yeah definitely. We got the better contract deal from them and they let us control the advertising. We have a track on the BW&BK "Knuckle Tracks" CD, we have been in Metal Maniacs the last two months. So yeah, not many labels will let you do the stuff that Fugitive lets us do.
I heard that you are gonna be opening a recording ranch at some point. What can you tell me about that?
Yeah, I saw that was posted on Metal Update. Man Roy Z is gonna kill me. He and I have talked about it and it's something I want to do but he told me not to attatch his name to it. But yeah I just got some really nice property up in the Northern San Diego area up in the mountains. It's a really nice spot that is overlooking a valley and the ocean. They just put up six casinos down there so it's like we have a mini Las Vegas here. But I plan to build my mansion in the sky up there, I'll have bedrooms for the band members and will have the studio. If people come and record there, they'll be able to stay there and hang out or go down to the casinos and stuff. I am also hoping to build an outdoor stage so we can play outside if we throw parties and stuff. But this is about 2-3 years off so, we'll see. Plus being in real estate helped me get this great location.
You are in real estate?
Yeah, I own my own real estate company and get some of my income from there.
What was it like working with Rob Rock on his last release.
Oh man it was really cool. Rob is "Mr. Nice Guy". He's really cool and laid back. I went up there and hung out with him for a day, just shooting the shit and getting to know him. He told me some stories and stuff and I had a really good time. I couldn't really tell where I was at on the new CD because of the production, but I still had a great time doing it. He's like the Gentle Giant of the metal scene man.
Do you plan on or have you been offered any guest spots lately?
Man, since "Darker Than Black" was released I've been offered I guess about thirty spots and have turned them all down. I've been offered a good bit of money to do a well know side project and I turned it down. I was offered a little money to do something smaller, but I get my satisfaction with Cage. I couldn't have a side project because I feel it would take away from what I do with Cage, so that's where my focus is.
Do you have any cool tour stories or favorite moments from a show?
When we opened for Dio and Maiden, we walked backstage and had three separate dressing rooms. Dio on the left, Cage in the middle, and Maiden on the right. That was pretty sick man. I would say that the first time we played with Priest was a big moment in my life. They stood out and watched the show so that was really cool. Recently, we played up in Cleveland on the "Brave Words Six-Pack" Festival. I pretty much had full blown laryngitis before the show and we were gonna cancel. But I decided to go out there and sing anyways, I don't know how I did it but I did. People came up to me after the show and were like "Dude, you are like the most awesome singer I've heard. You're voice must be in great condition." I was like "I fooled them" because of course they didn't know I had laryngitis. When we were on the Milwaukee Metalfest you had all these bands that sounded the same, so we came out and opened up with "Shoot to Kill", and I hit that opening note (sings note) and the place just went fucking wild. We sold all of our merchandise at that show, so that was really awesome.
Do you have any favorite songs off the new album?
Man there are too many to choose from. I like them all. "Secrets of Fatima" is a favorite of mine, it just has a really cool vibe to it. "Eyes of Obsidian" is just a great melodic, rocking tune. "Wings of Destruction" was actually planned to have five singers on it, but I ended up just saying fuck it and did the vocals myself. That was pain in the ass, but it turned out really well.
What are your feelings on file sharing and downloading music?
I think its horrible. It's hard to make a living in this scene, but piracy makes it even harder. You know people say that it gets you exposure. If you have to get exposure that way, then you can't stand on your own merits. It seems that buying a CD is a foreign concept to people nowadays. I wish there was a way to stop it, you know video games don't have this problem because they make it so hard to copy it. But I don't think it's a good thing at all.
Any final thoughts?
Well, I must say that I am really excited about the original Priest lineup being back together again. I think it's gonna be great for the music scene. Let's see what else.....I am hoping and thinking that we're gonna be around for awhile and hopefully we can move up the chain and be able one day to have three semis with pyro, special effects, and props to take out on tour with us like Maiden and Priest do. That would be sick, to bring the metal circus into town and just kick some ass.
Usually we end up by letting you say anything you want about anything you want....so go ahead.
"Forces of Freedom" off the new album was a tribute to 9/11. We did that because metal is about being strong, I'm gonna kick your ass stuff. And after that and the recent events in Iraq, we're finally starting to see metal rise again. Part of that is due to Republicans being in office. I mean think about it, when Reagan was in office metal was doing really well. But then Clinton came into office and the grunge thing took off and things kind of went down the toilet. But now there's another Republican back in office and that conservative mindset has sunken in and metal is going to take off again.
Hey man thanks again for taking the time to do this interview. Best of luck to you guys.
Thanks man, take care.