Hi, first off all I want to congratulate you with your new album “Hell Destroyer”. Awesome album.
Are you satisfied with it?
Sean - Yes very much so. It was a lot of work but the reaction has been great. People really got it and the comments of painkiller 2 and tops Mindcrime are awesome! The reaction has really made us feel rewarded FOR OUR HARD WORK.
How has your new album been received by the media?
Sean - Amazing for the most part. The media people who like our style of metal or are CAGE fans have rated it very high. The consensus is that it has topped our last CD Darker Than Black and that is amazing in its' self.
Why did we have to wait four long years for “Hell Destroyer”?
Sean - Well it is almost 2 CDs worth of music and it took a long time to make sure the songs were as good as they could be. That took lots of preproduction and lots of live shows trying them out on the crowds and fans. The artwork took a long time as the graphic novel approach gave the fans a hell of a lot to be entertained with. Fear not though we are already cranking on the next one. How are we going to top HELL DESTROYER I do not know but somehow it will happen!
Where do you see the main difference between “Darker Than Black” and “Hell Destroyer”?
Sean - I know vocally HELL DESTROYER is far beyond what I was capable of back in the Darker Than Black days. I think the songs are overall faster and their were some slight thrash elements in there. We are always thinking “ What has CAGE not done yet and try to keep the fine balance of progressing your sound and not loosing the magic of what you are. I believe with the last 2 CDs we have our song catalog now is just deadly! Our live set is just a fucking bullet train now!
How did you get your name, Cage?
Sean - It was a one-syllable name that we thought sounded badass and it was available for trademark. So I did the paperwork and we are the only real CAGE there is. I have kept my lawyer very busy defending the name from rappers and ex Black Sabbath singers!
How did you secure the deal with MTM Music?
Sean - Sebastian Eder from the label and Mat Sinner helped put it together. We are happy with them so far and they really believe in us so that is good. We have some plans that will help spread our influence over the next years that they are going to help us with.
In what words would you describe the music and moods of Cage for someone that has not heard you yet?
Sean - We are a heavy metal band in the vein of Priest, Maiden and everything you ever loved from the heavy metal masters. We have harnessed the magic of the classics and brought that sound forward yet maintain our own unique sound. Take Savatage, WASP, Crimson Glory, Iced Earth, Lizzy Borden, king Diamond and Testament and put them in a blender.
To what subjects do the lyrics of Cage refer to, and who writes them?
Who writes to music?
Sean - I write all the lyrics and arrange all the songs. I also write some of the guitars but we all collaborate together. We all live in the same city of San Diego California and probably have one of the best rehearsal rooms anyone has ever seen. It is huge and our PA is massive. We have ramps and shit that go up and all over the room it is sick.
Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?
Sean - Richard Carr who worked with Roy Z on some Halford and Dickinson stuff and some Steel Prophet as well. He did Darker Than Black and we went all analogue with this CD. Everything went to tape and then in to ProTools. No plug ins or computer tricks and samples. Those are the real drums and vocals you are hearing. We wanted a real organic classic sound on this CD as it was Bible oriented.
What’s the song you consider most representative of the new album and why?
Sean - Well HELL DESTROYER the song just kills right off the bat but also I AM THE KING is very special. As usual with all the CAGE records everyone has a different favorite song. That is the sign of lots of strong material. Song writing is the most important factor of all music and we lean towards hook oriented metal with technical shredding and vocals over the top as often as possible.
Do you feel that your sound will evolve in some different direction, in the future, or you will still follow the same path?
Sean - Well we have done Nu-metal songs, Rammstein sounding ones, ballads, rockers you name it. This type of metal has little room for experimentation and the essence must be maintained. We were just talking today about new drum beats and styles of songs to evolve into on the next one we are writing now. It will have the speed and shredding upped again another notch. I am not sure how much more radical my vocals can get. I have Six Feet Under style vocals, Black metal vocals, falsetto screams, ripper Owens type stuff everything on this one so we will see.
How long do you need to practice to feel comfortable with your songs before you record them?
Sean - Like I said before we rewrote a song like CHRISTHAMMER about 10 times no joke. The final version only has like 2 parts of the original version. We pre-produce it, play it live, and listen to it hundreds of times sometimes to see what extra juice we can shove into it. The fan reaction is key. You can always tell a rocker when the crowd responds. There are songs that we never recorded that were played live at shows and then sent back to the workshop for scrapping or over hauling. BORN IN BLOOD we were actually on the 3rd take on the drum tracks at the expensive studio and it hit me that it was not as good as it could be so I pulled the plug on it right there. The guys later wrote that killer atmospheric middle breakdown that is sweet.
The music scene really changed between the 70's, 80's and 90's. What would you say has been your strongest influence?
Sean - We have not followed any trend nor will we. This is purely self gratifying as the band was started because we were metal fans and wanted more of the stuff we loved and could not find it back in 1993. we have stayed together for a long time and we still rock on with the heavy metal style that Priest and Maiden still rock. Few remain that can carry the torch but CAGE will always be here no matter what music trends come and go and no matter how you get the music digital or old fashioned.
Any plans to go on tour? If so, when and where?
Sean - We have a booking agent in Europe now and that is sweet. We will definitely be in Europe in April but maybe sooner if everything goes well. So far sales are good but we spread slowly as the word gets out. We need to play live in front of the people, as we are a vicious live band with lots of backing vocals. Some say we are one of the few power metal bands that play with power. We are playing at a very high level right now and have been doing lots of local and Mexico shows which have been amazing.
Who designs your CD artwork and who has the final word on what actually goes on the album cover?
Sean - Marc Sasso of Halford and Dio fame did the cover again for us. It was my basic idea but he changed the pose and it came out phenomenal! I love it and think it is one of the best metal covers ever! Forrest Butler did the inside images which are also killer! The graphic Novel was put together by myself and Forrest and we had a great time developing the story as it grew in words I would write and pictures he drew. The new website www.helldestroyer.com is going up soon and will feature artwork not shown in the package as well as inside info on the story and characters etc.
Let's speculate - you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice - who would be your ideal touring partners?
Sean - Priest, Maiden, Iced Earth and CAGE. Now that would sell some tickets!
What are you doing besides Cage, job wise as well as hobbies?
Sean - I play a lot of poker in casinos, I run a Real estate company and play soccer as well as snowboard. Go to our website and check out our individual bios for lots of interesting info at www.cageheavymetal.com
What albums or bands do you believe have had the greatest impact on the history of metal?
Sean - DARKER THAN BLACK, HELL DESTROYER and ... oop! I mean Painkiller, Number Of the Beast, Diary of a Madman, Transcendence, and WASPs first CD, Ride The Lightning, The Warning, and Ratt Out of the Cellar ha!
Thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you…
Sean - Thanks to all the CAGE supporters and please tell a friend about us and help spread the word! We love to hear from all the people on the website or on www.myspace.com/cageheavymetal We always answer everyone personally and the comments really keeps us pushing onward! Also in the Fall 2007 we have a bunch of unreleased material and a DVD coming out on itunes. But for now...ALL FEAR THE HELL DESTROYER! All the best! Sean.