Interview Rage: Victor Smolski

Artiest: Rage

Geïnterviewde: Victor Smolski

Interview afgenomen op: PPM-Fest

Label: Nuclear Blast

Op het Power Prog & Metal Fest hadden we gitarist Victor Smolski van Rage te pakken voor een interview.

Hi! How are you today, glad to play here at PPM Fest?

Sure, it’s a great festival. We have great memories from last time, we’ll see now.

How did you experience it here back in 2011?

We liked it very much, because we really love our fans and the organization was very cool, we enjoyed it.

The concert itself as well?

Yeah, it was good.

We can speak of about almost 30 years of Rage already, how did you keep surprising the fans during all those years?

We do nothing special, we just survive. We still have fun and the same attitude. We really enjoy what we are doing, we don’t feel any pressure from the record company or from business side that we must do something that we don’t like. We really make music just the same way, we’re not overloaded with touring, we take time and enjoy family and friends, then new go on tour, … Really, nothing has changed.

Also when we compose new songs, we don’t feel any pressure, we just do what we like and  stay true to what we make.

Your latest album dates from about 2 years ago and a compilation will be released soon. Who’s idea was it to make another compilation album?

It was our idea because we felt that we could do something special. A lot of bands are doing a kind of best of, but it’s always difficult because we have so many fans and they are all different. Some fans like more heavy stuff, some like more orchestral stuff, more progressive or more straight, so everybody wants his best of. That makes it very difficult for us to decide what exactly a great best of is. So we decided to do something different, what we never did before, some unreleased tracks.

So there are special things on it?

Yeah, we have 30 songs, it’s a double cd with some unreleased stuff or released as a different version and there’s a lot of rehearsal room live recording. Sometimes we rehearse in the studio so we have good kind of quality recording but it’s really like live playing. Sometimes we have funny jams this way which are never released. I think this cd will be very special for us and for the fans as well. It’s got a whole history, it started with songs from Avenger until the last cd from ‘21’. We composed some more songs for ‘21’ but they were not finished. It’s a very interesting double cd and also we have a bonus dvd from Lingua Mortis Orchestra, a very nice live recording from Masters of Rock.

Next to Rage, you guys have been busy with a new project called Lingua Mortis Orchestra. From where this choice to do this?

Actually from fans. We played in 2010 Rock Hard festival with orchestra and fans sometimes were confused what we were playing, with orchestra or without. Also on posters sometimes you see Rage and sometimes Rage with orchestra. We had a setlist from Rage with a lot of orchestral songs and fans asked why we would not do a full orchestra cd. Then we made the decision to keep it as two bands so that to everybody it’s clear what we do and if the next cd will be with with orchestra or not. Also we wrote for Lingua Mortis Orchestra some singles and it sounded a bit different, more experimental… The mix is very difficult, we all were not very happy with how things went. We had like half an album for Lingua Mortis Orchestra and then after some normal songs, it’s very difficult to hear. It was like two cds in one. So now we have a clear separation.

Is it something that will grow in time just like Rage?

I think it’s like a second band. It’s very difficult to do such huge projects, it’s really very complicated and very difficult to put together. When you make arrangements for orchestra, it’s a different style of arrangement and also recording, it’s in different studios. For the last Lingua Mortis, I had to work in two different studios because from one side I want full orchestra recordings in a big room but that’s not so good for heavy riffs. Then I took another orchestra studio, a very dry rock studio and recorded separate parts like first strings and  second strings which makes it more suitable to guitars and drums. Anyway, it’s very difficult, I don’t know when I have the nerve to do a next one haha. It’s hard work, it’s very expensive and something special. For sure we will do in the future a next one but until now it’s enough.

You also took it on the road, for example at Wacken Open Air.

Yes and it was quite successful. We did a Christmas tour which was very nice and we played three or four shows. People like it, I found a great orchestra, people from Barcelona who are very easy-going musicians. They are not like conservative old dudes who hate loud music, they are very young, a very professional and nice orchestra. I think also in July we had four shows with orchestra.

Are you going to use that same orchestra in the future?

I hope.

Is Rage itself working on a new album in the meantime?

We have some ideas already, but more like keeping it for maybe for winter and start working on new material then. Because September, October and November, we’re fully booked with touring. We go on a quite long tour, it will be Europe, Japan, Russia. So we don’t want to start now composing new material. We think about what we’ll play on tour and prepare for touring and in winter, when we come back, we can start and check ideas.

The band had some member changes over the years, but this seems stable for over the last decade. Have you guys found out each other musically or tuned in on each other or something?

Peavy (Peter Wagner) and me, since fifteen years exactly, half of Rage, we make a good team. We find the balance of what we like and how we like it, it’s very easy-going. I want it for Peavy confortable to sing and he loves how I play. The composition process is very fast and easy-going. We find a balance and when you’re so long on tour, it’s something special, it’ like a friendship when you are 80, you know each other and you work hard together. Peavy has his hobby and I have mine, we have our different things but we find our balance, that’s very good.

Being active since the ‘80, how do you look back on the music scene? Has it become easier or harder to realize something in this business?

From one side it’s easier because you have internet to show everybody what you’re doing, you can find a lot of information you are looking for, but on the other side I think it’s for newcomer bands a very tough time because you don’t have support from record companies. I think it’s a problem because  of internet and all this Spotify crap which broke the business circle. I don’t have a problem when a record company makes business and wants money because that money comes back to the musician. They buy bands, they invest money for studios, they send bands on tour, … Those internet companies like Spotify, they do not sign new bands, they do not support newcomer bands, they don’t put this money back in music. We are losing this normal circulation and it’s very hard for musicians to find financial support and I find this very stupid. I also don’t understand why a lot of fans support this internet and steal and download for free, they must think about it that they kill a lot of bands like this. You know, nobody goes shopping and buys bread for breakfast for free, you need to pay it. It’s the same for music. I think this industry kills the possibility for making music. But it’s not in every situation. For computer games for examples it is very clear: you cannot steal it for free, you need to buy. Sony control their group, but nobody is doing the same with music.

But on the other hand, what I hear from smaller bands sometimes, is that they see those things as a way of promotion, to get to know the band a bit.

Yeah but promotion, promotion, promotion… It’s not only about promotion you know. If you want to make a production in a studio or something, somebody must pay for that production, because everybody wants to have quality in their sound. Where do you get money for this? Also when you go on tour: you need lights, crew and this and that and somebody has to pay for this.

Regarding tours, is there any further tour planned with festivals or club shows later this year?

Yes, also club shows. I really like club shows because it’s a special atmosphere for me. For sure, play Wacken and all those kinds of festivals, it’s something special because there are many people involved. But I don’t feel so much energy from such huge festivals because you cannot see the faces and cannot gather energy like in a small club. So I prefer small clubs. Yes for sure, we have some dvds like from Masters of Rock and it’s huge, but on stage on festivals you have shit sound, you have a limited amount of time for soundcheck, a lot of technical troubles, … It’s not so much fun to play. In a club you control the sound better, you have your soundchecks, … I think you can show fans a much better show.

Being at the Power Prog & Metal Fest, how much power, prog and metal does Rage have?

A lot of power and prog elements. Rage is… Well people ask me what style exactly is Rage? Thrash metal, power metal, prog metal, … We have a lot of different elements, it is very hard to say exactly what it is. I say it’s kind of ‘raging metal’ because we don’t think this way. When we compose, we are totally free of these names, we just compose what we want to play and what we hear in our heads. I think it’s a lot of different mixes and elements. I think it makes us very professional and gives us a lot of energy. If you go all out on technique, it’s difficult to understand, sometimes when you make just power straight, it gets sometimes boring. Finding the right balance is sometimes not easy, but we are learning with every cd.

You are still learning after so many years?

Yeah sure. We have so many cds already but the learning process is never-ending. Because you always try something new, it’s what makes Rage interesting, we are not afraid to try something new. It’s the reason why we keep doing it, it’s so much fun. We’re doing what we want!