The Three Tremors idea isn't new. Years ago, in a galaxy far away, three powerhouse vocalists Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, and Geoff Tate were discussing a multi-singer project, which sadly never came to be. Some two decades later, singer Sean "The Hell Destroyer" Peck thought it was about time for the prophecy to be fulfilled, and together with his bandmates from Cage, started to work on new music. Joined by two of the best traditional metal shouters, Tim "Ripper" Owens and Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin, the team recorded a 12-song monster, which I discussed with Sean and Harry before the band's Edinburgh gig.
Sean, the band was your idea. Did you have Ripper and Harry in mind from the very beginning, or did you consider asking any other guys too?
S: Yeah, there was one other guy that I hit up. We still haven't even revealed who the other guy was. So there was one other guy that I hit up, and he agreed to do it, but he started getting so weird about everything, and I was like, "OK, this is going to be a problem." And then we asked Ripper, Ripper was on board and then it was kind of fate, 'cause I was hanging out with Harry at the Keep it True where I did the show with Warrior, and I go, "Hey man, I'm going to be doing these Three Tremors," and Harry is like, "Oh, yeah, I'm into it." So then it took like another year before we had really formulated some of the music, we started sending the music out to those guys, they started recording it, and the rest is history.
And why did you decide to use your bandmates from Cage for this band?
S: My first idea was to have like all different people. I was talking to Juan Garcia from Agent Steel, I'm really good friends with him, like, "Hey man, I need some cool riffs," and then some other pretty well-known guys too. And everybody that I asked, all these guitar players that really didn't know me very well, they liked the idea. So it was encouraging in the early stages to hear from these people that were into it. And then, you know, part of the reason I think the original three guys didn't do the Tree Tremors, was that it was just so difficult to make it happen. And so I pulled back because we wanted to make a live thing from the start, it wasn't just going to be an album project, it was going to be a band. And I thought, "OK, it's going to be way easier to have everybody in San Diego, writing the music, rehearsing, so these guys could just show up and the band would all be ready to go," you know? And I was fully confident in the ability of the Cage guys to write killer songs. So we got together, and we just started sort of cracking on songs, and I'm glad we did it that way, it just made much more sense.
You said the idea from the very beginning was to make an album. In times when people don't buy music wouldn't it be easier to just go on tour with the three of you playing Priest, Jag Panzer and Cage stuff?
H: We didn't want that. We didn't wanna be like a cover band or something, three guys coming out doing other people's music. We wanted to leave a footprint, and we wanted to have songs of our own and products of our own. So then that way there would be a history, you know, people could say, "Oh yeah, these guys, they did what nobody else could do, they actually have original music here." Sure, it may sound similar to the metal of that era, but that was because all three of us were influenced by that style. So yeah, that's exactly what we wanted to do in the first place, to put out an album, show everybody that this is a real thing, start throwing videos out so people can say, "Yeah, OK, this is not just a flash in the pan," and you know, we may play one or two at the most three or four cover tunes, but we play pretty much every song on the album.
S: That's why Ripper was attracted to it, because it was original music. He has done the multiple-singer things and then he had just done the Trinity thing with Blaze and Tate which looked like it was gonna be original, but they did one song that went on Tate's album, and you know, I don't wanna give my opinion on how I thought that song came out, ha-ha! So my whole idea was like, we're gonna make high octane music, you know, everyone that sees this thing, what they hear, is like they're not gonna be disappointed. And with the super-groups, the albums are never as good as what the line-up looks like, you know? It's hard to do. And so the main thing we wanted to do was to make sure our original music was badass.
Did Ripper and Harry have any input in song-writing or lyrics?
S: Well, we just wanted to get the first one done. We thought it'd be way easier just to present them with, "Here's the songs." But the reason we put out the solo versions was because their versions were so cool and their nuances, you know, doing stuff like, "Oh, I didn't think of that!" So the first song we did was "Bullets for the Damned" and Harry sent a version that was completely off the rails. Like, he changed everything around, and it was super cool, and he's got great melody ideas, but we just couldn't use that, so we said, "You got to do it like this because we're combining all these parts." So he went back and re-sang it. But this new one that we're doing, we're deep into the writing of the second one, and so they're gonna have a lot more influence on this one, 'cause we're all familiar with each other now.
"Wrath of Asgard" was the first song you filmed a video clip for. Do you feel it's the strongest tune on the album that you used it for the initial promotion?
S: Well, the first one we did was a lyric video for "Invaders from the Sky". And that was probably a mistake because people freaked out, we put the craziest one out first and there was a lot of negative reactions, "Oh my god, it's too much!" But some people saw how cool it was, they said, "What are you guys talking about? This is fuckin' amazing!" So then we put the second lyric video out, which was "When the Last Scream Fades", that's more of a straight-ahead "Painkiller"-style and the reaction after that was, "OK, this is way much better." And then the first music video we put out was "Wrath of Asgard" and it's a good mid-tempo rocker, and that's probably the one we should have led with, thinking back, so people wouldn't have gotten too fuckin' scared about it.
The other two video clips are "Bullets for the Damned" and "Fly or Die". I hear a lot of "Painkiller" in "Bullets" and "Fly or Die" in reminds me of "Aces High", not musically, but because of the lyrics and the speech samples. It's not a coincidence I suppose?
S: Yeah, I mean I call it the 2020 "Aces High", I love that song. And the video we did, you know, we went up to Ramona and we had the actual plane and that was the time when Southern California was just getting blasted with rain and snow and we had this time booked to film this thing, like this one day when we could get the plane, those two guys happened to be in town and it just happened to be, that the eye of the storm came. It was beautiful, we were in San Diego and mountains all around us were covered in snow and it was all crisp outside, it was like perfectly sunny for that video. So we got really lucky with that.
H: Yeah, it was actually a little bit warmer, there was just a slight chill in the air so when we had to strip down for the video we weren't freezing our asses off, ha-ha!
S: But we have a fourth music video which is "Sonic Suicide" which we just put out too. So we have four music videos and two lyric videos for a 12-song album, which is fuckin' stupid. Nobody does that, I don't know what we're thinking. We just like putting out quality content, you know? And I love all the videos and I love the lyric videos so you know, more for the fans.
You all sang the entire songs, not just your parts, why?
H: Well, that's how we had to do it. It wasn't really mapped out, you know, what parts we were going to do. It was easier for us to each do it individually. Well, Sean had created the map with his voice singing all the songs and then we put our character to all those songs. And then he and Dave got together and said, "OK, well, what works best in harmony with this, in harmony that? Who's singing the coolest verse? What voice fits better with the song in this verse?" and that's when they started to do the editing and moulding our three voices together.
S: Yeah, I gave them my full final version, "This is my version, I'm done." I didn't want them to record parts, they sang the whole songs.
H: It was easier since there was no true map of "OK, here's the breakdown of it" or one person gets a whole song, the other person gets this whole song. We all just went in there and did our own thing. So sometimes some harmonies got changed subtly, you know, maybe a couple of notes, but basically we just put our feeling on, using his vocal guide.
S: And Ripper recorded like a ton of tracks, and we dropped them in, and they just sounded great together. So in the solo versions me and Dave were just like, "Should we pull this out?" So we just let all the tracks go on every song, and there's not a lot of Ripper material where he has that going on, and it's really fuckin' great. I'm biased, but I think it's the best thing Ripper's ever done man. He's got some amazing fuckin' work in there.
You've actually released the solo versions with each singer singing the entire album. Was it also the plan from the beginning or did this idea come later along the way?
S: It was never a plan to release all of them, but we were like, "We already have it, so how much work would it be to put it together?" And so we eventually decided to do that. And the packaging is amazing, the way that whole thing looks, it came out so good. We just pressed a small amount, you know, because we thought it'd be more of a superfan thing and it sold out, so we already had to repress it again. It's really cool to see that people like it. It looks fantastic and it's a unique thing and not a lot of people have done something like that before. And each person's version is really cool. I mean, I love Harry's, Ripper's is amazing, and then of course mine, you know, ha-ha!
You played quite a few shows before the album was even out, so fans didn't know the material at all. How did those shows go?
S: They went really good actually, it was a shock. "Invaders from the Sky" came out and then we released the second lyric video like the second show into the tour, so there was hardly anything out. We got kinda screwed over by the label, the label just took too long. So I said, "Fuck it!" and we did our own. I already had a label, with distribution and everything, but the distributor said, "Oh, we got to push it back." And we already had the tour plans, so we went out and we did it. We played the entire album, all 12 songs live plus "The Sentinel" and "Painkiller" and Harry does "Black" and I do "Hell Destroyer", and a couple of others. And you know, Cyprus was packed, all the Greek shows packed, really good response in all the other territories. And so we saw these people coming and they're like, "We don't know any of these songs," so we saw the reaction to that original music right before there was one single review. So we did like 18, 19 shows with the crowd just going, "We love this music!" you know I'm saying? So then when we would get a bad review from some guy sitting in his room and I'm like, "That's cute and all but I just played 19 rooms packed full of metalheads who just absolutely loved the songs. So your shitty opinion that it's too crazy or too much doesn't mean shit because we just market-tested it out."
H: Yeah, it was a fortunate accident actually you know, because people, they weren't aware of these songs and they loved it, they really ate it up. And so then we knew, "Oh yeah, we've got strong material."
S: We got a lot of great reviews, but some of the reviews were like two out of ten, like, "This is the shittiest fuckin' thing!" Some were just so ridiculous like there's no hooks, the guitar playing sucks, just stupid shit that makes no sense. So some people have really tried to hate on it, but we've crushed all those naysayers because we're on our 50th or 60th show and all kinds of more shit is coming up, you know?
When Harry couldn't do part of the tour, you got Steve Grimmett cover for him. There's tons of amazing power metal singers all around Europe, so why did you pick Steve?
S: Well, it was funny because he hit me up on Facebook a month before like, "Hey man, I really would like to be part of this" and I'm like, "Well, there really isn't any openings for it, you know?" But it was cool to have Steve just even be into it, like somebody with his pedigree totally be down for it. So then Harry had the thing where he couldn't go so I'm like instantly hitting Grimmett, "Hey, dude, guess what? Are you free during these days? You're in the Tremors!" And he said he was free and he was willing to do it. We went up and just did the first show, with no rehearsal, like, "Hey, we're not going to rehearse, we're getting you up there and I'll just keep singing until you come in and do your part." And gradually he got better as it went on. It was really cool because he's always been an amazing singer, but we really pushed him, I think. He was like, "Man, it was great for me, I was getting lazy." And at the end of the thing, he was fuckin' wailing and I'm like, "Listen to you now, dude!" Last night we presented him with a Tremors vest as a way of us showing our thanks for him and he was really happy about it. But there's been other singers too, they have come like, "Hey, man, I really dig what you're doing, is there any way I can be part of it?" And so whenever we're in town and there are singer friends, you know, like we had the guy from Tad Morose, Ronny sing with us, we had Mike Stark from Stormburner, we had Wade Black, so we always try to get somebody. Blaze Bayley is going to sing with us at the HRH so that's gonna be cool.
The original Three Tremors were supposed to be Halford, Dickinson and Tate. Are you disappointed that the original idea never worked out, or happy it didn't, because you could do your Three Tremors?
H: Well, we could have still done that at the same time, even if they were doing their thing. I mean they would've done it a different way; they didn't plan on doing any original songs.
S: I was tied with Roy Z who was gonna produce the whole thing, we did our "Darker than Black" album at Silver Cloud studios where Halford was doing all his stuff with Roy Z during that whole time period. So I heard some inside stories of how it fuckin' blew apart and what was happening. So that was kind of the reason that we did it because the metal world was deprived of what could have been great. Would it have been great? I don't know. I mean, I think what we did is definitely more to my liking because our shit is faster and more extreme. Those are the Metal Gods though, to hear them together would have been of course amazing. We're just the demigods down here, ha-ha! We talked about it and Tim's like, "Well, we could call it something else," and I'm like, "No, the point of this is to fulfil the prophecy, to do what they all said could not be done." That was the whole point, to call it the Three Tremors. They didn't do it, we're gonna do it because they're never gonna do it. And Halford was asked about it on "The metal voice", "What do you think about the Three Tremors?" and he's like, "I think it's great. They're amazing singers and I wish them nothing but the best." So we got endorsement from Metal God. But you know, the reason that it didn't happen is, you can blame Geoff Tate. He's the one that fucked the whole thing up.
Sean, are you working on any other stuff right now with Cage, Death Dealer or maybe Denner/Shermann?
S: The third Death Dealer album is done. That's going to come out September, October. There might be some touring with that. We have a new bass player, Mike LePond is now going to be playing bass, so that's cool. He did amazing on the recording. Like every album I've ever done, "OK bass track's down," I didn't even care, but now he's got stuff in there that really adds to the songs, so great job by him. So that's the news there and then we're working on a new Cage record. We're going to finish up the Three Tremors record first and then try and get the Cage record out. It's going to be a lot of work, but we're trying, because we have some festivals for Cage in March in Europe, so we're going to try and get a new album out by then. And then there is no more Denner/Shermann. I mean, there's a split between Hank and Michael because of that Mercyful Fate bullshit. I mean they did Michael dirty, you know? But, I can't say anything official yet, but out of the ashes will rise something incredibly special. Moves have already been made. I hate it when I do interviews, "I can't tell you because it's a secret" but it's a fuckin' secret, ha-ha!
Harry, "The Deviant Chord" was out three years ago. Are you working on any new Jag Panzer stuff? Or Satan's Host's?
H: Well, Mark had three songs he wanted to post to me while I was in Colorado, but he just recently refurbished his studio so he couldn't present anything to me. But I'm going back for another week. We're finishing up the Satan's Host album. We had to go back and revisit that because the bass tracks were done but then the bass player that wrote this stuff wanted to play guitar. So when we got a new bass player, they started rehearsing with the new bass player playing some of this material and they liked his bass parts. That was such a departure from the other one that they want to recut the bass again. And then also the guitarist said, "OK, well after listening to some of my parts, I want to add some things." So they're finishing it up and we're looking at maybe a late summer release. It's going to be called "The Legacy Will Never Die" and we have the final piece that Joe Petagno did before he's retired from doing any covers. He was the artist who did the majority of the Motorhead covers and he's done our last three or four albums and this work that he did on "Legacy" is the last piece of work that he was ever going to do so we're proud to have that.
S: And then Tim's working on a solo album and he'll have some pretty big news coming up. And he just did the Spirit of Fire and then A New Revenge.
How far along are you with the with the new Three Tremors album?
We have quite a bit of material. They haven't recorded anything yet, I recorded some vocals, but we have a shit ton of material. So we're just trying to make it legendary.