The Three Tremors – Freewheel BurningThursday, 24th January 2019
Remember back in 2000 when the original idea of The Three Tremors sent shockwaves through the metal press? The union of three premiere vocalists like Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, and Geoff Tate to appear on an album created all this buzz, but never really came to fruition. Cage singer Sean Peck felt that he should take the reigns and assemble his own triad of elite vocalists – which we have now with ex-Judas Priest vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Jag Panzer singer Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin to become The Three Tremors. Years in the making, the band’s self-titled debut album lives up to the power and glory of heavy metal. All three handling a multitude of registers and feels, be it power, speed, thrash or straight-ahead anthems – capable of melting paint off the wall and shattering any glass that dare stand in its path.
Readying their stateside release of the album, we reached out to Sean Peck who was happy to fill Dead Rhetoric in on all things relating to the assembling of The Three Tremors, the subject matter for the album, the initial European run of shows and how that went – plus a little talk about his numerous other bands and some NFL football talk in the mix.
Dead Rhetoric: The Three Tremors consists of yourself, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, and Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin – how were you able to get this elite triad of heavy metal vocalists together, and what objectives are you hopeful to achieve that differ from your work of the past?
Sean Peck: It goes back into when I first came back to the motivation to even try … I saw it like an unfulfilled heavy metal prophecy. They teased us with the Halford-Tate-Dickinson thing, and it never came to pass, and it’s apparent that’s it never going to happen. I was just sitting there five years ago deciding that I should make this happen- because if I don’t do it, no one else is going to do it. Then I started going through my bucket list of singers – and of course Ripper was the top on the list for me, because I’m a big fan. I knew him, and then I was out doing gigs with the band Warrior, we did a couple of shows out in Germany. I ended up at an after-party with the Jag Panzer guys, who I knew from before, so I started talking to Harry about it. He was totally down for it. A few years passed as we were writing the songs – jammed them up and told them I was ready, they were both ready and we did it. I was really encouraged by how enthusiastic both of them were about this, they were fully into it. They were my first choices.
The objectives are…when we started talking about this, we wanted to make sure that this was a band and not just a project. There’s so many of these projects that come out where they are even called projects in the title- and they’ll never see the light of day on stage. People give less credence or attention to them, or emotional investment to them. In metal, there’s a lot of emotional investment so we think that’s important. This is going to be a live band, we are going to be going out everywhere and you will be able to see that this is for real. This is no fancy record gimmick. That’s why we did this tour before the album even came out.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us how the recording of the debut album went – did you map out specific parts/songs for each singer, or use a different method to decide who handled what? Were there any specific surprises, obstacles, or challenges that came up?
Peck: The first thing we wanted to do was write what we consider great heavy metal songs. People are trying to classify the album, and I only know one way to write metal, the type of metal that I grew up on. The Priest on steroids method- so I’ve tried to innovate on the ideas of heavy metal, and not necessarily in the music. I don’t like reviews where they say there’s nothing innovative here- well if it was innovative, it wouldn’t be heavy metal anymore. You lose the essence of what I love about heavy metal, it would get too crazy. There’s some innovation that can take place, but I try to innovate in the ideas arena, like we did with the Cage – Ancient Evil album, where we put out a book, stuff like that.
Once we had songs that we were confident of, I sang the basic final versions- and sent that to the guys. Then they would sing a final version of the songs. We have three solo versions of this album complete, and they are awesome by the way. We will probably release them down the road as a package- The Tyrant, The Ripper, and the Hell Destroyer versions. We already have the cover art work done for each already. It’s killing me, because the individual cover art for each one is so bad ass, and I can’t even show it yet (laughs). That will happen in the future. Once we got the three different versions, I would literally sit there over and over again for a hundred times until I knew which parts from each guy’s version I really loved. I got on the computer and I would type out a blueprint line by line – Ripper takes a high here, Harry has the low on this one. Without hearing how it would sound altogether, it was really hard to know if we had a jumbled bunch of shit or if it was going to be a giant mess. I think we got lucky that the blueprint I wrote out, we stuck to pretty much 99 % and there were a lot of surprises.
We would get the Ripper tracks and the Harry tracks, and they were so good. There are so many magical moments that ended up left on the cutting room floor. I think Ripper’s solo version of this record is my favorite thing he’s ever done. I know I’m biased, but it’s insane. It was a lot of work and a huge challenge. We are really happy with the result.
Dead Rhetoric: “Fly or Die” specifically tackles World War II – including soundbites relating to the Pearl Harbor strike. Considering the two World Wars we went through in the 20th century, where do you see the state of the world in terms of getting along with one another? Do you fear a possible World War III in our lifetime?
Peck: (laughs). I don’t think there will be a World War III. The Chinese, they love their stuff too much, and it would be an economic disaster for them if we went into a war with them. Russia, we’ve had the mutually assured destruction threat looming, and they don’t want to get killed- neither do we. That was the problem with the war in the Middle East- they didn’t care, that wasn’t a factor. It was almost like Starship Troopers, where you are fighting an enemy that didn’t care if they died or not. With the two other Superpowers, they don’t want to die either. We have that holding the world at bay.
There is always going to be turmoil until the other world, extra dimensional aliens reveal themselves to the public. And that’s probably why Donald Trump created Space Force – from the alien threat. But we cover that on the album too – with “Invaders from the Sky”. (laughs)
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the other topics that you decided to tackle lyrically for this record?
Peck: I haven’t had a writer’s block, but coming up with new concepts that I’m passionate about has been a little bit of a challenge. Writing fictional tales is easy- I finished up the lyrics for the new Death Dealer album, for instance. Unless you are doing a really gnarly introspection about feelings, despair, all the emotions – you have to go to classic heavy metal themes. I have covered every conspiracy theory there is. “King of the Monsters” is a tribute to Lemmy and Dio, talking about the state of heavy metal. What’s going to happen when there is no more Iron Maiden, there’s no more Judas Priest, there’s no more Slayer. What’s going to happen when the big arena metal artists are gone – that’s going to be a void that’s left.
I did a couple of songs about the Revolutionary War, I did the Pearl Harbor thing. I always throw one kind of ‘liberty or death’ kind of vibe, which is probably “Sonic Suicide”. We did a song about the story of the Three Tremors, which is a tongue in cheek thing. We end the set with that song, and it goes really well live. You have the fictional stuff, “Bullets for the Damned” which is about people killing millions of vampires. You have to have at least one witch song or one vampire song on every heavy metal album as far as I’m concerned. It hits the mark (laughs). That’s served me well over the years.
Some people say that I’m either a brilliant lyricist and some are skeptical that it’s cheesy. I grew up on heavy metal and there was laser and fire and giant robots and undead Eddie monsters walking across the stage. Metal to me is an escape, and I’d rather be singing about this. I want this to be fun, classic, bad ass heavy metal themes and that’s the audience I am writing for.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the cover art develop between Marc Sasso and the band – showcasing the three tremors as conquers of an apocalyptic battle?
Peck: I originally had another artist do another cover. And that cover ended up being one of the three for the solo releases. I just had that original artist do two more (covers) in that style for the solo records. And that cover did not feature the three of us on the cover. I’m good friends with Marc Sasso, he has done Halford, the first Death Dealer cover, all of the Cage stuff. Over the years we’ve become friends, we always call up and talk for hours about the Avengers movie or some video game. We brainstorm about ideas – so he sent me a sketch and we started tweaking it of the three of us. We totally switched gears in midstream for the cover- that was a lot of Marc’s idea. It has the three Dogs of War theme – we have that on a t-shirt and that’s been selling like crazy. From the “Bullets for the Damned” idea, and that ties into the music video. I’m sure half the people will say this video is crazy, but it’s awesome. (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: You recently completed some European tour dates with this lineup (which musically features members of Cage) – how did these shows go, and what can the fans expect in terms of songs you’ll tackle (as I’d imagine people will want to hear selections from each singer’s back catalogs)?
Peck: Yes. We only had two days of rehearsal, and I wasn’t confident it was nearly enough. What did happen in those rehearsals were some magic moments- I’d look back at the band and their minds would be blown. When you are singing it, you can’t perceive what the audience is seeing. This speedy heavy metal with the three of us wailing, I was hoping it would be awesome. There were a couple of guys who came in from a Mexican radio station with blank stares in their eyes at the rehearsal – I thought they were hating it. They told us they’d never seen anything like this.
We started out in Cyperus, the first show it was packed. We were feeling out things, but it all worked out really good. I reviewed a show recently from the third show, in Athens – and for what it was, it was really good. There’s improvisation that we do- one guy may sing a higher note there one night, and he might not the next. It makes it fun, as we are doing what we feel. The crowds, for not having an album out and only two lyric videos out, we are playing the twelve album songs in their entirety live – which is something I have never done before. And the responses to the songs have been fantastic – they are screaming. I’m confident as we see some reviews, the critical reviews aren’t going to be as important as we feel like the audiences are getting this in ten different countries. We have been doing “Burn in Hell” off Jugulator, Ripper does that himself – I sing “Hell Destroyer” and Harry sings “Black” from Jag Panzer. We bust out “Painkller” and “The Sentinel” – and believe me, it’s so bad ass. A couple of nights we did “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” with Ripper playing guitar, and that was completely improv without practice.
It’s a good mix, they get a mix of our back history and The Three Tremors album.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of heavy metal today in comparison to say twenty to thirty years ago? With social media and the internet replacing snail mail and tape trading, has that made the scene stronger or weaker in your opinion?
Peck: It seems because we can see it every day, there’s more heavy metal bands than ever. Everyone is active and putting out new music which is cool for the bands in the genre. A lot of cool stuff comes out, you discover stuff through Facebook. There are roots planted in America and overseas, heavy metal will never be kicked to the curb like it was in the Nirvana era. It now has a foundation that no matter what the music trend is, it’s always going to be there. I’d say it’s very healthy right now. I just went online to buy Judas Priest tickets for the LA show, and I kept getting kicked out of the Ticketmaster queue every two minutes and I kept getting pushed back five rows, ten rows. I was trying to buy these tickets, and there are people buying tickets for these heavy metal shows.
The good thing about metal is the older and uglier you are, the more street credibility you have. It’s good for older guys like me (laughs). It’s a genre that you can keep going, no matter how old you are. It makes it almost even better. For The Three Tremors, I’m singing better than maybe I’ve ever sang before- and I think Tim and Harry are too. I’m just trying my best not to embarrass myself. Harry Conklin could be technically one of the best singers in any genre. We will have been up all night, and he can wake up singing high in the morning. He’s a freak man. Ripper, no matter what he always sounds good. I have to really try to keep up with these guys.
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