Interview by: Adrian Hextall
“Three times louder than a sonic boom, three fingers on the hand of doom!” is how the Three Tremors is being described. And when you find out the stellar line-up, there is no denying the mighty vocal power that the newly formed outfit possesses – Tim “Ripper” Owens (JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH, DIO DISCIPLES), Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (JAG PANZER, SATAN’S HOST, TITAN FORCE), and Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck (CAGE, DENNER/SHERMANN, DEATH DEALER)
And on January 18th 2019, metalheads worldwide will be able to behold the power of the Three Tremors, when their self-titled debut album will be unveiled (with a full tour following immediately thereafter).
We caught up with Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck to discuss what initially was a dream in concept only and has now become a full blown reality!
MGM: It sounds like you’ve been busy — It’s taken quite some time putting all of this together, so you must be really pleased to finally see the fruits of your work now.
SP: Man, it was… Yeah, you know, we took a long time writing the songs, you heard the album, right?
MGM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s intense, there’s no other way to describe it. [laughter]
SP: Yes, I mean, we took a long time writing it, I don’t wanna get into it too much, so I’ll go along with your other questions as well but it was a big, big undertaking and now that’s out, we kind of did the unorthodox thing of touring first before the album is out, so we’ve gotten to see people’s reactions to these songs live and it’s like, ‘okay we know these songs are good because people are rocking out to them’, you know, having never heard them before.
MGM: Did the live experience make you reconsider anything? Did you have to revisit some of the songs as a result of the reactions?
SP: Well, some of the songs I was not sure about live, you know, with my other bands some songs are just like amazing on the record but live, it’s just– Sometimes they’re hard to duplicate, it doesn’t come over as good live but these are the ones that I was sketching on live. Some of them were the biggest hits for the crowd but to get that we had to make a lot of adjustments between the three of us. We used the album as a blueprint but as we went along with the tour we’re like “Okay, we’ll do this, you do this part, you do that part.” Sometimes there’s a lot of ad-libbing going on, still even after 17 shows like all of a sudden we’ll look over and Harry, he’ll be singing the one line and me and Ripper will look at you like “Okay, well I guess he’s singing that one.” Makes it kind of fun, it’s a little different every time.
MGM: I was going to say, that’s got to keep you on your toes as well a little bit, hasn’t it? Keeps it fresh.
SP: Yeah. We’re always like looking at each other like [laughter] we’re trying to eliminate as much of that as possible like “Are you on this one?” And we’re like “Planning to do it. Are you good? I’m I doing?” It makes it tough now, man. It’s a lot… that’s when I conceptualize this, you know, making this a reality, like man, live this thing could be just– I’m a fan obviously of this kind of– I grew up with the Priests and the Maidens of the world and this kind of heavy metal. Conceptually In just thought it could be like the ultimate heavy metal experience.
That’s what some of the people that came out to us said, there being… every night there’d be some guy who would slowly walk up to me and like, “May I speak with you for a moment?” And I’m like “Okay.” “I have been to over 1,000 shows and this was fucking amazing.” That’s kind of like “we are the top” like reaction, where one guy is like– “I went to Maiden and this, and these two shows are like neck-to-neck” and for that, those kind of comments, and a lot of people that came in and said like “Hey, we came here thinking it was gonna be a bunch of shit, we were like really skeptical but we just wanted to see what’s going on.” And they’re like “You guys blew us away.”
It really exceeded [live] my highest expectations and when we did the first rehearsal even like– When you’re in doing it it’s kind of hard to visualize it from outside. I was looking back at the other band mates, these guys were just like “Oh my God, what’s wrong?” And they’re like “Nothing dude, this is just insane.” It’s a unique like super powerful live experience, you know, we’re just still getting it where it needs to be.
MGM: If you’re experimenting this almost as you’re onstage and you’re working out this for the first time, presumably it was quite difficult to work out where the three of you should come in because it would be so easy to overlap each other, not almost try and outdo each other at some point. So, to find the balance for the three of you, that must have been a tough ask.
SP: Yeah, we made a lot of adjustments as we went along and kind of figuring out who was strongest at what spot, and what sounded good, there was no ego shit or anything, we’re all like bros, it’s really a lot of fun which makes it– It’s like a buddy thing, everyone’s laughing, onstage what’s being said in between the songs it’s just like– Me and Tim like each other, we don’t know what’s Harry gonna say next. But there was definitely some experimentation, I was going through the videotapes of some of the shows where we only did two practices and I felt really strongly like “Oh man, we didn’t have enough practice, it’s gonna be pretty rough these first few shows.”
Watching videos from the first show, second show, third show and it was awesome, I was like “Man this is great” I thought there were gonna be pretty sketchy and a lot of mess ups but even the first three shows were really good, so somehow I don’t know how but we made it work.
MGM: It’s not like you are setting off as a young band making your first tentative steps into the world, I mean, you’re all seasoned musicians at the end of the day. You can presumably feel your way and adapt pretty easily.
SP: They had to memorize all these lyrics, and there’s a lot more work for Tim and Harry, I had written all the lyrics and I had already been rehearsing these songs with the band by myself, there was a moment, when we were singing this 18 song set in rehearsal and I had to sing everything. These songs are designed for three singers and I’m having to sing the whole thing. I had to learn what not to sing but they had to memorize all these lyrics, it was a little harder for them I think, and we just worked it out, man, we got like I said, figured out, we use the album as a blueprint but we made a lot of adjustments from like “Okay, I’ll sing this part.” Even though we’re seasoned veterans this is three singers interacting together with harmonies and trade-offs. No matter how seasoned you are, the material for three dudes to make it sound as it was drawn up on the chalkboard was still a trick!
MGM: How do you prevent the three of you sounding too similar to each other? Because you could easily– It would be difficult if you didn’t know who was singing too, was it the same guy who’s just got a great range or something like that? How did you establish who can stand out almost?
SP: I don’t know, I think we were really successful at keeping everybody identifiable on the album, which is pretty– I think it’s pure luck, everyone else you know I’m interviewing with has been like “No, dude you’ve done a lot of records.” And I’m like “Yeah, I have. But man you know, we made a schematic of who was going to go where without any concept of whether it would sound good and then all ended up working and sounding good.” We had some of the covers and some of the Priest stuff, we just went crazy, the first few times we were playing the cover songs and then that was like kind of almost too much so we scaled that back, it was just all three of us like “Yeah.” At the same time, that’s just fricking– Maybe we’ll let Tim do wherever he wants to do and then we’ll just fill in the gaps. [laughs]
It’s just kind of trial by fire and we have enough– I think you know Tim has this distinguishable tone, I ended up taking like a lot of the full body mid-range stuff live and then the super high notes, I’m kind of like the mid foundation and the super, super high ones– Everyone has a real good spot man, everyone just– I’m just trying to not embarrass myself next to Harry and Tim which are like two of the greatest singers on earth, forget heavy metal, I mean, those dudes are like two of the greatest vocalists period, no matter what genre of music, just being next to them is just is incredible.
MGM: The three of you are going to attract an audience as you say, on name alone aren’t you? It’s gonna be an interesting concept for people to come out and see. It’s no surprise that the live show feedback was good really. Some people were coming to see you because they know who they’re going to watch, they kind of know what to expect whether they have heard anything before or not.
SP: Yeah, because we had to kind of make– We had to switch gears on the music business part of it, we had it all planned out, the album was gonna be out like right when the tour hit, then that part of it, the people that were holding up their end of the bargain they just completely failed, you know, we had to go, you know what? All right, screw them, we’re gonna go another direction, which I’m happy it all ended up this way, you know, things happen for a reason. At first, everyone was at the merch table like “Where’s the album? Where’s the album?” Then we have these download cards like “Download four songs.” And like nobody wanted to download probably. “No, I want the album man, I don’t want to download tracks.” And I was like, “All right.”
I’ve been playing… It’s the first time ever I think for the other guys too that I’ve ever played an album in its entirety on tour, you usually take four or five songs of the new album, you know how it goes. Playing the entire album that people– There were only two songs out with the lyric videos, only two songs that anybody knew and it was just one big advertisement for the record and I’d be like “How are you guys liking these new songs?” Just seeing them rocking to songs they’ve never heard of…. never heard before was great. So, we did the entire album, all 12 songs, then we did Burn in Hell off the Jugulator album where Tim does Burn in Hell, then we did Hell Destroyer off the Cage… Hell Destroyer record, we did the ‘Black’ where Harry would come out and do Black, which I penned the song. And then we would, for the encore, we’d walk off the stage, thank you and good night, and then the encore the drummer would just come right in with Painkiller, and we’d come running on the stage and the place would just go ape shit.
You’ve never heard Painkiller like this before, I mean, it’s like fucking out of… it’s inhuman how we do it. After that, we did the Sentinel, then we would end it with two original songs, which I thought like after getting them all fired up on Painkiller and Sentinel, then we’re dropping back down to our original song, I don’t know how it’s gonna go but it ended up great, you know, the two original Speed to Burn and then we ended with a Three Tremor Song kind of that, it was kind of starting with that happy little bounce thing and I’m like “I don’t know man. I don’t know how that’s gonna work.” And it worked out great, it was amazing how well the whole set up went.
MGM: By the time you’ve got to that point in the show, they’ve bought into you, you’ve got a lot more freedom at that point, I would imagine to just enjoy yourselves?
SP: Yeah, I mean, it’s like hour and a half at least 18 songs of just pummeling, over the top. The backing band is caged and everyone’s just gray, the kids are head whipping, Dave’s up there with his muscles, it looks just killer though, it was great man, I’m really excited about the future for this thing.
MGM: The whole thing looks complete, you’ve obviously got the artwork, you’ve got the pseudonyms for all the band members as well that make it a really cool look and feel.
SP: Yeah, that’s Mark Sasso. Mark Sasso has done most of the Cage stuff, he did the first Death-Dealer album cover, Dio stuff, Halford, over the years he’s become like one of my best friends. We don’t call each other because when we call each other, it’s like literally two hours of just us going, “Dude, did you see the trailer for the blah-blah-blah.” So, we know it’ll kill half the day if we call each other, so we try and literally stay off the phone, but actually, we had three other album covers that have already been prepared by Dusan Markovic, who is another incredible artist who had a whole different concept. I started talking with Mark and he was like, “What about this?” I completely changed gears and went with that…..
When you see the music video that will be coming out in January, it’s kind of along the same lines for the song ‘Bullets for the Damned’. We plan on releasing the three solo versions of the record, the Hell Destroyer version, the Tyrant version and the Ripper version, and we already have three separate album covers for those, it’s just killing me because these album covers are so fricking insane, that’s gonna be real exciting because it was really hard to decide who was gonna take what part because I had sung the entire finished album so they kind of use that as a blueprint, then like Harry would send his tracks back and Ripper would send his track back.
Me and Dave would like listen to him and it’s like “Holy shit.” They were so good, we’re just like “How are we gonna choose?” Everybody just sounds killer. The Ripper version of this album– I’m definitely jaded but the Ripper solo version of this album to me, is like the most and best thing he’s ever done, I swear to God. It’s so good, the Ripper solo version. We’re gonna probably put those out in the future.
MGM: That comes back to what you said, the fans were saying to the end of the shows as well it’s like “Don’t give me a download card man, give me the album.” People still want to buy that version, that version, that version, it’s like KISS releasing four solo albums on the same day, you know, everybody wants a copy of everything, they want the collection.
SP: That’s the best thing about metal people, you know, if you’re in the music business, you know, I’m not in the music business really for the financial end of it because nobody really is, it’s a passion, I have my other stuff that supports my heavy metal habit but it is nice when you put all this effort into it that the metal heads– We have a Pledge Music site, we’re on pledge music and that was just doing really well, we offer it all; different fricking keychains and baseball cards, like everything you can imagine and everyone has really embraced it. That’s the best thing about metalheads, they support you and they want they want to have the physical shit.
MGM: As soon as you’ve hooked them, you’ve pretty much gotten them for life as well, unless you do something really, really bad, they’ll stick with you after album, after album, after album. Won’t they, always.
SP: Yeah, yeah. You see the same names come through when you put out a new product, it’s always the same guys buying it so it’s awesome.
MGM: You mentioned about the intensity, certainly of the opening track on the album. Crimson Glory springs to mind because you’ve got that real mix of sort of Priest, Halford and probably Midnight singing as well. It really does give you that real intensity that comes with Priest but also the high side of things that Midnight used to bring when he was still alive. It’s a blend you don’t hear very often these days, you know, the Crimson Glory side of the metal world doesn’t really appear anymore, it’s kind of lost these days, and I think you’ve probably brought it back which is really cool.
SP: I’ve been asked if you could get one other person that would have been the fourth tremor, who would it be? And I’m like “I’ll get Midnight.” Without even hesitating. I’m able to do these like super high midnight notes now, I do them live a lot and it’s like having a superpower, you know, like that last super high note at the end of “When the Last Scream Fades”, Harry does the first two and then I come in with them on the third, the super fricking atmosphere, 2500 Hertz note I do, which gives me a little bit of a showcase because the rest of the guys are just killing it the whole rest of the show, at that point at least I get a little spotlight. [laughs]
I’m glad you noticed that because those first two Crimson Glory albums are– Transcendence could be my favorite album of all time of any music, it’s just so magical, I got to do at the Prog Power USA, I got to sing with Crimson Glory and I sang Red Sharks with Neil from Pagans Mind, that was a great experience and there’s a video of it online. Doing the super high ones, I’d love just looking at the reaction of people’s faces, you know, when you do it live, the jaw drops… it’s super cool, and I’m glad you noticed that because that’s– We wanted to put that in there.
It was supposed to be a vocal fireworks on display with good songs and I wanted this to exceed people’s highest expectations because so many times these super groups and these projects they look great on paper and they never ever live up to the hype, they never are– It’s like, “It’s good.” It’s like I wanted this to be just like beyond what people’s expectations were. That’s kind of how I write for all the bands that I’m in, but being able to mix in Harry and Ripper into this songs it’s just a treat man. As a metal fan, some of these songs have been sitting on for five years and I’m still not even sick of them, I know the material is good.
MGM: That’s a testament to what you’ve written if you can hang on to it for that amount of time and still feel like it’s fresh and exciting for you, thank God it can be conveyed to the audience when you play it to them as well.
SP: We want to get out there for sure, that’s the plan. The important thing was this– And I go with this Death Dealer a bit, everyone thinks it’s a project when you put these supergroups together, this whole thing was this is a band, this is gonna– We’re already talking about a second album, Ripper’s 100% committed to it and he’s having fun with it, and Harry’s 100% committed to it. The fact that we’ve already done 17 live shows, people are like “Okay.” It just gives it more credibility that it’s not just some Internet album that we threw together.
It’s a unique experience, I mean, everyone’s seen a million heavy metal bands that are the ones that are great, but to see three singers like this, you know, meld together with these super powerful heavy metal songs it’s a different kind of thing, and my whole thing is trying to innovate in the idea department in heavy metal because musically if you innovate too much in heavy metal, you just lose the thought, you lose what it is, it becomes something else.
SP: We just want great songs and the fact with these three singers intertwining it’s something that’s it’s kind of a gimmick but it’s a gimmick that it has a real substance to it and we’re not just wearing some costumes, we’re not wearing McDonald’s costumes playing Black Sabbath songs and calling it McSabbath [Oh, very good. ]and expect everyone– It’s a gimmick but it’s an actual musical thing behind the gimmick.
MGM: You’ve only got a look at the artwork, the content and listen to the album to realize you are actually serious about this. It may be a gimmick as you say, but it’s not a joke and that’s the big difference.
SP: One of the coolest– And I’ve gotten this several times, the reaction of this album, is people say, “It makes me feel like I was in high school again.”
SP: They’re like, “Man, this makes me feel like when I first discovered metal, man.” and it’s like, I can’t tell if–” Some people are like “It makes me feel like I was in junior high school.” All right, same kind of vibe. That’s a really cool reaction because I remember how I was when I first got into metal, you know, like 16 and just all about it and rocking it out in the back of a Camaro, freaking banging your head, drinking beers and going to the party, that’s really cool that that’s the emotion that we’re bringing out in some people.
To quote Sean at the end of the call…
“When you see this thing live you’re gonna be just like– Your fucking face is gonna be melted and all the other heavy metal metaphors will come true. We fulfilled the prophecy so to speak, they said it couldn’t be done and we have fulfilled a heavy metal prophecy of the Three Tremors.”
THE THREE TREMORS ALBUM TRACK-LIST
01: Invaders From The Sky
02 Bullets For The Damned
03: When The Last Scream Fades
04: Wrath Of Asgard
05: The Cause
06: King Of The Monsters
07: The Pit Shows No Mercy
08: Sonic Suicide
09: Fly Or Die
10: Lust Of The Blade
11: Speed To Burn
12: The Three Tremors (Bonus Track)