Feeling the RAGE with Mike Terrana
I got the opportunity to talk to Mike Terrana from Rage while the band was playing at Prog Power IV here in Atlanta Georgia. Rage is one of my favorite new bands-new to me anyway. Rage is about twenty years old-but who gives a fuck how old they are? I had never heard of them before, and their PR firm here in the US was kind enough to send me a CD-and it totally kicks fucking ass all over the map. ĖI really like this band, so when I got a chance to talk to Mike the drummer I was ENCHANTED. This New York boy lives in Germany, and has a lot to say. Read on, because it will be an entertaining education:
MI-What is your birth date?
Mike-January 21st, 1960.
MI-What has been the biggest influence on your life?
Mike-I would have to say myself (laughing). ĖI wanted to be a professional drummer when I was younger. A musician. When I saw Terry Bozzio playing with Missing Persons in nineteen eighty something, I got really close to the drums and realized that this was something interesting, and decided oh, I want to do this. That was the point in my life where I wanted to really go forward and be a professional.
MI-Who would you compare yourself vocally and musically to and why?
Mike-First of all, you realize I am the drummer of the band (laughing). Do you want to talk about Peavyís vocals? MI-Sure, anything you want to talk about. Mike-I think when it comes to Rage, a lot of people compare us to some of the mid tempo Metallica type of stuff. But I think the band has itís own identity because we were doing a lot of this orchestral stuff before it came into fashion. The band is over twenty years old. To be honest with you, I donít really compare myself. MI-If you were to compare yourself to any drummer in the world, who would it be? (So, I am like a dog with a bone here.) Mike-If I was going to compare myself to any drummer in the world? I think it would be a mixture of a couple of guys. It would be like a mixture of Tommy Aldridge and Terry Bozzio (exactly what I was thinking Mike).
MI-Describe Rageís music to me.
Mike-I would describe it as good. I wouldnít describe it as true metal, I would describe it more as power rock mixed with some technical influences. Especially the last three albums, because the line up changed so. I think Victor Smolski is more technical. I am more technical. ĖI think we are trying to make some futuristic rock music. Some progressive futuristic rock music.
MI-Tell me about the members of the band.
Mike-Peavy Wagner is the original founding member of the band, the singer-and he has had the band for twenty years. Victor is the guitar player, Victor Smolski. He comes from Minsk, White Russia, and he is a classically trained guitar player and cello player and a keyboard player. His father was the conductor of the White Russian Philharmonic-so he has quite an impressive musical background and a lot of education. He can also rock, he just uses this education when it is necessary (laughing). My name is Mike Terrana, and I am with the band, and I am from America.
MI-How did you guys come up with the name for the band?
Mike-It is actually quite interesting. I donít know if you know the band Stradivarius, but it is a band that is quite popular in Europe. There was a drummer in this band by the name of Jorge Mikael. He was Germanyís number one rock drummer. But now he is in this band, Stradivarius. He was the first drummer in Rage, and the band was called Avenger at the time, and he came up with the name Rage. So, it all goes back to Jorge Mikael.
MI-What do you consider to be Rageís first big break?
Mike-Well, there is an album called Thirteen-which took the band to a very high level. I was not in the band at the time-but this was a record that mixed rock music with the orchestral style, and the band was opening up for Deep Purple at the time and was getting a lot of video play. So, I think that was the big break for the band. So that was maybe four years ago.
MI-If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Mike-I have to say, I like to play in South America. The people are wild. They are so wild for music that you canít believe it. They are really enthusiastic. Itís amazing. The energy comes like a wave at you when you play there-itís amazing. I guess thatís why Iron Maiden did their live video there.
MI-What is your favorite horror movie of all time and why?
Mike-I was a big Dawn of the Dead fan. The Birds was scary too. MI-Yeah, The Birds was scary. I hate The Birds.
MI-Tell me a joke.
Mike-This lady is walking down the street, and there is a parrot sitting outside of this pet shop-she walks by, and the parrot whistles and says, ĎHey Lady.í She looks and the parrot says, ĎYouíre ugly.í She keeps walking and sheís mad. ĖThe next day sheís coming home from work. The parrot looks at her, she looks at him-and the parrot says, Ďhey lady, youíre ugly as hell.í She goes, ĎThatís enough.í She walks into the pet store and tells the guy, ĎLook, that parrot out there has insulted me for the past two days and I am tired of it. If you donít do something, maybe I am going to take this matter into my own hands and sue you, or close the shop, or have something done with this parrot. I am not going to deal with it. I come home by here every day from work, and I donít like this parrot. The guy says, Ďlook lady, I am sorry. I will talk to the parrot. I will calm it down. I will do something and make sure it doesnít happen again.í The third day, the lady is walking back from work and sheís walking by-and the parrot whistles and goes, Ďyou know.í (laughing)
Mike- I should tell you the Superman joke. Superman is talking to some of the other superheroes, and he wants to get laid. ĖHe tells them, ĎI am looking for a female superhero thatís good in bed.í Heís talking to Batman and Robin-and they are both telling him-we are telling you hands down that we both had Wonder Woman and hands down she was amazing. She will rock your world. He was like Wonder Woman, hmmmÖokay. So, heís flying around, fighting crimeÖand he runs into Captain America. He was like hey, I am looking for a good Superhero in bed, and Batman and Robin told me that is really fantastic. Captain America goes Oh Yeah! Sheís amazing. Superman is like okay. So Superman has got his in his mind, and heís flying around-and all of the sudden he is flying over a corn field, and he sees Wonder Woman completely naked lying on her back with her legs spread open. He thinks to himself-I was just thinking about Wonder Woman and there she is. He thinks-with my superpowers, I could fly down there, give it to Wonder Woman-and she would never know what hit her. I would be badda bing badda boom-and I would be gone. So he does-and heís flying away. ĖWonder Woman is laying there on the ground-and sheís like what the hell was that! And the Invisible Man was laying on top of her and goes-I donít know, but my ass is killing me.
MI-Do you believe in psychics?
Mike-I believe in psychos, yes. Psychics? Psychic power? I would have to say yes I believe in some of this stuff because I think there are a lot of strange energies that canít be explained and I think the power of the mind has not been completely harnessed or explored. So, yes I think some people have some gifts.
MI-Do you believe in reincarnation?
Mike-Well, thatís a very difficult question for me, but I like the idea of it. I donít know if I can truly believe in the whole thing. I have met people that are into this kind of thing that tell me that I am a very old soul. ĖI donít know, but I think it is kind of interesting. It could be.
MI-Where do you see the band five or ten years from now?
Mike-I see us on an island, very wealthy (laughing). Five years from now, Iíll be honest with you. This business is so unstable that it is really hard to predict, but I would like to think that we will still be playing and having fun.
MI-Why did you decide to become a musician?
Mike-When I was younger, my father didnít want me to become a musician because he thought I was trying to escape reality and not work a real job, but the thing about being a musician is that to represents freedom to me. It gives me the opportunity to do what I want, to travel, to make people happy-itís not a normal job. It is a very difficult way, sometimes, to make a living. I would have to say after twenty years of struggling, I wouldnít change anything. For me, being a musician is probably the most important thing I could ever do and I thank God I can get up in the morning and do something I like to do. ĖI meet a lot of people that donít know what to do with them selves. They donít know what they want to be, or they donít have any direction. ĖSo, I always had that goal and that direction.
MI-What is your favorite poet?
Mike-My favorite poet is Edgar Allen Poe, because he is cool.
MI-Other than Rage, who are your favorite current bands and why?
Mike-This might come as a shock to you, or to the kids who love heavy metal-donít get me wrong, I love heavy metal but I am really mesmerized and fascinated by Frank Sinatra. I think he is amazing. He was an amazing character. I read a lot of books about him, and I like all the people he hung out with-like Sammy Davis. I like his music. I like Frank Sinatraís voice. I like his charisma. I like the fact that he was a world-class entertainer. The man really had something that you canít develop. You canít learn it. He just had it, and he was a class act. I am sorry heís gone. ĖSo right now, heís my favorite band.
MI-If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring one person, one cd, one book, and one bottle of liquor-who would that person and what would that cd, book, and bottle of liquor be?
Mike-The person, it would have to be a woman (laughing). I would probably take my girlfriend. I know her, and I donít argue with her. I think if I was left alone on a desert island, I would probably be okay. The book, very seldom do I re read books-I would bring Howard Sternís book. I read a lot of really good books, but I can always go back after two or three months and read Howard Sternís book. The bottle of liquor-I would bring Jack Daniels because it just gets you right there. The cd, thatís easy-Frank Sinatra Live At the Sands 1966, with Count Basie. I never get tired of that one.
MI-If you could be God for a week, what would you change?
Mike-I would get rid of people having preconceived notions of other people-and that goes for religion and politics. I think that would solve a lot of problems.
MI-What do you think about what is going on with the world?
Mike-I donít know if the world is getting crazier, or I am just getting older and I notice that it is crazy-but it seems to me that a lot of people seem a little nervous and anxious. I donít think that is really a pleasant way to live. We are only here for a short time in the first place. So, I would have to say-I grew up in the sixties and the seventies, and I really liked the seventies in America. That is why I am living in Europe now. Europe to me is like how America was in the seventies. It is a safer place to live. It is not so violent. I am not saying it is a better place than the United States-I love the United States too. It is where I am from. I was born here, but it just seems as though things have changed since the last time I was over here and it is due to this September 11th thing-which I think is tragic and horrible. But I think the person running the country has got everybody a little paranoid. I think he is using it as a form of control, and I donít like it. ĖYesterday, I checked in at customs coming through the airport and it was really similar to a police state. I actually changed lines, because there was a woman looking at the passports-scrutinizing the passports so closely that the line was not moving-the woman was doing her job, I understand that-but she was looking at the passports with a magnifying glass. The lady ahead of me-she looked like my mom. I donít think sheís a terrorist. ĖEveryone is upset and nervous about this, and they are expecting something, but I switched to another line. I hadnít been to the United States in three years, and I had a lot of paperwork in my passport. I had work visas from Russia and South America-this lady, I think she would have just went wild and asked me too many questions. I was like-I am not in the mood for this. I am an American Citizen, and I just wanted to go through easily-but it made me nervous, to be honest with you.
MI-Tell me about how the music industry has treated you.
Mike-The music industry in terms of like this MTV and stuff-I am really not in it. I am always on the outside. I feel like I am looking through the glass watching all of these people-whoever they are-Eminem, Christina Aguelaria or Britney Spears (Note from MI-AAACK he said BRITNEY), Madonna-I was SHOCKED a couple of days ago when I saw that (Another MI Note-Heís talking about Britney and Madonnaís kiss, like kissing a chick was anything new for Madonna. I just think it was a publicity stunt for Britney. She has to have a DAMN good pr person. You donít see Kelly Osbourne locking lips with the Material Girl for the fucking cameras now do you? The metal princess has much more fucking class.) The big machine of the music industry has never really had anything to do with me. I am a drummer. I am playing in a style of music that you would not exactly call economically gratifying for record companies to really pay attention to. So, I really donít have an opinion about it. I think I am a lucky man-I can play the kind of music I like. I can live from it ok. But as far as the music industry-I donít care for it. I donít understand what MTV is anymore. I think it has destroyed a lot of things. When I see The Osbournes, I am completely turned off. I donít know what the fuck it is about. I donít understand it. When I was a kid in the seventies, I used to buy a t-shirt, smoke some dope, watch the band, and go home with a smile on my face. ĖThatís over. Now, itís some kind of machine, money-making kind of a scam-get the people in, get em out. No one is really playing anymore. People are playing to tapes and everything. I donít get it. ĖPeople run to the website the next day and write down what they like and didnít like about the bands performance. When I was a kid, I went to the show-I was a big Rush fan and stuff. I was just happy to see the show, and I went home and thought about it. ĖYou go to see a band because you want to exchange energy with the band. That is what the concert is about-it is about being there at that point. It is like the Buddists say-Be here now. Enjoy it and shut up. If you donít enjoy it, go home.
MI-What do you think about reality TV?
Mike-Reality TV? I think it is a bunch of bullshit. You want reality? Open the door to your house and go outside. I donít need to sit at my house and watch a bunch of idiots I donít know have a conversation that I donít care about. There are so many more important things to do in life than to waste time watching that, I am sorry. I donít understand it.
MI-You live in Germany. Who do you think puts out a more honest newscast- the US or Overseas?
Mike-To be honest with you, I take an average of the two. I have noticed that since I have lived out of the country, that I see my own country and my own culture with different eyes. I think this has helped me grow, and I think this has helped me become a little more wise and worldly. It kind of opened up my mind a little bit. Definitely, when you watch the European segments you are getting a different viewpoint-and they have a lot of good points. When you hear the American side, you hear their viewpoints and complaints about what the Europeans think and both sides have good points. It is like anything. There are two sides to every story. ĖIf you are a marriage counselor, you have to listen to the guy and the girl and each one of them has a pretty consistent point or complaint, but like I said before-you asked me what I would do if I was God-just eliminate all of these political ideals, uniforms, and symbols-you are going to stop a lot of shit right there. I think people use religion-I am Catholic. I wear a cross, and after September 11th I almost took it off because I see people reading a book that is thousands of years old and it has a lot of archaic rules that donít apply to the world now. People are fanatical about the book and the rules. I donít understand whatís going on. Use your mind, you know.
MI-Do you see another attack coming at the United States?
Mike-I donít personally see it. The thing is, I watched the news here for two days, and that is what they are talking about. So, I think that is why everybody is nervous, but it is hard to say what will happen. ĖI think people who do this (terrorism) are cowards.
MI-Do you think Bush knew about 9-11 before it happened?
Mike-I donít know about that, but I think these people in power know a lot of things they donít tell everybody. I donít trust anybody. I think people should make their own decisions. ĖI was in Mexico City when 9-11 happened. I flew into Chicago September 10th on my way to Mexico City to play a big drum festival, and the drummer from Rob Halfordís band was going to be there and a couple of other guys from LA. I had jet lag, and I woke up and I turned on the television and I saw these two towers burning and I thought well is that Chicago? And I look and no-itís New York. I thought maybe it was a little accident, maybe a little plane flew into one side of the building, As they were talking, this other plane flew in, and I was like WOW. What is going on? So-at that point they were like the President was coming in from Florida or something and they were like-oh, heís safe, heís safe. ĖAnd I donít think anyone really cared that he was safe with the big disaster there. I donít think the guyís (Bush) very intelligent. I donít think he is a world politician either. You have to think globally when you start messing around with all of these different situations, and I donít know if he is looking at the big picture. I think the American people want to see results. They want to see some kind of justice for what happened. I can understand it is difficult, but I donít know if he is really capable of doing the job. MI-Who do you think is running the country, Bush or his Daddy? Mike-I think Daddy had some unfinished business with Saddam, and thatís why they went back in there. I thought Colin Powell was pretty cool, but I really donít have any faith in him anymore. And I tell you what, I think there is maybe a handful of people running the world, and maybe they are involved with oil. ĖThe people who get up and go to work every morning donít have time to think about these things. You work and try to survive-you have a family or something. You donít have time to think about these giant global conglomerates involved with some country that you canít even pronounce. ĖThese people know a lot of things, and they only give so much information to the public.
MI-What was the worst job you ever had and why?
Mike-The worst job I ever had was I was a garbage man for one year in Buffalo, NY. Everybody I worked with was an alcoholic. ĖIt was the most mindless job that I have ever had in my life. It required absolutely no thinking what so ever. ĖIf you were capable of stepping down from the truck, picking up the can, emptying the can, putting the can back down-that was the job. And day after day, we would pull up to very long streets full of garbage. You pick up stuff people throw away, and many times their garbage is stinky. It is hard work also. I had absolutely no fat on my body. I was a garbage man, and it is not to say that guys that are garbage men are stupid people, but for me my brain was turning to shit. It was really amazing. MI-Was it private or city sanitation? Mike-City. It was good money, but I was just treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.
MI-Who do you think the greatest drummers are of all time and why?
Mike-The greatest drummer that has ever walked the face of the Earth is Buddy Rich-because he was just purely amazing. He had amazing technique. He had amazing musicality, he was an amazing personality-and he really never practiced. He used to support his family doing drumming when he was about three years old. He never stopped. He was an amazing man. He was a New Yorker! He was born in Brooklyn.
-The next guy I would have to say is Louis Belson. A lot of guys who play double bass donít even know who Louis Belson is. Belson was a jazz drummer and he was the first guy to take two bass drums and put them together. A very important guy-and he is still playing today.
-The next guy I would have to say is Gene Cooper. Gene Cooper was-I donít know if you like Motley Crue, but when you see Tommy Lee doing all these things-that was all done. That was all done by Gene Cooper. He started that. If you watch Sing Sing Sing, or any of these old movies. Gene Cooper was also a very charismatic personality. These guys in the thirties and forties brought drumming to the forefront. So I think they are very important.
-Modern wise speaking, I would have to say Terry Bozzio is probably one of the most amazing drummers I have ever seen because he is so original and what he plays is very complicated-and yet it is spiritual. He is really doing some interesting things. He is a real artist.
MI-If you could pick your favorite guitar player, who would it be?
Mike-I would have to say Jimi Hendrix.
MI-If a movie were made about your life-what would the theme song be?
Mike-Thatís interesting. I know what the theme song would be-Thatís the Way-Uh Huh Uh Huh (Singing) I Like It Uh Huh Uh Huh. Or we could say, I Did It My Way by Frankie-Boy.
MI-Who is your hero and why?
Mike-Youíre not gonna believe it. MI-Why? Mike-Mr. T. I love Mr. T. I have a Mr. T piggy bank. If you go to my website, I have Mr. T on my website (http://www.terrana.com/). I also have a mohawk haircut like Mr. T. I was fascinated by Mr. T when I was a kid. I had never seen any guy with a haircut like that, so I had to have one. He is really a great guy.
MI-If you could have lunch with anybody, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Mike-I would have lunch with Jim Carrey, Todd Rundgren, Mr.T-and Jacquelyn Smith; I met her, while I was close to her. I used to live in California, and I saw her get out of a limo, and she was really beautiful. Actually, she is not a very young woman-but she is incredible, and she seemed very polite. ĖI would like to have lunch with Jacqueline Smith, can you arrange that? MI-If I could, I would do it.
MI-What do you want people to know about you?
Mike-In this day and age-nothing! No, I am kidding. ĖWell, some people look at you and they think that if you are in a rock band you are an arrogant guy or whatever. ĖI would like people to know that I am just like them. Really, I like people. I like to say hello. I like to laugh and joke around. So, if someone wants to know something about me maybe they should just know that I am a down to Earth person. Thatís the best thing.
MI-Who do you think the greatest rock and roll star of all time is?
Mike-Mick Jagger. He just turned sixty. He looks great and he is kicking ass. Thatís amazing, I am forty three, and I am tired.
MI-If you had one million dollars to donate to charity-what would that charity be and why?
Mike-I would give it to kids who are underprivileged or who are handicapped, because as a drummer I have to use my whole body and I really like to run around. I run like fifteen kilometers a day. I like to work out in my gym. I couldnít imagine not having a part of my body working properly, and I know when I was a kid I always liked to run around and play. When I see a young kid thatís in a wheelchair, it makes me feel very sad. I am sure that kid would like to get out of that chair and run around with all of the other guys, and they canít. It would be nice to maybe help these people who are so young and have so much time ahead of them-and they want to play and have fun. I think when you are a kid; it is really the best time of your life.
MI-If God came to you and said, I want your opinion on what kind of memorial should be built for the victims of 9-11, what would you say?
Mike-I wouldnít rebuild the towers. I think I would build a monument that would somehow involve water. I like water fountains. In Europe, they have a lot of nice water fountains. I think what is nice about water, is that it is always recycling. So, it would just be a nice remembrance-and the thing about water is-when you go to the beach and the water makes you calm, a lot of people have these water things that they put in their office-it is kind of soothing and calming. I think that people could come there and think and remember the people and see the water, and maybe it wouldnít be so painful. I wouldnít rebuild the towers there. I know they are going to build something.
MI-Do you have a message for your fans? If so, what is it?
Mike-I would like to say to anybody that listens to us, has followed us, or buys our records-thank you, because it is a small business. It is getting smaller and smaller and these people keep us going. They come to the shows. It is really not so fun to play when there is not so many people in the venue. I am always grateful that people come, and I think for the festival that we are playing here-people come from all over the world.
MI-If you could play any venue/stadium in the world, which would it be?
Mike-Madison Square Garden.
MI-If you could open for any band in the world, who would it be?
MI-What is your favorite quote of all time?
Mike-Live and let live.
Thanks Mike. I loved talking to you-it was a great fucking time. Soundchaser fucking rocks, and I am recommending it to EVERYONE with enough intelligence to try something good. I will always talk to RAGE, and I just canít WAIT TO SEE THEM LIVE!
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