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In Words: Pegazus

- Johnny Stoj - Sep. 2000 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Johnny Stoj - Aug. 2002 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Johnny Stoj (by email) - August, 24th 2002

In summer 2000 we did an emailer and you told us that you have already found a new singer about two months ago and that it was turning out absolutely great. Now we have 2002 and it seems that everything took longer than you expected. So, please tell us what happened in the meantime! Tell us about Rob Thompson!

Yeah, at that time vocalist Rob Thompson had just become a new member of Pegazus and we really needed to get stuck into rehearsing the older songs with him right away, so we spent the rest of the year in 2000 doing just that... Giving Rob the opportunity to get comfortable within the band and to let the earlier Pegazus songs become a part of him as well. Then in early 2001, we took off to play a mini Australian Tour of the east coast through Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney to give our fans in Australia a sneak preview as to what the band was sounding like with Rob on vocals. For the first half of 2001 just after the tour, we got right into writing the new songs for the album The Headless Horseman and we entered the actual recording studio in September. We didn't come out of that studio until about early November when the album was all recorded, mixed and mastered by December.
As I mentioned, we have already played some live shows throughout Australia to introduce Rob Thompson and I must say that the fans have not only accepted him as the new vocalist, but they have extremely enjoyed the band's live shows so much more than ever before, so we would definitely say that Rob has risen way above any expectations with both the older and new songs. Rob is a true front man in every sense. His voice is so charismatic and unique which truly gives our songs a very strong character, and live on stage he is just as crazy and wild as the rest of the band... 100% committed to this Heavy Metal Beast called Pegazus!!!

How much did the new line-up effect the songwriting? Did Rob Thompson give some inspiration to the new tracks?

The great thing about this new album is that there are different writers on it. I have been a major writer as on past albums, too, but Rob Thompson has written Dragon Slayer and Victim, and co-wrote some lyrics on The Patriot and Neon Angel with me, and our previous bass player Cory Betts also wrote Look To The Stars. So there's been a lot more input from the other guys on this album than there was on any previous Pegazus albums. I had always tried to encourage this input from members in the past, but thus far it never happened. Rob in particular has a great sense of song writing when it comes to Pegazus... Even when we briefly wrote together on a couple of songs, it just seemed to click automatically between us, like we are on a similar wave length or something? It was a strange but great feeling actually!

Some critics as well as fans think that Rob Thompson's voice ain't as powerful and strong as Danny Cecati's. They think that this weakens the album.... What do you think about that?

I actually haven't heard that before, especially after all the great reviews that the album and band has been getting lately. The Headless Horseman has actually received the highest ever album ratings and praise than any of our previous albums, which we have been so proud of, so I find it hard to believe that many critics or fans would be saying anything like that at all... But hey, it is possible, after all you can't please everybody, right? Even when Danny was singing in the band, even then it was impossible to please everyone, so it's a tough situation whichever way you look at it? Each vocalist definitely has a great style and voice of their own, so comparing them is pretty silly I think! They both add a special element to the sound and style of Pegazus!

Please tell us about what inspired you lyrically this time?

Well, the album is actually titled The Headless Horseman which was influenced from the great movie The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, which is a very cool movie that I must have seen about 5 or 6 times now... I was very intrigued by the movie itself, so I felt that writing about it was a very cool idea. Pegazus has always been a band that likes writing about fantasy and mythology type themes from time to time and The Headless Horseman story and legend seemed like a really cool and natural idea to write a song about it. I personally have always had a lot of inspiration to write songs from movies that I have seen... It's something that I have done on all Pegazus albums so far! The other things that inspired me were the usual fantasy themes like Nightstalker, Spread Your Wings and Forever Chasing Rainbows, songs about battles (The Patriot) and the typical heavy metal anthem (A Call To Arms). The variety that I personally like to hear in a band and an album is all there... Even a tribute song about Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy (Ballad Of A Thin Man)...hehehe   :o)

How did you come up with the song Ballad Of A Thin Man? Johnny, why did you sing it?

It was about 2 years ago and Philip Lynott's 15th anniversary of his passing was looming. I remember everyone was getting onto the buzz of recording some Thin Lizzy covers for an anniversary tribute album and as a fan I had an idea that it would be really cool to write and record a special tribute song as a true mark of respect to an artist and true inspiration to me and the band personally. That's where the idea for Ballad of A Thin Man came up, so I came up with a rock driven guitar riff and twin guitar harmony idea and started writing the lyrics, which were cleverly written from song titles from the many cool Thin Lizzy songs. I showed the guys in the band the song in it's raw demo form and they really liked it and so too did the record label!
At the time of writing this song, Rob Thompson wasn't in the band just yet and so we decided to go ahead and still record it as a 3 piece band, with myself singing the vocals... We didn't even expect the song to be on the band's new album, so it was totally unexpected that the first demo version would be liked so much that it was strongly requested to also be on the The Headless Horseman album.

Where have you recorded the album? How was recording?

We recorded the new album once again at St Andrews Studios in our hometown of Melbourne which is where we've recorded all four (4) Pegazus albums... We really enjoy working in that particular studio and the surroundings and environment that we are able to work in are really laid back, stress free and great!
The actual engineer and owner of the studio Mark McCormack is not only a great and easy guy to work with, but he is also a very dedicated rock and metal fan himself, which is always a bonus! We've had some excellent times there every time we record, whether that be albums, demo's or even bonus tracks for tribute albums.

Has the song writing been completed before you entered the studio? Or did you change some while recording? Or do you spontaneously write a track?

Our songs are always created well before entering the studio and it's at band rehearsals where everyone in the band hears the new songs for the first time. Once a song is presented to the rest of the guys, we just play through it a few times 'til we get the exact feel that was intended for it by the original writer/s and then everybody ends up being able to give it their own personal touch too.
We purposely spent a lot more time writing for this album (about 6 months) and the recording studio time was also extended so we would be able to get better results with our songs, ideas and production.

The new album is called The Headless Horseman. Why did you choose this title? Johnny, was the cover concept from you?

Yes, I came up with the initial idea and concept for the album's title and album cover artwork theme, which I mentioned and discussed with the band and everyone thought it was a great and very cool idea, so we went with it! The album is actually titled The Headless Horseman due to the main opening album track which is a true fast paced metal KILLER!!! The song itself was influenced from the great movie The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, which is a very cool movie that I must have seen about 5 or 6 times now. I was very intrigued by the movie itself, so I felt that writing about it was a very cool idea. Pegazus has always been a band that likes writing about fantasy type themes from time to time and The Headless Horseman story and legend seemed like a really cool and natural idea to write a song about it. I personally have always had a lot of inspiration to write songs from movies that I have seen... It's something that I do from time to time on most Pegazus albums!

Now the album is in the stores. When you look at the album now with a little distance, is there anything you would change?

No, not at all... This is definitely an album that we can look back on with great pride, just knowing how much of an effort went into creating it to be the best it could be. I personally know that we all put in 100% of blood, sweat, tears and pain into this album and I think the passionate playing of everyone really shows on the finished album... The Headless Horseman is also very proudly by far the bands best and heaviest album to date... I think the fans agree!

I guess you already got the first reactions. How are the reactions so far?

You can't always please everybody but most of the worldwide media reviews have been giving the new album the two thumbs up by rating it so much higher than any of our previous albums and that in itself has been awesome!... Most of the comments in reviews have hailed The Headless Horseman to be by far the best Pegazus album so far and without a doubt the best metal album to ever come out of Australia! Totally unexpected that the media has been so praiseful of the bands latest offering... It's always a bit of an unknown, especially when you have a new lead vocalist in the band and you just never know how that line up change will be taken or accepted but it has been extremely well accepted! After all, it is ALWAYS about the actual songs and the band and NOT one particular band member. Most of all, I think the fantastic feedback by the many fans all over the world has been the best feedback and reactions to take in so far!

Due to music exchange platforms like Napster fans often get the songs weeks before the release. Did you already received emails from fans commenting the new material?

Yeah, I was actually amazed at how many fans would be writing to us many weeks before the album was officially released... That was pretty overwhelming to know that so many fans were too anxious to wait the release date. I'd say about 99% of fans writing in were extremely and very impressed with the songs they had heard, mostly commenting on the heavier and faster sounding songs and Rob Thompson's very unique voice!

In general, what do you think about Napster & co.?

I think Napster and all the other MP3 sites around are a great internet tool for fans from anywhere on this planet to be able to download some songs by bands that they might never really get a chance to hear about. So, I do support it, if people use it as a hear before you buy service, then I think that is great, but if you have people downloading whole albums and then won't go out and buy the albums to actually support the bands, then I don't support that at all!

It's quite awhile since you toured. Are there already plans for touring? Or some festivals this summer? Europe or also USA? South America?

Yes, it has been a long time since we last toured in Europe... It's been way too long actually! Over the past couple of months, we have been discussing and talking with promoters about coming to tour in Europe and so far there hasn't been anything strongly confirmed but we are working on it, because we really would like to be back over there amongst the greatest metal fans in the world! We are also right now looking at possibilities for touring Japan and South America too! The festivals for 2002 are long gone now, but we will look at hopefully playing some of them next year in 2003, if that is possible with the actual festival promoters???

What can we expect live from Pegazus this time?

As always, Pegazus isn't just a band that gets onto a stage to simply play songs... We literally HIT the stage like a ball of energy ready to explode in your face! It's one of the best moments for us when the band is alive like a live wire just playing off the raw energy of our music on stage for the fans! Nowadays, the band has a really great live set of material, taking the most requested and wanted songs off of our past three studio albums. With so many classic Pegazus songs that the fans want to hear at a live show, it really has become like a best of package and it really shows at our live gigs where the fans have an absolute wicked time... We just can't wait to hopefully bring the show over to Europe one day soon too.

Since the last album / tour it's been a long time and music business is changing fast. Have you ever worried about the future of Pegazus?

We've never worried about the possible changes within the music industry, because that is something that you have absolutely no control over. You just have to get on with it, just like we have always done before. I mean, we as Pegazus were around back in 1993 when heavy metal was considered dead by the music industry and media's, but we were always playing true heavy metal from day one, whether it was considered trendy or not and we DO plan to be around writing and recording great HEAVY METAL songs and albums for a very long, long time to come...THAT IS A PROMISE!!!

Even if it takes awhile until we heard again from Pegazus, they are back! And if they'll hit the roads to play for their fans then you should be there to witness it. In my opinion this is the strongest album of the band and I can't wait to see them live again...

Claudia Ehrhardt


Johnny Stoj (by email) - September 2000

Just a few days after Danny Cecati left, I got the chance to do an emailer interview with Johnny Stoj. So, I took this chance and wrote down a few questions... And here we are! Hope you enjoy it!

Why did you name the band Pegazus?

The name Pegazus was something that was with me many years ago since I was a teenager at High School where I got the actual idea for the name for this band. This was the same High School that my brother Robbie also went to and it was our school which had this particular logo of a shield with the horse Pegasus inside it, it looked so cool and great for a metal band. Hehehehe ..and this is where the whole history of getting the name for the band came from.

It was obvious that you use Pegasus in your artwork, but who has the idea for the covers?

I had the idea for the first self-titled album cover of the Greek God Zeus riding Pegasus and holding a flying V guitar with lightning striking it and then when we got signed to Nuclear Blast for Wings of Destiny we already had a cover for that album, but it was rejected by the label so Andreas Marschall was hired to do that cover artwork which turned out very good indeed. With Breaking the Chains the album cover artwork came from me again where I showed the whole band what the concept idea was and they all liked it very much, so we had our close friend, artist / tattooist Frank Aquilina sketch and draw the original idea...we then sent it off to Andreas Marshall once again and he really brought the image to life with his awesome talent creating our masterpiece!

Are you into the Greek mythology? Are you interested in history in general?

I am very interested in fantasy stories and folklore of the past, especially the Greek Mythology which I personally find very exciting to read about... I have only read a small amount on this subject in the past but hope to catch up on some more in the future. I haven't really been into the subject of History since my High School days... Hehehehe   :o)

It was a favorite topic of mine though, personally because I found it fascinating to not just learn about the important times of the present and future but I think the past is also very important to know as well. I am very interested in one particular subject nowadays and that is the history of the American Indians.

Have you ever thought to write about Pegasus, the winged horse? A story based upon the myth...

Yes, I wrote the song Pegasus on the first self-titled Pegazus album which we recorded in early 1995... It's all there in the lyrics, the story about the Pegasus myth... The white winged horse.

I think many fans have been shocked by the statement that you fired your singer Danny Cecati! Please tell us what happened!

The story goes much deeper than this and I don't care to bring it all up anymore because we have moved on as a band... That's for sure! Well it's clear and simple really! He was an important part of this band at one stage and then he wasn't anymore after we found out that he decided to join another band and record with them behind our backs trying to get a record deal while he was still in Pegazus which was very dishonest of him. We can't work in that sort of way with anyone... It's either Pegazus 100% or nothing... Again it's very clear and simple I think!

Have you felt in the past that there was a kind of disharmony or that Danny wasn't satisfied by working with Pegazus?

No, not really, because we seemed to get along quite well right up until we did the European tour in late '98, but then a whole new attitude seemed to sur­face and take place after we recorded the new album Breaking the Chains in mid '99.

When you're looking back, do you think that Danny kinda abused Pegazus to make contacts and get known just to start his own thing?

I really don't know... Maybe that's what it was? That's something I guess he could only answer.

How did you feel when your record label told you about it? In the statement you said that first you got emails from fans and you told these fans that it's not true, but now it is reality that Danny is working with another band. How is the reaction of the fans now? Do you get any reactions from fans about the statements of you and Danny?

I was very angry and pissed off when the label told me about the demo tape being true that they had from the band that Danny had been playing and recording with, but it all then started to make sense and the picture became clearer about the many emails of rumours that I was receiving from fans around the world a couple of months earlier. Wow! I mean I live about 30 minutes away from the guy and know nothing about this and I am getting emails from people who do know about it that are like 20,000 miles away... How's that work?

How is it working for you in this new situation? Do you feel comfortable now?

It is really now feeling so much better. I personally feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and there is no longer the feeling of stress... Only relief now... Hehehe!

Exchanging the singer is never easy, so... Aren't you worried that the fans may not like the new singer?

From the many emails that we have been getting from the bands fans over the past 5 months... The reaction has been very supportive and positive in the way that the fans do have a lot of faith that Pegazus will find a great new vocalist... And it's this burning desire that keeps us and this band going. One thing for sure is that we won't be letting the fans down... Not now, not ever! You see, we aren't looking for a vocalist who will look and sound like Danny... That's definitely the wrong way to go about things. What we are looking for is a great Heavy Metal vocalist in general who can sing the older Pegazus songs with balls and conviction and who will also grow with the evolution of this bands songs in future. For in­stance, look at the great transition Judas Priest has had with Ripper Owens after many people thought that Priest was finished after Rob Halford left... Do you know what I mean. If the fire is still there in your heart like it is within us, then the future for this band is fucking great... You just have to believe!

Have you found a new singer already? Or are you still looking for someone?

We have been working quitely with a new vocalist for the past 2 months who is doing absolutely great and we are hoping to make an official announcement to the fans on our website sometime soon... At,, when the time is right of course! At the moment we are playing through a lot of old and older Pegazus songs to see how his voice is sounding with the many variations of our material...

Will this change affect you in future? Will you be more distrustful?

I think I became a bit distrustful as soon as the Danny inccident happened but I don't think I could stay like that for too long because I prefer to get on with life and enjoy it and not worry about the problems that might be there if you're always looking for them all the time... If you know what I mean!

Why did Cory Betts, your bassist, leave the band?

That has been a rumour that sur­faced not long after Danny was fired from the band, so I don't know who started that up or where it's come from, but Cory is definitely still a full time member of this band and has been ever since he joined in January 1999. We do know however, that Cory is doing a recording project someday in the future, even he doesn't know when, but it is just a recording project with some of his very close friends and nothing more really... Maybe this is where the rumour got started, but I can asure you that he is committed to Pegazus all the way and that's all we as a band need to know really!

Are you working on new material right now?

Cory, Robbie and I have been rehearsing together for the past 4 months working in the new vocalist, we also just recorded 2 x Thin Lizzy cover songs for a tribute album (Warriors & Jailbreak) with myself doing the vocals and we are just now starting to write new songs together for the next Pegazus album and the material so far is sounding very fucking heavy, melodic and cool...

Are any concerts planned or a tour?

We had to cancel any plans of concerts and touring because of the line-up change earlier this year which was a total bummer. We were really looking forward to coming over to Europe this year to play some shows for the fans with the new material from Breaking the Chains out now we have to look more realistically at doing a new album first and then touring in 2001. We can't wait to hit the road again!

Do you think that in the beginning it was harder for you as an Australian band to get recognised by labels and fans?

For sure it was and it always is when you are playing music like Heavy Metal, because there is so much less support in the world for this music than there is for top 40 hits... If you know what I mean? In the beginning though, we did start to get very positive feedback from fans and media overseas, even though it was on a small scale but still, if you believe in yourself and the band 100% then you gotta persist with it and ride the wave to where you want it to take you.

The metal scene know nearly no bands from Australia. What do you think is the reason? Is there a metal scene?

There really hasn't been a strong metal scene in Australia since the late 80's but since Pegazus started playing live in 1994 and got signed to Nuclear Blast a couple of years ago... It seems that there is slowly becoming a positive trend for bands here to form and create a scene slowly which is really great.

You are part of the so called true metal genre. Do you feel comfortable with this categorisation?

Yeah, we're pretty comfortable with that genre and term no problem... But I would personally call ourselves simply from the old term being Heavy Metal... But now is the future and everything in music nowadays has so many categories, so you end up fitting into one whether you like it or not... Hehehe

Which bands influenced you?

Our style has definitely been influenced by the great metal bands who we all grew up on from the 80's like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest & Black Sabbath... a sound and style that is a true evolution of the early 80's NWoBHM era. The above mentioned bands are definitely an influence but so are so many others including Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Ozzy and Dio. The real turning point for me personally though was when I saw Iron Maiden live in concert on the World Slavery Tour in 1985 as a very young teenager...that was totally awesome and changed my life forever I think... I've never looked back since that day!

You covered a Helloween song. Why did you choose that one? Will you do a cover version again?

Yeah, we recorded this song at which was meant to be for a proposed Helloween tribute album which turned out to never be released in the end, so the record label decided to release this extra track as the bonus song on the limited edition digi-pack release of Breaking The Chains which was something like 10,000 copies only! It was a great song that really suited Pegazus to play it with the way it was originally recorded and structured and it really suited our sound and style too, I think? We really love playing some of our favorite cover songs by our favorite bands, because we too are some of the biggest metal fans ourselves who enjoyed growing up on this classic stuff... Hehehe.... And just like I mentioned in a previous question, we just recorded 2 Thin Lizzy songs for a tribute album which will be out at the end of this year, I think.

When you decided to make music? What age did you start?

I was very much drawn into music in general when I was about 8 years old when listening to the heavy rock sounds of The Sweet and AC/DC, along with many other cool bands and artists in the late 70's and early 80's and it was then, when I was about 15 that I really wanted to play guitar, so I got my close friends interested in the idea of starting a garage band together and from there the dreams or nightmares began...
Hahahaha   :o)

I was a bit of a late starter with playing guitar and I was actually about 17 years old when I made my final decision that was what I wanted to do in life... Again, no regrets and no looking back at all.

How was it playing outside of Australia for you?

The experience was absolutely fantastic and something that was totally unimaginable, because we were only used to playing in tiny clubs of around 100 to 300 people in our hometown... But then to be on a big stage at Wacken '98 in Germany playing to 20,000 fans was incredible and then the European tour crowds were absolutely fantastic at every show... Totally fucking wicked! We can't wait to do it all again in the near future...

Have you been influenced by the different cultures you saw and people you met?

Not so much by the different cultures, but definitely by the many fans and people we met on the whole tour... Meeting the fans was the ultimate experience wherever we were.

Which country you played impressed you most? And why?

I think the shows in Germany were fantastic, because you could tell that the fans there really love their Heavy Metal bands and music so much and then also the shows in Italy were pretty fucking wild, too... Those guys go so crazy and it was an awesome feeling to get such a response on your first ever European tour, especially for a band like us who had never seen or experienced a real European metal crowd before... Totally unfucking believable!!!

Have you ever thought about incl. elements of traditional Australian music in your music? Or just using typical instruments?

No not all... The traditional Australian music is too traditional and very boring... We need something with a heavy guitar, a thumping bass, a pounding drum and screaming vocals all the time....hehehehe

Is there any country you haven't played, but would like to?

Yeah for sure... I mean, we missed out on playing quite a few countries on our previous European tour and on our next tour we would really like to play countries like Greece, Spain, France, Turkey & Poland. And hopefully we can also get to some other countries like Japan, the USA and South America too...

Claudia Ehrhardt


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