DATE OF INTERVIEW:
5th March 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: You’re widely regarded as a guitar virtuoso in the metal community but would you say you’re still developing as a player at this stage of your career?
VICTOR: You know, it’s very difficult. I always try to give the best and still learning a lot of stuff, and play a lot.
(Victor Smolski on his involvement in motor sport)
"I do so much music, not only Rage but my guitar school, solo stuff, studio jobs…sometimes I get a little bit overload with all this playing music and I must clear my head, so…[laughs]…it’s good to be able to do crazy stuff like racing!"
Rage - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2011 Pia Kintrup
Rage Official Website:
Prayers of Steel (1985) (as Avenger)
Thanks to Markus Wosgien & Jaap Wagemaker at Nuclear Blast for arranging the interview
Reign of Fear (1986)
Rage Official Facebook:
Execution Guaranteed (1987)
Perfect Man (1988)
Secrets in a Weird World (1989)
Reflections of a Shadow (1990)
The Missing Link (1993)
10 Years in Rage (1994)
Black in Mind (1995)
Lingua Mortis (1996)
End of All Days (1996)
Welcome to the Other Side (2001)
Speak of the Dead (2006)
Carved in Stone (2008)
Strings to a Web (2010)
MD: But when I listen to your playing, I just think – wow, how could you play any better? It’s already that amazing.
VICTOR: I have a lot of fun to play and jam with a lot of musicians, you know, like Steve Lukather, Shawn Lane, Steve Vai…I was on a solo tour with Steve Vai, and Alan Holdsworth…a lot of guys who are really fantastic guitar players. And I don’t play metal all the time; I play fusion stuff…and I like to mix all kinds of technique and try to find something interesting, and depends how I feel. Sometimes people say, “why do you mix classical with blues scales?” I don’t think too much about this, you know, I just improvise what comes in my head and what fits.
MD: What feels right at the time, kind of thing.
VICTOR: Yeah, and I like progressive stuff and to make experiments and, yeah, doing a lot of workshops and a lot of studio jobs and just to find what fits to Rage. When there’s something too crazy for Rage, it goes to my solo project! [laughs]
MD: Do you decide if it’s too crazy yourself or does Peavy say, “no, way too crazy for Rage”?!
VICTOR: Oh no, I can hear what fits or not.
MD: You’re off on a European tour later this month I gather and you’re doing Japan and Russia later this year too?
VICTOR: Yes, first we’re doing a European tour, one month through Europe, and then a short break, then we go to Japan in May, maybe a couple of South America shows, then we play some summer festivals and, in September, we’re going for a really long tour in Russia, like two weeks we go through Russia so it’s a pretty long tour.
MD: Okay, so the big question then – are you gonna make it back over to the UK in 2012?
VICTOR: I don’t know why we’re not playing the UK, like London or somewhere else, it’s really very difficult sometimes to find the right connection with the booking agency. It’s such a pity because the last shows we did in London were incredible. It was so great and fantastic and it’s a pity.
MD: Was it Bloodstock in 2010 the last time Rage played over here?
VICTOR: Yes, the last time was Bloodstock, also a great festival and great bands. It really is a pity.
MD: I gather you’re into motor sport in a big way too and you actually race cars?
VICTOR: Yes, motor sport is really like the last ten years, it’s semi-professional for me already! [laughs]
MD: Yeah, I’ve seen some photos and it looks pretty serious what you’re doing.
VICTOR: At home now, I don’t know if I have more CDs or winner cups!
VICTOR: It’s really fun and, yeah, I really enjoy it and it’s really successful the last years. I was driving a couple of years for the Porsche team and last winter I was driving a lot of rallies, like the German Rally Championship. It was really crazy and I need this, you know, sometimes. I do so much music, not only Rage but my guitar school, solo stuff, studio jobs…sometimes I get a little bit overload with all this playing music and I must clear my head, so…[laughs]…it’s good to be able to do crazy stuff like racing!
MD: That’s quite an extreme way to clear your head!
VICTOR: Yeah, I also have a lot of races planned this year…the 24 hours race at the Nürburgring, that’ll be for the Dodge Viper team and, yeah, a lot of races.
MD: So what gives you the biggest adrenaline rush – playing guitar on stage with Rage or racing?
VICTOR: It’s close; it’s very close sometimes. They’re similar. On stage, when you play a huge stage like Wacken or Masters of Rock or something else, you go really wild but you must be very careful controlling your fingers and control what you are doing. So it’s kind of wildness under control! [laughs] And it’s very similar in the car, you know. Because you get so much adrenaline you really go crazy and, sometimes, when you drive like, especially a rally…it’s, sometimes, every corner is kind of a big surprise and sometimes it’s very fast and direction must be perfect. Yeah, you go wild but you still must control your fingers and what you are doing, and think about what you’re doing. It’s very similar.
MD: When you put it like that, yeah, I can see how they’re related. So when you’re waiting to go on stage and when you’re waiting to start a race, that’s quite a similar feeling?
VICTOR: Yeah, and sometimes when you go too wild, like in Japan we had to do some recording and the atmosphere was so crazy, I was just jumping to the audience and in this moment I recognised it’s not possible to play for me…
VICTOR: …and, yeah, also with the racing sometimes I go too risky, and two years ago I had a really big accident. I was driving a car from Nigel Mansell, a Ginetta, it comes from England this car, and I was driving this car pretty fast but it’s very difficult to drive and, yeah, I got too risky and at 220 I hit the wall! [laughs]
MD: At 220?! Wow.
VICTOR: Yeah, it was at the Nürburgring and it was really crazy.
MD: So were you badly hurt?
VICTOR: No, I was lucky. I completely destroyed the car and it was very dangerous but I was lucky. But you learn from that kind of situation.
MD: Definitely! So the final thing I wanted to ask – what would you like to say to people who will be reading this interview to go and check out ‘21’?
VICTOR: Yeah, first of all I want to thank the guys who still support us, for buying the CDs and checking out the shows and, yeah, what can I say? We never do any compromises…we give our best what is possible and ‘21’ is really a fantastic CD that we like very much. I think, maybe, we did the best arrangements we’ve ever done; it’s really cool songs and it’s one of the heaviest ones. So everybody who wants to see Rage…raging Rage…
MD: Yeah, living up to your name on this one!
VICTOR: …yeah, check this one for sure.
MD: Okay, well, thank you so much for your time. It’s been very interesting speaking to you.
VICTOR: Thank you and thank you for the support.
MD: And hopefully see you over here in the UK very soon playing a gig somewhere.
VICTOR: Yeah, I hope so too! Thank you.
Review of '21':