PEGAZUS BAND PAGE
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Founding members and blood brothers Johnny and Robbie Stoj, who for many years have lived and breathed 'Heavy Metal', officially formed PEGAZUS in the latter part of 1993! Around this specific time, lead vocalist Justin Fleming (20 years old) joined forces with brothers Johnny (26 years old) and Robbie (19 years old) to start turning their dreams into realities.
Not many believed in what the boys were aiming for except themselves. Many critics would say "Classic metal was dead", and that playing traditional classic metal was a bad move and so out dated.
At this particular time, the alternative grunge music scene had become so huge and it really did seem that metal no longer existed, but it was just this sort of attitude that added fuel to the fire. Only to make Johnny, Robbie and Justin persist even stronger in what they've always believed in their hearts to be true, and that was to play classic metal like the many great bands they grew up listening to from the good old days of the 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' era!
Anyway, it was around January, 1994 when bass player Dave King (23 years old) joined Pegazus. After only listening to about 30 seconds of the song Past Life on a rough demo, Dave was ready to join the band, which then completed this four piece metal line-up! They started rehearsing solidly from then on in the Pegazus Headquarters and band room, which was situated at the Stoj brother's home.
The songs came together in no time as did the leather and studded outfits, 'READY FOR BATTLE!'
It was Friday the 5th of August 1994, at the Richmond Tavern which was the band's debut live performance playing to a full venue breaking the clubs attendance record with hundreds of metal fans packed to the rafters. It was a truly fantastic response from the many keen metal fans that have since followed, supported and believed in this great true Australian Heavy Metal band. It has also really shown the narrow-minded critics where they can stick their opinions.
After only playing for a short period of 9 months on the local live Melbourne circuit, the four PEGAZUS WARRIORS decided to do something that no unsigned Australian Metal band had ever done or attempted before and that was to go into a studio and record their first full length debut album, self titled Pegazus in March 1995, totally independently and without any record label or music industry support.
The band only had a very small budget to work with, which was money they had scraped together and saved from all the live shows they had played and this small amount only allowed them to be able to record and mix eleven songs in a quick and rushed 6 and a half days.
When released, this raw sounding demo type album sold quite well around Australia and overseas, and even entered the Metal Labyrinth Top 10 album charts for a lengthy period of 17 weeks, which was seen as a great feat and achievement considering it was among so many great international artist's releases too. It was quite a surprise reaction to the band themselves and also a great inspiration to continue their journey on their metal crusade!
PEGAZUS was then specially invited to play two major showcase gigs at the very exclusive Palace Entertainment Complex in it's hometown of Melbourne, Australia to loud, crazy and enthusiastic crowds of over a thousand people at each show, generating a real exciting buzz on the local live circuit. For this debut album, the band also made two very small budget video clips for the songs, Pain Is My Friend, and Our Father & The Holy Ghost, which were well received by the local fans as these also included some great live audience/fan footage from their huge Palace showcase gigs too.
PEGAZUS was now starting to get noticed a little more in Europe and Japan via magazines and word of mouth by metal fans and media but at this very point there was a slight change of attitude from lead vocalist Justin Fleming. He was going through a tough personal crisis for many months and wasn't really dealing with it so well. In the end, Justin just felt that the best solution really, was for him to leave while he sorts himself out and for Pegazus to continue on its journey without him...
The band played around for a few months as a three piece with Johnny Stoj playing guitar and singing lead vocals, until one day the band received a call from a local singer called Danny Cecati, who said he had heard that the band might be looking for a new lead vocalist. Johnny, Robbie and Dave already knew about Danny as a vocalist, as they had all rubbed shoulders with one another in previous bands in the small clubs locally over the years.
It was around early May 1996 when Danny turned up to audition for the band. They played through a few Pegazus songs and it was then, that the band realized that he was what the band's direction of newer songs needed. This was the moment that Danny officially became a member of Pegazus.
The band right away began to rehearse a number of new songs for the forthcoming new album Wings Of Destiny that was scheduled to be recorded in early 1997. Two of these new tracks, Mother Earth and Witches Hex were actually recorded for a very limited sampler demo tape entitled Metalbound, which also featured two cover versions of metal classics, Black Sabbath's, Symptom of the Universe, and Judas Priest's, Victim of Changes.
The MetalBound demo tape was released in December 1996 at a special show that the band played with actual KISS makeup on and even played a few KISS tunes too...it was a riot of a night! The demo completely and instantly sold out by the many hundreds of copies on the local and underground metal scene and soon after, also became a very sought after demo by fans around the world and still is to this day.
PEGAZUS was again invited to play another two special showcase gigs at the very exclusive Palace Entertainment Complex in Melbourne during 1997 but this time with Danny fronting the band and really kicking some serious ass in front of another totally packed out venue of true metal fans once again on the two more occasions.
The band was completely breaking new ground all the time, first with recording a full-length album totally independently and self financed which very soon after had many other local bands also following this path it had created taking the same possible steps..."all it really took though was a band with a bit of balls, attitude and self belief to take the initiative and it was very noticeable from day one that the Pegazus gang already had these three special qualities instilled in them!"
The boys once again went back into St Andrews studios in March 1997, this time to start recording the bands classic 2nd studio album entitled, Wings of Destiny. Again with no record label deal or any other support, just 100% belief in themselves, the band once again really put themselves on the line here and decided to record another independently self financed album with whatever little money they had again been able to scrape together and save from their many local live shows over the past 2 years.
This time the whole recording and mixing sessions all took place over a much longer period of 15 days total with Mark McCormack once again at the engineering helm, on a slightly bigger budget than the first self titled debut album. The finished result was another full-length album with 9 tracks of pure classic Heavy Metal!!
After the album was finished, Pegazus was offered a few small deals of interest from overseas labels but nothing too tempting. The band didn't even have any money left over from the recording sessions as it was all used to the very last dollar. It took about another 7 months of playing many more live gigs around Melbourne getting together whatever finances they could so desperately, just so they would finally be able to get this independent album manufactured and released by themselves once again.
A close personal friend and true supporter of Pegazus by the name of Steve Rowe had insisted for the band to send a copy of the killer new album once it was properly pressed to the Nuclear Blast Record label in Germany which his own band Mortification was already signed to. The band wasn't very excited at first as it had been through quite a bit over the past 2 years with so many management problems overseas and with also being knocked back from a few overseas and local labels before too, so it was like a half hearted feeling they had about sending a copy of the new album to this much larger and known metal record label. Steve Rowe did eventually send a copy of the new album Wings Of Destiny to Nuclear Blast Records on the band's behalf, just before Christmas of that year in 1997.
It was very soon after, just after the New Year in January 1998, that the actual Managing Director of Nuclear Blast Records from Germany personally contacted the band. A record deal was right away being discussed and after many weeks of negotiations, a record deal was finally agreed upon for four albums.
After all the years of self-belief and lots of hard work, PEGAZUS was now officially signed to one of the biggest and best Heavy Metal labels going around in the world!
It was May the 25th in 1998 when Wings of Destiny was officially released throughout Europe by Nuclear Blast Records where it actually reached number # 103 in the German Charts, which is the highest charting position for an Australian Heavy Metal band in these charts ever!
Soon after the release of the album, it had already reached sales figures of around 25,000 copies just in Europe alone. It was also around this same time that PEGAZUS was invited to play during the 7th and 8th of August, 1998 at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany, which is highly known to be one of the biggest and greatest true Heavy Metal festivals in the world!
About 6 weeks before heading off to Germany for the huge Wacken Open Air Festival, personal issues and problems were arising within the band and Bassist Dave King was inevitably fired.
The band had just got it's biggest break yet and it just seemed that Dave wasn't as committed as the rest of the band for what was ahead, with overseas touring and festival appearances now finally becoming a reality, after all the years of hard work and perserverance.
Without panicking because the airline tickets to Germany had already been booked and paid for, the band was lucky to call on an old Bass player friend called Eric Martins to fill in. Eric came in right away and with six weeks of solid rehearsals, the band was firing on all cylinders, all revved up and ready to rock the fans at WACKEN '98!
Playing the festival was such an honor for the band as it was also the first time an Australian band had ever played at this special event. Not knowing what to expect once on stage, the adrenaline was truly pumping as the band ripped through a solid show in front of about 20,000 metal fans. Quite a few thousand fans with fists in the air, chanting and singing along for the whole show made this a never to be forgotten moment from the normal small club shows the band was accustomed to back at home.
The band was also invited to play on the 9th of August at the great Rockhard Festival also in Germany (near Dortmund) straight after the Wacken Open Air event, this time in a packed out indoor arena with something like 6,000 metal fans supporting headliners SAVATAGE, again receiving a truly fantastic crowd response.
After a long 20 hour flight back home from the best weekend of metal festival shows these guys had ever experienced, the offer from the record label came right away in less than a week of arriving back in Australia to come back to Germany in 6 weeks time to support label mates HAMMERFALL on their 'Templars Crusade Tour 1998', which was definitely an offer too good to refuse.
PEGAZUS arrived back in Germany in the first week of October 1998 to start it's first ever European Tour (the first big European tour by an Australian Heavy Metal band) playing with Hammerfall along with Primal Fear and Labyrinth who were also on this great true metal package.
The tour was a solid non stop 25 date, four weeks metal crusade, traveling and playing packed out venues, many sold out shows throughout Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands and then back to Germany again for a few extra dates. The audience responses and feedback was totally over the top and extremely overwhelming city to city and night after night!
The band came home from that extremely successful tour sometime in the second week of November, pretty excited & wired for it's first time and biggest experience yet, but also very anxious to start recording a new album just to do it all over again!
In January 1999 the band finally decides on a new member and bass player replacement for the departure of bassist Dave King. This all happened just in time for the pre production and recording sessions coming very soon in May for a new album. Cory Betts was the new guy and was also another old friend of the bands from the live clubs circuit in Melbourne from the early 90's.
In May 1999, Pegazus once again entered their favorite St Andrews Studios in their hometown of Melbourne, this time to record and lay down tracks for it's 3rd studio album entitled Breaking The Chains, now becoming the very much anticipated follow up to the extremely popular and big selling previous release Wings Of Destiny. This was the first Pegazus album to be mixed and produced outside of Australia, which was worked on at the House Of Music Studios in Winterbach, Germany. Engineered and Mixed by Achim Kohler and Produced by Matt Sinner of Primal Fear/Sinner.
Breaking The Chains was released throughout Europe in November 1999 and the USA & South America in February 2000, receiving a truly great response from the many media's and fans around the world once again as did the previous album Wings Of Destiny too.
Only a few months after the album's actual worldwide release, inevitably there were some personal problems that were lingering for many, many months with vocalist Danny Cecati and therefore in March 2000 without any hesitation, he was fired from the band. Instead of going out on the touring trail as a band usually would after the release of a great new album again, instead it had become a very hard road and a real task to search for a new lead vocalist instead.
In the meantime, PEGAZUS was asked to do a song for a forthcoming THIN LIZZY Tribute album for Philip Lynott. Seeing that Johnny and Robbie Stoj had both been big fans of Thin Lizzy for many years (they even played together in their own Thin Lizzy Tribute band called Live And Dangerous back in the very early 90's), they had no hesitations whatsoever in doing a couple of cover tunes. In the month of June 2000, the boys went into the recording studio, this time only as a 3 piece with Johnny Stoj on lead vocals and they ended up recording the two classic songs, Jailbreak and Warriors.
After submitting the recorded tunes to the record label, Johnny decided, what better way to pay a true tribute to a true inspiration and rock legend, than to actually write an original song. That's when the idea for the actual tribute song Ballad Of A Thin Man came into action, where Johnny created and wrote the cleverly written lyrics from many great Thin Lizzy song titles to coincide with the whole theme of it all. It's a twin guitar harmony rockin' tune that pays true homage to the band, the man and his music that has inspired and influenced so many. "A cowboy, the warrior, the emerald isle's rockin' renegade"! The song has even been heard, highly praised and endorsed totally by Ms Philomena Lynott herself too simply stating "FANTASTIC! Philip would love it!"
It took about 3 months before the band actually came across New Vocalist/Frontman Rob Thompson. After listening to numerous audition tapes, it was Rob's demo that really got the band's instant attention. It was definitely well worth the wait because not only did Rob have a very unique voice and style that really suited the band, but he also had a character and personality of a similar and same mould as the other boys in the band. He was solid, passionate and full of heart...a true brother devoted and dedicated 100% to both PEGAZUS and HEAVY METAL!
Rob Thompson became the official New Vocalist/Frontman of the band in July 2000. The boys then spent the next four months rehearsing solidly, breaking him in with the many classic Pegazus songs off the Wings Of Destiny and Breaking The Chains albums.
It wasn't until early December 2000 when Pegazus played it's first live show with Rob on Lead Vocals and "WOW, What a fucking show that was!" The band had absolutely no idea how the fans would really react to the change of vocalists again, but it soon became very apparent to be one of THE best and wildest live gigs this band had played in a long time!
January 2001 saw the band make its first ever National Tour of Australia by playing an East Coast Tour through Canberra and Sydney. (Hard to believe that it actually took 7 years for Pegazus to play some shows nationally in Australia, considering the band had already played some of the biggest metal festivals and tours throughout Europe first, a few years earlier). Anyway, the live shows in Canberra and Sydney went down fantastic as quite a few hundred fans turned up for what became one of the biggest local heavy metal gigs in Sydney for years!
PEGAZUS once again continue to set the trend in more ways than one for Australian Heavy Metal as per usual. Always accomplishing many great feats within it's homeland of Australia since 1994, laying down solid foundations for the many others to soon follow in the same footsteps of "Australia's number #1 World Class HEAVY METAL band!"
Soon after the Australian East Coast Tour, right away the band got stuck into writing songs for it's next album. The songwriting was very creative and fluid for main songwriter Johnny Stoj as usual but now also with great contributions coming from another talented songwriter in vocalist Rob Thompson.
The album was coming along very well and Rob's voice was really taking shape and giving the new songs a great feel and vibe. It also became very noticeable within the band that the new material was sounding a bit faster and heavier than anything else before, with a meaner fast'n'furious metal edge...still, the very melodic trademark PEGAZUS sound and style was not something that was being at all compromised or tampered with, but the band as expected, had naturally been evolving from album to album over the years.
On August the 5th, 2001, PEGAZUS played a special showcase gig, which was the band's 7th Anniversary Show. This was also the first time that a handful of the new Pegazus songs would be played to a live audience of fans. The fan reactions were absolutely overwhelming and over the top on their first ever hearing to such new songs such as, The Headless Horseman, The Patriot, Look To The Stars, Neon Angel, Spread Your Wings and Forever Chasing Rainbows.
This was also the last show that bassist Cory Betts would play with the band, as he had also been working on and playing in his very own side project band for the past 9 months, which was becoming to be a bit, more of a serious band than just a side project.
The band had booked the studio to start recording its 4th studio album entitled The Headless Horseman. Once again this was to take place at St Andrews Studios in Melbourne, the same place PEGAZUS has recorded all it's previous albums too. It's also THE place where the band has felt most comfortable and at home with the studio gear, facilities, laid back surroundings and also working with in house engineer Mark McCormack.
While in search for a New Bass player, the band had the options to hire a session player for the new studio album. Before anyone was contacted and confirmed, Cory Betts was actually asked first if he would like to record the album as a session musician and he happily agreed. This was probably the best decision, considering that Cory was so much more familiar with the band's newer songs and material anyway.
The Headless Horseman recording sessions started in September through to November 2001, spending around 6 weeks in total in the studio recording and mixing. Guitarist/Songwriter Johnny Stoj had always played a strong part as a co-producer on all previous albums, but this album was one that had a much bigger and more experienced effort and input. The raw and live passion that this band is very well known by its fans, for displaying as a live high-energy band in concert is the feeling and vibe that was captured on this mighty solid production. The many fans and critics agree alike!
The actual songwriting and playing effort by the band members was at it's absolute best, spawning an album full of so many killer metal songs with pounding drumbeats, guitar riffs from hell and vocals with a passionate sheer metal attack!
Robbie Stoj without a doubt has shown on this new opus his rapidly growing talents album after album, playing at his absolute best with so much solidity, power and passion. Johnny Stoj's guitar work here, cuts like a razor sharp switchblade knife, playing some of the coolest and best guitar leads and licks he's ever played before, absolutely driven. Rob Thompson's vocals give the overall songs the very much-needed uniqueness, charisma and touch of class that seems to be very melodic but also like the madman that possesses an inner rage.
After searching for a Bassist over the past 5 months, the band came across new Bass player Hanny Mohamed. Hanny actually started jamming with the boys in January 2002 and soon after became an official new member of the band. He was actually, for a very long time, a known face to the band, as he had been seen many times at just about every Pegazus show in Melbourne for quite a few years as a die hard fan. He would always have a beer in his hand and be right up the front of the stage, a little drunk maybe but head banging like the mad but true die-hard Pegazus Warrior fan that he was!
The Headless Horseman album was officially released by Nuclear Blast Records, Germany on the 11th of March 2002. The many true PEGAZUS WARRIORS and the many critics from magazine and radio media's around the world have absolutely praised and hailed the long awaited new album from Australia's Metal Kings to be the best PEGAZUS and Heavy Metal album to come out from the land of OZ... "A true metal KILLER!" "Highly regarded and acclaimed by the many thousands of fans and media's around the world to clearly being Australia's number #1 Heavy Metal band!"
PEGAZUS played a Special Release/Launch Party Show for The Headless Horseman album on Saturday the 20th of April 2002. This was at the Central Club venue in its hometown of Melbourne, Australia. It was a show that totally went off with a huge bang as 450 plus of Melbourne's finest Head Banging Army came down to party hard with their Aussie Metal Heroes, with their fists raised in the air, headbanging like crazy and cheering as loud as ever... all in the name of true HEAVY METAL!!!
Some heavy touring is now being discussed and planned, hopefully for later this year, so watch out when you "Hear the THUNDER Raging from DOWN UNDER" because...
"The Headless Horsemen will be Coming to Get You!"