Looking back, Sean Peck never dreamed he would go from being just another kid at Palmer High to an internationally touring musician. But as all Alaskans know, this is the one state where you can create any future that you can dare to dream of.
When "Hell Destroyer," as some of his friends call him, moved to Anchorage with his parents in 1975, the local metal scene was still in a fledgling state. In fact, it would take almost 30 years before a dedicated metal music promotions company, Family Tree Presents, would emerge.
"There weren't any local metal bands or anything back in the day. And I wasn't a singer yet. I was just kind of singing in my bedroom, and I was always the class clown in high school, so I was always making funny voices," said Peck, who has been the lead singer for Cage since 1992.
Dubbed "Judas Priest on steroids," Cage has ascended to the upper echelons of metal rockstardom with the help of Peck's versatile singing style. A credit to his prowess, Cage has released 8 albums and toured the world extensively. Along the way, they have opened for Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio, The Scorpions, and King Diamond. The band has also shared the marquee with legends such as Metallica and Peck's personal favorite, Dokken.
"I didn't get into heavy metal until my junior year in high school, and the first show that I went to was Dokken in the Sullivan arena," Peck explained. "They just blew my mind. I was so freaking hooked that it sent me down this life path."
But Peck wasn't the only one falling for the raucous, disestablishmentarian genre.
"In 1982, right as I was getting into the scene, there was a legendary Ozzy Osbourne concert in Alaska. I am still pissed I missed that one but I heard it was amazing," said Peck with a laugh.
Six months later, Osbourne famously bit the head off a bat at a Des Moines, Iowa, show, effectively sending the metal scene into the forefront of the American consciousness.
Although Peck's love of metal was deepening, he was still the image of a clean cut Valley boy when he entered college.
"I went to San Diego State University, where I played D1 soccer. We had a couple of national team members on the team, like Marcelo Balboa and Eric Wynalda, so we had a really good team. We went through the national championship, but we ended up losing," recalled Peck. "It ended up being OK, though, because once the tournament was over, there were parties with local bands. And I would come up to the stage and sing a song with them. That's how I got into my first band in college, called Tax Evasion."
As it was his first project, Tax Evasion had to weasel its way into parties by playing the tunes people wanted to hear, but it wouldn't take long until they turned to the metal side.
"At the university, we played parties with thousands of people. To get started, we had to play all the classic college party music like the Beatles and Louie Louie but then we would break out into an Iron Maiden song like 'The Trooper' in the middle of playing something poppy. This usually horrified all the girls, but the drunk guys loved it," Peck chuckled.
While Peck missed home, the disparate development of the Alaskan and Californian metal scenes meant that the only way to make it big was to stay in the Lower-48.
"I went from Alaska to Southern California in the heyday of heavy metal, so I got to see all the great bands in their glory down here, which I would have never seen in Alaska. After Tax Evasion, I went into a band called Nomad, which was a real serious original heavy metal band, and then from that into Cage," explained Peck.
However, Peck hasn't just rested on his laurels when it comes to his music. His prolific career has seen him join forces with mythical bands like Denner Sherman, The Legendary Warrior, and The Three Tremors with Ripper Owens, who recorded two albums with Judas Priest.
Now, with the help of local favorites, Decepticide, Peck is returning home to blow the roof off Koot's on Friday. But as is the case with Peck, the genesis of the show comes with a funny story that could only happen between Alaskans.
"Cage was on tour on the East Coast and were supposed to play a show in Delaware. When we got there, there were only two people that came to the show - it was horrible! But the small crowd gave us time to talk to the opening band - Decepticide. When we found out they were Alaskan, we started bonding over Alaskan stories. We played the show, we rocked out for each other, and we ended up having a good time. Unfortunately, while we were having a good time, our van was broken into, and all of our clothes were thrown all over the alley. It was the only time we ever got robbed on tour, so we like to blame Decepticide," laughed Peck.
After their unexpected shenanigans, the two bands kept in touch and Decepticide's guitarist, Enzo Montana, kept his sights on reuniting the two bands.
Decepticide will be opening on Friday before Cage and Tim Ripper Owens turn the concert into a full-blown metal fest.
"Knowing me, I'll probably get up and sing a couple of The Three Tremors' songs together with Ripper," said Peck who also tours with Owens as part of The Three Tremors.
To date, the Tremors have dropped two albums and toured extensively. But nothing hits quite like playing at home, so Peck is thrilled to show his bandmates the place that raised him
"I'm really excited to be going back to Alaska and all my friends coming out, and hopefully, it sells out. I mean, it'll be a great show. I hope a lot of people come, we got Decepticide, Cage, and then Ripper and I are going to do one classic song after another. He's a fantastic singer. I haven't been back to Alaska since 95. But I still have tons of friends and family up there, so I couldn't be more stoked," said Peck.
The event will take place at Koot's this Friday, November 11. The music starts at 9pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or through MYALASKATIX.COM.