The next question is about the CD - how come there are so
many different versions of it out there?
Chris: That always happens because we have different record
deals around the world. So every record company decides that they
want something...special, different from everybody else.
Jon: They want their own. We have companies in Europe,
companies in Asia, companies in South America.
Chris: It actually goes into your contract, where certain
companies need to get this "bonus track" thing, that to
me is.. we get a bad rap for it sometimes because people will go
"oh you put these bonus tracks on here because you want us to
buy three different versions of the records." Well look,
nobody told you you have to buy the other records just because it
has one other song.
Well, fans want to hear it all.
Chris: We are not forcing you to spend your money. It's there,
it's a part of our contract...I don't know what to tell them.
Jon: Sorry! (laughs)
I read that the reason you did the vocals on POETS AND
MADMEN was to avoid delays and to cover your ass in the event that
a new singer would bail after a tour.
Jon: That's a lot of ass to cover! (laughs)
HAHA...ok...did you have any doubts before recording that
your voice might not be up to scratch or that people would
complain because of the departure of Zak?
Jon: (in a helium voice) No! (laughs)
Chris: Actually, he didn't even know that there was a departure
of Zak until the CD was almost done because we had songs recorded
and we were waiting for Zak....and he told us the day before he
was supposed to fly up to sing it that he wasn't going to do it.
And then he (Jon) was singing for three months so his voice was in
Jon: And I'm grateful
Chris: So when he sang the rest of the record he just killed on
Jon: And I had a wonderful time too. It was a lot of fun, I had
a lot of fun doing the record.
(During the last few minutes, someone new came and sat down)
Can I ask who you are?
Damond: I'm Damond. (we introduce ourselves)
Great! Perfect timing because now we are going to get to
some questions about Damond..
Jon: He likes fire (laughs) **Note: I found out more about this
later, but I refuse to divulge!!**
So is this basically (on this tour) - are you now, the
new singer for Savatage or is this kind of test time?
Jon: Yes of course!! He is in!!
Damond: I'm here until they kick me out or until you know...
So you're the man on the next CD then?
Jon: Yeah, well I'll still be singing lead songs too, but it's
Chris: Actually what is going to happen on the next CD is what
was supposed to happen on this CD. What was going to happen on
POETS AND MADMEN was Jon was going to sing half of it and Zak was
going to sing half of it. That was going to happen the whole
Jon: We are going to try to get more of the Queen / Beatles
type of vibe with it. I think one voice all the time gets a little
bit monotonous. Damond's got a great range and he has a lot of
different styles of singing
Chris: Personalities (laughs)
Jon: ...many many different personalities, some of which are
better left in the darkness (laughs). It's going to be cool
because we can work off of each other very well. I can see it
already that it's going to be very cool. So I just can't wait to
get to the next record. What we are going to do with Damond is
we're going to do some live recordings on this tour in Europe.
We're going to have his first introduction to the fans to be
seeing him live and hearing him on...because we are doing a DVD, a
live DVD. And you'll get to see him and then he will be like..
when we sit down and do the new album and stuff it will already be
like he's.. we want him to be already accepted in by everybody and
have everyone get a chance to see him and know him and stuff. It
will be easier to make that transition now, with doing it the way
we are doing it now. Bringing him out on tour and getting him into
the whole routine.
So (to Damond) how was it for you last night. Last night
was your first night out with Savatage, right?
Damond: It was incredible. Yes! It was the first night out. I
was the happiest person there. Savatage haven't played for a while
so people had been waiting to see Savatage. But I was actually
able to play with Savatage! I was like...I was definitely the
happiest person there!! Well Jack (Jack Frost - new Savatage lead
guitarist who replaced Al Pitrelli) was actually pretty happy too!
Jon: Jack was really happy! Well, except when we would give him
a hard time (laughs)
Chris: We are all really happy.
Jon: Jack was right there with you for happiness.
And the audience? They were really receptive?
(Rounds of oh yeah from all)
Chris: Response has been great. I don't know yes or no whether
or not what they are saying is exactly true but some of the things
I've heard people say is that it's their favourite show they have
seen since the GUTTER BALLET tour...their favourite Savatage
concert since 1993. These are people who come to see us 20-30
times a tour and analyze everything you do.
Jon: Yeah! They tell us, "Jon you fuck, you messed up this
word in "Believe". You said "it" instead of
"the." I'm like, Ah...ok, I'll try to make a mental note
of that. (laughs) "IT" NOT "THE"!! Write that
(alot more laughs)
So will Al Pitrelli or Zak Stevens have any future
involvement with Trans Siberian Orchestra?
What about you Damond?
Jon: We're all involved in it. I don't know how much Al would
be, but Zak - they would probably do something with Zak down the
road. We've many projects lined up for Trans Siberian. There's
like three or four records pretty much lined up over the next
three to four years for that. That's a thing that is constantly
(going on) and there are certain things that are going to
productions and that is going to be keeping everybody plenty busy.
How do you guys feel about TSO getting so much national
airplay when you got Savatage still struggling for it?
Chris: Yeah but what song was getting all the national airplay?
(editor's note: It was a A Savatage song from Dead Winter Dead!)
A Savatage song!
Chris: Savatage is not struggling.
Jon: We are a victim of our name and a victim of our era. But
the funny thing is, the point of the matter is we have the last
laugh because Savatage is getting huge in Europe and South
America. We're like growing to the point of being at arena level
Chris: We are like an uncontrollable fungus!! (laughs)
Jon: Here in America we have Trans Siberian as a platinum
(selling) band. I think that's only going to help Savatage. I
think with a lot of people we've been out of touch with here in
America because things were doing so well for us everywhere else.
So where are you going to focus your attentions? Are you going to
play in front of 30,000 people or 300? You're going to go play in
front of 30,000 in wherever it is you know like Bombay or
wherever. That's really what we've been doing. We've been going to
the places where our sales have been strong and trying to get the
band to the next level there and it's been working. The momentum
now is picking up and it's starting to filter back over here. Now
with the response on the Internet today alone after last night's
show is like just stupid (meaning amazing)! That's going to
hopefully keep rolling. We're doing a lot of festivals over in
Europe this summer and hopefully this will all jump start America
and get us back to where we were here like in '93. Because you
know we had a top 40 single in '93 with "Edge of
Thorns." and I think we can get back up to that. Or higher.
So what would be different about Savatage if Paul O'Neil
was not involved, and was he ever asked to be a member?
Jon: Was Paul asked to me a member? Well no. Paul's main thing
with Savatage is that he is the storyteller. He comes up with a
lot of the storylines that we work off of. Paul is kind of like
the kind of guy that comes in and decorates the house. It's like
we build the house and we put the furniture in and he's like they
guy that comes in and goes "move that picture this way, we'll
have the phone over here, TV over there..." and that's
basically what he does with us.
Chris: As soon as he leaves the room we put the picture back
Jon: Paul is very involved with us in the writing. We do the
lyrics. He does allot of the lyrics and stuff like that. He's like
our George Martin. Like George Martin was to the Beatles, Paul
O'Neil is the George Martin of the Savatage world.
Dr. Butcher....anything going on?
Chris & Jon: We would like to hope so!
Jon: Find us a couple of extra months and we would love to do
something. We just don't have much time.
Chris: We have a ton of music written and by the time we get to
go record it we will probably write all new stuff. But we want to
do it and the deal is there but we are trying to fight and find
time to get it done. I'm sure we will, I know we will as a matter
Jon: Oh we will. Ok Cory Apple (????)
How do you guys feel about Nuclear Blast and being with a
Jon: Well we get more attention that way then we did with
Atlantic on the basis that they have such a big roster of artists.
Our other project which is with Atlantic is the Trans Siberian
thing is Platinum, so they kind of like were losing interest in
Savatage to be honest with you. It was like, this is our band man!
We are not going to break up our band just because our other band
is platinum. We don't care. It's like, we love our band so we were
like, why don't you give us Savatage back, to do whatever we want
with and we'll keep doing Trans Siberian with you guys. They were
very nice to us they said "do whatever you guys want, here's
all your rights back, here's all your records back, we love you
guys just keep giving us those platinum Trans Siberian
records." I promise you I will. (laughter).
And now we are with a company where we have young people who
are out there trying to prove themselves or out there trying to
make a name in the business. I like our chance, I feel more
comfortable with that. Knowing that I have people that are like
that who are out there who are go-getters trying to make it. They
are going to get shit done rather then the guy sitting in the
office with a thousand dollar a week expense account smoking a
Havana going like "yeah, Savatage...let me tell ya there were
big." (laughter) "Yeah, make sure there is posters out
too" (more laughter) Like...fuck you.
Alright, now that you've been at this for like 20
(lots of laughs)
Jon: you had to remind us!
C'mon now, we're all getting older! (laughs) Is Savatage
where you want it to be?
Chris: Well we're playing an we're still making music.
I mean artistically....
Jon: Artistically, sure I think now we've got a good - with
this record I think it's opened up some other doors for us with
directions that we can go in and with the addition of Damond
now...he opens up A LOT of other doors that we could go through!
Some of them are pretty scary too. (laughter) We're gonna have a
alooooota fun, I can tell you that.
How many songs from POETS AND MADMEN are you going to
(Jon and Chris think hard and mumble to one another)
About today's music...the changes in the metal scene and
the current bands. What do you guys consider to be good out there
Jon: The metal stuff..
Well in what they call metal.
Jon: I like a lot of stuff.
Chris: The stuff I like, I mean alot of the stuff I wouldn't
even be able to tell you the name of tho, cause I really don't
spend that much time...
Damond: Mr Bungle. I like Mr. Bungle.
Jon: I like some of Limp Bizkit's stuff. Some of that's good.
Jon: Some of it.
Chris: I was really really really fond of Bruce Dickinson's
last two solo albums. CHEMICAL WEDDING is one of my favourite
Jon: Who's that?
Chris: Bruce Dickinson
Jon: I like Lawrence Welk
Damond: I like Brittany Spears.
Jon: I like Brittany Spears but not for her music.
Not for her music...not many boys do.
So ok...you have the upcoming Priest tour.
How exciting is that!?
Jon: It's Chris Caffery in heaven!
Chris: K.K. downing especially is one of those people that I've
molded alot of my image and stuff around him. The first concert I
ever saw in my life when I was 11 years old was Kiss and Judas
Priest. I won a contest for backstage passes to go backstage and
meet Priest when I was 12. And I have photos from when I was 13
with them and it's just so....and one of them wound up in a
magazine in Europe when they did a history of Savatage. To be
going and playing in England and opening up for them in the place
they are from it's kind of neat. It's like one of those things you
put on your list of things you wanted to do when you are playing
and you are a little kid. One of those things you never thought
you would do but you got to do - like going to Japan or going and
playing in South America. Well this is just another one of those
How did it come about?
Chris: They are big fans apparently, believe it or not!
Jon: Ripper is a friend of ours.
Chris: And, we are on the same label in Europe so it was just a
natural marriage. And we are hoping to maybe do some stuff with
them in the fall maybe in Scandinavia and maybe even some stuff
over here but we don't know right now.
So is there any chance of you coming to the States this
Jon: There is a possibility. There's talk of it
Chris: Hopefully, we don't know. There are always
Alright, last question. Is there any fan favourites that
you guys are going to have to play tonight that you'd rather not
have on the setlist?
Chris: I like all the songs, Jon hates the hell out of playing
Jon: (singing in a monotone bored voice) "Sirens...ja ja
na...Sirens....ja ja na...if I have to play it again"
(laughter) You guys don't understand! (Major whine) I've been
playing Sirens since 1979.
There is that 20 year thing again...
Chris: If he wasn't so lazy and learn something else and we
could take it out of the set! (laughs) no...
Jon: Gotta play Sirens... :(
Is there any chance I can get a copy of the setlist for