Savatage and Trans Siberian Orchestra literally blew the two stages away by offering a huge visual spectacle at Wacken Open Air this August. The whole show was beyond normal human comprehension and understanding. Seeing this one of kind spectacle can’t be compared to any other show in the music industry. After gasping some air we sat down with Al Pitrelli, Chris Caffery, and the mastermind of both the outfits, Paul O’Neil, to discuss the return of Savatage to Wacken and above all Trans Siberian Orchestra, whom enjoy tremendous success in North America.
Wacken being sold out is a kind of mystery, for sure. The event is somehow sold out every year, but this year’s sell out wasn’t a surprise as Savatage with Trans Siberian Orchestra and Judas Priest were headliners. Thousands and thousands of metal fans from every corner of the world arrived at Wacken to have fun and enjoy metal. Instead the weather gods didn’t show much support towards the festival and all its visitors. The hard rains literally ruined the ground and soil of the festival area. The whole Wacken village and large area of fields became the ultimate mud war field. The weekend at Wacken was one hell of a surviving camp.
Despite the tremendous problems and brutal field of mud, the people still gathered to witness the return and resurrection of Savatage and the massive show from Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Article and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
New York native Jeff Plate is a professional drummer who’s best known for his drumming for legendary metal band Savatage which went to hiatus in 2002. Plate appeared on four Savatage albums including the classic DEAD WINTER DEAD (1995) and WAKE OF MAGELLAN (1997). Plate’s currently plays with Trans-Siberian Orchestra which was formed in 1993. The band is highly successful and they’re annually playing sold out Xmas tours mainly across the USA. The band mostly consists of current and former members of Savatage including the bands co-founder and main composer Jon Oliva. Plate is also a member classic metal band Metal Church. He first joined that band in 2006 and stayed until they disbanded in 2009. Only three years later the band was back and in 2013 they released GENERATION NOTHING, which was their first studio album in five years. Metal Church made their first ever performance in Finland in June 2014 when they arrived to the Tuska Festival in Helsinki. There we had the chance to sit down with Jeff and discuss Metal Church, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and of course, Savatage.
EDIT: After this interview was arranged, Savatage officially announced that they will do their long-awaited re-union show next year at the Wacken Open Air Festival. See ya there!
More than thirty years after the start of his career with Savatage, and successive projects/bands like Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Jon Oliva’s Pain, now legendary songwriter und performer Jon Oliva releases his first ever solo album, titled „Raise The Curtain”.
On June 21st (USA: July 2nd) the master’s new piece of work will be available as CD Digipak (first edition) and 2-vinyl (gatefold, limited to 800 copies worldwide).
The album will be released simply under the banner „OLIVA“ and you can expect a mixture of Jon Oliva’s early influences and the material he wrote and recorded throughout his whole artistic career.
01. Raise The Curtain
02. Soul Chaser
03. Ten Years
04. Father Time
05. I Know
06. Big Brother
10. The Witch
11. Can’t Get Away
12. The Truth (Bonus Track)
CHRIS CAFFERY (TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, SAVATAGE) has issued the following update:
“Well, the Christmas Story marathon has ended…the TSO marathon continues!!! Hard to believe it was 1999 when we first played here in Cleveland. Such an amazing ride so far! I remember the first post Christmas show we ever did was December 26 in Cleveland a couple years later! We had already played like 4 shows here and the demand was so huge we came back after Christmas as well! I remember sitting in my hotel room that night with Daryl Pediford. We were laughing, saying some silly jokes about something we only understood. I remember him talking about the ghosts. He said there were ghosts there. As I travel around and look back at the friends I have lost who I have worked with in this business I know for sure the ghosts are here. I feel them at different times. Onstage and offstage. Daryl, Criss, Ray Gillen…the list goes on. Amazing musicians and friends who are no longer with me this Christmas but are always there in spirit. Thank you so much for these past 25 years. That was the first time I played a December 26th show…my first show with Savatage on the Mountain King Tour in Providence. Since then I have traveled about 1/2 million miles, played for close to ten million people. I have truly been blessed. I know I am not a perfect person. But I always try to learn from my experiences and hope to leave each day making people smile. Every day I take a look here and see the thousands of you that stop by to say hi it makes me smile. Thank you for being my friends! I look forward to next year…I am planning on recording a new solo CD, it really seems to be what everyone is asking me to do when I see them on this tour. Savatage? I still am as hopeful as you guys, but you know how that one goes!!! TSO…studio and more touring of course…what and when? Always a mystery like the man behind TSO itself! That’s what makes it magical! This journey is never written in stone. As long as Paul is at the wheel I know it will be an amazing adventure! I, like you, can’t wait to see what comes up! But I am blessed to be a part of it and blessed to have your friendship and support! I am going to go walk and look at Christmas lights! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!!”
John Parks from Legendary Rock Interviews spoke with singer Zak Stevens (CIRCLE II CIRCLE, SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA) recently about a number of topics. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
LRI: Were you guys all taken aback by what happened with ‘Christmas Eve Sarajevo’ which eventually paved the way for Trans Siberian Orchestra?
Stevens: “Yeah, we were taken aback because we had this rock record, this Savatage record and all of a sudden these two DJ’s, one in Tampa and another guy in New York City got ahold of that song and said “This is a major hit” and just leapt on it and played it. TSO was pretty much born at that point in 1997. That’s what I think about when I think about 1997 for sure. It really created a strange situation because the rest of the album is such hard rock and metal stuff that you really aren’t prepared to have a follow up single for something like that. It really just BECAME this massive Christmas hit and at that point Paul said “Hey, we can make a spinoff and form this Trans Siberian Orchestra and really be prepared in case something like this happens again and we can re-release something every year and be ready. All that good business stuff was very well-considered as you can see from TSO’s 13 year history it really has paid off and worked great which we have all gotten to enjoy and are thankful for. At the time that song took off though it was VERY strange because we were all just looking at each other like “What next single? (laughs)”. It was very unexpected and very weird and to be honest I still think it’s even stranger that hardly any of the majority of TSO fans realize that the Sarajevo song was initially released on a Savatage album that came out in 1996.”
LRI: I have to ask. With the entire catalog being remastered and the DVD/hits package out what would you say to putting Savatage back together for another album or at least some special show dates?
Stevens: “Yeah, definitely John. People have been obviously asking me that question for a long time and the guys in the band know my stance on that. I am always in favor of SAVATAGE doing any type of project. I would love to do it again just for all the memories and to be able to look across the stage and see the guys again. It would be unbelievable after all these years and of course the fans would just love it. I don’t know how much of a chance there is of that happening because I don’t know all of that inside business and the talk of how that’s going as much as Paul or Jon do.”
LRI: Chris Caffery has told me that despite the success of TSO he misses Savatage
Stevens: “I know, as do I. We talked about it about a short while ago on the phone and it’s funny (laughs)…….It seems to me that every time we play a show as TSO it makes it that Savatage is a little bit further and further from going away completely so it’s actually working the opposite as some people might believe (laughs). The funny thing is I would LOVE to do it, they can depend on me for that, hopefully something like that could work out someday like you said, even if it were for a few little things it would be a lot of fun. There is not a question whatsoever about whether I would do it and they know that. It would only take ONE phone call and I’m in.”
Yesterday, Trans-Siberian Orchestra marked the first concert of their “Beethoven’s Last Night” European tour with a stirring performance in front of a 4,000 person Swiss audience.
After the concert was over you could still see the light-show shimmering in the eyes of the audience as the normally reserved Swiss pronounced the evening as “stunning”, “a performance without comparison” and remarked that “you would have to watch 10 shows to notice every single nuance!”
After this impressive two and a half hour live performance, the band and mastermind Paul O’Neill, released the swiss audience as they prepared to make their way to Germany for their next show.
Further tourdates are:
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA has issued the following update:
While the band is getting ready to kick off the Beethoven’s Last Night 2011 World Tour with eleven shows across Europe, there’s also a lot going on to prepare for the US and Canada tour. Recently PBS stations across the country have begun airing TSO’s exciting new TV special, The Birth of Rock Theater, which features never before seen live footage. This special captures the excitement of TSO’s legendary concerts as well as interviews with Paul O’Neill as he talks about the past, present and future of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
This spring, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA will embark on their 2011 Beethoven’s Last Night Tour. Although the routing is primarily in Europe and The United States, TSO has added a second Canadian date to their live itinerary – May 19th in Rama, ON at Casino Rama. The complete schedule is below.
So begins TSO’s live performance of “Beethoven’s Last Night” in its entirety. Come experience the tale of Beethoven’s last night on earth. Combining what happened with what might have happened, the story revolves around the tough choice that the composer must make with what will be his life’s legacy.
16 – Zurich, Switzerland – Hallenstadion
17 – Munchen, Germany – Zenith
18 – A-Wein, Austria – Stadhalle
19 – Stuttgart, Germany – Scleyerhalle
20 – Mainz, Germany – Phoenixhalle
22 – Berlin, Germany – Tempdrome
23 – Hamburg, Germany – CCH2
24 – Dusseldorf, Germany – Philliphalle
25 – Antwerp, Belgium – Staddsschouwburg
26 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Heineken Music Hall
28 – London, England – Hammersmith Apollo
2 – Battle Creek, MI – Kellog Arena
3 – Windsor, ON – Caesars Windsors Coliseum
5 – Akron, OH – EJ Thomas Performing Arts Hall
6 – Erie, PA – Tulio Arena
7 – Reading, PA – Reading Eagle Theatre / Sovereign Center
8 – Syracuse, NY – On Center
9 – Atlantic City, NJ – Ceasars Circus Maximus
10 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun
13 – Louisville, KY – Palace Theater
14 – Wheeling, WV – Westbanco
15 – Baltimore, MD – 1st Mariner
16 – Hampton, VA – Hampton Coliseum
17 – Asheville, NC – Asheville Civic Center
19 – Chatanooga, TN – Memorial
20 – Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Coliseum
21 – North Charleston, SC – North Charleston Coliseum
22 – Tallahassee, FL – Leon County Civic Center
23 – Lakeland, FL – Lakeland Civic Center
24 – Estero, FL – Germain Arena
27 – Pensacola, FL – Pensacola Civic Center
28 – Biloxi, MS – Mississippi Coast Coliseum
29 – Huntsville, AL – Von Braun Center -Concert Hall
30 – Jackson, MS – Mississippi Coliseum
1 – Beaumont, TX – Bueamont Civic
4 – Albuquerque, NM – Santa Ana Star Center
5 – El Paso, TX – County Coliseum
6 – Amarillo, TX – Civic Center
8 – Corpus Christi, TX – Selena Auditorium
11 – Evansville, IN – The Center
12 – Cape Girardeau, MO – Show Me Center
13 – Moline, IL – iWireless Center
14 – Prior Lake, MN – Mystic Lake Casino – Showroom
Thanks to Jan Rosenberg at CMM Marketing for the help to get this interview done.
Thanks to CMM Marketing for the promo pictures of the band.
Here is an interview I did with guitarist Matt Leff in the new band Machines Of Grace. The well known Zak Stevens (ex- Savatage, Circle2Circle) and Jeff Plate (Trans Sibiran Orchestra, ex- Savatage, Metal Church) are two of the members of this new group. Leff and I talked about the band and their debut album amongst other things including the impact that Ronnie James Dio had on Matt Leff and the band. Machines Of Grace plays hardrock and even though their album has been out for about a year now I thought it was time for the band to be featured in metal-rules.com.
TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick has checked in with the following update:
“It’s been nearly ten years since my first TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA winter tour. Each year it’s been an incredible experience, traveling from arena to arena being an important part of the largest symphonic rock production in history. This year, however, I’ve decided to make the difficult decision of stepping out of the spotlight (and lasers, fog, fire and snow) and embarking upon new adventures.
The reasons for this are twofold.
As one might imagine, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra winter tour is a demanding one — with long days and an action-packed show that calls for no less than 200% of yourself, often twice a day from the mid-October rehearsals to the final show in January.
While the awesome response from fans and the collaboration with fellow performers make it beyond worth it, there comes a point, after so many years of annual grueling intensity, for some of us to draw upon that quarter of a year’s worth of time and energy in order to launch a renewed focus on our own visions.
In my case, this process begins with the release of a brand new (ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO) album to be followed by heavy touring, including winter dates in support of RODRIGO Y GABRIELA.
There are many other endeavors in the works, the information of which will be continually updated online at AlexSkolnick.com. Furthermore, as someone who has been on tour with multiple projects and running on all cylinders during the entire calendar year since 2006, reclaiming this three-month period will open up the option to take breaks once in a while, remember what home looks like, lessen the constant separation from friends and loved ones and recharge my own batteries as needed.
Of course, I’ll miss doing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour. The stage time, friendships and overall experience has
I’m grateful to Paul O’Neil and Nightcastle Management for the opportunity, to all the musicians and singers for the good times and to all the fans for the unyielding support; you guys are the best! I look forward to seeing many of you out there in different configurations.”
The Winter Tour stage is being built as we speak and the entire band is counting the days till we get to fire up the new show. As always we are determined to take the show to another level. Can’t wait to see you on the road.
Sincerely From New York City (Nocturnal Division),
Paul O’Neill & Everyone in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Click here to visit Trans-Siberian Express, TSO’s Fan Club community site, for the latest updates and access to this year’s exclusive Winter Tour pre-sale.
Savatage was formed by Jon and Criss Oliva in 1981. They quickly became one of the premier metal outfits to come from a decade known for creating legendary hard rock and heavy metal bands. They released City Beneath The Surface in 1983 and have continuously released albums that some may call masterpieces. They have sold millions of albums worldwide and gathered a loyal following of fans around the world. But their success did not come without heartache. Lead guitarist Criss Oliva will killed in a car crash leaving the band without a huge piece of the puzzle. Instead of calling it quits they felt the best way to honor Criss would be by continuing the music. They have just released Ghost In The Ruins (A Tribute to Criss Oliva), a collection of live recordings to honor his memory. I had the chance to speak with Jon Oliva who let me in on the new release.