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SAVATAGE (CHRIS CAFFERY)

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CHRIS, FIRST OF ALL YOU’RE INVOLVED IN SAVATAGE, THEN TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA AS WELL AS IN A FEW OTHER PROJECTS, AND NOW YOU’RE BRINGING OUT TWO SOLO RECORDS. WOULD YOU CALL YOURSELF A WORKAHOLIC? Yeah, absolutely. I hate time off, and that’s how I’ve always been though. I really feel that, sometimes I don’t like wasting time, I don’t like watching time go by without making music and playing. So I think that’s what makes me a workaholic. WHAT IS YOUR MAIN BAND OR PROJECT? Oh, my main band for the last 17 years has been Savatage, but at the moment the main thing I’m working on is the Chris Caffery solo record “Faces” which is coming out in September. I’ve been doing a lot of promotion for that, and I’m just getting ready to hit the road with that in the beginning of 2005. It’s a lot of work. It’s the first time I’ve ever sang and produced and did my own record, but I think it’s been very fulfilling. ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT HOW THE FANS WILL ACTUALLY “TAKE” YOUR SINGING. I MEAN, YOU’RE KNOWN AS AN EXCELLENT GUITAR PLAYER, BUT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD YOU SINGING. ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE REACTIONS? I was when I was doing the demos and I was recording the record, because I really wanted to make sure people liked it. I was very nervous about it, but the reaction since I finished it and people have heard it, has been really positive. And the one they have been commenting on is how much they like the vocals. And now I’m excited to go out and see how it sounds live. I want to go and try it out. It’s like having a new toy. GOING OUT LIVE WOULD INCLUDE EUROPE AS WELL? Yeah, absolutely. ANY TOURING PLANS YET? I believe I’m gonna come out in January and I’m hoping to tour with my band and Jon Oliva’s band in January and February over here. OK, THAT BRINGS ME NICELY TO THE NEXT QUESTION: WHY DO YOU, AS CHRIS CAFFERY, BRING OUT A SOLO RECORD, AND THE JON OLIVA BAND IS WORKING ON A BUNCH OF SOLO RECORDS, AS WELL? WOULDN’T IT MAKE MORE SENSE TO BRING OUT A SAVATAGE RECORD, BECAUSE THE FANS ARE OBVIOUSLY WAITING FOR THAT? Yeah, I realized that. And that’s why I did my solo record. Because I was waiting and there has been basically one Savatage record in the last seven years. And I was getting very depressed about not playing, so I decided to do my record, because I didn’t want to sit and wait. HAVE YOU TALKED TO JON OLIVA OR THE REST OF SAVATAGE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS? HOW DO THEY THINK ABOUT THAT? Well, everybody in Savatage was just working at a different pace now. The band has been together for so long, and some bands pull together closer as time goes by, some bands kind of fade apart. It’s not that Savatage really as a band is fading apart. But I think certain people’s individual lives are not as focussed as they were on the band. I mean, when you’re younger, sometimes the band is all you have. But when you get older you get family and businesses and children. And I think the priorities were changing. And that’s not something that’s necessarily a problem for the people in the band. It’s just how their lives were going. And in Savatage the band happened to feel a little bit of those changes, and that’s where the thing is out. I personally, my life is the same as it’s been, but I live this band. So, really, if this band isn’t playing, I don’t know what to do. So that’s why I did this record. AM I GETTING YOU RIGHT HERE: YOU’RE SAYING THAT THE PRIORITIES CHANGED FOR SOME BAND MEMBERS IN SAVATAGE? BANDWISE OR FAMILYWISE? BECAUSE SOME BAND MEMBERS HAVE HAD FAMILIES FOR THE PAST DECADES, SO THAT SHOULDN’T BE SOMETHING NEW….JON OLIVA’S KIDS MUST BE TEENAGERS BY NOW! Yeah, with Jon it’s not necessarily that situation. I think it’s a combination of a bunch of different ones. Depending on which person it is individually. It gets harder to spend the time away from home, you know, for certain people. To get up, get to the airport, get to the tourbus, go out and play, to leave your home. For some people that becomes very difficult. I mean, me – that’s living! When I don’t do that, I feel like something is wrong. So, like I said, some people’s lives were moving away from that. And we have the Trans Siberian Orchestra which is very successful in America. And I think in some ways that life style of that tour is so high that it’s easier for somebody to leave home and go tour America and play in arenas with five star hotels and catering. It’s a little bit easier for people as they get older to do that. Sometimes it’s difficult to get on the airplane, fly thousands of miles away, get on the tourbus with the band and the crew, and play the clubs and shower in the venues. It’s a different routine when you do this, and you really have to enjoy it or it can be wearing when you’re that far away from home. WITH OTHER WORDS: THAT HAS HAPPENED, THAT THE PRIORITIES DID CHANGE IN THAT WAY THAT TSO IS EASIER TO TOUR AN ALBUM, BECAUSE IT’S MORE COMFORTABLE AND THE MONEY IS JUST BETTER?!? Oh, TSO’s touringschedule is set. Every year. Basically, it’s November and December. So if you have your life and you have your job and you have your family – your job knows when you’re leaving if you’re working another job, or your business. You can work around that. Your family knows, this is where you’re not gonna be home. This is set. And like I said, you’re not jumping onto an airplane and flying around the world when all the terrorist’s warnings are coming in, and people are nervous about you being somewhere. I think it’s the closeness that you’re able to experience from being in your own country and having that kind of success and touring level. I mean, it definitely has something to do with the fact that there hasn’t been as many Savatage records. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, because TSO is a wonderful band and it’s doing amazing things, and I’m very proud of what it does. But for me, Chris Caffery the heavy metal musician, wanting to come over here and play these festivals it’s… I think it was the most positive thing I could do for myself, was to go to my record. Because I didn’t want to be frustrated about what was going on. I didn’t want to get upset that Savatage wasn’t playing. I didn’t want to have any bad feelings towards anything, because Savatage is the reason why I’m here. You know, I owe so much to that band, and it’s been such a huge part of my life, and I love Savatage and I love TSO. So I figured the best thing Chris Caffery could do is to get off Chris Caffery’s ass and make a record. And when Savatage plays, I’ll be there. And when TSO plays, I’ll be there. And in my other time, instead of sitting around, you know, drinking myself into the ground complaining about things, I can make music and do what I love. And this way it’s… I think, it’s the most positive thing for me, because when Savatage plays I think I’ll have a clear head towards it. I’ll be able to focus more. I won’t be trying to push so much music on it that I might want to hear. I could write my own stuff and sell it, and do that on the side. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to be in the position I’m in right now. BUT YOU SOUND SORT OF UNHAPPY ABOUT THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING… Well, you look in the Wacken 15 year anniversary book. And you see in 1998 that Savatage was headlining this festival. And we were the only band that even had a logo on the poster. And the bands that were below it were bands like Iced Earth and Blind Guardian who are at levels now where they can headline the festivals. And they’re coming over and doing that. And I think there is a certain level of frustration that I encounter when these summers go by, and Savatage could and should be over here playing and doing that. I mean, that’s just natural, though, because I miss that! I miss walking up on stage and playing “Gutter Ballet” and “Hall of the mountain king” for these kids, and knowing that they want to hear it. And when I see them here, and I watch them cheering for the other bands, I know that they would like to hear Savatage just as much. And I think that’s where maybe the sadness comes in. Because I miss that. I miss Savatage playing. I look at the old photos and I see the fans, the T-shirts that are wandering around the crowd, or older shirts. And you think about the tours and where you were. And I’m over here by myself and I miss my band. It’s a different thing. You know, Savatage, it was a family when you’re on the road. If there’s a problem, everybody goes through it together. So I think right now, I’m still feeling a little bit of the pressure being by myself. And I think in some ways I am sad, because Savatage isn’t here. WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THAT? THAT IT’S NOT PROGRESSING AS FAST AS IT COULD AND AS IT SHOULD. WHY NOT FOCUSSING ON SAVATAGE THERE? That I really can’t answer! That I think is a question that you would have to ask Jon Oliva. Because I’m not inside everybody’s head in the band. So, I just know that we haven’t been working as much, and there are a lot of different reasons why I’d like to be in that – like I said – why I get frustrated, but … There is gonna be another Savatage record, I just don’t know when. And I’ve been patient about it, I know the fans have. I just want to play in the meantime, and do what it is what I do. You know, when Savatage is ready to play, I’ll be there. It’s weird, when you get a question you really can’t answer. I don’t know. THE THING IS, IN A LOT OF INTERVIEWS WITHIN THE PAST FEW YEARS IT HAS BEEN SAID: “OH, WE’RE WORKING ON THE NEW SAVATAGE RECORD! IT’S GONNA BE OUT BY NEXT YEAR – LATEST!!” SO THE FANS ARE LOOKING FOR AN EXPLANATION WHY IT DOESN’T SEEM TO PROGRESS AT ALL. I personally can’t blame ‘em. In some ways I was, too. That’s why I was getting very depressed, that’s why, when people listen to the music on my record, sometimes go: “You seem, that you weren’t really happy, when I listen to the lyrics and the music!” Maybe I’m experiencing that same question and frustration. I don’t have the answers. So, it’s very difficult to answer questions that you don’t have the answers for. HOW IMPORTANT IS PAUL O’NEILL FOR THE BAND SAVATAGE AND FOR TSO. IS HE REALLY THE MAIN BRAIN BEHIND EVERYTHING THESE DAYS? Paul is very important to Savatage. And he has been since he started producing the band. Especially since “Streets” when he started taking over as the main lyricist. So, when Savatage moves, when the machine moves, Paul and Jon are working together. And it’s focussed on that. And it’s very important. I mean, I think there is a level of music and a level of something lyrically that Paul always gets the band to try to push for. So, I mean, he’s been very important. I think, Paul – believe it or not – I mean, Paul was the one that really helped Savatage back to Atlantic records for “Hall of the mountain king” I mean, I don’t really know, if there would be a Savatage without Paul O’Neill. I really don’t, because he has been our glue for things like bad touring experiences or member changes or the deaths, in label changes and business changes. Paul has done a tremendous amount for this band, where a lot of managers, producers, whatever… Sometimes things get difficult. they’re looking at how much money they’re making, or what they could make on other things. I mean, Paul has always giving whatever he has had, even when Savatage didn’t have it. So, he’s very important to it. Like I said: it’s the relation-ship between Paul and Jon. When that gets in full swing, things are moving. So, I’m really waiting for that to start working again the way it had in the past. To get into the mood of working. Because once it starts, it doesn’t stop. But it’s just… there’s been a lot of things, that’s been delaying what’s been going on recently. BACK TO YOUR SOLO RECORD. IN HOW FAR IS THE SONG-WRITING DIFFERENT FROM SAVATAGE. HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING TO SATISFY THE FANS, TO GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WERE CRAVING FOR? TO GIVE THEM A TYPICAL SAVATAGE- OR CHRIS CAFFERY-FEEL? Oh, I mean, I just wanted to do a record, that showed all the different sides of me musically and a lot of different sides personally. I’ve been in Savatage for a tremendously long time, so that is a big part of me. And it’s something that you can’t hide. And as far as the rest of the music goes, there’s a lot of metal that I’ve been listening to throughout the years. A lot of rock. And I just wanted to get a lot of these influences in and let people see who I was for once. And to hear more “me”, the guitar player and the songwriter. And I think, I’m really proud of what I came up with. DO YOU FEEL UNDERRATED, THAT YOU NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BRING OUT WHAT YOU WANTED TO BRING OUT? I don’t know if I’m necessarily underrated. I think that the fans know what I can play and how I play it. But with Savatage I always think, it’s kind of like, if you would take over playing guitar in Van Halen, you know. You always gonna get a comparison to Eddie Van Halen. And Jon and Criss Oliva are Alex and Eddie Van Halen. And Criss has passed away, and no matter what I do with Savatage, it’s always that comparison and that parallel to him. And I’m not Criss Oliva. And I think that’s the one thing that I wanted to get a chance to show people: I love Criss, and he’s a huge influence on me, and he was a very close friend. But, I mean… I’m not Criss Oliva! HAS ANYONE EVER GIVEN YOU THE FEELING THAT YOU’RE ONLY A SUBSTITUTE FOR CRISS OLIVA? Very rarely. Every once in a while you get a fan, that is extremely opinionated on it. And oddly enough – well, not oddly enough – a lot of times, it may be a guitar player who may be envious of what you are doing with your life. And who would draw severe comparisons based on details. And, you know, I wrote a song about that kind on my record. It’s called “Jealousy”. Cause I get some anonymous e-mails at times from people, and people will spike on things like that. Like saying: “How does it feel to know that you’re never gonna be as good as other guitar players that you played with in bands!” You know, though it’s just coming from somebody, that’s got fuckin’ something to bitch about to you. And it’s like: you know, I personally don’t give a shit! I feel good about who I am, and on my record now it’s like, I want to frustrate the hell out of people like that. Because not only is my guitar playing there, but I’m also singing. And I’m singing pretty competitevely. I’m singing with a lot of heart. And I think that the fans will get it. And the ones that… I think the people – there’s very few, like I said – that have a problem with me: my solo records are their worst fucking nightmare, because it’s good! And they would want me to fail. And that really helped motivate me, too, with it, because I wanted to show these people: “No, you’re wrong! And you don’t know me…!”

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