Hi there. Congratulations to your great new album. Please describe the reactions to the CD so far.
Hi! Thanks! The reactions to the CD have been really great. Consistently I think the reviews have even been more positive than Faces. This is a great feeling!
Do you care for the opinion of your fans, the press and people in general? Or is it just you and your music?
Well, as a passionate artist I tend to care too much about everyones! I need to stop letting the critics get to me and listen to the fans and my heart. The critics have so much to listen to and they are not going to love everything!
How did you come up with your studio musicians this time?
It is the same line-up as Faces...I just had Jon Oliva sing on one song and Brian Gregory the original Doctor Butch bassist play one tune, the song Iraq Attach which was an old Butcher tune!
Let's talk about your new CD. Have you taken the "God damn war" EP Songs as they were, or was there some redoing?
There was a little re-doing and some more mastering.
Are there some general differences between the "God damn war" songs and the new ones? And if so, why?
There is a bot of a production difference, the drums were done in a different studio, I played the lead guitars in my home studio! The songs were written at a later date. Also I feel my voice was stronger as a natural progression.
My favourite is "State of the head". Can you tell us something about this song and it's history?
I wrote this song in Warsaw on my press tour for Faces. Since CNNi s the only English TV station in most European hotels I was watching the news. I saw more kidnappings and wrote the lyrics, I wrote the music when I returned home to the US.
And what about "Election day"? A True Metal Fan like me has to get used to it. But after some listenings it really kicks ass.
I wanted it to be manic, kinda getting inside your mind. I also wanted to have a very upbeat song near the front of the CD, it worked great. I wrote this watching the humorous US election campaigns in 2004.
Which one is YOUR favorite song from the album and why?
Hmm...tough decision. I would have to say either Erase because it is the first song I ever wrote as a singer or Home Is Where The Hell Is, I am proud of that song and the guitar and vocals!!!!
How and why did you choose the album cover?
I was working with the art department at Black Lotus, we had bounced some ideas off of each other. I saw this one and loved it. It captures what is going on with the "Business" of modern war!
The booklet in general is very significant. Tell us about its development.
Well, I was writing the story the whole time I was workingon Faces and WARPED, it kept focusing and developing. The songs all tie together, there is no real concept to the CD other than a factual encounter from my eyes of the modern War. The scary part was that Beat Me was released in Sept 2004. The sound effect I used in the intro was an earthquake and tidal wave...this was 3 months before the Tsunami! it is kinda eerie. Prophetic in a way! It was really the only fiction on the CD besides War itself and the missles being alive...
Where do you get your inspirations from?
I get them from life! Everywhere you look there are tons of inspirations. On TV, newspapers, on tour, walking down the street...everywhere...
Any plans for some further stuff of "W.A.R.P.E.D." (like singles,video, DVD etc.)?
I want to do a comic book, some video releases and possibly some computer animated artwork! We are getting this all together now! One day I would love to do the CD as a whole in a live show for a DVD!
What about the recording process? Any stories or curiosities to report?
Hmm...everything was pretty busy always. I ahd so much to do as a writer, producer and singer/guitarist. Curiosities...I think the story of the Beat me Effects is the weirdest one for sure!
What are your musical influences in your opinion?
I have a ton, from Black Sabbath and The Beatles to The Who and Kiss...lots! I have stolen from everyone!
While writing songs for your Solo albums, is it hard to keep out your other projects? Or is this maybe not important at all?
I am always busy, I think it is hard to find time for a normal life!!! I am almost too busy for other things at times, but if I stay sober and focused it is amazing how much I can get done!
Please name some lately released CDs that you like to listen to at home.
I love the new System of the Down CD! I was listening to the new Priest CD. Velvet Revolver is cool, there are too many to list. I dont have a ton of time to listen to music, but I try to stay as current as possible!
What do you think about trends like Metal Core?
Well...there will always be trends. Some of the new trends are a good thing because I see them bridging different audiences together. I like things until they become too trendy and corporate.
Do you still watch other bands play? Have there been some shows lately that impressed you?
I love to watch other bands. I have been seeing a lot of Metal Church! I also just saw The Scorpions, Sabbath, Dio, Saxon, Motorhead, Machine Head, Soulfly, Velvet Revolver, Nevermore, Doro, and Viciious Rumors amongst others...all of which had great shows!
What are you doing in the fiew hours that you are not into music?
A fiew month ago the lead singer of my own former band died because of disease. I miss him very much. What comes to your mind thinking about Criss Oliva today?
I wish he was still around because I think he was the one person that would have made sure Savatage kept a priority with everyone involved!!!! I also miss him as a friend on the road. we had some great times together!
How do manage to keep his memory alive after all these years?
Just by making sure he is never forgotten in my heart musically. The fans, myself being one, will never forget...he will always stay alive this way!
Back to the present again. Are you still in touch with the Underground Metal scene? And if so: Where do you hang out? Are there some yet unknown bands that you like?
Metal is always underground! There are not so many places to hang out anymore. In the US so many things have killed the Metal bars...smoking laws, drinking laws...I really cannot name you one unknown band that I like. It is easier for these bands to produce records now adays so even the underground ones you probably have heard of.
What about the US Metal Scene in general? Do you know some bands, and if so, is there friendship, rivalry or more or less nothing special?
Hmm...the US metal scene is really corporate. Everyone is just trying to get by. So..the rules seem to be followed more closely. Rivalry? I dont think so because everyone is struggling so hard here that they want to help each other out. I think any rivalries seem to be in the business end. If you are on a label they will help support you, give you tours...if you are not they wont. The US is very dog eat dog in the business sense and I have found their is little loyalty and friendship, but this is human nature. You just have to try to smile and keep focused. The world is too small. There are lots of bands selling CD's now, but I am not sure exactly what the scene is here. It usually depends on what the media tells you it should be. America is always very trendy.
Some statements about the new Circle II Circle album, please.
I like it, I think I like the first one more. This is from a "CD as a whole" point. The first CD had a certain vibe and feeling to it. I am happy for Zak because they have both been well received.
Yeah, I think I like the first one more as well!
And what about "Tage mahal"?
I am very proud of the job Jon did on his CD. I think it is very strong. I think this is because he had a vision and focused on it 100%. I would like to see Savatage go into the studio and focus 100% on a Savatage CD like this. I have great hopes for the next Savatage CD.
How important is it for you to play live on stage?
It is very important, I feel it is the only way to build and ultimately keep an audience, they need to see you live. I love it!
With Ira Black you have some cool guitar sidekick on stage. How does it work?
Ira and I have toured together in the past. There is a great mutual respect between us. I feel he is a huge star and a hidden gem in the metal community, I am proud to have him in my band. Eventually I want to work a lot more lead stuff into his part, this will free me up to relax more too...the vocals are a lot to handle!
Nick Douglas on bass guitar rocks as well. I like his bass playing and especially his live performance. Some comments, please.
Nick is a total pro, also a good friend. I cant say enough good things about him as a person and a player. I am truly blessed with a great band of humble musicians and pros!
Are there still some bands that you would die to play with?
I would always love to do a CD with Ronnie Dio one day. This dream will always be there.
I have no words for this. Such a work would be a real masterpiece!
Please tell us something about further Live activities.
I will be coming back to Europe for some more live shows in July/Aug then it is off to tour the US for 5 weeks. then I am hoping to come back to Europe in the fall before touring the US with TSO in Nov/Dec.
Still three questions to go. What do you think of Metal web magazins?
I think they are great! I love the way it spreads the word world wide to the community. You really cant put a price on the support and the importance!
Is there something that you have never been asked but always have been eager to say?
Hmm....not sure...ask me this again some other day!!!
We are looking forward for the next earthquakes in the Savatage community. Best whishes to you all. Any last words?
Thanks for the support...I hope to see everyone on the road...and yes...you will hear from Savatage...it is just a matter of WHEN?!!!!