Most Savatage fans know only the basics of Chris Caffery's involvement with Savatage. I was fortunate enough to have a long phone conversation with him and learn some surprising details.
First to refresh the basics...
Chris played with the band as a '2nd guitarist' on the Hall Of The Mountain King tour (Dio, Megadeth). During the recording of Gutter Ballet he was asked to officially join the band. He then completed recording and toured with the band for Gutter Ballet. After the tour he left Savatage. Chris then returned to record and tour on Dead Winter Dead and hopefully many more to come.
That are the basics... So how did Chris and Savatage hook up in the first place?
Chris was playing in a band named Heaven which was being managed by none other than Paul O'Neill. Heaven was in the process of breaking up, and Chris accompanied Paul a number of times to the studio where Savatage was recording Hall Of The Mountain King (HOTMK). Chris really liked the music, and became a fan of the band. He got an early release (being at the studio has its benefits) of the HOTMK material. He soon began to practice it and became rather good at it. The management at the time, Jon Goldwater, told Chris that he would be doing the '2nd guitarist/keys' gig on the tour. A few weeks later however, Savatage found out about it but already had someone else to do the job. They agreed to at least let him do an audition. So Chris flew down, played two songs, and got the gig.
During the recording of Gutter Ballet he was asked to join the band which he did. After the Gutter Ballet tour he left. Why? For a long time he and his brother (a drummer) were looking for a singer to put together their own band. During the Gutter Ballet tour he had found such a singer. So they went off to make that work.
Meanwhile Savatage recorded and toured for Streets. The Caffery Brother's band didn't work out, and about a year later Chris Caffery and Jon began to work on the Dr. Butcher material. A number of setbacks occurred, which delayed the Dr. Butcher project. First Jon when into the studio to help Criss write and record Edge Of Thorns (EOT). Then during the EOT tour Criss died and this delayed the Dr. Butcher project again.
After finishing up Dr. Butcher it was found out that Chris did want to come back into Savatage, so he was asked to come back and begin recording on Dead Winter Dead.
Now he is working on writing for the upcoming Savatage and Dr. Butcher albums.
So that's his interaction with Savatage. Surprisingly he was only out of touch with Savatage for about a year during the Streets era.
Chris's influences include such bands as Black Sabbath, Scorpions and Rush. He also enjoys analyzing the guitar-work of the greats such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When not listening to Savatage he likes listening to Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest.
Some of Chris's other projects include Dr. Butcher (of course), a lead on Sun Red Sun, some work with Dirty Looks, and a project for Atlantic titled 'Big Mouth'.