Interview with Jon & Paul (on AOL)  

Savatage Chat Transcript from 4-18-01 KW: Rock Chat

   

Welcome everyone! Tonight we're very proud to have with us Jon 'The Mountain King' Oliva and Paul O'Neill of Savatage fame! Savatage have just released their latest CD entitled 'Poets and Madmen' which just hit stores yesterday! Tomorrow evening also sees the start of the Savatage tour with special guests Fates Warning. Check www.Savatage.com for current tour dates!

Without further delay, please help us welcome Jon and Paul!

Jon: Hello everybody! Welcome, let's get started!

First question....
What is the latest update on The Romanovs?

Jon: Well as far as I know it may be turning into a TSO project, we may record it within the next couple of years. Paul is dealing with the business side of that project and what he is planning on doing with it besides turning into a TSO project.

I've got tickets for the Cleveland show and was wondering two things. Will Paul be there, and will the band be available for autographs after the show??

Jon: Paul will not be there and the band is always available for autographs after the show so that is a definite.

We are all psyched about your tour - how UP are you guys? Any hints on the setlist?

Jon: We are very very excited to be on tour, the setlist will incorporate songs from just about every album that we have done so both old fans and new fans will enjoy the setlist.

I Love both savatage and Fates Warning. How will the tour be split time wise?

Jon: That's a good question, I'm really not sure. I believe that Fates Warning will be playing 45 to 50 minutes. It will depend on how many pening bands there are and what the curfews for the clubs are.

what do you think of the new savatage.com????

Jon: I think that its wonderful. Our guys do a great job on the website.

Jon, how's your voice holding up? I was really psyched to hear you shrieking again!!!

Jon: My voice feels really really good. I'm looking forward to hearing some songs that I have done in a really long time! I'm ready to go!

Jon, can't wait to meet you on the 25th in RI! Question, how do you feel about bands covering your songs? If it's not an issue, have you ever sat in with one? Would you consider it?

Jon: I think that first of all it's really cool when bands cover our songs and I wouldn't mind jumping up there and having some fun. I think it's cool that people are covering our songs and we appreciate it.

how big a part does Paul play in writing the songs? Does he consider himself a member of the band?

Hey guys. We have Paul now. But we just lost Jon for a sec!

Paul: I don't consider myself a member of the band. I consider myself the producer. Jon and I cowrite the music and I write the storylines and we take it from there. I have often heard myself referred to as the 6th or 7th member of the band. Jon has also said that I have to do more drugs before he will allow me to join.

Paul, are you a religious person? Man and his relevance to God seems to show up several places throughout the stuff you've written with Sava.

Paul: Very very complicated question, I was raised Irish Catholic, my parents raised ten children. I do believe in God because there is someone keeping me out of trouble. I don't consider myself overly religious. I believe in following the rule of Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. I believe that there is only one God and that he created all of us. And I believe that he wants us to treat each other well. He doesn't care how we wear our hair, what we eat, etc. And he just worries that we take care of each other. If the kid next door falls you need to help him up. If he is hungry, you need to feed him. If there is a child in Africa that needs help, we should help him. We all have a responsiblity to take care of one another, We can still have fun but we must take care of one another.

You are a terrific storyteller....where do you get all these ideas? Do you create them one by one, or are you drawing on a big stack of them in your mind already?

Paul: A combination of both, sometimes I have stories piled up in mind, sometimes Jon will come to me with an idea. For Poets and Madmen he wanted to do something that could relate with things that are going on in the world today so I was aware of Kevin Carter the jouranlist who was very affected by what was going on and he was covering the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the communist governments in Africa. Lived in a village, some troops came through and killed her father. The girl, her mother and her brother began walking to a feeding station that was 40 miles away. On the route, her mother and brother both died. The girl made it to the feeding station but collapsed and there wasn't any food. A vulture then landed next to the girl and Kevin Carter caught that moment in a photo. The theme of this album is that it pays to look deeper than just what is in front of you. If you have the CD, lift the black cover that is holding the CD and you will see the photo that he took. Something that was not included in the book was that the countries of the Western world should invade Africa and stop the killing that is going on there. 5 million women and children are being murdered ever year in Africa and no one is doing anything about it and that is because we are safe.

Hey guys.. just want to say that we have Jon back.

Also... we arent on a time limit tonight... we'll go as long as Jon and Paul have the time!

Jon and Paul, I find you inspiring. So inspiring, I included you in the acknowledgements of my first book. I would like to send both of you autographed copies if you tell me how I can. My question is who inspires you?

Paul: Kind words like that inspire me. Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo, Robert Graves, people like that inspire us. They have a way to change the world for the better, prior to the 1850s, child labor existed everywhere in the world, it was the norm. Preachers preached against, governments tried to get rid of it but nothing ever hanged. The people whose children were working didn't have the power to change it and the people who could change it didn't need to change it because their children were not working. Then you had one man, Charles Dickens who wrote Oliver Twist, Christmas Carol and that made child labor real in the minds of the people who could change it. Slavery was a norm thorughout that world but then Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin and Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables which changed the justice system. The arts have a way to change things. It can come in words, it can come in pictures, it can come in speeches.

Why no shows in California and is there still going to be a DVD released?

Jon: The shows in CA will be after our tour in Mexico. It will take place in August. There are plans for a live DVD and we will probably be filming some of the shows on this tour for the DVD.

Paul: One of the other things that inspires me to write in the rock opera format is that Jon has some many voices that he can sing many different characters and that inspires me to write deeper and deeper. One of the exceptions would be The Who. There has never been a character that I have come up with that Jon has not been able to come up with a voice for. Here' a perfect example ~ on Beethovens Last Night, Jon played the devil with a suave safistication and charm. Jon was able to add more dimensions to that character. Only Oliva could do that; he's one of the few that can do that.

Do you see in your music a way to tell poeple whats going on in the world??? Do you miss this in some other Bands???

Paul: We definitely see that, we put a little fiction in, we put a little of the real world in too, we go with a variety of styles so each style compliments the other, if you listen to the same type of music too often; it all sounds the same after awhile.

Where did you find Damond?

Jon: I found Damond through the same person that introduced me to Zak. Damond has a very versatile voice and an incredible stage presence.

Jon, how come there's no pics AT ALL in the CD pamphlet? Or is it the record company's deed?

Jon: The lyrics took up most of the pages, and you all know how ugly we are anyway. :-)

Jon, gotta ask - what's the latest on Dr. Butcher!?

Jon: We are going to do something when we get some time.

PJgeorge: lol

Paul, have you ever thought of doing a remake of Jesus Christ Superstar with Savatage or TSO?

Paul: We have enough of our own things that we have written that we haven't recorded yet so we wouldn't have time to do others work. We were both influenced by Queen and Black Sabbath. I was more influenced by classical and Broadway and Jon was influenced by the Beatles. Jon will inspire to me and vice versa. Jon plays basically every instrument on Handful of Rain, Jon played all the instruments (with the exception of the guitar solos). On All That I Bleed, Jon did the initial scratch vocals, I needed some more work done and had asked the music college and they sent many people down to play but I ended up having to fly Jon back in to do the keyboard work because no one could get the sound that we needed.

Jon & Paul- Do you guys get a kick out of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's biggest hit is actually a Sava-song?

Jon: I think that it's kind of ironic because a lot of the stations that we had sent the album to said that they couldn't play it because it was too heavy.

Paul: That song was offered to Heaven and to the Scorpions first. Heaven was told by their rep that song didn't have hit potential. We decided to put it on Dead Winter Dead because we felt it went with the theme of that album. Of the three main writers in TSO, Bob Kinkel is the only one that has any classical training.

Jon, how do you feel about fans taping your shows?

Jon: I have no problem with that, as long as they are not selling them, trading with other fans is okay but don't charge money.

Please answer if you are going to release the concert DVD from Japan. Never seen Criss play and would love to

Paul: We don't have any live films with Criss on them. Jon was the party animal of the band. Criss was the healthy guy, the guy who ate right and it never crossed any of our minds that Criss would die. I got the call from Jon's father and I had to tell Jon about Criss's death. It really freaked us out. We can still feel his presence in the studio. If Criss had died of something natural rather than being killed by a drunk drive with five prior convictions would have helped us deal with it a little better. We needed to go right back in the studio and Jon sat down at the piano and looked at the lights in my living room and began composing.

Jon, how much if any, will you be singing on this current tour?

Jon: I sing quite a bit on the tour. I sing about half the show. There is a lot of singing going on in the live show. I am singing more of this tour than I have sung on any tour since Streets. My voice feels good and Damond and I sound good together.

Paul: I never have to touch Jon's vocals from a live recording.

Jon, since your return to the mic full-time on the new album...are you going to sing more of the material on future albums?

Jon: I think that on the future albums its going to be a half and half thing. I will be singing 5 or 6 songs.

Paul: By Jon not doing the whole CD it frees him up to do other projects.

Paul, Jon-Why 'Shotgun Innocence' as the Bonus Track?

Paul: Jon and I tend to overwrite every album that we do. Later on the record companies pressure us to do these songs as bonus tracks.

Paul, any plans on doing BLN as a broadway production?

Paul: There are numerous offers that are on the table for it to be a Broadway production. The only thing that is holding it up is our schedules. It will definitely be on for this project.

Where did the name Savatage come from? What does it mean if it has one?

Jon: It means nothing. It came from the word Savage and Taj Mahal. I wanted the name Savage because of our music and Criss really liked the Taj Mahal. We originally we calling the band Avatar and we had to change it so I suggested that we change it to Savatar but Criss hated that idea and suggested Tage to add to the Sava. Then we found out later that Savatage means 'Year of the Worn Out shoe' in French.

Jon will you be touring with TSO this coming Christmas?

Jon: Hopefully yes.

Paul: Jon and I both have children and we are both trying to be good family men.

We all know Savatage is much bigger in Europe and Latin America, than in the States. Any idea why?

Paul: In America, I think because of MTV, image became more important than the music. MTV never took off in Europe where the music seems to matter more. I think that Savatage will have it's day in the USA. I think that TSO is helping Savatage get more recognition in the US

Jon, will you be able to play the Gutter Intro?

Jon: Yes I can play it and all bets are off.

Any chance of the tour wth Judas Priest coming to the US?

Jon: Yes

Who is the Toyman? It's killing me.

Jon: Chris is the ultimate toy collector, he gets more swag than anyone I know.

Which song do you want to cover live?

Jon: I would like to do Strawberry Fields

Last question coming up guys.... What happened to Poets and Madmen? Was there a delay somewhere cuz it seems like it took a long time to come out.

Jon: We changed record labels and that took 8 months. That was the big delay and BLN had to be recorded so that was another.

Paul: There were a number of things going and Jon and I don't like to rush anything.

That wraps things up tonight! Thanks to everyone for joining us tonight and an extra special thanks to Jon and Paul! Any last comments guys??

Jon: We want to thank everyone out there; you guys have been great to us. We hope to see you all on tour. We deeply deeply thank you for supporting us so that we dont' have to get jobs at McDonalds. Good night!

Once again, thank's Jon and Paul....and thank you all for coming! Don't forget to check out the latest CD 'Poets and Madmen You can keep track of all the latest at www.Savatage.com. Thanks and goodnight!!

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