East West, John Best
an interview with Chris Caffery
from Aardschok-magazine, Dezember 1998 (Netherlands)
In the summer issue of this magazine was told that drummer Mike Terrana, known from "Artension" and "Yngwie Malmsteen", moved from LA to the Netherlands. One of his many dreams, together with bassplayer Barend Courbois (Vengeance/YK), was to get some famous American guitarists to the Netherlands for a joint tour. However the first to come over wasn't a guitarist but a vocalist. John West and Mike Terrana knew each other from "Artension" and Terrana immediatly was willing to assist the soulfull singer on a short promotion tour for his second solo-album. Soon they found a guitarist, Chris Caffery. Surprising; one should expect him to be very occupied with his band Savatage. After the show in Zwolle (Netherlands/YK) with "American Rock Live" there was ample opportunity to talk with the friendly Caffery. It was a conversation about Savatage, American Rock Live, and his future plans with John West.
Robbie Woning: What has Savatage been doing lately?
Chris Caffery: As you remember we had to cancel our tour in june, however we were able to play in Germany in the Wacken Open Air Festival as well as in the Rockhard Festival, followed by an American tour for a few weeks, finally we played, two weeks ago, in the Monsters of Rock Festival in Brasil. We played together with Dream Theater, Manowar, Slayer, Megadeth and were on the bill directly after Glenn Hughes. This was very special to me. Glenn Hughes ended with "burn" and right after I was allowed to play on that same stage.
RW: After the Monster of Rock Festival the Savatage musicians got a few weeks off. A normal human being would sleep in for a couple of days but Chris Caffery flew directly from Brasil to the Netherlands.
CC: I landed early monday morning in New York and left in the afternoon of that same day to the Netherlands to prepare for this tour. We practiced a few days in a rehearsal room in Geleen (a small town in the south of the Netherlands/YK) and are playing together now for a week. I must say it's really going great. Two weeks ago I played in Brasil for 10.000 people but I enjoyed the show tonight as much.
RW: There are some major differences compared to Savatage, you're the only guitarist in this band and you play a lot of covers.
CC: Yeah, but it's fun. What's wrong with covers anyway ? Van Halen got famous doing covers. They played other people's songs but sounded as Van Halen. You should not forget that, for the majority of Savatage, many of the old songs are like covers. I just love playing live and I really don't care that much who wrote the music. Me being the only guitarist has advantages as well as disadvantages. It's a nice idea that every note you play gets heard, but so are the mistakes you make.
RW: What does the rest of Savatage thinking of you being out here on your own playing "Hall of the mountain king" and "Dead winter dead". Isn't that odd?
CC: They wished me a lot of fun, but I don't know what they really think. I don't try to outwit Savatage in anyway on this tour. It was ment as a John West tour, but the promoters here wouldn't dare do that. They required that my name was conected to this tour as well. I agreed on that. I saw Mike Terrana play at Wacken Open Air with Gamma Ray and was ever since determined to play with him at least once. He's a really great drummer ! John West and I intend to do an album together this coming year. We don't have a deal yet (in the meantime they have/YK) and through this tour some companies get a chance to see us performe live. Also we can try out things live that we wrote together.
RW: The music reminded me a lot of Doctor Butcher, coincidence?
CC: Unfortunately it seems unimaginable there's going to be a second Doctor Butcher album released within the near future. I've had the music ready for a few years now, but naturally I depend on the cooperation of Jon. Again and again when we're ready for it, suddenly, mysteriously, something comes up to upset the plans. I think it's a pity, because I believe that there should've been at least three Doctor Butcher albums out by now . During this tour everybody is asking me about it and I'm getting tired of making up excuses all the time. I write heavy music all the time and I need an outlet. Don't misunderstand me, I love Savatage. It's my favorite band. I just can't stand the fact that the music I write all the time ends up in a drawer at home on a cassette tape. I want it out on CD and to play it live a lot. It's the main reason for me being out with John West on tour. Savatage has not been doing a lot of live shows the last six months and I just can't sit at home do nothing. That's not why I learned to play the guitar.
RW: What does your life look like for you in the coming months?
CC: When I get home I just have one week off and then we're going to prepare for the coming Savatage European tour. In december we will be doing a few TSO shows (on 11 december by Conan O'Brian/RW). As of january, I'll begin work with Savatage on the new CD.