SAVATAGE Close '99
With A Savage Metal Bang
Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles
Things are swinging like wrecking balls in the Savatage camp. Chris Caffery returned from Europe in March having produced hot new band Metallium, of whose vocalist he offers the following warning: "This kid is amazing. He's like 23, and in my opinion he's like Ray Gillen crossed with Tony Martin but with youth. He's never done anything and he's got that kind of voice and that kind of tone. Just killer."
The band is also finishing up the third Trans-Siberian Orchestra album with Paul O'Neill, something that always nearly causes heart attacks and mental breakdowns within the creators. Jon Oliva offers this update. "It's scheduled to come out September 1st, but what year I don't know (laughs). It's a nightmare. I mean, I get to sleep at 8 o'clock this morning. It's great, but there are just so many people involved, so much going on with it that it drives you nuts. This one isn't a Christmas record. There is another Christmas one scheduled, and that will be the next TSO, but obviously not in time for this Christmas coming up."
It is of note that the first TSO is now up over 700,000 copies sold, while the second one did 270,000 in its brief six week Christmas window, sure to go gold next season.
Simultaneous with the last stages of TSO, the band has been working on the new Savatage opus. Another very excited and welcome warning from Chris, when asked about the direction of the new record. "Backwards (laughs). No, seriously, I think more than anything, we're just going to do a regular record; drop the story lines. Jon is singing just about half the record; there'll be some duets between him and Zak. Everybody asks us, 'when are you going to do a regular old-style Savatage album?' Not that the last ones haven't been Savatage albums, but we want to do something like a regular Savatage album fo everybody involved. Definitely more guitar-oriented, it has to be."
Jon confirms the aggressive direction. "I think the new Savatage stuff is adventurous. We're at the stage where we want to try stuff that is different. We want to experiment with the two singers and the two guitar attack type thing, but we don't want to go backwards and do what we were doing in '80 or '90. We want to try to develop a new approach. The last two concept albums made it easy for us to experiment, because when you are doing a concept album, you can get away with doing anything. So I think they opened up a lot of new doors. Now we know what we've got with this line-up. What we're doing right now is turning out very heavy, a lot heavier than the last two records, like night and day. But it was a natural thing. It's not like we sat down and said 'we have to write a heavy record', it's just the stuff we're writing and putting down on four-track right now is very "edged", very heavy and driving. But it still has a freshness about it. We're very excited about it. It should be out September or October."
And finally, to end off on a serious metal note, the legendary Doctor Butcher lives to see another day. This of course is a Savatage side project with one self-titled album to date from '94 that is a vicious classic of Sirens-like proportions. Chris explains what's up.
"There are actually a lot of Doctor Butcher plans. Zero, the record company we were on in Japan folded, went under. It was never released in America, and our deal with Gun is up this year, so we not only want to release the old record this year, but once Savatage is done recording, we want to do a whole new Doctor Butcher record this year. It would be me, Jon, and John Osbourne again; obviously the drummer is going to stay. I don't know who will play bass. It might just be the same structure we had before, which was me, Jon, and Ozzy. We were the three that recorded the first one anyway."