Interview with Jon Oliva  

from Dutch Savatage Fanclub-magazine Winter 1997
by Michelle van Dijk
translated by Patrick "boudie" van der Horst


Between riding, sleeping, sound-checking, playing and placing signatures we found Jon Ė on the road- in Bochum to answer us a few questions!

Which hairdresser do you have?

I always cut my own hair, because Iím afraid of hairdressers and I believe yours canít be long enough!

OK, a more serious question: when were you the first time aware of music?

When I was 5 years old and saw The Beatles on TV.

What instrument interested you the most?

That would be the drums, but they drove my parents crazy, so they decided to give me some pianolessons. I kept doing that for a while and I thought myself everything else. My music comes from the heart! I also think itís better to teache yourself because you make your own style.

You came in contact with music through your parents, then?

Yes, the whole family played music, thatís why it was very simple, also for Criss. I aws 9 and Cris about 5 or 6 and we were playing in the garage. Me on drums and he on bass. Though we only knew one Ďsongí and played that for hours, we had lots of fun! That Ďriffí is on the Dr. Butcher-album: Innocent Victim. Thatís the oldest Sava-song, strange isnít itÖ..

I constantly think of Criss, I live the life he would have lived if he had lived now. And I miss him. But I know heís in good hands and that I will see him in a short time. Lifeís short and in that time I live everyday like it could be the last. Iím not afraid of death anymore, I will be that anyway. Itís one of those things everyone has in common: youíre born and you die!

Do you want to tell something of your childhood?

I have had a decent childhood, hard but decent. I caused many troubles, was a bad boy, were in a Borstal institution and have been in jail! That happened when I was 14. It was just for one week, but I was terrified and when I came outÖ I think a lot of my parents. They were great parents and I love them! My first concert was Black Sabbath in 1973 with Ozzy!

When did you begin to write your own music and how do you start with that proces?

When I was 12 I started. I think of something and keep it in mind. I donít like jamming, thatís boring. When you think of music as a painting and composing as painting then jamming is just daubing. Sometimes I wake up with a melody in my head, I try to get it out on piano and then try to remember it. I donít write it down, I have a good memory. My philosophy is: Whatís good, you canít forget! I wrote hundredes of song, not only for Savatag, but always for a band I was involved with. I canít sell song, therefore they mean too much for me!

Paul OíNeill is very important for me, he writes the lyrics, I do the music. Weíre each other partner, we write together aswell as apart from each other. Then we swap tapes and make arguments on each others work. On our US-shows he came to watch and he also comes to Japan, he loves Japan. Me too, but Holland is my favorite (grass is almost free here!!!!)

Who is/are your biggest influence(s)?

The Beatles, their music is timeless! I always bring their CDís on tour, nothing else. I love to play old Ď60/í70 music myself. I also like to listen to Ďblakcí music like Motown. I love it when you keep singing that song afterwards, because itís stuck in your head!

Whatís your favorite Sava-album?

STREETS!!!! And the new one, but Streets i like most, thatís MY story, you knowÖ

Does the Ďprivateí-Jon differs a lot from the Ďstageí-Jon?

A lot, Iím a very quiet person, actually.The Jon on-stage is the Jon on-stage, because I have to be the Jon on-stage when Iím Jon on-stage. People expect from me to see the Jon on-stage, like the one Iím on stage! The Mountain King. Thatís my stage-personality and I like it, but I can cut myself loose from him when I want to! I like quiet things and Iím very romantic.

Sometimes it looks as if youíre saving the show when something goes wrong!

Thatís my duty! Iím Jon, the Saviour. The Show must go on!!!

Where do you live?

In the US, in Florida as well as in New York I have an appartment and keep travelling between them.

How are things going with Dr. Butcher/TSO?

The new Dr. Butcher is going to be released next summer. Same musicians, but a lot heavier. Trans Siberian Orchestra is going to release the next one in spring next year. I donít know how itís going to sound. Itís Paul OíNeillís project so itís up to him!

How often have you been a Ďghostí-musician? (A question reffering to a Aardschok-interview in which Jon says he hasnít played on it officialy because of juridical-reasons)

Never! And I donít use them either. Donít believe everything whatís told, so many stories go around!!

Do you know a nice tour-story?

Not really, touring is going so fast! Mostly you sleep, otherwise weíll be drinking or playing. The show, thatís what everything is about!! Although Dynamo was a climax!!

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