an interview with Chris Caffery

from Hardside, March/April 1999 (Holland)
by Natasja van de Sanden
translated by Ellen Bakvis


After having booked an extremely early flight to Hamburg where the Metalium guys are working on the final mix of their album the journalists take off for the studio to meet the band. Thanks to a tight schedule everyone gets the chance to do an interview with one of the guys. I get the chance of doing an interview with Chris Caffery and Matthias Lange. But Matthias doesn't get the chance to say a lot next to a chatterbox like Chris. Here are my questions and their answers:

The first question to Chris was: Is't it a bit unusual for an American that plays in a band like Savatage to choose a couple of guys from Hamburg to play with. Where did you meet these guys?

I've met drummer Mike Terrana at the Wacken Open Air festival near Hamburg last year. I played there with Savatage and he played with Gamma Ray. At that time I was busy scheduling a tour I was going to do with singer Jon west. Mike became our drummer on that tour. Monster Productions was going to promote us, I had met Daniel from Monster Productions but not Lars. The first time I met Lars was when he started working on the promotion of the tour. Lars saw Mike and me play and had the idea of starting Metalium, he already knew Henne. Lars had been watching Henne play at clubs for years. When Lars got the offer to record a song for an accept tribute album I went to Hamburg after the Savatage tour to help him record that song. During the time I spent in Hamburg I had the chance to listen to the tracks this band had already recorded. the band didn't have the name Metalium back then. Another guitarist had recorded the tracks and I took over his share of the recordings which ment that now Matt and me were recording the demo's. I left Hamburg to return to America and thought that was it when I had recorded that song for the tribute album. Three weeks later, Lars gave me a call and told me he had a deal for Metalium. I said "what the hell is Metalium ?" Lars told me that was the name of the band and then things started to go real fast. It's very exciting and I think we've got a very good band here.

Do you have future plans for this next to Savatage?

Well like I said, everything went real fast. I'm the Savatage guitarist who came to Hamburg to play guitar for Metalium and now everybody's asking me what I'm going to do with Savatage. When I get back to America I'm going to record the new Savatage album and do a tour when the album is released. But I hope to be able to tour with Metalium this summer.

Why don't you take Metalium with you on tour as support act for Savatage?

I've been thinking of that and it could be an option, I don't know what will happen. Savatage hasn't even started recording the new album yet so I don't know how things will develop. With Savatage it's pretty much like this : we start the recordings and don't finish until it's finished, you never know how long it's going to take. Paul O'Neill is a very precise producer and we always need to spend a lot of time in the studio. Basically, there are three possibilities : either we finish real quick and Savatage will tour and Savatage's tour schedule will run across Metalium's, so I wont be able to play with them...or Savatage's recordings will take a lot of time and during the time between their release and tour I'll be able to play with Metalium...or Savatage's recordings will take such a long time that I don't have to worry about a thing because in that case I will be able to tour with Metalium for sure. At the moment, nothing can be said about that. All I know is that I've been told two months ago that Metalium has got a deal and that right now I'm at a press party listening to the CD that I have done. What I can say is that I'm very happy with the music that we have recorded. It doesn't sound like a band that has only been together for a couple of months, it doesn't sound like a project. This record's got emotion which cannot be said of a lot of project bands. Metalium is a real band, just because we've been together for such a short period of time is why it looks like a project.

Do you think you can hold on to the spontaneity when you decide to do a second CD?

I don't like answering questions about a second CD when the first one hasn't even been released yet. All I can say right now is that I hope everything will be the same when the next album is finished. Like I said, I think it's a taboo to talk about the future, you never know what will happen . I like talking about the present and things that are definitely going to happen in the future. I don't like to play the part of storyteller. That is because there was a moment in 1993 when I was going to play with Savatage again and two weeks later Criss Oliva died. I had just told some people that I was going to play with Savatage again. Since then, I only talk about what will definitely be happening. Right now, the Metalium album is about to be released and we have been booked for some festivals, we've got a tour, I just hope I will be able to be part of it. The band has a deal for more than one CD, so there will be a new CD if we manage to stay alive and as long as there are people who want to hear it.

What is it that makes your music different?

It's the people who are playing it. We've all got our own style. Mike is a virtuoso drummer, his playing differs a lot from other drummers, my guitar sound and Matt's, we come from a decade of guitar playing that's more or less the same so our styles have a lot in common, our sound is a lot seventies, early eighties, the Heayvy Metal sound but with a modern edge to it. Henne is an incredible singer and with a great singer you sound different anyhow. Lars is banging on the bass and together it sounds like Metalium.

Why such an obvious name...?

Because we couldn't think of anything more stupid, hahaha. When I first heard it I started laughing because I thought it was a silly name. But is't Heavy Metal silly in the first place ? The name Heavy Metal is stupid ! But Lars said: "I want something that stands for ' Metal meats Milennium '. Why not ! I played Monsters of Rock in Brazil with Savatage and Manowar played there too, and there's nothing more simple than Manowar but yet I had never seen a band take control of the audience like they did. I watched Manowar play in front ofan immense audience and it was so straight on and so easy to understand that the Brazilian kids understand Manowar. A lot of what I watched Joey DeMaio do made me realize that it's pretty slick what they're doing. If I was 15 years old, I'd think that Metalium is one of the coolest names in the world. What we are trying to do with this band is : transfer Heavy Metal to a younger generation, sell Heavy Metal music to 5-year-old's. I'm not trying to impress the people who are buying Beethoven's CD's. We want Heavy Metal music to carry on, and we are doing that by passing it on to the younger generation.

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