Responses to "D'Artagnan"

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Posted by Paul / Clay on January 20, 99 at 23:35:03:

Topic 1: Streets

The liner notes in Believe state the album's correct origin (intended for a Broadway musical). What is said in the liner notes about a "book" refers to the Streets manuscript. Anything else has either been misspoken, misheard, or misquoted. This is why the band's official website and albums (i.e., Believe) are official-- they give the true story. Example: movie script, as this Players thing said. Not true.

--"Jon clicked with the idea immediately. 'Paul gave me the storyline to read.'"

This seems to be accurate...

--"Steve points to the acceptance of Gutter Ballet as the impetus for Streets by noting, 'It definitely was the next step for the band. We said, 'How in the hell are we going to top this one, guys?.'"

As has been said elsewhere, Streets was rediscovered during reocrding sessions for Gutter Ballet, before that album had that title (Hounds of Zaroff and Temptation Revelation were initial considerations). The manuscript of the play that later became Streets was initially titled Gutter Ballet. The band liked the title, wrote the song "Gutter Ballet" (this was the last song recorded for the album), and ended up using that title for its 1989 album. So, that's how the two albums were related.

--"'Then our manager said: 'Well, no one's done a rock opera in about 15-20 years. Why don't you guys think about it?'' Criss Oliva wasn't initially excited. 'I thought it would be impossible to do. All I thought was: Tommy, and stuff like that. All I thought was ughh. But with Savatage, I knew it would be totally different. Even though it was intense and hard work, it was still a lot of fun to meet the challenge and pull it off.'"

I'm guessing Criss here is expressing his concerns over the album's creation and acceptance. The writer here seems to be taking liberties-- if Criss had never found the album or excitedly and enthusiastically pushed for the project, it would have never been turned into a Savatage album.

-- When did the original Streets manuscript change from being a book (reference: Streets CD) to a musical?

See above.

-- I suppose the alledged Broadway version of "Believe" contains the same guitar solo, and that solo was also conceived by Paul before Criss formed part of it during the live performances of "When the Crowds Are Gone" during the Gutter Ballet tour (listen to the Final Bell/Ghost in the Ruins CD), being that the song is "the same version" as the alledged original Broadway version.

Paul and Criss wrote the solo. What I meant when I wrote in "Believe" about songs appearing on Streets in their original forms referred to lyrics, chords, and melodies. I apologize for any misinterpretations stemming from this.

As to "Crowds," this was a new song at the time (1989).

Topic 2: Alone You Breathe
--Why do the lyrics of "Alone You Breathe" make it sound like Criss had a hand in his own death?

Upon one reading, they can. Upon another, they don't. However, Paul has stated that Criss did not have a hand in his own death.

Topic 3: Continuing as Savatage
--why did you continue under the name Savatage? / Why was continuing "the right thing" to do?

Paul says that so much love, time, and effort over the years have been put into the band by so many different people. "To let it die would have been wrong," he told me. What a lot of people fail to realize is that if you're not a multiplatimnum artist, and you don't keep producing new material, your old material is dropped. Continuing to record keeps your back catalog in print. If the band did not continue, you couldn't go into a record store and buy something with Criss Oliva. This is why it was the "right thing" to do-- it preserves his legacy. Also, think of all the new eyes that have been opened to Criss since 1993 because the band has continued.

Topic 4: Acoustic
-- Why did you redo Criss's songs? (referring to the bonus tracks on the European reissues, U.S. version of TWOM, and the Japanese best of)

These are Savatage songs. One can say these are just as much Paul's songs or Jon's songs, but they're the band's songs. "Sleep" was originally written for the band Omen around 1980; "Stay" stems from the Streets manuscript, circa late '70's, as does "Somewhere In Time;" "Alone You Breathe" was written in 1994. If you want to look at it this way, this strikes the US version of TWOM from discussion.

However, the real reason is simple, and it's stated on the Euro reissues: some bootlegs were floating around with versions of acoustic songs performed in soundcheck. "Redoing" them got rid of the hum, etc., and presented them rightly and justly. The band is big on people getting their money's worth, hence the release of official live albums to combat less-than-perfect, unofficial, unauthorized boots like Live Devastation that they feel lowers the standard of the Savatage name.

--How does redoing Criss's songs, taking his playing out of them, keep his music alive?

Think of it as a cover. The far majority of musicians are flattered by cover songs. Anyway, if I hear a cover song I like on an album, I'll often go searching for the original version just for a point of reference (this most recently happened for me with Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed," which, had it not been for a certain band covering it, I would have never discovered). If someone new to Savatage buys the American TWOM and likes "Sleep," maybe they'll go listen to Edge of Thorns and discover Criss Oliva.

--It's understandable that you want to concentrate on your new albums, but why say that Savatage was continued to keep Criss's music alive if your priority is the new material? Do you think that saying that could have been misleading?

It may have been misinterpreted. See above, as well as topic 6.

Topic 5: Previously unreleased
--If Savatage was continued to keep Criss's music alive, why aren't you making more of an effort to release more previously unreleased material that he wrote and played on?

If there was the time, money to finance, and interest (i.e., in a perfect world), the band would release everything. However, things that Criss recorded during his life that were previously unreleased then are previously unreleased for the same reason now-- the band never felt it was their best work worthy of release. "If we didn't release it during his lifetime," Paul said, "we don't want to release it now."

--Will the other tracks that were recorded for Streets ever be released?

They are honestly lost in Atlantic's vaults.

--Where did "D.T. Jesus" come from if the tapes are lost in Atlantic's vaults?

Good question, but a simple answer: it was on a different tape than the rest of the Streets lost stuff. It happened to be on tape misplaced, away from other tapes-- ironically, it was not where it was supposed to be, but that's the only reason it ever got out.

Topic 6: What if... / continuation of topic 3
--Also, if Savatage was continued to keep Criss's music alive, what will be the justification for ever ending Savatage? If using the name Savatage keeps Criss's music alive, and that is truly the purpose behind continuing the name, this would logically mean that the name Savatage would have to continue to be used after Jon and Paul die (especially since Savatage existed before Paul started working with them, and Jon was not even actually in the band when Criss died).

"If Savatage continued after Jon and I were dead, we'd be ecstatic," said Paul. Savatage is more than the members comprising it; it is an ideal, a belief held in common by those people. That spirit they hope to last as long as possible.

--So, was the band continued under the name Savatage in order to keep Criss's music alive, because the songwriting core hasn't changed, or both?

A combination of both, but mostly to the former. In other words, it was because of the former, a notion they felt was justified by the latter. Paul believes the name has an "emotional connection to Criss," and he cites his and Jon's "fondness" for the name and what it represents-- Savatage is whoever is in it at the time, believing in it. People still enjoy the music-- that's all that counts. Call it whatever you want.

-- In deciding to continue under the name Savatage, how much was the decision influenced by the fact that Savatage still had a record deal with Atlantic?

None at all.

--Criss is the one without whom the band sounds fundamentally different

Savatage is "fundamentally different" with every album, most would agree.

-- Why should we believe that Criss would have really wanted the name Savatage to be continued without him, that he would want anyone else to be playing lead guitar in his band, or that he would appreciate it being said that the songwriting core hasn't changed?

For the reasons outlined above. (I'm sure the songwriting core thing referred to lyrics, and another misinterpretation on the writer's part. Criss was (and is) an integral part of Savatage; no one is trying to deny that.) Criss loved Chris; those who knew Criss and know Al think they would get along beautifully and respect one another tremendously. Paul, Jon, Dawn, and Criss' father all believe that continuing Savatage is the best way to serve Criss, again for the reasons above. They think Criss would be flattered and ecstatic, being honored with the best possible tribute-- having his name and memory preserved.

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