JON OLIVA On Possibility Of A New SAVATAGE Album - "I've Been Writing Savatage Material Since 2003; All I Can Say Is It's Very Possible"
March 22, 2021, a year ago
On the latest episode of the 80's Glam Metalcast, the legendary singer and mastermind behind Savatage and the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Jon Oliva talks about what he’s up today. He also tells some classic Savatage stories. Check out the interview below.
On the Romanov project and new Savatage material
Oliva: "I’ve been very busy. We are working on the Romanov project. It’s very special to me because it’s the first thing that Paul O’Neill ever worked on outside of Savatage. We are making progress. It’s not an easy project because there are a lot of parts and a lot of great music. I have to be very meticulous. I’m being very bitchy about it because I want it to be perfect. Since the the Wacken show in 2015, Chris Caffery, Al Pitrelli, and myself have been trading song ideas for a possible Savatage thing. I’ve been writing Savatage material since 2003. I could do a quadruple double album if I wanted to. We are trading off things and looking at it. We are also looking at a Savatage live thing from Cologne Germany in 1997. We are putting it together for a livestream. I’ve been working on that. I had Al come down to Florida and we beefed it up just a little bit, mixed it. I think the fans will love it. If this Savatage album happens, we’ll make an official announcement. We have been working together, because we are all bored because of the pandemic. There’s nothing to do! So we are trading ideas through e-mail and over the phone. We’ll see what happens....I know I would love to do a Savatage album. Paul and I were talking about it before he died. We had a lot of meetings about it. All I can say is it’s very possible."
On the style change on Gutter Ballet
Oliva: "We were petrified. We had just done Hall of the Mountain King, and that album brought us back and had sold really well. We knew we had to top Mountain King. My brother and I had a meeting with Paul, and he told us we were more than just a hard rock band. He knew I was a big fan of the Beatles and Queen. Paul thought it was time for us to experiment. The funny thing is that we had already done 'Of Rage and War', 'She’s In Love', 'The Hounds'. It was all real heavy stuff. Paul bought me tickets to go see Phantom of The Opera so I went and watched it. I came back to the studio right after and sat where John Lennon’s piano was. I sat down and wrote all the music for the song 'Gutter Ballet'. Paul and Criss came running out saying 'What the fuck was that?' The three of us finished it right there. Paul asked if I had any other piano songs. So then I started playing 'Temptation Revelation'. Criss had an acoustic and just started playing riffs over it. Then I started playing the music for 'When the Crowds are Gone', but it had no words. Paul O’Neil wrote all the lyrics for that one in like 10 minutes. That whole session was like a lightning bolt to the brain. Like wow, this is fucking cool. Ultimately that lead us to Streets."
Why he was out of the band for Edge of Thorns
Oliva: "On the Streets tour we were playing for 2 hours a night. Singing Savatage music isn’t easy. I just blew my voice out. The last show of the Streets tour, I was spitting up blood off stage. That’s how bad it was. I went to the doctor and he hold me I had nodes and shit all over. He told me I needed to take some time off. I told him I couldn’t. Then Paul had an idea for me to take a year off and work on this Romanov project with him. Then we would get a new singer for Savatage that’s different from me, more commercial sounding. I’m the one who picked Zak Stevens. I picked him because I didn’t want to get someone who sounded like me. He’s a guy with a really cool, smooth voice and we wrote the whole album around his voice. I was very involved with Edge of Thorns. I helped write all the songs with Criss and Paul. I was very happy with it. The last song the three of us ever wrote together was 'All That I Bleed'."
On playing almost all of the instruments on Handful of Rain
Oliva: "The original idea for this album was that Zak and I were going to share all the vocals. We were going to double all the vocals. For guys in the band, it was just was just too soon after Criss died. For Johnny Lee Middleton and Doc Wacholz it was too soon for them and they both backed out. Zak had backed out too. It was just me and Paul. Once we got a few songs done, Paul asked Zak to come to the studio and check it out. He finally agreed to sing on it. For the instruments...it was just me. I played the bass, the drums, keyboards, rhythm guitars and some leads. The leads I couldn’t do, I brought in my friend Alex Skolnick from Testament. Criss had just passed and the album was like therapy for me. I was playing all of Criss’ guitars on it upside down because I’m left handed. Just holding his guitars in my hands all alone was really weird. I hadn’t played the drums in a long time. 'Taunting Cobras' took me like 4 weeks to perfect the drum parts. Like I said, it was good therapy for me because I was not in a good place at that time. Once everybody heard 'Chance' and 'Handful of Rain' they were all ready to come back! I’m not credited on the album for my playing at all. My manager thought it might be best to keep it that way and give the credit to the Savatage guys. I just wanted to do what was best for Savatage."