Jon Oliva interview
January 18, 2001
by Steph Perry
I recently caught up with Savatage founder Jon Oliva via telephone. He was home in Florida relaxing after working in the studio. Oliva was preparing for a press tour overseas in support of the soon-to-be-released Savatage record, Poets and Madmen. Currently, the band is in search of two new members (in 2000 guitarist Al Pitrelli departed to join Megadeth, and vocalist Zak Stevens left for personal reasons). About the search, Jon said, “Right now we’re going through a few different options…A little fresh blood is good, kind of gives you a kick in the ass, so we’ll see.” The band is anxious to make some decisions because of the pending world tour. Regarding shows in the US, Jon said, “We’re going every where this tour. We’ll be out for several months. We’ll hit the East Coast at least twice…on the way in and on the way out”.
Was the song writing process for Poets and Madmen similar to The Wake of Magellan?
It’s always been mostly me and Paul, ever since Criss passed away. Ever since Criss died it’s been basically me and Paul and whoever came in, like Al helped us out on a few songs on The Wake of Magellan and so did Chris [Caffery]. For the new record, it was really primarily Chris and myself working on the music and then Paul came in more towards the end of the writing process to help with the lyrics and stuff like that. He was really involved with the TSO that was going on. So it was a little bit different this year. It kind of reminded me of the old days in a way — of getting really excited about playing something for the producer and hoping he likes it! It was definitely a little bit different but a lot of fun too.
The record is new but also has some old flavor?
The record is definitely unique. It’s definitely cool. The old fans are going to love this record. It’s a very hungry sounding record and it definitely reeks of old Savatage.
Do you think Savatage may get some airplay this time around?
That depends if they’ll play some of it. Radio is a tough market, especially for us here. We don’t have any problem getting played anywhere else [laughs]. Savatage does great everywhere and with the resurgence of rock here in America – it’s definitely on the comeback from what I can see and hear. The Savatage record is a lot heavier than the last one so I think it might fit in, it may find its niche.