JON OLIVA On SAVATAGE: 'It's Over But It's Not Over'

Rock My Monkey recently conducted an interview with SAVATAGE/JON OLIVA'S PAIN mastermind Jon Oliva. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

Rock My Monkey: You made it clear that SAVATAGE is over, but when I talked to Zach Stevens a week ago...

Jon Oliva: Well, it's over but it's not over, you know what I mean? It's over right now because no one's doing anything. We haven't disbanded or anything. We have plans to do something in the future. We're just... It's like every time we talk about it, and every time I say we're going to do something, something happens to fuck it up. (laughs) So in my opinion right now, nothing is going on until everybody says, "Okay, let's go do something." Then we'll probably do something. We want to do something for the 25th anniversary of the band, but it's just a time thing, and a schedule thing with everybody so busy with TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. Is like a runaway freight train right now. It's just getting everybody together. They all play in the orchestra, so that makes it even more difficult. The demands on the guys for that has become ten times what it was four or five years ago. That's one of the things that is been holding up there being a SAVATAGE thing. Another thing I think is the fact we've been together for twenty some odd years, and I think everybody just needed to get away from it for awhile. We never really had any break from 1983 all the way up until 2001. The most time we ever had off was when Criss [Oliva] died, and even then, I was recording "Handful of Rain" four months after he passed away. I mean, it was just, I think after the 2001 tour, and being stuck in the middle of 9/11, and being three thousand miles from home, and not being able to get home, I think that was the emotional thing that snapped everybody. We just got to put this down for a while. It wasn't fun anymore. We loved the band so much, I didn't want the band to end that way. I don't want the band to end that way. When everybody can give it the time and dedication it deserves, then we'll get together and we'll do something. Until then I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing now. We'll see what happens. You never know.

Rock My Monkey: So there is no definite time plan as far as the 25th anniversary?

Jon Oliva: No. It's like the 25th anniversary actually falls next year. 2007 I believe is the actual year. So we're going to try to do something. I've been doing video compilation stuff, and editing old things for a bonus DVD to go with it, that has a ton of live Criss stuff in concert, a lot of backstage frolicking about, and going to castles in Europe. I've been working on that for better part of a year and a half now, trying to do it like a kind of a movie type of thing. It's very time consuming, so I only can really do it when I have the time. But that's one part of the project. The other is going to be an album. Whether it's a live album, or a studio album, that I'm not sure of yet, because Paul [O'Neill] and I haven't really had time to sit and talk about it. But there are plans to do something, so something will happen.

Rock My Monkey: When that happens, are you going to consider that to be the proper goodbye?

Jon Oliva: That depends on everybody else. As far as I'm concerned, I'll keep playing stuff until I'm seventy years old. But it's like, there's got to come a time when you got to move on. The whole thing is, with TSO becoming so big and so popular, it's hard to convince people who are playing Madison Square Garden in front of 23,000 people to put that on the shelf for a year to do a SAVATAGE club tour. (laughs) If SAVATAGE sold millions of records, that would be a different story. We never sold millions of records. We have a very diehard, core following of lovely people, and very, very true fans, and we love them all. But their numbers were never significant enough to provide a living for anybody. Basically we were living week to week when we were doing all that stuff. SAVATAGE never made big money. We spent far more money than we earned on touring and videos, and god knows what else, crazy costumes and drum risers that couldn't fit in buildings. All kinds of cuckoo things like that. But we never cared because we just loved the band so much that we just, for us, it was just, we didn't know anything different from SAVATAGE. It was all we had from when we were twenty years old until now. It was half of our lives were dedicated to doing that. I can understand people, but I think people can also understand that after you've done something for twenty, twenty-five years, to take a few years and just step back and do some other things, I think is healthy. Because otherwise-I don't want to just sit there and hammer SAVATAGE into the ground, making the same album over and over again. To me, that would be a crime. I'd rather wait and not do anything, and then do something spectacular, than beat the thing into the ground. But I don't want to do that. And we don't need to do that because of the success of TSO. We've got the money and the stuff to take care of everybody. Now we can do it because we want to do it, not because we have to do it.

Rock My Monkey: Will this be — if you're able to do the 25th year anniversary — will there be a full production DVD filming of it, so fans can have that high quality archive?

Jon Oliva: Absolutely. It will definitely be — Paul wants to do it big, so it'll definitely be the full thing.

Rock My Monkey: Will this be a one time show, a full tour? Or do you know?

Jon Oliva: That I don't know. I would say to do one show would probably not work. I would say it probably be a small series of shows. Maybe a couple, two or three in America, and then three or four in Europe in certain areas. They would all be filmed, and then we would put it together from there.

Rock My Monkey: Cool. Well, if there is any way, anything I can do, humanly possible that I can do, to get you guys to do one of the shows in Seattle, I will go to amazing lengths to make it happen. I know that's way off in the corner for you.

Jon Oliva: I have a lot of friends in Seattle. Kurdt Vanderhoof is a good friend.

Rock My Monkey: There is that connection. Now this is totally hypothetical, obviously, but there was some strange magic that happened for TSO to explode the way it did. If some strange magic happens and the SAVATAGE DVD goes multi-platinum, would you be able to balance that and TSO, or would your head explode?

Jon Oliva: I would probably tie a rock around my ankle and find the highest bridge. I don't know. That would be something you'd have to deal with at the time. It's hard to say. TSO just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year. It's almost like a runaway train. It's very exciting watching it happen. I was on the road with them last week, and I was introduced at the soundboard. Kurdt Vanderhoof is running the sound for TSO out front, so I was hanging out front with Kurdt, and they introduced me, and I got a standing ovation from people all the way from eighty years old to eight years old. (laughs) It was weird, man. I felt like a circus ringmaster, or something.

Check out the entire interview in text and MP3 format at www.rockmymonkey.com.

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