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Interview with Jon Oliva
(Vocals - Pain, Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchstra)

Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: December 2006

Hey Jon howís everything going today.
How ya doing buddy, Iím just hanging out at home, not doing much.

Do you remember anything from your childhood in the Bronx?
Not really, I was really young. The one thing I do remember was going to Yankees gamesÖ bleacher seats with my grandfather. After that, we moved out and moved to Oakland, New Jersey. It was good. Most of the time I ever spent in New York is when I was with SAVATAGE.

Do you remember the first record you got and the first concert you attended?
The first record I ever bought was ďRevolverĒ by The BEATLES, which is the one I personally went out and bought. The first one that was given to me was another BEATLES record, probably a 45. My sister was big time into the BEATLES. The first concert was BLACK SABBATH, MONTROSE and BROWNSVILLE STATION in 1974.

Did you start playing guitar first?
I started playing the drums first, then guitar and then keyboards. I started as a drummer; I wanted to be Ringo (laughing). It was just playing the records and playing the drums to them. I played drums in a band much later on.

What did you get kicked out of school for?
When I was a junior in high school, I lit the vice principal on fire.

Howíd you do that?
I got busted smoking. It was a very windy day, and he came up from behind me and said to put that cigarette out. So I flipped the cigarette, and a rush of air blew it backwards and it went down the vice principalís shirt. This was like 1977: he was wearing one of those disco silk shirts, and it just went up like rolling paper (laughing). So that was it for me. That was fucking wild.

Did you expect ďMount KingĒ to be a legendary song?
I think it already is in the eyes of the hard rock fans. Itís one of those special songs and yes, I thought it would be.

We just did an interview with Zak Stevens, and a question I asked him was that if he could change anything during his music career, what that would be? His answer was the passing of your brother, Chris. How does that make you feel?
That would be the same thing for me. It had a serious effect on all of us.

Tell me what the differences are between his two releases and those from SAVATAGE, since they sound familiar.
My last two releases with SAVATAGE are really not different, other than different people playing instruments. Songwriting is the same, except Iím writing the lyrics instead of Paul, and basically any song that Iíve done could be on a SAVATAGE record. I wrote all the songs for SAVATAGE, so obviously there will always be that similarity between what I do. Thatís ok-it doesnít bother me. Itís just a different phase of what Iím doing. It all stems from the same thing.

Tell us about the SAVATAGE anniversary tour?
Itís not going to be a tour. Weíre going to do something, not sure what yet. Maybe an album, might do a live thing, film it, and release it as a DVD. There are a couple other options but we havenít decided yet what weíll do. Itís just time to find the time do it since we are always busy. We are going to do something once we have the time to do it the right way.

I am just going to say one word: masterful. Jon Oliva is utterly one of the great talents in music today, and to prove it you must buy ďManiacal Renderings.Ē Oliva is brilliant with the arrangements and the exploration of new sounds and thereís no denying the chemical imbalance in the mind of Oliva. They said the same about Einstein and heís legendary.
Well good, I really appreciate that and itís very flattering.

With the cover of the new CD, have you ever been inside a psych ward?
Oh yeah, we did a photo session in a closed down one in New York. Back in the ďMountain KingĒ time, it was pretty spooky.

Did you videotape any of the recording session?
We filmed a bunch of stuff and we will most likely release it as a bonus on something.

Whatís your feeling about YouTube, the service that allows you to see a full concert or clips from your concerts without permission from the artist?
Yeah, (laughing). I donít know. Itís good and itís bad, itís exposure. Itís just as with anything-thereís good and bad in everything. The internet is great in getting your message out and getting people involved in your websites and reaching a lot of people. The thing that is bad is that people can get your records for nothing and we are making records to make a living. Itís like owning a grocery store, people would come in and take the milk without paying, and eventually itís going to cause a problem. It is what it is; itís the world today so you just gotta deal with it. I think it hurt the record companies the most because theyíre not selling half the records that they used to sell because people are just downloading them for nothing. Itís taken the special-ness out of going out and buying someoneís own album. An album to me is the lyrics and the artwork and if you donít have the lyrics and the artwork, itís not like having the real record. I personally never downloaded a song for free in my life because I personally think itís not right. Thatís just me.

ďTimeless FlightĒ sounds like Lennon in the beginning of the song, and itís my favorite track.
I appreciate that. Because it was the vibe, I was going for BEATLES/QUEEN type of thing. Itís my favorite song on the album also, so itís a very special song to me and I love it a lot.

So what are the plans for the rest of the year?
Iím working on new material for the next JOP record. I am finishing up some things for the TSO record, which we will finish up in January. I go back on the road in March up north and come back and do some shows in the states like New York, New Jersey, Philly then just over to Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. Iím going out and do weekend dates in groups of threes. Itís just economically a lot easier to do it that way. Plus I am going to be in the studio during the week, so I canít be too far away. Then at the end of March, I go to Europe. Itís better to busy than not to be working.

What are some of the things you ask for on your rider?
We are basic, soda and water, deli trays and vegetable trays. We really donít have any elaborate requests like we used to. We used to have all kinds of weird shit on there, like sweat socks, cartons of cigarettes, and bottles of Jack Daniels. Nowadays itís just easy to simplify things.

Jon Oliva's, ďPainĒ - 'People Say Gimme Some Hell' - "Tag Mahal" was a top 10-requested song last year at Stickman Radio. In 2006, ďManiacal RenderingsĒ was # 4, how does that feel?
Great! Thatís great to hear that, thanks very much to Stickman thatís very cool.

So what do you do on your down time?
(Laughing), I donít have any down time. I love football and on Sunday, I turn the phone off. Iíve got three TVís going and Iím in heaven.

Yeah me too, just before football season I ran out to Best Buy and bought a new Samsung 61 inch screen TV. I put my feet up on Sunday and just enjoy the day.
Ooooo! There you go, see ya thatís great, (laughing).

Jon I wish you the best for the coming year.
Same to you and have a happy holiday and a safe New Years and I will see you on the road.


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