had finished the tour, the band felt the end was near - they were
ready to give up.
Jon: " Then, I got a call from Paul O'Neill and John Goldwater, our future manager. And they begged me not to throw it all away just yet: "Don't do that, we simply must cooperate with you guys, long-term !" Paul would produce us, and that sounded real promising. So he came down to Florida ; together with my brother and me he started working on the new songs right away. Most of the songs for " Hall of the Mountain King had already been prepared, because Criss and I had already agreed to enter the tracks into a new project anyway. Well, and then it turned out that we could cooperate with Paul in a way that I'd always imagined it should be like."
point of view this looks quite the same - two parties that belong
together had found each other here.
Paul: " I flew to Florida on the advise of an A&R guy from Atlantic , to have a look at this band. The first thing I saw was Jon, singing ' Sirens '. It simply blew me away. And then came his brother, an overpowering guitarist; a fabulous technician with his right- as well as with his left hand, which is very rare, and a tremendous sense of melody. Soulful voice, soulful guitar. And very nice guys on top of all that. The only word that came across my lips that night was " Wow!"
" The first song that we have written together was 'Hall of the Mountain King". Then came ' 24 Hours Ago' - and there was no more questioning about it. Never before did I have so much fun with a band. Most acts are trying to copy their first success, while they're either afraid of changes or are just easy-going, which leads to the fact that they stagnate. I've seen bands that have spent more time taking care of their hair or their outfits than of their instruments. Savatage have never come to this point. They always wanted to be different, work on their sound, make everything as perfect as possible. To them the fact that they are musicians, artists, is a matter of course. It has a magical touch, and is higher-developed than in any other band I have ever cooperated with. Whatever you may suggest to them, they can play it."
|Jon: " 'Hall of the Mountain King' was exactly the right rebound. One can actually hear that we had six months to touch up this album. The reactions to this disc were tremendous, we were able to do a large US tour together with Megadeth and Dio, and all at once the world looked completely different..."|
after the first Savatage video shot: The setting of the
title-track by director Paul O'Neill combined two things, that
seemed impossible: one of the greatest heavy-metal songs ever,
embedded in movie material, that beats the cult movie 'Spinal
Tap' at great length. Exactly the same thing one would come up
with trying to translate a song text into images word by word. A
first class laughing matter, that shows one of the main
advantages of the band, compared to the otherwise too often
humorless music buisiness: self-irony without consideration for
losses, combined with utter nonsense.
Place of action: a cave in the Catskills Mountains north of New York city, where the clip was recorded during evenings and nights, when the "Howe Caverns" were closed for tourists.
Jon: " All of our gear had to be transported hunders of yards underneath the earth by goods elevators. It was a nightmare."
Wherever passion rules, suffering often occurs. In this case the victim again was Doc Wacholz, who had furnished his drumming kit at his own cost...
Steve: " The first day the thing was built up, but it wasn't used at all. So I said: " Okay, we'll do it tomorrow". The second day it wasn't used either. When I heard "We're ready", I said : "No,no, we're not ready, you haven't taped me and my drums yet!" But it already was too late. I flipped out, 'cause I had put down 1200 bucks for a truck and several extra-roadies. On top of all that the whole thing also was super dangerous, 'cause I constantly had to do my drumming on top of a few rocks, and right behind my back it went down into a 50 feet deep abyss. I didn't even get dangermoney. An the best thing is of course, that I 'm hardly even visible in the video. I think I appeared on the upper edge of the screen for the first time in 1989 or '90, haha. I was the forgotten drummer."
|Highlight of the
"Mountain King" - tour:
Headliner at the Dynamo Open Air - festival in Holland, 1989
For the 'Hall of
the Mountain King'-tour the quartet was transformed into
fivepiece: Chris Caffery left his first impressions.
Chris: "At the time I was 19 and I knew Paul, while he managed Heaven, a band I had helped out for one album and the subsequent tour. Paul invited me to the studio where Savatage were recording 'Mountain King'. I remember my first impression of Jon Oliva: He was running around with a foam baseballbat and was beating anyone standing near him with that thing, whilst laughing his head off. Was nice, but I thought to myself: My god, who the hell is that? What's with this guy? I liked their sound however from the first moment on. '24 Hours Ago' and 'Beyond the Doors of the Dark' were great. The fast and loud stuff that was modern at the time, was slowly getting on my nerves.
So I stayed in contact with Paul and heard that he was trying to convince the band to take a second guitarist with them on tour, in order to be able to give a better performance and to give Criss more freedom of playing. So I asked them for an audition. I was already packing my suitcases when all of a sudden Savatage told me "Hey, we have already found someone here in Florida, stay at home." I contradicted: "No way! I have been practising your songs for a month, so you must at least give me a chance!" Then I flew to Tampa on my own cost. Nobody had come to the airport to pick me up. So I took the next bus. I arrived at the practising room, and the guys asked me: "What can you play?" I said "Have your pick, I can play each and every one of your songs". They decided for ' The Whip' and '24 Hours Ago'. I think they were so surprised about the way everything fitted together, that they left the room after these two songs , discussed the matter outside for five minutes and then let me know: "Okay, you've got the job." Later, Wacholz introduced me to the guy that was originally supposed to join them on tour. He could hardly play the guitar. I believe, they only wanted to take him with them to be able to tell Paul afterwards: " Hey, we don't need anyone, it worked well like it did before..."