At the top
Jon, Paul & co. worked on the songs for "Streets" for exactly one year. With their sixth album, Savatage reached the top of their possibilities - and the top of recognition. Even the feuilletons of famous magazines like the Chicago Tribune ( "A Masterpiece! ") or the L.A Times beat each other on the point of enthousiasm. On top of that the band finally made the belated jump to the Japanese market, where they were received enthousiastically.
'Streets' has always been my favorite album, and for me it was
the best time I ever had in a studio. At the time, we recorded
just about 40 songs. For the title song, we disposed of a choir
of the Metropolitan Opera, and the studio sorta was 'our house'
during this year.
Record Plant originally was John Lennon's studio, and the vibes were just cool and overwhelming. The atmosphere right there on the roof of a New York building with a view of Manhattan was absolutely perfect for the conveyance of 'Streets'. For me there is no more appropriate way to make an album. We even felt a little bit like the Beatles. We had two piano's, all sorts of keyboards and there was an extra room with an eight-track-machine in which I have often been recording from midnight until six or seven in the morning together with my brother. For me personally, it's the best Savatage album, along with ' Dead Winter Dead '."
With ' Streets
', Savatage again delivered proof of their diversity and
possibility of development. Paul O'Neill specifically emphasizes
the different vocals, that Jon had to work out in order to be
able to render the different characters:
" It's possible, that a certain degree of schizophreny is required as well, but he's done a perfect job at transmitting the persons with credibility; the dying old man as well as the hardboiled drug dealer. A master achievement ."
completely new fan potential opened itself to the band.
Paul: " I like Savatage, not in the least because of the audience they attract. One day, I'm standing in front of a venue and see a couple of kids and an older person standing there, who is supposedly waiting for his kids. I start talking to him and he says: "No, I'm waiting for the band. My family has already accused me of being crazy, bcause I have bought ' Streets ', but when I'd heard a song from that album on the radio, I simply had to have the album." His answer to the question if he was a music teacher, came as a real surprise to me: "I'm a nuclear physicist."
"Or this Savatage fan for years, who wrote us, that his dad, who had cancer, uttered as his last wish on his dying bed, that he wanted to hear ' Heal my Soul ' before he died. That sort of thing really touches you deeply. At moments like these you couldn't care less how much money you make or lose with a band. The fact, that you touch the lives of people, is far more important than anything else. Then, there is nothing that can harm you anymore - insane burocrats in the music industry, changing musical waves of fashion, that push you aside. After this, it's all equal. You simply continue ".
On the other
hand, a bitter note was the renewed departure of Chris Caffery
right after the ' Gutter'- tour. He characterizes the decision to
start an own band by the name of Witch Doctor together with his
brother Phil on drums as " the biggest mistake in my
" I'd been playing together with my brother for eleven years, before I joined Savatage. He urged me to leave, but then couldn't do anything with my songs, that I had originally written for Savatage. However, I put a lot of money into the project, got Hal Patino ( King Diamond bassist ) out of Denmark and tested dozens of singers to end up with a loser , who was handing out his cards at our showcase in New York, tho which people from 17 huge record companies had come...cards that read: " If its just my singing that you like in this band, call me ." There I was standing amongst my own ruins and having thrown away the big chance to develop myself as a guitarist at the side of Criss Oliva."
The ' Streets '
tour would be the last one for Jon Oliva as a lead singer.
Although it did not show what the efforts had done to him, the
long touring and the extreme way of singing had really gotten to
" It wasn't fun anymore, but it hurt. Many nights I've actually been spitting blood backstage. Ronnie James Dio had already prophesied me this on the ' Mountain King ' tour. He said: " It would be a miracle if you'd go on like that for an extended period, without doing yourself damage. The fact that you're able to sing like that in the first place, is a miracle of it's own. "
|" There are a lot of people who won't take it from me, but after all these years it was getting more and more impossible physically, to keep up this kind of vocals on a regular touring basis at the required level. I'm no longer 24. What will I do, when my voice cracks up after three days ? What will I do, when we perform as headliner ? Two hours at full speed, I can't cope anymore. And the people want to hear the old songs - the ones that are killer for me. It's also a fact, that it is no longer fun after all these years, to sing the same thing night after night. Our fans are the greatest, but after a certain period of time you get the feeling that you're in a trap, while you cannot develop yourself, jam or experiment, when you're on tour. That's why I have learned to appreciate the work in the studio these last few years. Each day brings something completely new. And with Paul I've got the ideal partner for this line of work."|
"Back then the determinant factor was, that the idea popped up for the first time, to write an opera together. I simply could not do both. The music of Savatage was more and more turning in a melodic direction, and Paul and I were convinced of the fact that a singer like Zak would match these compositions far better , a thing that has proved itself to be right afterwards. Nowadays, I could no longer justify a complete Savatage album".
From RockHard Legends, Savatage
Translated by Ellen Bakvis