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Chris Caffery

Interview with Chris Caffery from Chris Caffery
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 07 August 2005, 8:26 PM

It's been a year since our first interview with guitarist/singer Chris Caffery (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and solo) and I felt the time was right for a sequel since there were more than just a few things I wanted to ask Chris. Things that had happened during this one year, things that mainly had to do with his solo career but also a few undying questions (concerning TSO and Savatage) which I simply had to ask. Chris is - apart from an excellent musician - one of the friendliest persons I've known from the world of Rock/Metal and was more than happy to set this interview up. I guess this probably means Chris and I will be doing an interview every August, so until August 2006, here's what Mr. Caffery had to tell me…

First of all, Chris, I’d like to say that it’s nice to be interviewing you again. It’s been about a year since our first interview and there’s been more than just a couple of things going on I’d like to discuss with you. Looking back at your debut release, Faces, how do you feel about it now? Are there things you would have done differently or are you 100% satisfied by it (I’m not referring to the bonus God Damn War material)?

Well…I am very satisfied with it. The only thing I may have done differently is do one CD…12 songs! I gave so much music that I feel it may have confused some people! Of course there are a few sounds I may have used differently. I also would like to have another re-master because I feel the final mastering swallowed up my drums a bit and it is totally different sounding than the final mixes on some songs.

You recently released W.A.R.P.E.D. through Black Lotus Records which is kind of like a special release featuring the tracks that were on the bonus CD of Faces, God Damn War, plus previously unreleased tracks. I know that this release raised discussion within the press as to if it was good for you and the fans or not, since there’s many people who say God Damn War could have been released as a separate album instead of having it as a bonus CD and then releasing W.A.R.P.E.D.. But I really wanna hear your opinion on this.

Well…God Damn War could have been released separately and some people suggested this… But…there were people who liked GDWar more than Faces and Faces more than GDWar. I considered GDwar to be my Metal Face. So, we compromised. Released Faces with the bonus…but we always said the full GDwar would be released separately in a year.

So this wasn’t basically your idea, right?

It was my idea to release so many songs! Black Lotus only wanted a few songs on the bonus. I wanted them all…as a bonus to the main fans so they could get two for one. When this was not the case, I made sure I recorded more music so that the re-release would have enough music to warrant being sold separately. It has close to 40 minutes of new stuff from the original European Faces…. This is if you count the Fright Knights Download and new Amazing Grace. The bonus stuff is as long as many people’s CDs.

Do you feel bothered by what some journalists may have written conserning the W.A.R.P.E.D. release in relation to the GDWar Bonus CD?

Well, quite frankly I think it is amusing sometimes. It bothers me because I am in a damned if you do, damned if you dont situation. If I release Faces without War then people would have said it was not heavy enough and I would be saying wait till you hear War. I release Faces with War and it is too much material. I release W.A.R.P.E.D. with 40 minutes of new stuff and it is not enough material. What the fuck. \[Laughs]

Bottom line is the fans like it. The critics have given way better reviews to W.A.R.P.E.D.. The only ones that haven’t are the ones who did not listen to it. I can tell this by the reviews because they have no idea what the story is and the story is just about the modern war.

Faces had a quite different feeling than W.A.R.P.E.D.. The last was more anger-filled in a way. Was this because it sort of focuses on the war that went on in Iraq and terrorism etc? What was your driving force when it came to writing music for WA.R.P.E.D.?

Well, the War music seemed to fit my more Metal side. I have more fun writing this. The angrier and heavier, the better. I always said that happy music PISSED ME OFF! The follow up to Faces and W.A.R.P.E.D. is going to be much heavier than W.A.R.P.E.D.. Just feels like the natural place to go with it. Plus my voice is improving a lot so I can get a bit more extreme with it.

Does that mean you’re going to try something none would expect, vocal-wise?

Not really… I just think noone will expect it to be as much improved! But then again noone expected me to be able to sing. I seriously think if I was an unknown singer singing for Chris Caffery’s solo Cd that the vocal reviews would have been amazing. I am constantly having to prove myself here with this, but it only inspires to make it better. Some critics try to discourage you, I welcome the criticism and get fueled from it.

Why did you specifically choose Iraq Attack for Jon Oliva and Brian Gregory to guest on?

Because it was an old Doctor Butcher song originally…Jon and I wrote it in 1992. I wrote the intro in January. Asked Jon if he wanted to sing it. Brian came over to my mom’s and we recorded the bass one night into my lap top on my mobile studio!

Your touring band consists of Ira Black, Brandon Cook, Nick Douglas and Paul Laplaca, right? I know Ira Black from Vicious Rumors and Nick Douglas from Doro but would you like to share a few comments on the other two guys in the band?

Well…Ira replaced Brandon. Brandon had only done my first 4 shows, his wife was giving birth for the first time and Brandon was touring for the first time. I wanted a bit more experience and to give Brandon a chance to be home with his family. Paul LaPlaca was the singer from October Thorns who is currently playing guitar in Zandelle. He is a friend of Dave Z’s…he was auditioning for the guitar spot. He sings great and plays keys so I added him and Brandon at first. I love working with Paul, he is a pro!

Are Paul and Brandon going to be on the next studio release?

I will use Paul for sure, most likely for keyboard stuff. I am going to do the guitars myself on the next CD. Ira may do some solos…

Speaking of touring… what happened to the shows you had planned to do in Europe (mainly Germany, I think)? Was it the promoters’ faults you had to back out from these shows?

Well, I did 3 1/2 weeks of shows with Metal Church in June. We were booked on a festival in Germany at the end of July. They added 2 more shows with Metal Church in Germany and one in Holland wiht MC and Overkill. The festival got canceled. The festival was paying for my flights to Europe so, I was not going to lose several thousand dollars to do 3 opening club shows. I may need the tour support for other tours…longer ones. I hate to cancel and I am pissed at the festival, it had nothing to do with myself and my band.

Is there going to be a European tour? How come Black Lotus Records hasn’t booked you any shows in Greece where they’re situated?

I am looking to book a European tour for early 2006. I am hoping to come to Greece for a week this year, if not I will next tour. I was supposed to play Rockwave Festival…but something happened at the last minute. I have heard a bunch of excuses as to why I have not played in Greece yet…I don’t want to comment any further because I dont want to PISS anyone OFF!

How many shows have there been in the U.S. and what was the reaction of the crowd? Most of all, how did you feel for the first time being up there on stage not just as the guitarist of a band?

We did 7 U.S. shows so far…the reaction has been great….same for the European shows. People really enjoy the Faces/God Damn War music live. I really enjoy singing, I was a nervous wreck at first, but my voice got better every show, this was really encouraging! I am very close to announcing more U.S. dates… I want to play everywhere. The good thing about Faces/God Damn War is if I really want to I have music in my arsenal to play for anyone’s audience! I have already played with thrash bands, metal bands, jazz bands, blues bands, rock bands… It has went over with every crowd.

OK, here’s something I’ve been hearing a lot and wanted to ask you, concerning your fan club. Is it true that there were fans that paid to be members of your fan club but never received any of the things they were promised? What exactly happened and are you going to carry on with a fan club after all?

OK… Speaking of things that PISS ME OFF!!!I was totally unaware of this situation until it was too late. Bottom line is this…whenever people do things for you as a favor things get fucked up. I had come up with the ideas for the club, what we should include…orders were taken with out a proper stock of inventory. This lack of inventory was not taken as a priority and time went by. People received partial orders, the bitching started. When I found out it was already too late. I had to pay over $500 to cover lost orders.

I make nothing at all on the fan club. It is just a way to try to give something back to the dedicated fans and it was hurting the people that mattered the most to me. It was very wrong. I was so pissed off when I was made aware of this, If and when the fan club re-opens I am paying someone to run it properly. No orders will even be taken until I can assure delivery of everything… I am really sorry for the confusion this has caused and it sucks ’cause it reflects directly on myself and I had no idea what was going on!

Now, an out of the ordinary question. Knowing some of the people who are helping you out now with your solo band, I think a lot of credit ought to go out to Joy Hoffman, your webmaster. Would you like to say a few things about Joy?

Joy has been so supportive. The website happens because of her hard work and dedication. We spend hours a day, both of us on this. Not only does she deal with me and my traumas, she deals with the board and its traumas! I am very fortunate to have someone so dedicated working with me….

Being a member of your message boards I wanna ask you this. How often do you read miscellaneous threads of what people post on your boards? If you ever noticed people bashing each other on your boards, would you ever shut your online community down?

Well…I think it is a bit overboard at times. Sometimes I feel my own personal life is too exposed from the net. I fear different things such as entrapment and privacy invasions. I try to be nice to everyone, but it opens things up too much… The future lies in the net, but sometimes I wish I had no computer at all! It is a bit freaky at times…I feel like I am always being watched… In the future I am going to get a lot more selective with the net and the mail I deal with etc. I am getting too busy to deal with it and some people take advantage of my kindness.

Yes but you also post a kind of a diary online. Isn’t that kind of exposing your personal life too?

I try to be as vague as possible…people enjoy this, they get to escape with me…I don’t tell them everything….but I definately would not be too hard to find and kill if someone ever wanted to! Like I said, I am going to begin to be a lot more cautious of things…I will still do the diaries, but my online time is going to be more limited. I am going to limit my emails strictly to Ask Chris stuff, put restrictions on follow up mail unless they are specific questions.

Tell us a few things about your future material. Is a next album also going to be released via Black Lotus Records? Will that be anytime in 2006?

I am looking to release the next CD in June of 2006. Black Lotus has been very supportive of me. I am fortunate to have found them! We are talking about releasing some of my budget this year so I can get a head start. I may mix the next CD in Athens!

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour dates for 2005 were announced just a couple of days ago. How does it feel for Chris Caffery every time you’re out there with TSO? What’s TSO to you? Obviously something completely different from Savatage and your solo band, I guess.

I love TSO. It is completely different than the others. I am proud of what it has accomplished. Sometimes it does not even seem real when we are out there because the thing is so popular. It is very surreal to play 3 sold out shows in a 10,000 seat arena in one city. It is a bit odd at times when you think that there is another TSO playing that same night somewhere else, I if anything wish there was only one. I miss touring with Al \[Pitrelli - guitarist] and Johnny Lee \[Middleton - bassist]. It is an amazing experience, I only wish it was a bit more spontaneous at times. But the production is so big and everything is choreographed technically so we have to rehearse one show and stick with it. I miss some of the Spinal Tap moments that we get with Savatage and my solo things, but it is an honor to be working with such a class organization.

Is there any interesting bit of information you’d like to share with us, concerning Savatage’s future, be it good news or bad news?

How about no news? That is what I have, really! Nothing different than what I said last time we spoke \[about a year ago]. We are planning on doing an anniversary CD…when, where, who… all of this will be answered in time! I guess you need to ask Jon \[Oliva - keys & vocals] and Paul \[O’Neil] ’cause I dont make the decisions when it comes to Savatage.

Chris, it was a pleasure doing this second interview with you, after a year’s passing. The final words belong to you. Send out your message to all our readers and your fans!

To the fans…thanks so much for the support. I am anxiously awaiting the touring and seeing you on the road. I hope you enjoy the music as much as I did making it! To all of the readers, thanks for your support to the site, music, Metal and if you pick up my stuff and become a fan, thanks in advance!


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