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In Words: Chris Caffery

- Chris Caffery - March 2007 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Chris Caffery live 2005
©Claudia Ehrhardt

Chris Caffery - March 1st 2007 -

Its been awhile since I talked to Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery and so I was curious to hear latest news. I checked my tape recorder twice, it recorded - but not during the interview. Why? No idea, the tape was running, but not recording. So I have to make the best out of it.
In June 2005 Chris was touring in Europe with Metal Church, but then it seems that nothing happened... "In July 2005 I toured in the US with Jon Oliva's Pain and Beyond Fear - and it was great." Soon he started writing new songs for the follow-up of W.A.R.P.E.D. "When I was ready to record the new songs, there been rumors about Black Lotus Records, but they told me to go on. That I shouldn't mind and that there aren't any problems. They should have told me earlier, the day before I should start mastering the CD, they went out of business." Not quite fair. "They knew that they were in a serious crisis, but thought that somehow they make the money available." So this experience wasn't the reason that Pins And Needles turned out heavier and darker. "On Faces there are different kind of songs and I enjoyed playing them live. Songs like Music Man and Bag Of Bones are stuff TSO fans enjoy. But there always been the heavy ones like The Mold or Pisses Me Off. These are more me, this is my own identity. I had to walk into a certain direction. People in countries where Savatage was big - like in Germany Savatage was No 1 band... No.1 touring band,.No 1. album, etc. - don't like my heavy side, but in coutnries where Savatage never been that big, there people like it." So open your mind and give it a chance. "There been questionable reviews. One German zine thrashed my record, but everywhere else the reactions are very positive." Seems like some just want to hear another Savatage album, but this isn't Savatage - and Chris always been only a part of the band and not their main songwriter. "Jon wrote the majority of the Savatage songs, I wrote most of the Doctor Butcher ones. I didn't wrote this piano stuff on Edge Of Thorns, so don't expect me to sound that way." Chris Caffery should be the one who decides what his music should sound-like and it's not about fulfilling expectations. "When you look at Savatage's career and at my own career, you will see that I achieved more then Savatage did in their early years. It took Savatage a long time to develop and to write songs like Believe." It's true, coz at the time of Power Of The Night / Fight For Rock Savatage haven't had reached the same level. Especially Fight For Rock is regarded as the weakest album of their career by Savatage! And I guess that Jon wouldn't be happy, if Chris would write Savatage-like songs... When he started Chris released his work under his own name, but then he considered a band name - and changed his mind. "The obvious reason is that band members might change like in Annihilator. Jeff Waters is Annihilator. If I would change to a band name it would require an entirely new marketing plan." On ads they would still point out his name and that he's the guitarist of Savatage and TSO - like it happened in the past. "That's not enough of a reason to use a band name. People always want to do it easy and you have to work hard when you want to do it differently." And usually touring is the best way to promote a band, but the tour with Metal Church was announced almost too late, so people didn't know it. "There was the opportunity to tour and I took the chance to go out and play." Soon Chris Caffery will return to Europe for some shows... "It's true the album will be out only for about 2 weeks, but there was the opportunity to tour and why waiting? You don't know, if there is another chance. And I hope that people will come to see us live, but we plan to be back in September. That gives people the chance to get into the album during the summer. I know that if people give it time, they will like it. Kids love it." And the festival season isn't the best time to tour anyway.... But Chris Caffery will play at the Belgium PestPop Festival where Circle II Circle and Jon Oliva's Pain will play, too. And the rumors about Savatage's future start allover again... "Honestly, I can't tell you anything, coz I don't know. You have to ask Jon about Savatage's future! I hope that Savatage will be back. I would love it!" Something he always said and it shows again that it's Oliva's decision and if he won't change his mind, there won't be a future for Savatage. Something which must be very disappointing for the other Savatage members.... But back to the current release, back to Pins And Needles! On the CD Chris played all guitars, bass on most of the tracks, even some keyboards and the saxophone solo on Worms. Only Nick Douglas and Paul Morris were involved on the previous releases - and Nick plays in his live band -, but also had some guests like Alex Skolnick who added a guitar solo at the end of Metal East. "quot;Nick and Paul LaPlaca will be in my live band again and John Macaluso will play drums." Most bands are more heavy when they play live and on Chris' first tour in 2005 the songs sounded heavier. "Live it sounds pretty heavy, but on the last tour I was nervous about me singing and I had to focus on the singing. So this time we are less people on stage which gives me more space, I can focus on playing guitar. Its getting more musical... We will play an old MSG instrumental which gives me a break from singing. The new songs are very heavy and they need more space." Last time the songs partly drowned in guitars, 3 guitars been too much and there wasn't enough space for the song to grow live. "But we will play songs of all my CDs and also some Savatage stuff." And as Chris announced on his website / MySpace he needs help from fans to do The Wake Of Magellan. He asked fans to help out with the vocals on stage and that he'll have a sheet of paper with the lyrics for everybody who'll go on stage with them for this one.
If it seems that he is very busy, then you are right, he is busy writing songs, taking care about business stuff, etc., but still he finds time for other things - like playing some songs on stage with Doro in Wartenberg (Edguy anniversary shows) or playing in the studio with others.... "Just before I came to Germany to do promotion here and play the 2 shows with Doro, I was in Sweden and recorded some stuff with Jordi Sandalinas. Jordi is a big Savatage fan and contacted me. There was the possibility to do it, so I did it. It worked out very well and it was great to work with Andy LaRocque (engineer / producer)." When the album will be out Chris couldn't tell, but perhaps late this year... And this wouldn't be the last time he work with others, I would bet...
There would be more to talk about, but time was running out, as he had a lot phoner interviews scheduled. But perhaps on tour there is time to talk a little more....and everybody who knows Chris Caffery knows that there is always some news to talk about! And hopefully next time my tape recorder won't just work when I check it, hope it will work when it counts.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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