Matt Coe of DeadRhetoric.com recently conducted an interview with JON OLIVA’S PAIN and SAVATAGE mastermind Jon Oliva. A few excerpts from the chat follow below:
DeadRhetoric.com: “Raise The Curtain” is the first solo album in your career. Can you inform the readers why now is the right time to release a solo record and what type of guidelines did you put on the songwriting that maybe differentiate this release from your work in SAVATAGE or JON OLIVA’S PAIN?
Jon Oliva: The idea actually came to do the solo record when guitarist Matt LaPorte passed away. A friend of mine, Dan Fasciano, who you see on the record, co-wrote a lot of the material with me. I was working with TSO (TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA) in the afternoons and Dan and I would hang out in the mornings and we just started writing material. I had a few riffs of [late SAVATAGE guitarist and Jon‘s brother] Criss‘s [Oliva] left that I wanted to do something with and it wasn’t really planned that way. Losing Matt, I didn’t want to deal with the whole band situation at that time — I needed something to keep me busy. It’s kind of like what happened when Criss died and I did “Handful Of Rain”; it was kind of living the same movie again. He had some great stuff, I had some great stuff, and if there was ever a time to do a solo record, now was the time to do it. I’m in between what I want to do about replacing Matt for sure, plus the music I had of Criss‘s was the earliest stuff we ever wrote, and it was pre-heavy metal, so it didn’t lend itself to a JON OLIVA’S PAIN thing. They were very old school, so I thought I could do whatever I want with this solo record and not have to follow any particular guidelines. And that’s how the whole idea started, then we put material together and it went on from there.
DeadRhetoric.com: When thinking about Criss‘s riffs/solos, is there any one in particular that stands out? Or how about, his most underrated piece?
Oliva: I think Criss‘ greatest riff is in “Hall Of The Mountain King”, the riff that comes in after the opera part. That and “Power Of The Night” are two of his best pieces. Criss was a great riff guy; he was more of a riff guy than a pure songwriter. He didn’t really understand vocals; he would write a great part and then tell me I had to come up with something that I could sing to it. He would give me these cassettes, and give me riffs from that — he would have a half of a song, a chorus part… Paul [O’Neill] or myself would finish it off. I also think on the “Streets” album, the song “Can You Hear Me Now” was one of the songs Criss wrote most of the music for. The weirdness of that, I played the drums and bass on that and Criss did the guitars.
DeadRhetoric.com: Do you find it troubling that you have a tough time bringing in crowds in America, but in Europe, you play to packed houses?
Oliva: It’s because things are different here in America; we are lazy. People don’t want to go… It’s hard to play a show on a Tuesday night and people have to get up and go to work early the next morning, and you don’t go on stage until 11:30-12 o’clock at night and you pay money to get in, money to drink. I think it’s more that than anything… In the early ’90s, it is where things started to go down. you didn’t get the big turnouts. When the drinking age changed from 18 to 21 in all the states, that’s a big hit that all live performance venues took. In Europe, they seem to be more into the live-performance thing. In America, people are too busy and it’s too expensive. You worry about getting busted by the cops if you leave having too much alcohol in your system. It scares a lot of people off.
Read the entire interview at DeadRhetoric.com.
“Raise The Curtain” trailer:
“Father Time” lyric video: