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Chris Caffery – Solo Artist, Guitarist for Trans Siberian Orchestra, Savatage, and Dr. Butcher

Date: 07/17/07
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. So you were recently playing with Doro Pesch is that tour still happening?

CHRIS: Well we just finished up the shows in the States and I am doing a few more with her in August, I’m just not doing the shows she had this and last weekend.

2. And your second solo album “Pins and Needles” was recently released here in the States correct?

CHRIS: Yeah it came out on Locomotive Records on June 5th.

3. Can you tell us about that new album and maybe some things that are different about it from your first release “Faces”?

CHRIS: I think if anything its more aggressive than my first one and it has a more consistent style to it than “Faces”. I mean “Faces” was exactly that, it showed some different sides to me musically and different metal sounds as well. This one has a rather consistent style to it.

4. Were there any songs off “Pins and Needles” that were written with the intention to have it be on either ‘Faces”, or for the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Savatage, or even Dr. Butcher?

CHRIS: I’m trying to think….I think most of them were newer. “Time” was one of my first songs I had written a while ago and its actually very different from when I first wrote it. ‘The Sign of the Crossed” was also suppose to be on “Faces” but mostly everything else is pretty new.

5. And what was the reasoning for doing another recording of “Pisses Me Off” 2007 as it is titled?

CHRIS: Well a lot of people were looking for another one and asking if I would do another with different lyrics because there is always going to be something new that pisses people off every year. It was kind a funny to do and the new one I recorded pretty quickly.

6. Tell us about some of the different sounds and instruments heard on “Pins and Needles”?

CHRIS: You know I was just trying to do some different things to make these songs have some different feelings. I wasn’t trying to do anything completely ground breaking but I used some different keyboard voiceings and certain kind of percussion loops to help the songs move along, if anything it was produced maybe a little more modern than before.

I mean people were maybe expecting it to sound something almost like Savatage and I didn’t want to do that.

7. Was there something that you did on this record maybe that people would be rather surprised by to hear that you have not done before?

CHRIS: Well there is the song “Mettle Eastern” which is a little different from what I have done before. I based it on traditional Greek Island music to where the vocals are singing along with the melody of the instruments and there are some different string parts. But other than that maybe the vocals are maybe a little more stranger and the songs are more focused. There is definitely a lot of stuff going on in these songs take for example “The Time” which is a song I think no pun intended, spent more time into than any other before.

8. Aside from yourself obviously, who else played on “Pins and Needles”?

CHRIS: Nick Douglas did some of the bass along with me, he had to leave to do the tour with Doro so couldn’t finish. My brother actually did the drums on a song. Yael, she played with the My Ruin did the drums and did a great job. Jeff Plate (Savatage) was supposed to do the drums but was too busy with Metal Church. Paul Morris did some keys on the ballad “Once Upon A Time” and Paul Laplaca from my band played. Mr. Alex Skolnick came in and did a guest solo on “Its S.A.D.” and there was a guest vocal appearance on “The Time” there are some opera vocals, by Marcus Deloch who sang with TSO. The jazz electric piano were done by Dave Eggar a string player who arranged the strings on “Faces” and he’s done work with just about everybody, I think he’s recently worked with Evanescence.

9. Outside of doing a solo set while on tour with Doro, are there any other plans to go back on the road for some more dates?

CHRIS: Well I am looking into my schedule right now and there were talks to do the Doro/Chris Caffery package for the States in September but I don’t think that is right now. I am looking to do some shows, a couple weekend runs at the end of Sept before I start rehearsals with TSO in the beginning of October. But I think Doro just confirmed a show in Seattle on Sept 1st, so I think there are shows with her from the first week in August into the first week of Sept and then I will take some time off to write. And then before you know it its gonna be the first week of Oct and the start of TSO rehearsals. So I will be locked down with that until the first week in January really. Then I also have to go to Florida in Sept to do some studio recording for the new TSO record. So I am pretty busy.

10. Can you tell us how far along the new Trans Siberian Orchestra album is? It is called “Night Castle” correct?

CHRIS: Yeah its called “Night Castle” and its probably about half way through the recording process and we were hoping to get it out this year but I think it will probably be done for sometime early next year. I don’t know of a release date yet. And TSO is looking to go on its first non holiday related tour for this album as well.

11. Did you write any songs for “Night Castle”?

CHRIS: Yeah I did. It’s a ballad I think the working title is “Father Son Holy Ghost” but I don’t know really what Paul O’Neil is gonna end up calling it. It was something written for Savatage that Paul really liked and we dug it back out for this new TSO album. The first half of the song is pretty much acoustic guitars and vocals and then the back end ride out is kinda like “When the Crowds Are Gone”. It sais a lot lyrically.

12. What is the music like on “Night Castle”? Is it very similar to the other TSO records?

CHRIS: "Yeah, "Nightcastle" has a lot of what the previous TSO records have, but it also has a lot of new and exciting ideas. It's been a long time in the making and Paul O’Neil isn’t gonna release anything that is not up to his standards which are very high as you can hear in the other TSO albums. Expect something very special from "Nightcastle".

13. Do you use different gear for recording and performing live?

CHRIS: Yeah I do. Usually when I do recording in the studio the final rhythm guitars are mainly done through real amp heads whether its TSO or Savatage. A lot of times we can add parts and use pods or processors because sometimes you are just looking for a particular sound or something. But on my own live I am using some Randal Amps that are really cool and when I was over in Europe, you know playing these festivals sometimes your at the mercy of what they are using, but usually I cross my fingers and hope for a Marshall 900. For TSO we have been using pretty much the same thing for that which is my stage rack, a lot of Line 6 stuff. Last year I added in a Randal head and an isolation cabinet off stage that was boxed in with the mic in it because we don’t use any amps on stage. We haven’t I think since the second or third TSO tour.

14. Are you involved with anything else outside of doing the solo thing and TSO?

CHRIS: Well aside from touring with Doro I will also be doing some recording with her for their next record. I’m kinda poking around with some other possibilities but I think this year I was so busy I may have had off two weeks maybe the whole year. I know I would like to do another Dr. Butcher record, not sure if Jon Oliva will be able to put the time into it but if it does not pan out with him I would like to do it similar to what TSO does but with a horror theme and a story behind it with different singers. Maybe bring in some of my friends like Tim Owens (Iced Earth/Beyond Fear) or King Diamond to add some vocals to bring the thing to life.

15. What’s the status of Savatage and can you give us any updates on where the band is at as far as the lineup, doing another album, a tour, DVD?

CHRIS: You know I am not sure I wish I knew (laughs). We had our 25th anniversary this year and nothing happened being everyone involved with Savatage is busy doing TSO. I know every time we get together and talk about it things changed. Ideas that have been tossed around were doing a tour, then doing some shows next summer at the big European metal festivals where we would bring out past/current recording and touring members, doing a DVD with all types of live footage, interviews, all the videos from the past and the present. I know there is a full pro shot show with Chris Oliva that we want to include. Plus there was also a pro shot show from Germany in 1997 that has a lot of great footage we could use. I think there were some production issues with that one which is why the entire show was not released. It just didn’t come out as nice as the “Japan Live” show.

But every time I open my mouth about Savatage people are always saying “O well Caffery said”, so I don’t want to speculate anything until we all officially sit down and discuss it.

16. Now was the Savatage “Japan Live” VHS released on DVD in the States?

CHRIS: I don’t think so I think it was just released over seas and Japan. I know there are plans to have the Savatge back catalogue re released because a lot of the albums are not even in stores.

17. You did some work with the band Dirty Looks correct?

CHRIS: Yeah I was actually in the band for about two and a half months, wrote and recorded some things for the “Turn of the Screw” record but unfortunately didn’t get writing credit for it on the record. Unfortunately there were some personality issues between me and the singer Henrik and it was just best I went back to Savatage and they went back to their other guitar player.

18. What are your plans for the rest of 2007 into 08?

CHRIS: Well I think doing another solo record is really important because I am at a point in my career where I am really busy doing so many things that I really need to prioritize a bit. So either my solo career is going to take over or its going to become something that I just do when I have time. TSO is a priority and that looks like it will be going into non holiday touring. Then I will be doing some recording with Doro. And I keep getting offers from people to do other things but I just don’t have time for everything.

The holiday TSO tour start in November and goes into the beginning of the new year, then you got the possibility of TSO going out for a non holiday tour for “Night Castle”, then you got Savatage hopefully doing some things next summer. I’m also gonna try and contribute some things to Zak Steven’s next Circle II Circle record. So its gonna be a busy year.

Official website: www.chriscaffery.com
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