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20 Questions With Chris Caffery, 2/20/01



Savatage Guitarist Chris Caffery

Sludgeaholic and wrestler The Blue Meanie hooked us up with Chris, who not only plays in Savatage but also in Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His answer to Question #1 is probably the longest answer in Metal Sludge 20 Questions history! Chris definitely put some time into this, which is all we ever ask.


1. What are you currently up to? This is the only chance to plug your projects.

Thanks for the warm welcome….Yikes, this should be fun! First off…I want to say hello. Hmm…currently I am writing the answers to these questions. I recently moved into a new house in New York City…so, the month of January was spent moving and decorating.

Only chance to plug my projects…well…I should get busy letting you all know what is up here.

Savatage spent the year 2000, from January til November, in the studio. The result was our latest recording. "Poets and Madmen". It will be released here in the US, I believe on April 3rd.

With the departure of Al Pitrelli and Zak Stevens from the band…this is the first Savatage CD since "Streets" sung completely by Jon Oliva. The Mountain King himself. It is a very cool album. But, I have a feeling you will find this out soon enough.

I played mostly all of the guitars on the CD with the exception of a few additional solos recorded by Al.

I am very proud of the way it came out.

Savatage is currently doing press…we are on the front cover of around 15 major Rock/Metal Magazines in Europe. See…over there we are very popular. Not just your typical…US band does better overseas thingy. We’ve headlined festivals for over 100,000 people. We’ve topped the readers polls for Artist of the year, record of the year, favorite live band and more. This was in Germany, Italy, Greece and many other countries. Numbers 2,3,4 and 5 in those polls being AC/DC, Kiss, Metallica and Maiden. It is very flattering.

South America has been building up quite a Savatage legion also.

It is kinda hard to get the real picture without being there…but, if you are ever any of these places…just ask.

The Trans Siberian Orchestra just finished two simultaneous SOLD OUT – U.S. Theatre Tours in December. I was on the East Coast leg playing lead guitar with Alex Skolnick and MC for the entire show. Johnny Lee Middleton led the West Coast leg.

We sold out four nights in Cleveland alone. The first night sold out 2850 tickets in 3 hours on the internet only!!!!

The two tours played about 35 shows for about 90,000 people. Ho Ho Ho!!!

Fox TV aired our Christmas Special…"The Ghost of Christmas Eve" twice in December. It featured TSO performing with Jewel and Michael Crawford. We also had a song in the "Grinch" movie with Jim Carrey. It was also on the soundtrack. TSO music was heard on everything from NBA and NFL games to Ice skating competions and events on every major network. Plus the holiday show for "E.R."

The TSO 3 CD’s sold over 350,000 copies in December alone in the US only. Combine that with the Grinch soundtrack and the song we had on Rosie O’Donnell’s CD…TSO music sold on over 1.5 million CD’s in November and December in the US alone.

We may tour for the non-holiday TSO CD "Beethoven’s Last Night" in the late Spring.

Savatage is finalizing member changes soon and will tour extensively beginning in May thru November. We also have to figure out how to get a 2 hour set out of 16 CD’s!!!! YIKES!

Then we will do TSO Tours for Christmas 2001 in the US. Both tours may reach 5 weeks a piece this year. With the possibility of the East Coast Tour moving to Arenas.

Besides all of that…I am currently working on different friends solo CD’s, writing material for my own CD and writing some Horror Books. I want to also write some Childrens stories. I want to scare adults and entertain kids!

Not bad for someone with nothing going on…I guess. Next time I will let you guys know more sooner…Sorry.

2. How do you know the Blue Meanie?

Meanie and I met at an ECW Event in Queens New York. I am friends with Raven and I came out to see the ECW live and met Meanie. We became friends. He is way cool. He asked me if I would do this for you guys here. I was asked a long time ago by Libby at Metal Masters and really did not have much to say at the time. So I apologize for it taking so long to come here and chat.

3. Why did Zachary Stevens really leave the band?

I don’t know what you heard. He really left to be with his family. Savatage was touring part time the past 5 years. We did a lot of touring in Europe, Japan and South America. But not too much here. That touring was only a few months a year. Zak recently had a daughter. I believe it was in 1998. Utilizing his college degree he started working a job in Florida at an insurance agency. In less than 6 months he was promoted about as far as he could go. I guess he viewed his life as a whole and decided to do what he thought was best for his family. I respect that. He was not heavily involved in TSO and Savatage had not released a CD in 3 years. I miss Zak. He was my roommate on the road. He had been thinking about committing his life to his family for a while now. He is always welcome back in Savatage…he will always be a part of the family.

4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?

Well…If we never did…then noone should!!!!!!We went thru every thing I think a band can. Jon Oliva and I left. Then Criss Oliva passed away. Savatage was left with no original members. Yet the spirit and the music survived. Eventually…Jon and I returned and we are doing quite well. We had people like the old stuff…not the new stuff…like the new stuff…not the old stuff…we’ve heard and seen everything. We never stopped releasing CD’s and always have been just the best Savatage we can be. It is one reason that we have achieved the success we have over seas. The fans have grown with us. There are a lot more Savatage fans out there than you realize.

5. Rate the following guitarists on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being a scrub and 10 being a virtuoso.

Zakk Wylde = 10

Richie Sambora = 10 

CC DeVille = 10 

Steve Vai = 10 

Kirk Hammett = 10

Yngwie Malmsteen = 11

Al Pitrelli = 11

Kenny Wayne Shepard = 10 

John Petrucci = 10

Joe Perry = 11I like all guitarists that are out there. Just because I love the instrument. I never took the time to learn how to read music…there weren’t enough pictures and it interfered with my drinking! So…virtuoso…scrub…WHO CARES…On the list…Bottom line…Noone will ever be as good as Yngwie. Noone is as cool as Joe Perry. Al Pitrelli…Noone is as diverse as him. He can play anything and read it and write it too. None of this matters because Criss Oliva would wreck us all if he was still alive!!! Long Live Criss!!!!

6. When you first joined Savatage, they had you play offstage. What was the reason for that?

I was too good looking!!! No…seriously…the management wanted to thicken the live sound because the band was doing it’s first arena tour. DIO/Megadeth/Savatage…1987-88. I was brought in as the guinea pig guitarist. As time went on…it was not the right thing to do that tour. However…we all got along so well that they asked me to join the band the next tour. I was only 20 at the time of the tour in 87. It was a lot of fun. Regardless of where I was onstage. Granted it was not the greatest paying most high esteem job in the world..it was a hell a lot of better than my day job and I am thankful for the opportunity.

7. What’s the deal with www.realsavatage.com? That site seems to be feuding with the official site. What’s your take on this?

The site is actually a Real Pain In The Ass. There are a few "Real" Old Savatage fans that feel the new is not Savatage. Jon Oliva founded the band with his brother. It was Savatage without Jon…Criss Oliva continued it. Criss is no longer with us…Jon is continuing. Where an Oliva is…it is Real Savatage. Funny thing is I don’t think they ever figured Jon would sing a whole CD again. I just do not like the site because both Jon and his parents have asked them to change the name for Criss’ sake and they don’t. We asked for Classic Savatage and offered to help run it. We know who runs it and they love the attention. Whatever…they mean well in some twisted way.

8. Wanna tell us who is going to replace Zachary Stevens and Al Pitrelli when you guys tour?

I really don’t know yet. Seriously. We have some ideas, but nothing is definate. We begin final auditions this week. I will let you know.

9. If for some reason you could never again be sexually intimate with anyone of the opposite sex, would you seek such intimacy with someone of your own sex?

Myself…I better get stronger glasses though…I heard it makes you go blind!!!

10. Which do you prefer?

WWF or WCW = Right now WWF…usually depends on where the wrestlers go. Changes .

No Doubt or Blink 182 = I like Gwen…dont know too much about the other band.

Slipknot or Marilyn Manson = Manson is from Tampa…home of the ‘Tage!!!!

Queensryche or Iron Maiden = Maiden…cuz I was a fan of theres for a long time even before CD 1 was released by Queensryche. Bruce rules…Chemical Wedding Baby!!!!

Real tits or Fake tits = Depends on the Doctor…."Real-Tits.com" there is a site there somewhere!!!!

Days Of Our Live or General Hospital = Days….been watching for 17 years. I would love to be with Hope and Marlena at the same time!

Concept albums or straight ahead metal albums = Concept records can be fun to make…and a pain in the ass. Times I like making straight ahead CD’s. Times I like making concept ones. Times I like listening to concept ones…Times…they put me to sleep!!!!! Depends on my mood I guess.

Iced Earth or Fates Warning = Tie

Lars Ulrich or Gene Simmons = I never knew Lars played bass.

Porn magazines or porn videos = Porn videos…magazines have no audio!

11. Of all the bands that Savatage has toured with, who gave you guys the least amount of respect?

Hard to say because a lot of bands are big fans or friends of Savatage. We usually get along with everyone. I do remember one band on the Gutter tour that opened for us for 3 weeks. They came out onstage in Tu Tu’s at the last gig. They were going to hit us with pies. I never even talked to them in the three weeks! We made them pie themselves. I cant remember the name. They just were releasing their first CD. I think that one dude got arrested for statutory in Wisconsin a few years later…he met the girl at our show!!! Sorry!!!!

12. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?

Myself…1990..when I quit Savatage. I will never get back the three years I lost with Criss Oliva before his death. I was young and dumb and I still want to hit myself. I do remember that Yngwie did not shake my hand when I met him at the age of 16…however I picked up the girl he was with one night 7 years later…she was a Hustler centerfold…leaving with her in front of him was way better than a punch in the mouth! I told him that I was angry at him that night for what he did when I was 16. He was pretty hammered. He said it was just the way he is and apologized. He still rules as a guitarist, so all is forgiven!

13. Did you really think a band jumper like Al Pitrelli would stay in Savatage for more than two albums?

I was hoping he would…we all were. He was with Savatage/TSO for 5 years. That is a long time. Me and him had gotten very close. As friends and guitarists. I hate fucking auditioning people. It is like deciding who you will give your house keys to. Al is always welcome in our house. A lot of people had wondered if he would remain for as long as he did. I just wish he was still around. I talk to him almost every day. I always liked Megadeth. Dave Mustaine is our generations Ted Nugent. A true Rock Star. I do miss Al in Savatage. He was a great cook too!!!

14. If you could physically strike one person from your past, who would you hit and why?

Hmm…The first guy who mugged me. I was 13. N.Y. City. Knife point. He would not have gotten the $$$ now. Two others…The guy who hit me with Golfball in the head in 1994. I still have headaches. The guy who owns Taco Bell….I got food poisening real bad once.

15. What do you remember about the following years:

1981 = I could not get laid.

1984 = I lost my virginity. Graduated High School at 16.

1987 = I found my virginity…first toured with Savatage…started to lose liver.

1991 = Giants won the Super Bowl. US never finished the Gulf War… I lost more of my liver.

1994 = I got hit in the head with a golf ball. Recorded Doctor Butcher CD. Was kinder to my liver.

1997 = I still had headaches. Not much of a liver left. Michael Jordan ruled once again!

2000 = I still had headaches…Giants were on there way to the Super Bowl…I think I got laid…US voted in Bush…Kinda….Back to war soon!!!! "Poets and Madmen" was finally finished…Needed new liver…Did not sleep much. Got Chili Fries named after me in Cleveland at the Winking Lizard Pub. TSO’s Chris-mess Chili Fries! Cleveland Rocks!

16. What do you think about Metallica suing Napster? What’s your take on that?

I think it is pretty amazing to see just how powerful the internet is getting. I happen to feel Metallica…or a band of their stature had to step up and do something. You can’t ever rid this business of bootlegging. Whether or not it is T-Shirts or music. I just think that kids dont realize that if something is not done CD prices would go thru the roof in the upcoming years. Codes will be put in music to screw up downloading one day…random codes. Most artists would not take less money to record…so prices would go up.I can understand the points of view on each side…bottom line…it is the music business….BUSINESS. Someone needs to mkae money for music to get recorded and released.

Our fans by 2 or three different versions of every CD we do. European…US…Japanese…Real fans usually do. I felt weird if I did not own the actual Maiden or Kiss CD when I was young.

Everyone is too lazy these days. Get a job…leave your parents alone…maybe you could buy your own computer and your own music.

I feel some samples should be made for downloading so you know what you are buying…but…downloading for free…something that costs a lot of money to make…That would be like letting everyone come in and sample food at your restaurant and have them pay as they leave. Like anyone would say they liked what they ate…Someone has to pay for the music somewhere…artists must get paid somehow. Bottom line…Get a fucking job. Pay for what you get. If you hate it…return it. I know CD’s are too expensive…the bands do not set the price. Believe me when I say this…Free downloading will only make things worse. What do I know…I am just visiting this planet.

17. Who’s the most overrated band today and why?

Wow…here goes my lack of knowledge again…I could not tell you what the name of half of the bands I dont like. By the time the song is over…I have changed the channel back to ESPN. Bottom line is…we were spoiled growing up…Zeppelin…Kiss…Rush…Sabbath…Priest…Maiden…Queen…Tough acts to follow!

18. What happened with the message board on your site? Was it taken down because people were giving you too much shit?

It was taken down because my computer took a shit on the road in December. I could not get on-line enough to respond to the board. Plus…my time…like the time I give here is very precious. I don’t need to be given shit by some guy who is trying to impress his boyfriend. Seriously…I was being called a liar because stuff I said 8 months ago did not happen…like I fucking control the music business. We sort of had some changes this year that changed our schedule. Then I get called a liar when we don’t do certain things on time. Bottom line is I kept in touch more on www.Savatage.com’s message board than most anyone in the business on their board. I think they got a bit spoiled and treated me like a board member…not one of the people who own and run the site. I shut it down while TSO toured so I did not have to chase a phone line. Like I said…my computer was totally freaking out too. It ran on the battery…as soon as I plugged it in, it shut down…it took a charge from the cable…but I had to unplug it to turn it on and it only worked for an hour. Major pain in the ass. So…I decided to let everyone wait ’til Christmas and gave the board back to them then. I will keep it on…it is a good place for people to help spread my bullshit!!!!

19. Why does Paul O’Neill write all your lyrics? Isn’t it lame to have your manager writing your lyrics?

He is our producer, not our manager. Kinda like our seventh member…or fifth at the moment!!! He has written mostly all of the lyrics since "Streets". Jon Oliva writes with him. Paul is very good at it. This lets us concentrate on the music and our supposed drinking problems.

20. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We give you a name and you give us your thoughts.

Blue Meanie = One Sexy Beeeotch! Jasmin too…Schweet!!!

Butch Walker = Who? Is that Zak’s cousin?

Fred Durst = Got to sing with Christina Aguliera. Forgives him for whatever anyone may think!!!

James Hetfield = Legend

Bret Michaels = Was with Pam Anderson…lucky guy!!!

LA Guns = Lots of them in the urban LA areas!!!

Dream Theater = Guys who practiced way more than I did as a kid

Zachary Stevens = Amazing throwing arm…seriously. I think he is at Jon Oliva’s Super Bowl Party in Tampa.

Geoff Tate = Someone who sings much better than I do.

Trans Siberian Orchestra = Gold…soon to be platinum…and so on…and so on…and so on…Ho Ho Ho !!!!

Thanks for letting me have the chance to plug my projects!!!! Your site is quite amusing!


Thanks to Chris to putting some effort into it!

For more information on Savatage, check out their website at www.savatage.com.

For info on Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you can go to http://www.trans-siberian.com

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