Guitarist extraordinaire and member of famous US-based Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra [TSO], Chris Caffery went on a solo career with "Faces", an extensive and riveting album. Released through Greek label Black Lotus Records, "Faces" is a true experience with a blend of Metal styles rarely heard before. I caught up with Chris to talk a little bit about his solo project.
- "Faces", your first solo album, hit the stores worldwide now. Reviews have been strongly positive. Were you surprise by all this positive feedback?
Hi! Thanks for the interview. I was very nervous. This Cd was so personal to me. I let my heart and soul fly out through this music. I am very happy about the reviews, even more happy that nearly 100% of the fans have loved it. This is what was the most important. I wanted to do an honest record that was truly a solo album!
- When did the idea of a solo album take form in your mind?
I had always wanted to do something that showed more of what was inside of me as a musician and a person. Savatage is an amazing band, so is TSO, but there tends to be a script a lot of the time for both in the studio. I wanted to do something with no rules, no limits. I had thought about putting another band together, but this seemed to keep crashing me into walls. As time went on, the solo CD just made more and more sense.
- This album appears to be a deep reflection of your feelings. As a result, it does sound like an album sticking to style definitions. What were your influences, your state of mind, while composing?
Wow…hmm…there were lots of influences. TV, friends, family, my bands, girlfriends…past and present, the mirror, the bar…my state of mind went up and down, like the music. 2003 was a difficult year for me personally, you hear this in the music, you hear a lot of confusion and pain in the music. Believe it or not, this music saved my life.
- It's your first effort as a lead singer and you've been praised by lots of webzines, us included! Were you 100% sure you could pull this off at first? Was there any hesitation to actually do all the vocals yourself?
I was very hesitant, but very curious. I wrote and demo'd about 5 songs with the lead vocals. I kept listening to it and thinking that there was something there. Something in the tone of my voice. As I sang more it became flat out fun to sing! I really thought that the singing would get me out of the rut I was in, help me to love making music again and it did. When I signed my deal I took lessons, from there the voice has exploded. It is way better now than when I recorded the CD, but I am finishing the WAR CD soon so you will hear this in June! As far as 100% sure…no way! I was discouraged by most of my close friends and family members…business partners…hardly any told me it was a good idea to sing, I refused to listen, it PISSED ME OFF! The more they told me I could not do it, the harder I worked to prove them wrong!
- Can you quickly present the musicians who helped you on "Faces"?
Jeff Plate from Savatage and The Trans Siberian Orchestra played the drums. He and I have worked together for 10 years now! David Z from TSO and ZO2 played bass…Jeff, Dave and myself have been touring together for 5 years in TSO now! Paul Morris played Keys, he is a close friend and an amazing talent. He played in Rainbow, Doro, many other bands.
- How many songs did you actually compose during the "Faces" writing process?
- "Faces" comes with a bonus CD, 'God Damn War', which is a full-length album by itself. You really want listeners to get a lot of music for their bucks! Was it difficult to convince some guys at Black Lotus to release "Faces" as a double CD or was it a smooth move?
It was kinda a smooth move. I had too much music for one CD, I asked them if I could originally just have a 5-song bonus CD, they said fine. I recorded 12 songs! I am going to record 4 more and GDWAR will be a 16 song CD on its own very soon! It is really strong as its own release!
- At what particular time did you decide to write about this god damn war? Are you as disgusted as I am by the media coverage in the US?
I was just watched the news and wondered a lot. My friends here in NYCity have European satellite TV. The news overseas was so different than it was here. When I was writing I wrote songs about myself and songs about the war and politics…seemed to be all I had experienced at the time. I had a lot of unanswered questions as we all do. I wrote a CD about this. I wrote a CD about the current WAR that is still going on and getting worse every day!
- You are one of the few American artists to be signed with a Greek label. It has proved itself to be a great idea, but how did that happen? Do you have a special relation to this country?
Savatage has always been embraced by the Greek fans. I was looking for a label that was going to prioritize what I was doing. I did not want to be treated as just another guitarists solo CD. Black Lotus heard into the music in its rawest form. They wanted to bring the label to another level, I wanted to bring myself to another level…I had a mutual friend inform me of Black Lotus. They contacted me and asked me to fly to Athens before I took a deal with anyone else. When I arrived we sat and listened to 3 songs, they stopped the CD and asked what I wanted. The rest is history! I am very happy with my new home in Greece!
- How is the touring experience so far? What is the touring lineup? What are the songs you really feel on stage?
The touring has not started yet! All of this music is very strong live, I wrote it with that in mind. The war stuff especially. The band on the CD is hopefully what you will see live, but Dave Z may be touring with his band…we shall see!
- If you were to tour with one band of your choice, which one would it be and why?
One band…that is tough! Can I pick 4? Dio, Priest, Maiden or Sabbath! Just my 4 favorite bands as a kid…I have toured with Priest and Dio before, they are good friends and amazing live bands, I would love to share the stage with them again!
- The recent death of Dimebag has affected lots of people around the world and I hope it's going to raise the level of awareness about gun control in the States. Any thoughts on that?
It is a tragedy. Words cannot describe my feelings and the loss to the music world. Unfortunately, the use of handguns in crime and murder is mostly by illegal guns. Or guns carried by unlicensed owners. So…controlling it will not necessarily stop this. The criminals and maniacs will find them and use them if they really want to. On 9-11 we saw that it was necessary to lock cock pit doors…I don't think the box cutters were the deciding force in the tragedy…I feel it was the suicidal mind frame of the high jackers, no fear of death. The guy who shot dime had to be in a similar rage, less controlled and thought out, but a similar rage. It is hard to stop this because it is so difficult to see it coming. Security will be different for sure…as air travel is…as are pyro rules after the incident in Providence. It is just such a shame to lose human life in order to make these changes.
- You're very often known as a Savatage member but lately you've been involved with several other project, Metallium and Circle II Circle. Are you going to continue all those projects as well or do you want to concentrate on your solo career now?
I will continue to write music for Zak. Metalium was a one CD thing, I have not worked with them since the first CD. My solo project is my priority, I will be doing this for a very long time!
- Do you already have new material for your next solo album?
I have the new stuff ready for WAR! I also have about 20 songs that are on a "To Be Considered" list for the follow up CD! I love to write!
- Is Savatage's new album already on your mind?
It has been on my mind since 2002! Its absence is a big reason for the emotion in my CD.
- Ok, now, I'm going to give you a musician name and you're allowed to say whatever you want with only a couple of words. Let's say one sentence maximum.
- Michael Romeo - Amazing guitarist, very under recognized band!
- Ronnie James Dio - The greatest voice ever in hard rock/heavy metal, sang in 2 of my favorite bands!
- Dave Mustaine - A true rock star, in many ways the Ted Nugent of the modern Metal Generation!
- Lars Ulrich - Attitude in every single hit he has ever played!
- Jon Oliva - The all around most talented and humorous person I have ever worked with in my life.
- Thanks for your time! I wish you all the best. And your last word is?
Peace and Thank you!
Thanks again to Chris Caffery, Black Lotus Records and to Maria at Triquetra Media who made this interview possible. Photos, http://www.chriscaffery.com/