CHRIS CAFFERY 'would love to see' a new SAVATAGE album happen: 'I'm lined up and ready'
Chris Caffery, who has been a member of SAVATAGE for more than 30 years, was asked by Pete Pardo of Sea Of Tranquility about the possibility of new music from the cult metal outfit. He said: “I’m trying to figure out which quote I can use that Blabbermouth will throw up there and say, ‘Chris Caffery said…’ It’s funny with that, because I was talking to somebody. I did an interview, I think, in December, and they asked me how I felt about it, and I told them that me and Jon (Oliva, SAVATAGE leader) were writing literally with the idea of SAVATAGE in mind in 2021. And I told them that I definitely felt more optimistic than I had in the past. And on Blabbermouth they were, like, ‘Chris Caffery’s completely optimistic about SAVA…’ And I’m, like, yes, because in 20 years, the only thing we did was mention the fact that we might do something. This was the first time where… With the re-release of all the records on vinyl, that was the thing that just got us talking and going and saying, ‘All right. Maybe we should do another record.’ Jon had material. I started working on stuff with him; he started working on stuff with Al (Pitrelli, SAVATAGE guitarist). We have a bunch of pieces to a puzzle now. Whether or not this is going to happen… I’m always the same about it — I would have done 20 records between now and 2002, so you’re not getting anything different out of me as far as how I feel about it. Do I think it’s gonna happen? I don’t know. I kind of consider SAVATAGE to be like Halley’s Comet. (Laughs) It comes once every so often. If you’re not looking, you might miss it.”
Caffery went on to say that he “would love to see” a new SAVATAGE album come to fruition. “And I’ll stay optimistic about it.” However, if it fails to materialize, he won’t take it to heart.
“So many wonderful things happened in my life because of SAVATAGE,” he said. “I’m not gonna get upset… I’ll be disappointed if we never play again, just because I love the band. I’m a fan of it more than I’m a member of it. I love that band and the music.
“I try to tell people even if we did it once maybe as a way to celebrate and travel the world and thank the old fans and let the new fans celebrate with us, which has been a pretty crazy roller-coaster ride since the beginning of SAVATAGE; there’s been a lot of losses and a lot of things. I mean, all bands have that with your bandmembers… We had Criss (Oliva, SAVATAGE guitarist) and we had Paul (O’Nelll, SAVATAGE producer) pass, and we went through a lot in the history of this band. But the music has brought so many people together. And I know that there’s no lack of SAVATAGE fans, whether they were fans that had kids or kids that just became fans.
“I stand there with the fans on it,” Chris added. “I’d love to see it happen. As far as being a member of the band goes, I’m lined up and ready, and I always am. I would prioritize anything I do for SAVATAGE, so it’s not a question of whether or not I would like to play. I’m just waiting for it to be the right time.
“I’ve always said, you can’t force it, just because it’s something that everybody wants us to do… I think that we all have some really cool music, and if it does happen, it’ll be a fun SAVATAGE album. Like I said, it’ll be a good way to celebrate everything we did.’
Last spring, Jon Oliva told That Metal Interview that he had been working with Caffery and Pitrelli on new SAVATAGE material “over the last couple of years.” Oliva went on to say that he and his SAVATAGE bandmates “would all love” to make a new studio album. “But there’s no deal with a record company to do it,” he explained. “There’s no plan — actual plan — saying we’re gonna start recording SAVATAGE. There’s no plan like that. All we’re doing, as being musicians and songwriters, is we’re compiling new material. So if we do get, ‘Hey, why don’t you guys do this? We’ve got a company that wants to give you guys a deal, we’re gonna be prepared.
“A lot of the fans, which it makes me upset, because SAVATAGE fans, I love them so much, because they have never, ever turned their backs on SAVATAGE — ever. And I just don’t want to lead them down a road of false shit,” he added. “If something happens where we say, ‘Okay, we’re ready to do this. Let’s do it, guys,’ I will be the first person to make a professional press release to tell everybody. But I just don’t want to, because it’s not solidified in stone right now. Do we wanna do it? You bet your fucking ass we wanna do it. But do we have the material for it? You bet your fucking ass we have enough material for another 10-year run. But all I can say is if we do a SAVATAGE thing, it’s gonna fuck you people up — it’s gonna be fucking blowaway.”
SAVATAGE’s last album release, “Poets And Madmen”, in 2001 was highlighted by Jon Oliva’s return as lead vocalist, replacing Zak Stevens, who left the band citing family reasons, and the departure of Al Pitrelli, who accepted an offer to join MEGADETH in 2000. Pitrelli did record solos for some songs prior to his departure. Another very limited U.S. tour followed, supported by FATES WARNING in the early shows, and then NEVERMORE for the remainder. Around this time, Jon chose Zak’s replacement in the form of Damond Jiniya (DIET OF WORMS). Damond performed Zak’s parts on tour, with Jon having an increased vocal role in proceedings.
Last September, Jon Oliva was arrested on the west central coast of Florida for driving under the influence as well as possession of a controlled substance. Police charged Oliva with possession of cocaine, which is a felony, and DUI, which is a misdemeanor. He has since apparently accepted the plea agreement laid out by the Pasco County prosecutor whereby he will be placed on 18 months of probation and will undergo drug and alcohol evaluation.
Back in 2016, Jon announced on social media that he suffered a stroke in April of that year. At the time, he said: “It was not as serious as it could have been, but it did leave me with some physical recovery challenges often associated with strokes.”
Despite his health issues, Jon said that he didn’t regret the way he had lived his life. He wrote: “I lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle since I was 18. It’s all I knew and I enjoyed the ride very much. But there comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to step back and make some life-changing decisions… which I have.”
Shortly after SAVATAGE’s reunion performance at the 2015 Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany, Oliva claimed that he felt better than he had in 20 years because he had “stopped drinking and eating” in preparation for the concert. He explained: “It’s my voice that’s freaking me out, because, even when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, doing songs like ’24 Hours Ago’ were always really hard to do. And, of course, I didn’t realize that it was all the drugs and alcohol I was doing. But, after doing that, getting my act together and stuff, singing ’24 Hours Ago’, it’s actually easy now. (Laughs)”
In addition to his work with SAVATAGE, Oliva is well known for co-creating the classical music-meets-prog rock and pyro act TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA alongside the project’s founder Paul O’Neill. Oliva has reportedly remained involved in TSO’s activities even after O’Neill’s April 2017 death of an accidental drug overdose.
Jon’s brother Criss, who was one of the founding members of SAVATAGE, was killed in October 1993 by a drunk driver when he and his wife Dawn were en route to the Livestock festival in Zephyrhills, Florida. The driver of the other car was found to have a drunk driving record of seven prior DUIs and having a blood alcohol content of .294 percent.