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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Chris Caffery

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview with Chris Caffery from 2007

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at

Your new CD Pins And Needles seems a bit more hard edged with some modern metal moments. Is this what you were trying to achieve or is it just a natural evolution towards the direction that future releases will be?
I think it was more of a natural evolution. When I did the Faces CD, I obviously had a lot of different styles of music on that record. When I recorded it, I wasn’t really sure what it was that people would like or dislike from me or what I was going to like or dislike playing live. I think the heavier, more modern stuff on that record is what started to be more and more my niche. I could have gone a couple of different ways with that. I think the other side of things would have been towards more like the “Music Man”/”Bag Of Bones” acoustic thing in general. Which is the opposite side of the spectrum but that to me wasn’t something that I was excited about. It’s fun to play live but it’s not as exciting. With this record, [I] just kind of focused it on one direction. The heavier thing is just a little more natural for me.
MSJ: There was some difficulty with getting this album out with Black Lotus going under. How did the Locomotive Records deal come about?
I finished the record on my own. It was weird because I was right in the middle of mixing when I got the news from Black Lotus. I knew that the label was having a little bit of trouble but I really didn’t think it was going to go in the direction that it was going to go. They were looking on a business merger that a billionaire shipping guy in Greece’ son was going to buy out the label and put a ton of money into it. They sent office memos to all the bands and everyone saying everything is fine [and] “Black Lotus is going to be better than ever”. They were telling me, assuring me, to keep working and my money drop for my studio time was coming on a certain day. They had plane tickets booked for me to go to Greece to do my photos and master. Next thing I know, the money didn’t make it into the bank [and] the tip to master was cancelled. The next day I get a call from their promo guy [and he says] “the label’s going out of business.” I just forged ahead and finished the record, then kind of dealt with the shopping of it after I was done. It was such a shocker [that] I didn’t want to ruin my head as far as I was with the record by listening to people’s opinions on the music before it was finished. A lot of times you give the business stuff to people and they’ll be like “I don’t want this record” and I didn’t want to doubt what I was doing. I didn’t want to become aggravated because I had to spend the money on it. I had a decent amount of offers when it was time to make the decision. I felt, especially in the states, that Locomotive was a really good place for me to go. They’re involved with Doro and I was able to hook up with that and get my band out on the road. Everything’s worked out so far.
MSJ: Why did you re-do “Pisses Me Off” for the new record?
I think everybody wanted a different version. People came asking me if that was something I was going to do. It had a lot to do with the fact that I had the contest for other people to do it. People were asking me “on the next record, are you going to be doing another version?” It’s just something I did for fun, for the real die hards, so they would have a new version of it. It’s one of these things I can pretty much do it each year. It’s just something to make people laugh and for me to have fun with it. A lot of times live, I change the lyrics for that anyway; as far as what’s pissing me off that day. I think it’s one of those songs that has an endless number of versions that could come out.
MSJ: On your website, you sell autographed CDs which I think is a great idea. Were you the person who decided to do that?
Yeah. I was selling autographed CDs originally with Faces and then I just decided if people wanted to put their name on it, to let me know what they wanted written, I would do it that way. The business has changed a lot. The fans that I have, I really appreciate and I see when we do the autograph signings with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra; I see how much it means for people to be able to get that. It was a little plus that I could do. It’s extra work and time. Sometimes I will be on the road and nowhere near my CDs and I’ll get an email from somebody “I ordered a CD 3 weeks ago and I haven’t gotten it yet.” I can’t personally autograph something that I’m not personally around.
MSJ: Do you feel that this will be the new system for purchasing CDs or will iTunes be the end all and be all of music buying?
I can’t tell you. I think people now are so into their iTunes and their little digital devices. I definitely think that that world, the digital world, is going to take a huge chunk of the market. I don’t know, I still think there is going to be a lot of fans who want to hold a CD or something in their hands. To me, it makes it so impersonal when your record collection is a 1 by 1 picture on a tiny computer screen. I grew up obviously with records, cassettes, and 8-tracks. You held them in your hand. You can’t invite your friends over to check your screen. Hahaha. It’s not really the same. I’m hoping there’s still going to be people who will want to hold something in their hands but I do think that things that are going to be bought will be through the artists themselves.
MSJ: You recently did a tour for the new CD playing double duty; first doing your own set and then playing guitar in Doro’s band. How did the tour go and was it planned that way or did it just come about because both of you are on Locomotive Records?
Yeah, absolutely, the timing of the release of her anniversary DVD and my CD. I was approached to do the Doro gig itself. It was still not 100% confirmed playing with Doro and I was negotiating with Locomotive as it was, so one of the things that I discussed was since Doro is going to the states, why don’t we go out together and play. We can work the promotion of her DVD and my CD together. It was a challenge on the road. I’m used to doing 2 shows a day with TSO so that wasn’t really something that was impossible. I think the turn around time was a lot faster. In TSO, we at least get an hour or two in between shows but with this one, a lot of the times, it was just “take off the guitar, change your sweaty shirt into another shirt, and get up there and play.” It was good though. I was happy with how it worked out.
MSJ: What is your favorite Spinal Tap moment from your career?
I’ve had a lot of Spinal Tap-like moments. We’re headlining the Wacken festival in Germany in front of 40,000 people. We go up to come out for the first song, or something like that, and I get up there and I start playing the intro to the song “Sirens” and the guitar I had was tuned wrong. So I was able to start it and when it came into the low notes that were towards the end of the riff, it was just tuned completely wrong. I just stopped playing in front of 40,000 people and put my finger up like “hold on a minute” and walked away and handed my guitar to my tech. You can break a string and try to improvise and get around it but when you have a guitar that has strings that are in the wrong tuning…. I just stopped and came back, “here we go again.”
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended as a fan?
I went to see Rik Emmett at BB Kings in the middle of May. I was a huge Triumph fan when I was growing up. I’ve been seeing a lot of the club shows like that.
MSJ: When I spoke to Jon Oliva, he said that the new TSO would be out in the summer and that it would not be holiday themed. Is that still the case or have things changed?
He didn’t say what summer did he? Hahaha. We always say with TSO, just name a season, don’t name a year. Yeah, it’s a non holiday CD called Night Castle and the band is in the studio now. I’m not sure of the exact release date. I heard people were hoping to get it released before this next tour which I know for a fact is not going to happen. Now we’re hoping to get it to the stage where it’s going to mixed before the next TSO tour, fingers crossed, sometime next year. The CD should be out. Paul doesn’t compromise anything so until that CD is 100% finished the way he wants it to be, people won’t be able to get it. We’ve waited long enough. It’s one of those things where when you go over 5 years, another year won’t kill us.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
The last CD I purchased was the new Megadeth record which I did get off of iTunes. It’s a great record.
MSJ: Which one of your releases are you most proud of and why?
I would have to say my first solo record I was really, really proud of because I did everything to get it together. I started singing, I wrote the music, I shopped the deal; I put the whole thing together myself. There were a lot of people who were trying to discourage me from singing when I just started to do the singing thing. That was definitely a difficult time. A lot of work went in to just get the whole thing together. I’m proud of any release that I’m on, be it Savatage, TSO, or myself, but I think that one in particular because I worked so hard to get it together.
MSJ: Speaking of Savatage, are there any plans for any shows or products?
You know, there are plans and every time I talk to everybody involved, the plans seem to change a little bit. Now, I’m not 100% sure what is going on. It was the 25th anniversary this year and we were supposed to be doing concerts and things and I don’t know if it’s going to happen in mass form where there is going to be more than a few shows or just maybe a show for a special DVD. I really don’t know. I would like to be out right now on the road with Savatage for the 25th anniversary. I really don’t know what the exact plans are going to be. Whatever’s going to happen, I’ll be there for it. Hopefully, it’s going to be more than less. I really don’t know how much stuff is going to get done.
MSJ: Any last words for your fans?
I just thank people constantly because I get to do what I set out as a little kid to do and lucky enough to keep doing it as a living. My career has been pretty cool so far. I haven’t done everything perfect, I constantly learn and try to make things better, but in the end, without the fans, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing so I thank them.
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