Artist of the day: Jon Oliva's Pain
The name Savatage is synonymous with bay area heavy metal. Frontman Jon Oliva’s roots have been deeply seated here since 1976, and he has performed with an array of groups, including Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
His latest musical endeavor, John Oliva’s Pain, is about to embark on a European tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Savatage’s Hall of the Mountain King. They’re kicking it off by performing at The Ritz Ybor on Saturday night. As has been proven in the past, the show should be a sight to beheld.
The group performs with Jet City and Seven Kingdoms at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Tickets are $25. Click here. We talked to Oliva to preview the gig.
It’s fitting that you’re playing your first show of the tour in Tampa.
It’s where it all started, really, so what a better place to do the first show than in my hometown? I’m very excited, the band sounds great, we’ve been rehearsing for about two months now, which is longer than I’ve ever rehearsed for any tour I’ve ever done in my entire career. The band is on fire. I’m really psyched about Saturday, it’s gonna be a great show and a lot of fun
Due to your rich musical history in this area, you must have quite a pool of heavy hitters to pick from when selecting musicians to perform with.
Right now it’s myself; Chris Kinder, who’s been with me from day one; Jerry Outlaw, who’s been with me off and on over the years; Jason Jennings is playing bass, who I’ve played with many times in the past; and Joe Diaz is the other guitarist, who’s another guy that I’ve known for many, many years. It’s cool ’cause it’s all people I’ve known or worked with for at least 15 or 20 years.
It’s like being part of a musical family.
These guys, Jerry, Jason, and Joe, are musical encyclopedias. It’s fun to hang out with ’em because we try to stump each other on trivia all the time. “Who was the bass player on that 1968 album?” Stuff like that. It’s great, we’re all from the same school of music. We all like the same bands, it’s all working out very well, I’m happy about it.
Over the years, your music has spanned many genres: Metropolis, Alien, Avatar, Savatage, Doctor Butcher and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. How would you describe Jon Oliva’s Pain?
John Oliva’s Pain is kind of a cross between Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It’s kind of like stuff that might not have been heavy enough to do with Savatage, and stuff that might be too heavy to do with Trans Siberian Orchestra. It’s kind of like a happy medium. The real difference is I’m really the only writer, so it gives me a chance to say what I have to say. JOP also has a lot of my brother Chris’s music involved from the first album on. (Chris died in a car accident in 1993.) From tapes of that I have, writing tapes of mine from way back. On every JOP record, there’s been at least four songs that have parts of Chris’ music in it as well, which is also very cool, ’cause if I didn’t do this, no one would ever have gotten to hear that stuff. It keeps Chris’s vibe alive.
Tell me about your upcoming tour.
We’re going to some great places. We’re playing Grasspop Metal Meeting in Belgium, which is a huge festival I’ve done a few times before. It’s like 70,000 people. It’s an amazing event over three days. I’m doing like two or there of those big outdoor festivals. I’m going to Dubai, which I’m very excited about because I’ve never been there. I did an interview with them the other day, and God, the response ... the show’s already sold out. There’s people coming from all over the middle east: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, places like that. We have some big shows in the Netherlands, Norway ... we’re going to Italy, and ending the tour in London, which is great ’cause I lived in London for six months. I haven’t played there for quite a while, so I’m excited about that. Then we come home and it’s back to the studio.
What can be expected from the 25th anniversary show?
The show is basically in two halves. The first half is a mixture of classic Savatage songs and some JOP stuff, with a little Doctor Butcher thrown in there. The second half of the show is the whole Hall of the Mountain King album from start to finish. It’s a great show, the set list is very strong. I was a little worried at first how that was going to go, but once we started rehearsing it, it flows really well. You’re not gonna be disappointed.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*