Tagged: Circle II Circle

“The Savatage-thing needs some kind of closure” [Chris Caffery]

First of all – Happy New 2012 everyone, hope you had a great start of this new and exciting year in Rock! :-)

On New Year’s Eve, there was an announcement on Blabbermouth that former Savatage-guitarist Chris Caffery was joining Jon Oliva on stage in Europe later this year – read more HERE.

That made a lot of Oliva-fans happy. :-)

It’s not the first time after the “breakup” of Savatage that Chris and Jon have shared the stage though. The last time I saw it was in Belgium, the indoor-festival Pestpop back in October 2007 when I joined Oliva & co on their European tour. Caffery and Zak Stevens (ex-Savatage vocalist) were both at Pestpop festival playing their own sets (Zak with Circle II Circle and Chris doing his solo thing).  

Chris and Jon have played together after that in FL, but as far as I know this was the last time they shared the stage in Europe. Correct me if I’m wrong. :)

Sorry about the sound in the beginning of this video – I think I was standing a little bit too close to the stage monitors…It gets better a few minutes into the song though.

There is an unmistakeble comradery still when these guys get together. I was sitting in the dressing room after the show that night in Wieze, Belgium, when Zak and Chris came by to say hi to Jon. Lots of laughs and hugs, I just sat there quietly, smiling to myself. You just don’t see that kind of affection in bands anymore, there’s definitely something special about Oliva. :-)

2012 will be an interesting year for Savatage-fans, I’m sure. So…. In the name of that – I dug up an interview I did with Chris Caffery at Sweden Rock Festival back in 2009 – another one of those recordings that I never used for anything, so this is the first time anyone will get to hear it. 

He was visiting the festival with Ripper Owens that year, and his solo-album House of Insanity, had just been released . The interview was supposed to be about that, but ended up being a lot about his feelings for Savatage.

He stated that he would gladly play in a garage for no money, if he got a chance to play with his friends (Savatage) again, because the band was his life. He was doing solo albums simply because “his band” wasn’t playing and he had to do something. It’s as if he was waiting for Savatage to wrap it up at some point, because as Oliva himself stated in an interview I did with him that same year, Savatage never officially split up. It’s been on hold for many years. And in the interview with Chris, you will hear him talk about how he feels about that:

“The Savatage-thing needs some kind of closure….”

So, there’s no question that Savatage really is what’s closest to Chris’ heart, so what you’ll get to see on stage this summer will certainly be sincere. 

You can listen to the whole interview here. My apologies for the bad sound, it was a very windy day and we were standing in the backstage bar at Sweden Rock Festival, with all the noise coming from everywhere. It’s a miracle that anything was recorded at all. :-)

I truly enjoyed talking to Chris, he’s cool guy.

1,52The reason for me doing this is because my band is not playing. If Savatage was playing, I would not be doing solo records…

2,23 My band, my life, my whole soul, is with Savatage.

7,25  Even if the band played in this TENT for five minutes, I don’t care what the circumstances are, I don’t care what the reason is, or the money… I just wanna play with my friends, play that music again. I really miss it.

8,00 Jon Oliva is one of the best songwriters that Ive ever seen, he’s a genious. 

8,10The Savatage thing nees to get some kind of closure.


[Savatage from back in the day – one of my favorite songs, and one of the craziest drummers! Check this out!]



Three G’s as in Guitarists

Just hit me that the topics that have been on my mind lately, in one form or another, were somehow related to GUITARISTS

First of all – Matt La Porte’s Memorial Benefit that took place Saturday, at Ferg’s, St Petersburg, Florida. For those who don’t know Matt, he’s known for having played with Circle II Circle and Jon Oliva’s Pain.

[Matt in an early Circle II Circle-video.
Vocals: Zak Stevens (ex.Savatage). All the guys in this band later became JOP…
Matt LaPorte – guitar, John Zahner – keyboards, Kevin Rothney – bass, Chris Kinder – drums]:

I was thinking about how I even got to know the great people in JOP and their friends/crew… The first two people I ever got in touch with that day, were Greg, “Super G” Marchak, producer and engineer, and Matt. I had just arrived to the hotel in Dusseldorf, Germany to attend a meet-and-greet weekend with Jon Oliva’s Pain, an interview and a listening-party of the new album “Maniacal Renderings“.

It was a small hotel and there was a computer down in the lobby. Greg was sitting there when I walked in. Sadly, he is not with us anymore. He passed on September 8, 2007, suffered an aneurysm and never recovered.

The other guy, who took over down at the computer that day in the lobby, was Matt. He is not with us anymore either. He died in his sleep a few months ago, only 40 years old. I think that what most of us remember, apart from his musicianship, is his sense of humor. A bizarre sense of humor that took me a while to “get”, I eventually did. His passing left so many in shock and grief, but I was so glad to see the musicians getting together to celebrate his life. He lived for music and he must have smiled when he saw what had been put together for him.

Members from JOP, Crimson Glory, TSO and others, got together Saturday evening for this special occasion which I so wish I could have attended. From what I’ve seen so far, it was a beautiful day/evening, with everybody gathered. And I miss them all, haven’t seen the “JOP family” in a long time, I think it must have been a little over a year now. Used to be at least once a year. Then again, things are not the same and never will be. But I have great memories for life.

Here’s one of the most beautiful songs ever, played at Matt’s memorial (Jon Oliva vocals and piano):

The other guitarist who is “Not Dead Yet” (which is the name of the benefit festival where the proceeds are going towards medical supplies as well as a trust fund to provide for his future security) is the amazing Jason Becker.

The more I see and the more I read about Jason, the more stunned and amazed I get. What a fantastic guy, I’m speechless. I really wanted to get involved somehow and so I ended up donating to the making of the documentary “Perpetual Burn: The Story of Jason Becker“.

I can’t wait to see the finished movie and for those of you out there who have at least 5 bucks to spare – make it happen: http://www.jasonbeckermovie.com/help-get-involved
All you need is a PayPal-account. Simple, quick, easy, and for a good cause.

The goal is $50,000 and as of right now, funds raised are up to 49,715
It’s CLOSE – so go and make your contribution!

This is a trailer for the movie that’s in the making:

Moves me to tears every time I see it.  At the same time it proves what the love for music can do – it can even to some extent conquer death. There are others out there who are still living proof that the passion for music can overcome any obstacles: Rick Allen (Def Leppard) and Mick Mars (Motley Crue) for instance – then there are the guys from Anvil that aren’t exactly sick, but they have sacrificed everything to the point of stupidity, for their rock’n’roll dream and love for music.
I totally get where they are coming from. Only others who feel the same way for music can understand,

(Funny, just after I had posted this blog – I saw this on Twitter, from Mick Mars. Thought it fit pretty well: http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=161178 ]

People like Jason Becker have my deepest respect and admiration. I hope he will still be around by the time the movie is finished. I’m sure he will be.

Last, but not least – a more positive note :) In the middle of planning my US trip, where I’ll get to enjoy seeing and hearing the talents of two fantastic guitarists: Gus G (Ozzy, Firewind) and the ULTIMATE guitar hero: Yngwie Malmsteen.

I was going to see Firewind in Florida because they’re playing in St Petersburg (Tampa-area), which is where my JOP-friends are from so it seemed like the best place to go. Then I saw that Yngwie was playing in NYC a few days later – actually the day after Firewind have played there, so there’ll be a double guitar-virtuoso treat, two days in a row, in my favorite city in the world – NYC!

Only two more months and I’m off to the land across the pond! :-))

[My interview with Gus G from Sweden Rock Festival, back in June:]

[The #1 GUITAR HERO in all categories – YNGWIE MALMSTEEN…!]

Matt LaPorte (JOP) R.I.P….

The bad news just keep coming in…

I got the sad news around 6 a.m this morning (CET) that Matt LaPorte (guitarist of Jon Oliva’s Pain, JOP and formerly also Circle II Circle) has passed away. He didn’t even make it to see his 41st birthday.

I remember Matt as a guy who kept to himself most of the time, at least during the JOP-tours. You never really saw or heard much of him, but when you did, he liked to kid around and he had a special sense of humor. It took me a while to figure out when he was being serious and when he was joking, quite an unusual guy.

One thing that nobody would ever argue against, was his talent. As a guitarplayer he dazzled not only Jon Oliva, but also guitar-fans everywhere he went.

His bandmate John Zahner (Savatage, JOP, Crimson Glory) wrote the following in his statement this morning:

No words can describe the whole that is left in my life without this amazing teddy bear of a man.

     He is the heart in Metal. I will Love him forever.

       My friend Matt R.I.P.

Morrisound Recording (Tampa) wrote the following on Facebook earlier today:

Our good friend Matt LaPorte has passed away. I think I’ve worked on somewhere around ten albums with Matt. Always a pleasure. He was very talented, funny, creative, and a very caring guy. I have no idea what happened last night, but everyone here at Morrisound is deeply saddened by this. Rest in Peace, Matt. There will always be another 8 or 10 tracks armed and ready. — Jim

 I just talked to him three days ago. This is incredibly sad. He was an incredibly talented guy with a bizarre sense of humor that I will miss. – Ryan

My condolences go out to Matt’s friends and family… He will be missed.