Chris Caffery's views on war and other personal topics can be heard on his first solo album "Faces/God Damn War". They are really great bombastic rock CDs with Chris singing superbly and playing the guitar like never before. During Bospop I had the chance to talk to Chris as he was doing a promotion tour for his album.
What happened to your eye??
Chris: "This morning I was on a flight from Poland and the guy next to me kicked my eyeball with his elbow... it is typical for me, however, last time I was in Holland I had food poisoning, so I have to show up with something.....right?"
This morning I received the album by post, heard it twice and I am really impressed.
Chris: "Well, thank you, there is so much on it, there is so much to get in one take it is almost possible to hear it all. I really wish people had more time to listen to it properly, but hey at least you heard it twice so..."
Why did you wait so long to make a solo album?
Chris: "Well, I think because in some ways I might not have been ready to do so. Now I as at a point in my career when I really felt the need. I was doing some side projects and stuff, but that was mostly because I had some time here and there, but it was not until the last few years where 3 years went by before Savatage did "Poets and Madmen", but now that another 3 years went by and we have not even started to record the next one, I was getting scared about things. I am still a musician, I watched really important years of my life go by without doing one record and so I got a lot of questions about myself, my career, Trans-Siberian Orchestra was doing their thing; we do very well with that, it brings in enough money but I had 9, 10 months off a year and that for me is really destructive, because I want to play my music and if not I end up in a bar with my friends drinking. Which is fun on a tour between gigs, but not if you are doing it every night. I was getting upset and in the end I still loved my band Savatage, and basically that is why I am here right now, so with Sava not working I kept mad at myself for not making music and then I found out that I had a second career start with my vocals. When I started to sing I really found out that it was good stuff and I could really do something with this material. I wrote 65 songs and that is why there are only 2 CDs, because I did not have time to record the other two, hahaha.. I am really happy about this now. I feel like it is my second start and when Savatage does work again I know it is not something that I have to force myself to do again. I will be there when they are ready to play again. Right now I am here to promote this record."
Is Faces a concept album?
Chris: "In a lot of ways it is, but it is not like a thought and fictitious concept. The concept was a sort of like the personal battles I went through and things that I was talking about and like remembering what I do and how much I love doing it and just getting back to the music. I did not listen to anything when I was doing this record, I was by myself and I made my own decisions, no musical direction, there is none, do whatever you want!"
What are the musical differences between Savatage and your solo album?
Chris: "I think the main difference is that it is much more a guitar album than Savatage stuff. Sava got a little more into the keyboard thing, melodically there are a lot of similarities, but my album is more rock and roll. Savatage is more traditional heavy metal, in some ways it is weird, this record shows my influence while Savatage shows more Paul's, Jon's and the other guys' influences."
Your voice is unbelievable, when did you discover that you could sing?
Chris: "You know what, I always knew I could imitate, it was easy for me to imitate lots of heavy singers; not perfectly, but you know in a bar, something coming from the jukebox and you start singing along. I always wanted to sing, I loved great singers like Steve Walsh from Kansas, and that is why I never sang myself because I would start to sing and I did not sound like a great singer...... But when I started with these demos in the rehearsal studios at home and I was able to practice and experiment and found out that there was an actual voice there; the more I sang the more I liked it. The voice is a muscle and you can train it, and I learned how to sing. I did not know it was a lot easier than I thought, there is a place in your throat where you produce notes and I did not know where it was, and I learned that I had fun and so it worked out great in the end."
Have you already planned a tour?
Chris: "Yeah, I have to tour, that is why I did the albums. I do whatever touring I can this year, a week in Greece and maybe some spots around Europe and then January/February 2005 I will come back and do a tour full time, some festivals next year, judging on how well, or worse, the record is doing. And maybe I will come back in the fall of 2005, or go into the studio and do another record. I have plenty of music written, I wrote lyrics for 2 CDs last night in my hotel room sitting and waiting, so.... I think differently as a writer now and as a singer. I can write songs in so many different ways, I can start with the guitar, I can start with the vocals, I can start with a melody, an idea, whatever....."
So, you can make a triple album next time!
Chris: "Yeah, hahaha....."
Any news about Savatage at this moment?
Chris: "Savatage is planning on releasing an album, an anniversary record, I am not 100% sure when it is going to be released though...."
Lots of fans are getting worried about the band....
Chris: "Me too, me too, that, as a fan and a member of the band, I am getting worried too. I did the Chris Olivia memorial concert some time ago and while that was going on, well thoughts come to your head that it is going to be one of those last times, because there has been so much time in between records and shows. And you have to watch out, because times are changing, so..."
Speaking about changing times, how is the metal market in the USA at the moment?
Chris: "It is really strong in some ways. Savatage were headlining the progpowerfestival and that was sold out for three days, so there is a heavy metal audience there, a lot of records being sold. There are still lots of heavy metal fans in America, you just have to realize nowadays there is a lot of music to buy, a lot of bands we listened to when we were younger are still making records. So, you have the bands of the 70's, the bands of the 80's, the bands of the 90's and bands of 2000-2004 that are making records. I know that there is a lot less records coming out, but there are lots of more records from bands that you like. Well, people cannot afford to buy every album and they cannot afford to see every concert; there is always bands that are on tour that you want to see, it is difficult to choose. And the seats are expensive, 75 dollars in the USA. So, you have to choose, shall I pay my mortgage or shall I go to a concert of so and so, you know. I went to see Kiss when I was eleven and the price was 5 dollars and 50 cents, so there you go...."
The second CD "God Damn War" is it about a certain war or maybe about all wars?
Chris: "It is about this war (Iraq) basically. The album ends with a song called "Curtains", which asks questions about citizens being let to believe different things that are not true, they are lies, they are kind of brainwashed. But, it is a chronological time line of this war; there are a lot of questions that I got as an open-minded American about this war. I have a lot of friends in Europe that watch European satellite TV, and I was watching a newsreport in Greece that was completely different from the news report from New York and American news at night. And I watched a lot of things from the European news come true as the last 14 months developed and basically through all of this news I grew to be a very unhuge fan of this war. After 9/11 in the USA you wanted to see the people who destroyed these two buildings (I live in New York and I saw those buildings every day), you wanted to know why they did it, you wanted to get them. But I also feel that America played on that, the government played on that to get a people rally and we still have not got the people who did it and that is strange. I mean, you can find the black box form the space shuttle that exploded in the atmosphere in the middle of the desert, but you cannot find Osama Bin Laden...... It is a little strange to me and I tell a little story through this war on the record."
So, it is a kind of political statement?
Chris: "I think that it is a personal statement, it is kind of like you know what is really going on and do you ever really know? Some of the tactics used to get the Americans to back this war was by making them fear something that was not necessarily there, because personally I know that there are terrorists out there, but I also think that there is not as many of them as they all say and I do not think that as long as you are aware of that some things will happen. They should have been able to stop them, but it happened, and now you should be able to keep it from happening again. I do not think that it is ever possible to stop it completely, but my biggest problem with this war, as a tax paying American, is the fact that I am paying 100 billion dollars for a war for a country that does not even like me. Let's say, your next door neighbor screws your wife, and your next door neighbor's car is stolen, do you go out and buy your next door neighbor a new car because he cannot drive to work??? That is kind of how I feel about this war, I would not buy him a new car I would beat the shit out of him, but now I have to pay for this war and that is not right....."
So I gather that you are not a George Bush fan, then?
Chris: "That is weird, I do not blame this on George Bush, I blame it on the structure of the USA. George Bush is not alone, he is only their spokesman, there are a lot of people besides Bush and there are a lot of Americans that voted for Bush. The people that did not vote are also to blame of course, I would like to see how many people that are complaining about Bush did not vote, and I expect that it were many. You cannot necessarily blame Bush, it is not George Bush's fault, and it is the easy way to blame him alone. George Bush is president and he is a redneck republican from Texas and he carries out the role very well of going up there and saying we need to go do this and do that. And do not forget that his father was the one who invaded Iraq, so, you know. I cannot blame George Bush, I do not know George Bush, and I do not see the conversations between him and his wife. He maybe sitting there and questioning things like we all do. The USA has a lot of problems besides this war and so does the rest of this world; 5 million people diagnosed with AIDS last year and how many people are dying of starvation, I would feel way much better and sending 100 billion dollars to Africa then sending it to Iraq to destroy that country and spending even more money building it back up and then leaving and saying thank you very much and have a nice day! The world has gone strange....."
Chris, thanks for this interesting interview.
Chris: "Thank you for your time and your interest in my new project and see you on tour!!"