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1st February 2010
METAL DISCOVERY: You had a DVD shoot planned at a show in Tilburg…was it scheduled for March?
JON OLIVA: It was March and then it got moved to October.
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(Jon Oliva on flying from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro on a 28 seat propeller plane during his Savatage days)
"...I was never so scared in my life. There was a guy actually putting duct tape on the bottom of the wing!"
Jon Oliva onstage with JOP at ProgPower Europe in the Sjiwa, Baarlo, Netherlands, 7th October 2007
Photograph copyright © 2007 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview by Mark Holmes
Official Jon Oliva's Pain Website:
Official Jon Oliva's Pain MySpace:
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Mike Exley at M.E.P.R. for arranging the interview
'Tage Mahal (2004)
Straight-Jacket Memoirs EP (2006)
Maniacal Renderings (2006)
Global Warning (2008)
Festival (2010)
MD: Yeah, what was the postponement reason?
JO: We wanna utilise footage from the summer festivals and what we decided we were going to do was, instead of doing it in March…we would only have had four shows under our belts and then we would have to have done it. This way, I can film Bang Your Head, and I’m gonna film Graspop, and then I’m gonna come home for four or five weeks, and I’m gonna come back over to Europe in late September and do about three weeks…they’re actually talking to someone in the UK. Our booking agent is about getting us a show there.
MD: I was going to ask that later on, but that would be brilliant if you do.
JO: They are working on that because he asked me “do you want to go to the UK if we can work it out?”; I said “absolutely!”. So that’s a possibility. That would be late September, early October, and then we’re gonna end the tour with the DVD shoot. So then I can utilise all that footage and make it into one big thing, and have a bunch of extra stuff from the tour. You know, because that’s always cool to have, and the festival tours are always a lot of fun - there’s always a lot of my friends from the other bands around to get people involved in and stuff. It’s just mainly the big thing was we would only have four shows and I didn’t think that was enough. To do a DVD shoot it’s very expensive and you’ve only got the one night to do it. You just want to make sure the band is hot and on fire, and then I’ve got a bunch of footage that I can use; bonus footage and stuff. So I decided to move it to October.
MD: That makes sense, so at then end of three weeks touring you’ll be properly warmed up and…
JO: …on fire! This band is just like any band. Even though you do the rehearsal bit and stuff, it’s still not the same as going out and playing in front of a crowd. You need two or three days, especially coming overseas, it takes a day or two just to get used to the time change for me.
MD: The last time I saw JOP was at the ProgPower festival in Holland back in 2007 - what are your memories from that festival now, and is Holland quite a pivotal country for your popularity as I gather you’re quite big over there?
JO: Yeah, they like us in Holland. Holland…I have a lot of early experiences. When I first came over to Europe it was in Holland. We used to play a lot there as Savatage back in ‘86. When we first came over there we were touring with Motörhead. I made a lot of friends in Holland that I still have, so I like going there and, you know, it’s a very open country as far as hanging out, and partying, and having a good time.
MD: How was the ProgPower festival for you as I remember your set being pretty amazing, and there was a great party atmosphere in the venue?
JO: Yeah, I thought it was a good show. It’s one of those things - those festival shows like that where you’ve got a nice crowd and stuff like that, those are always great. They always end up being good shows unless you get bad equipment problems, which happens a lot. But we were lucky, I think, that night. If I remember correctly, I thought that was a pretty good show.
MD: Yeah, and that’s a festival I’ve been to five or six times now, and I think that was the most jovial I’ve ever seen it in that venue. You know, everybody was singing along and having one big party. It was incredible actually.
JO: Thank you for that.
MD: I remember you seemed to drink quite a bit of Jägermeister on stage during the set!
JO: [laughs]
MD: I think you kept on calling for someone to bring out your bottle!
JO: Yeah! I’ve kind of cut way back on that now. I do drink Jägermeister in Europe if I start to get…we call it “bus hack” because if you’re on the bus a lot, and you just can’t help it, you get this shit in your throat. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced life on a tour bus before but everybody gets it whether you’re a smoker or not. Sometimes it just sucks because you can’t get that shit outta ya. We call it “bus hack” and a nice shot of warm Jägermeister will burn that shit away, and then you feel semi-normal again.
MD: It gets the vocal chords working again!
JO: It’s a good excuse to drink!
MD: I was gonna say, it’s a very good excuse to drink! That year, I saw you at ProgPower UK as well actually, and I remember you came out onstage limping because you said that you’d tripped up when getting off the tour bus or something?
JO: It was pouring with rain and I slipped on the bottom step. I landed right on my one knee, man. I still, to this day, suffer from that a little bit. When it gets cold, my knee aches. I never had the surgery because I had second opinions and they said “don’t get the surgery”. People I talked to who had the surgery said their knee hurt worse after, and just to rehab it and just take it easy on it, and watch yourself, you know, don’t go out and try to play football or anything. So, now, when it gets cold, it aches a little bit, but I’ll live!
MD: That was the last time you played in the UK?
JO: I believe so, yeah. That was like two years…three years ago?
MD: Yeah, nearly three years ago, 2007 in spring, so a long time ago now.
JO: Oh, so I need to get back there, man!
MD: You’re definitely due back here! What’s the biggest disaster or Spinal Tap moment you’ve had on tour in recent years?
JO: [laughs] Oh god! We don’t have two hours, do we?! [laughs]
MD: There’s a few then?!
JO: A thousand of ‘em! Probably the best Spinal Tap one was when Savatage, Johnny Middleton and I, we were on the plane and we were flying from São Paulo, Brazil, to Rio de Janeiro. We were looking out the window as we were sitting there and the plane was loading, and watched this ladder slide up to the wing, and this guy gets up the ladder…and this was a propeller plane, and I said I would never fly in a propeller plane but, sure enough, we get to the airport and it’s a propeller plane, and it’s like a 28 seat plane. So I’m looking out the window and watching, and this ladder rolls up and this guy starts putting duct tape on the bottom of the wing! [laughs]
MD: That’s not good!
JO: I swear on the bible this is a true story. I tapped Johnny and I go - “tell me if I’m seeing things right now, but is there a guy outside my window putting duct tape on the bottom of the wing that we are about to take off in the aeroplane?!” He looked, and he turned so white. I swear he was a white as a piece of paper that you write on! And, actually, I’ll tell you what, I was never so scared in my life. There was a guy actually putting duct tape on the bottom of the wing! So that was the best Spinal Tap moment. I was like, “I’m getting out of here, man!” [laughs] Only I couldn’t leave because it was too late; we had to fly, but I was like “oh, man”. I let the promoter have it when we got to Rio de Janeiro. I was still shaking!
MD: At least you didn’t crash! So do you keep tabs on what’s happening elsewhere in the prog metal genre? Are there any bands out there at the moment who impress you at all?
JO: What the hell’s their name now? I’ve drawn a blank on their name and I’ve just heard them the other day. Is it Opeth?
MD: Opeth, yeah. Swedish band.
JO: Great band; I really like them. I like Kamelot a lot. Actually, I’m singing on their new album; I’m doing a song. I’m actually doing the vocals tonight for a Kamelot song that’s going on their new one. I think they’re a great band. I’ve heard a lot of ‘em…a lot of ‘em I see on tour but I can’t recall their names that well. I like Elvenking a lot.
MD: Oh yeah, the Italian band.
JO: Yeah, from Italy, and they’re very interesting. I think they had some interesting stuff.
MD: I think they have a folk kind of thing going on with a violin.
JO: Yeah, they have a violin guy. They were very funny, and good guys, and good band. So there’s lots of new bands out there that are carrying the torch who are sounding really good.
MD: I noticed you’re hitting 50 this year. How do you plan on celebrating your 50th birthday?
JO: [laughs] I don’t know, man, that’s a good one! I’ll probably cry a lot, you know! [laughs]
MD: Well, you’ve achieved so much in your career, so it’s definitely worth celebrating!
JO: I’ll probably cry a lot and I’ll have a bottle!
MD: Finally, what plans does 2010 hold for the band?
JO: Well, the actual touring starts in April. I’ve got a week in South America and some US dates. I’m doing one of those heavy metal cruise things which should be interesting since I get seasick! Then we’re coming to do the festivals and we’re coming back mid-late September to do that whole thing ending with the DVD shoot, so we’ll be around.
MD: So a busy year planned.
JO: Absolutely, and I’m looking forward to it.
MD: Right, if you make it over to the UK then I’ll definitely come and check out your show.
JO: Well, I hope so, and I’m definitely trying to get there and, like I said, our booking agent said he was speaking to someone over there, so hopefully that’s something we’re working out for the fall run.
MD: Fingers crossed.
JO: Yes!
MD: Right, well good luck for the year, and I hope the album sells a million…
JO: …I hope it sells 2 million!
MD: …and thank you so much for you time.
JO: Yeah, and you take care, and the best to everybody there, and god bless you all, man.
MD: Cheers very much.
JO: Right, take care.