Toen ik het solo album van Jon Oliva ontving om er een review van te schrijven was ik danig onder de indruk van het sterk afwisselend karakter van de schijf. Toen ik het aanbod kreeg om oom Jon aan de telefoon te spreken, was mijn antwoord: “Maar natuurlijk”! De man bleek een aangename gesprekspartner te zijn, die rustig alle vragen beantwoordde en mij nog een compliment gaf ook! Lees hieronder met welke vragen ik hem bestookte en wat zijn respons daarop was.


Hi Jon, all is well I hope?
Yeah man, couldn’t be better!

I just wondered why you did the release “raise The Curtain” under your own name?
It really started after we lost Matt. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I wanted to get away from the situation and just think. I felt that if I wanted to do a solo record, the time would be now to do it. I had some time to think over about things that I wanted to do about the fans and everything to do with that. It would keep me busy and help me to get the rest of Criss’s music out. I could take my time and not have to worry about the band at that moment. Cause you know, after losing Matt it was very dramatic and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do right away. I don’t wanna be rushed in making a decision.

Well Jon I have to admit that on the first listen, the album didn’t grab me right away. But after a few days I simply fell in love with it, because the album is a grower!
Oh I really, really, really appreciate that! That’s very nice of you and I agree it’s one of those albums that at very first it sounds very different. But you have to give it a couple of listens to find the things you like about it. Every time you listen to it, it grows on you.

That’s true, Jon. What stroke me the most, was that it brings tons of emotions to the surface when I listened to it!
Yes, it’s very emotional.

For instance I can see you performing the song “Ten Years” in a bluesy, smoky bar with a cowboy hat on sitting behind the piano. It’s totally different then the stuff you’ve done before. Besides that I’m also fond of the use of horns and other instruments in the song.
I love using horns. Absolutely love it! It was a pleasure to learn how to do it and to work with the guys at the studio. They were great, great player’s and they were a lot of fun too. And the sound is so distinguishable that it’s real horns and not fake. You can’t hide that sound.

Yeah, it’s the same with organs! When you use the real organs in stead of synths, the difference is huge!
The Hammond B3 is the organ we used.

After the early-Rush intro in “The Witch” I detect some pop rock influences. Did I get that one right?
You’re right! You know, my Beatles influences… ah you can definitely hear that. Because, I was a big Beatles fan. So whenever I get the change to play that kind off stuff I love to do it. I learned music from the Beatles, so I like to let that slip in.

There are a lot of my influences on this album: Deep Purple, Queen, Beatles, a little Black Sabbath… in fact all the bands I grew up with.

On “Father Time” I discovered that you are also a very talented guitar player!
Yeah, I got pretty good! You know, I had a great teacher. Criss Oliva was one of the greatest guitar players of the world and he thought me everything I knew.

But you seem to have a certain talent for it!
I always was surrounded by great guitar players, so I didn’t really need to play guitar. I usually had to play the keyboards. But this time I was the only guitar player. I played all the guitars. So, it was cool, it was a lot of fun. But, it was hard. I worked very hard and a long time, but I got it done!

I found the track “I Know” the perfect mixture of the early Savatage (the piano) and the late Jon Oliva’s Pain stuff from the more sensitive tracks.
Well, thank you! I appreciate that!

In “Soldier” we hear a totally different Jon with some flute and again the piano. I found it to be a sad song with lots of emotions!
“Soldier” is an incredible sensitive track. It’s really written for anybody who was a soldier. It doesn’t matter if you’re fromBelgium,AmericaorRussia. So many young people go out to serve their country and they come back wounded. You know, no legs or arms. I see these stories all the time and the government turned their back on them. They try to cut their pension. They say: “Oh man, you can still work”. But the man lost his legs, what’s he supposed to do. They try to take money from them and this song is about that. Because this is sad. I have some nephews (my brother’s sons) who where in the military inAfghanistan. That’s very scary. I think this song is very deep, when you hear it.

But we also can hear the raw Jon again on tracks like “Soul Chaser”. I also like contrasts. When you do the gentle voice and then the raw Jon, that really makes my day!
Cool, I’m glad you like it!

On the bonus track “The Truth” is that an accordion I hear?That is an accordion. My friend Dan who played the organ on the album for me, also played the flute and the accordion.

That’s an instrument you don’t hear often on a metal related release!
Ha, no that’s true! You hear it almost never and that’s why I did it!

I’ve read that you won’t support the album by touring, but for me the album screams for acoustic shows!
Yes, that is very possible. I will be making an announcement about it shortly. It looks like it’s gonna be late November or December I’m gonna do some stuff.

I’ve attended an acoustic show from Jon Oliva’s Pain once in Belgium. It was on the second floor of record store called Feedback.
Yeah, I remember that one! It was great!

It was more then great! When you played “When The Crowds Are Gone” the emotions builded up and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Oh, that’s lovely man!

The last acoustic show I attended was from Mike Tramp and he told us that he has bigger memories from the little acoustic shows then from the big arena-style festivals he’s done before with White Lion!
I agree, that’s true! They’re more personal and intimate! You get to in those more!

Will there be a new Jon Oliva’s Pain album?
I’m not sure yet if it’s gonna be a double album. I have songs enough to make it a double. But I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do. But, I haven’t really decided yet, to be honest with you. I’m gonna look further down the road to see what’s gonna happen.

Have you any idea who will be on it?
No idea yet! I have a lot of friends in the business, who told me that they would love to do something.

I’ve also read that there gonna be a tour around the 25th anniversary of “The Gutter Ballet”!
Well, basically I’m planning on doing the whole album. But that’s for next summer.

I always connect songs with emotions, certain moments or persons in my life. For instance, I still can recall which song was played when I first saw my wife in person!
Well, you’re a music lover man! That’s for sure!

Talking about emotions. I was at Biebob in Belgium when you last played there. You told us it was actually the last place Matt played before his passing.
Yeah, it was a very emotional show for us all!

For closers, will there ever be another Dr. Butcher album?
It’s possible, we talked about it. But it all has to do with schedules. I won’t say it’s impossible, because it can happen.

Thank you for your time Jon! And I hope to see you on the “Gutter Ballet” tour and the acoustic shows!!
I hope so. Okay, so take care of yourself. God bless you! Have a good day and I wish you nothing but the best sir!
Same to you Jon!

Interview by Rik Bauters