Classic American metal band SAVATAGE, which was active from 1978 until 2002, will reunite for an exclusive European appearance at next year's edition of the Wacken Open Air festival, set to take place July 30 - August 1, 2015 in Wacken, Germany. Also scheduled to appear at the event is TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, the project founded by SAVATAGE mastermind Jon Oliva and producer/composer Paul O'Neill.
SAVATAGE guitarist Chris Caffery wrote on his Facebook page: "Our friends at the Wacken festival announced that SAVATAGE will be finally playing again! Wacken 2015! Both SAVATAGE and the TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA will make an appearance. SAVATAGE will close the festival that night following TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA's first-ever European festival appearance."
He added: "I have been waiting for them to announce this for a few weeks. It was hard to keep it a secret! Yes, legion, our patience has finally paid off."
SAVATAGE's last album release, "Poets And Madmen", in 2001 was highlighted by Jon Oliva's return as lead vocalist, replacing Zak Stevens, who left the band citing family reasons, and the departure of Al Pitrelli, who accepted an offer to join MEGADETH in 2000. Pitrelli did record solos for some songs prior to his departure. Another very limited U.S. tour followed, supported by FATES WARNING in the early shows, and then NEVERMORE for the remainder. Around this time, Jon chose Zak's replacement in the form of Damond Jiniya (DIET OF WORMS). Damond performed Zak's parts on tour, with Jon having an increased vocal role in proceedings.
Asked in a 2013 interview why he thinks that TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA has reached such a huge audience but SAVATAGE in the '80s didn't, Oliva told Songfacts: "Well, I think what happened with that mainly is that the name SAVATAGE, we ran the course with it. And because of some bad mistakes that we made business-wise in our younger days before Paul O'Neill, we never could quite recover from that and get into the bigger level. I mean, we did well. We did really good in Europe. But we never got SAVATAGE to that level, and after 20-some odd years and then losing Criss [Oliva, guitar] in the middle of that, we just weren't ready to continue. The fatal thing that happened was with the song '12/24' off the 'Dead Winter Dead' album . We sent the song out around Christmastime, and a station down in Florida started playing it, and it became a hit down here. Atlantic Records sent that CD to every radio station in America and nobody would play it. They said, 'Why didn't you play the song?' It's like, 'Well, SAVATAGE, that's a heavy metal band from the '80s. We don't play that shit.' They never even listened to it. You know how we know? Because the next year we sent the exact same song and put a Christmas tree on the cover and an angel and called it 'TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA,' and it was #1 on 500 radio stations. So that just goes to show you that what was holding SAVATAGE back was SAVATAGE. It wasn't the songwriting. It was the same, Paul and I, and before that, Criss, Paul, and I. You know, the proof was in the pudding. '12/24', which is technically a SAVATAGE song from the album "Dead Winter Dead", has sold millions of records. I've got them hanging on my wall. But when it was released as SAVATAGE, it sold 30,000. So what does that tell you? It tells you that the name's turning people off for some reason, and that's what it was. Now look at what's happened. TSO is one of the biggest bands in the world, it's unbelievable."
He continued: "It's funny to me, because it's SAVATAGE. [laughs] I get a kick out of this. I'm like, 'It's SAVATAGE with tuxedos and a bunch of other people from all around the world.' We bring in people from all around the world, which makes us kind of international, which I think is cool. But the thing that sells it is the music, Paul's stories, and Paul's poetry and the lyrics, and the way that Paul and I work together when we write. There's a chemistry there."
First confirmed acts for Wacken Open Air 2015:
U.D.O. (special orchestra show)
AMORPHIS (special "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" show)
A trailer for the festival can be seen below.