Savatage - Music First? Page 3
By Martin Popoff

"It's a very simple story," offers Jon on producer and lyric writer Paul O'Neill's narrative this time around. "The best way I can explain it to you is that it deals with these three guys who go looking for a place to hang out. And it's raining and they come across this old building and they break into it and they realize that it's an old mental institution. And the songs are about what these guys find in this place. So they are poking around and they find news magazines and stuff like that, patient files that have been left behind. And that's where all the songs start to tie in. And I haven't read the complete story of the other stuff they find in the there, because Paul was still changing it. Paul will be rewriting that thing until the day it has to go to the printer (laughs). But that's the basic raw outline. It's very simple, not too weird. I thought Wake Of Magellan was a little too deep. If we were going to do a concept this time, I wanted it to be very simple and to the point."

The departure of co-vocalist Zach Stevens came as a bit of a shocker to the faithful (guitarist Al Pitrelli has also jumped ship to Megadeth, replaced by Metalium/Seven Witches axeman Jack Frost). "Zach lives on a farm, a big farm outside of Tampa," explains Oliva. "But I mean, he has a regular job. He works for an insurance company; he's got a high position there. Zach is a very intelligent guy. He went to college. He's probably the only one of us to have a college education (laughs). Zach is fine, you know. He will probably do some work in the future, probably a solo project. Zach doesn't want to be away from his little girl. I can't be mad at him for that. I told him if he's going to do the solo album at any point, I'll help him. So he said when he's ready, he'll let me know. He's going to take it easy for a while and be a dad. And you know, I wish I could have done that when my kid was born. Unfortunately I couldn't, so I understand where he's coming from."

Savatage - Music First? Page 4