Somewhere in the Midst of the Hall of the Mountain King Tour Jon Oliva and I had spoken in jest about one day putting together the heaviest band we could and calling it "Butcher". During my time out of Savatage in the early 1990's I realized that heavy music is running too deep in my veins. Jon Oliva had departed from Savatage and we talked about just hanging out and drinking! I flew to Florida with a 4 track recorder and a guitar.
One Spring night in 1992 we were on Jack Daniels bottle # 2 when we started writing music. A song called "Live, Die, Kill". Friendly family number was born. About 30 minutes later Jon Oliva's tender metal voice burned back in heavier than ever. I remember Criss Oliva listening to the song and saying "Why couldn't you sing like this for Savatage anymore. Jon had 4 long years on the road and his voice was a bit burnt out. Not anymore. We wrote a bunch of songs. "The Altar" and "Born of the Board" were amongst the first batch. Jon and I did one final Savatage show at The Rocket Club. It was a lot of fun.
We soon moved into "Coast To Coast" rehearsal studios and warehouse where we continuously killed brain cells and wrote music. Our friend Big Dave had a limo and used to drive us all over Tampa in search of trouble. Trust me…we always found it. I recruited Gene Barnett(Dirty Looks, Lillian Axe) on drums and Hal Patino(King Diamond) on Bass. They were both friends and ex-band mates of mine…
We then managed to land a spec deal at Kajem studios in Western Philadelphia, Pa. We spent one chilly October in the studio house rehearsing and recording "The Demos".The rehearsal room was in the basement. There was a huge hole in the wall that we lit bright red. Very dark and evil setting for Halloween time. I was upstairs in the producers Apt. It was totally decorated for Halloween. The rest of the house had a guy in each room. A long time friend Dana Piper made our connection there and spent the month. He liked to eat a lot!!! The house was on a hill. I know it was haunted. The town was a Halloween marvel.
We finished the songs and went into record. The studio had it all…basketball court indoors…pool tables… great place. We recorded "The Demos" in 8 days. We were very happy with them. Jon Oliva helped write and record the "Edge of Thorns" CD for Savatage before we left for Pa. and after we returned. Savatage had recruited Zak Stevens as their new lead singer. Savatage's manager at the time Jon Goldwater decided to shop us a deal. We got a verbal OK from Atlantic to record the CD. I was ecstatic. Jon Oliva moved to NY State with me for a few months and we continued to write.
Atlantic was going over its roster and decided that they were either going to keep us or Savatage. They chose Savatage. Partly because of the history and partly because of a doubt in Jon Oliva. There was too much talk about him being the haracter in the "Streets" rock opera and Atlantic went with the band they had released 5 albums for. I went from the happiest I had ever been to pretty miserable really fast.
We moved back to Florida, we had parted ways with Gene and Hal due to lack of finances and recruited John Osborn, long time drinking buddy as drummer! We were living with a stripper from the Mons Venus and her friends. Quite an interesting time again in my life. I spent a lot of time in the gym. We were all trying to get healthy. Trying!
It was at this time that we decided to test a live show. We booked it at none other than the Rocket Club. A favorite hangout of ours. Fred the owner made a fortune off of Savatage over the years. The show was a blast. Jon came bursting out of a tray on a table. The headless Oliva vibe. Big Dave electrocuted him during "The Chair". Family fun for all!
During the Summer we did one other show. A show which Criss Oliva and Jon Oliva shared the stage for the final time during the song "Sirens". We had some very serious interest from European labels and were close to a deal. Savatage was enjoying a lot of success in the States with "Edge of Thorns". All seemed to be going well. Jon went to NY to write the Rock Opera "Romanov" with Paul O'Neill.
When tragedy struck. Criss Oliva was killed by a drunk driver and everything came to a sudden and horrifying stop.I flew to Florida for the funeral in shock. I had just seen Criss in New Jersey 2 weeks earlier. The last words he ever said were "I love you, keep an eye on my Brother for me." Something that is still a task to this day almost 10 years later! Jon Oliva disappeared into the studio and recorded "Handful of Rain" with Savatage. Mostly on his own. He was at Morris sound studios in Tampa with Paul and Zak.
I went to NY to stay at my Mom's and practice my guitar. I felt there was a reason.Jon Goldwater called us one day in 1994 asking if we still wanted to do the Butcher CD. We agreed to a deal with Gun Records in Germany and moved into an apartment in Astoria NY to write. I have not left the neighborhood since! The record was recorded in Tampa at Morris sound Studios. Jim Morris helped co-produce it. I mostly mixed and mastered it with Jim while Jon rehearsed for a reunion with Savatage on the "Handful of Rain" tour. Mr. Oliva played the bass, with the exception of a song or 2. I had to do them, the riffs were too weird! Jon Osborn played drums. The self titled "Doctor Butcher" Cd was released in 1995.
It had amazing reviews and we booked a European tour with Savatage. This tour never happened. I am not really even sure why. Jon then had to write and record the "Dead Winter Dead" CD for Savatage. Time for Butcher was not plentiful. I decided to return to Savatage and bring the spirit back to life. The band and fans were happy to see me back. I felt like I was home again.
Rumors of the next Butcher CD have been around for years. I know we will do one soon. It is time. The demand for the music both old and new is staggering. We decided to get this site up and running to get you a place to come for some Butcher music and merchandise. We hope to have lots of scary things available soon! In the meantime I hope you enjoyed this abbreviated version of the story of the birth of the Butcher! More detailed sniglets will appear here and there so keep an eye out and God Bless!
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