Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with Jon Oliva (SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, JON OLIVA’S PAIN). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: Would you agree that SAVATAGE was one of the first-ever true prog metal bands?
Jon: Absolutely. No doubt about it. I think that really started with “Hall Of The Mountain King”, but then definitely from “Gutter Ballet” on, we definitely expanded. We had done three or four records that were basically the same, except for “Fight For The Rock”, which we don’t count. That’s like the red-headed stepchild. But yeah, we started going that route, definitely with “Gutter” and “Streets”. I had never heard of the term prog rock until a few years ago. I didn’t know what it was. Back in 1987 I don’t remember that term being around. Was it?
Songfacts: The only other band that may have been described that way is maybe QUEENSRŸCHE, but I really don’t remember them being described like that around the time that also SAVATAGE was around, back in ’87.
Jon: Yeah, it’s weird. I’m wondering when that prog base first started popping up as a new genre. I’ve got to check that out. That’s going to bother me all day now. I want to know when the first time someone said “prog rock.” Songfacts: I think DREAM THEATER may have been the first band to be called prog metal. Jon: If you really think about it, the first prog-type band was probably ELP. But I see what you’re saying. DREAM THEATER to me, I like that band a lot. I think the drummer is amazing, just too many solos for me. I can’t help it, man. They’re great players. You can’t take away the talent. These guys are unbelievably talented. Some of those solo sections are just like, “Okaaaay,” but great band. People like ’em, so people like 20-minute guitar solos.