Jon Oliva of Savatage in Dubai

Former frontmn of '80s US metal band rolls into town

You’re in Dubai to celebrate your best-selling album, Hall of the Mountain King. Why are you revisiting it after 25 years?
I haven’t toured since my friend Matt [LaPorte] died last year and I wanted to do something special. For Savatage, this album was the turning point. We were on the verge of breaking up – this was a second chance.

Music has changed a lot in that time. Do people still want to hear heavy metal?
Metal has always had a home.It’s like The Beatles – timeless. There’s always a rebellious thing about it. It’s working man’s music. The guys who play it aren’t rock stars, they’re guys you can hang out with at the bar. You hear someone sing and you think they’re the most evil person – then you meet them and they’re the sweetest people in the world.

Are you like that on stage?
I like the theatrics. I want to make you happy and make you sad – to make you laugh and then make you cry with fear. The whole experience.

So you’re a scary guy?
I’m pretty scary on a regular day; I don’t need to perform to be scary. Hang out with me, then you’ll know what I mean.

Well, you’re not a small man…
I’m a big guy. I’m like the guy who lives next door and fixes your car.

So it’s 25 years – what will you be doing in another 25?
I’ll probably be dead! I don’t know if I want to hang out another 25 years. I think there are only a couple more tours in me. I don’t want to be 65 years old running around the stage trying to sing. If you’re a football player, you can’t play your whole life. It’s time to get off the pitch and become a coach.

What about the Rolling Stones? They’re over 70.
In some cases it’s really hard. It’s a personal decision. If you’re 70 and happy playing ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Satisfaction’, then God bless you. But if you’re 70 and you listen back to the tapes and
it sounds rubbish, you need to say, ‘hang on’.

We’ve always thought the Savatage logo looks rather like the Spinal Tap logo…
We first came up with that logo in 1984, so either they stole it from us or we stole it from them. I’m pretty sure we came out first.

Do you take that as a compliment?
Are you kidding? That’s my favourite movie of all time! It’s so perfect because if you were in a band in the ’80s, a lot of that stuff was happening every day, that’s what made it so different. Back in the old days there was crazy stuff going on.

Anything you’d like to tell your fans in Dubai?
Thanks for all the emails, we’re very, very excited. We’ll make sure we spend time and sit out with the fans – if you see me down there, don’t be afraid to say hello.
Jon Olivia’s Pain play at Crowne Plaza Dubai on Tuesday June 26 at 7.30pm. Dhs225, www.timeouttickets.com.

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