Trans-Siberian Orchestra


A Conversation with JOHN O.REILLY

New from Dan Roth @ Music & Art Interviews
John O.Reilly, the world-class drummer from Long Island, NY, is probably most renowned for his keen sense of timing and his 15-year stint with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. But John has been on a remarkable musical journey since the early 1970's, playing with a multitude of bands and artists over the years including Blue Oyster Cult, Rainbow, O'2L, Richie Havens, Joe Lynn Turner and many others.
In 2018, John brought his collective blend of band and industry experience to Yuletide-rock sensations The Wizards of Winter, as he assumed the drum throne for their tour and upcoming new album.  While we certainly couldn't cover John's entire career in one afternoon (though we tried!), we did chat quite a bit about some of the defining points of his long and interesting career.

SPIRITS OF FIRE Self-Titled Debut Out Feb 22

Friday, February 22, 2019
SPIRITS OF FIRE, the new band featuring Tim “Ripper" Owens, Chris Caffery, Steve Di Giorgio & Mark Zonder, have announced a February 22, 2019 
release date for their self-titled debut album and released the first single & video, "Light Speed Marching" from the album.
Frontiers Music Srl is known for building new bands/projects featuring musicians of outstanding quality and who come from unique backgrounds. After an intense brainstorming session, a dream team of renowned metal musicians including Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex Judas Priest, Iced Earth), Chris Caffery (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death etc.) and Mark Zonder (ex Fates Warning, Warlord) was born and put together under the direction of renowned LA-based producer Roy Z. (Bruce Dickinson, Halford, Tribe Of Gypsies).
Called SPIRITS OF FIRE (after the title of one of their songs), the band has completed work on their debut album which is set for release on February 22nd via Frontiers Music Srl. The music can best be described as “classic Priest meets Savatage”.
Guitarist Chris Caffery on his influences for the record and working with Roy Z: “My influences for writing on this record were the bands that we were and are still in! I wanted to write songs that [Judas] Priest, Savatage, Testament, and Fates Warning fans would like. But, I wanted them to have a personality of their own as well. To give it a vibe that was SPIRITS OF FIRE! I grew up listening to Judas Priest and spent 30 plus years working with Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neill with Savatage and TSO. Many years playing Criss’ music. These influences for me came naturally! Especially because I’m a fan of all of our bands!
This was the first time that I ever worked with Roy and it was so much fun. I have been a huge fan of his work for a long time. He’s written music, played on, and produced some of my favorite metal albums ever. He had a difficult job bringing this all together and I can’t think of anyone that would have been a better producer and co-worker for this album!”
“I always just sing to the song, whatever I feel it should be. It’s like a character thing! I like layers! This music is really perfect for me and in my natural wheel house. I like to sing all over the place and change it up and this all happens on this album. This is just the start of an amazing band, I mean sky is the limit and I actually can’t wait to record the next album, because this one is so great and perfect,” says vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens.
Drummer Mark Zonder adds about his playing and writing process, “I am the kind of player that plays what I think fits best with the music. With SPIRITS OF FIRE, the music was more aggressive and hard hitting which I really liked. Again, I tried to be very mindful of the song and the vocals, but tried to add parts that were interesting and creative for the listener.”
1. Light Speed Marching
2. Temple of the Soul
3. All Comes Together
4. Spirits of Fire
5. It’s Everywhere
6. A Game
7. Dispensable
8. Meet Your End
9. Never to Return
10. The Path
11. Alone in the Darkness


The entire Trans-Siberian Orchestra family, past and present, is heartbroken to share the devastating news that Paul O’Neill has passed away from chronic illness.
He was our friend and our leader -- a truly creative spirit and an altruistic soul. This is a profound and indescribable loss for us all.
We ask that you respect Paul’s family’s privacy now.
We will make additional announcements shortly.
Jeff Scott Soto has also just posted: 
I am beyond speechless, heartbroken and of the most amazing human beings on this planet, I will NEVER forget the many aspects in life this man shared with me and so many in the world, Mr Paul O'Neill, may you rest in peace sir!
RIP Paul.




Release Year: 
November is typically a busy time for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but this year it's even more so. Not only is a new show centered around the made-for-TV-movie, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, being premiered on their annual November-December winter tour, but they are releasing their first new album in six years, Letters From the Labyrinth.

Rather than being a rock opera as previous TSO releases have been, Letters From the Labyrinth is a collection of songs written around a series of letters sent between characters in their 2009 release Night Castle covering such topics as bullying, the banking crisis, the struggle in Ukraine, and the fall of the Berlin wall among others.

As the band convened on their rehearsal space near Omaha, Nebraska to prepare for their upcoming winter tour I spoke with creator, composer, producer and would be history professor, Paul O'Neill. I very briefly checked in for his reaction to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Savatage joint venture performance at Wacken Open Air this past summer, but primarily stayed focused on the new album for an in-depth discussion on its themes and dove head-first into the inspiration and details of the new songs.

On Lzzy Hale:
I also wanted to bring back something more from my youth. George Harrison's most famous song is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the guitar solo on that is Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton's most famous song is "Layla" and the guitar player is Duane Allman. There was just this intermingling of talent. So we decided somewhere on this album I wanted to try to bring in an outsider to have artists collaborating again. It happens in the rap world, but not as much in the rock world...So "Forget About the Blame" just kept pounding itself into me. But I needed somebody who had that passion and Lzzy Hale is a passionate singer. I've been a fan and so we made a phone call. She was so sweet. They were in the middle of a tour and there was a small window, but we got together and she even had a show the next day after we'd done the first day. I said, "I'm really sorry, Lzzy, but I need you back for another day." She came and she nailed the song. And I didn't know this before, but she was a TSO fan. She had her jeans signed by the band from 2007 when she saw the band in Hershey. She was a sweetheart and her band was so kind. Here they are with very little time off and here she is doing this. We are all fans of Halestorm and we didn't know they were aware of TSO and it was one of those things where the stars lined up. So in America we're going to radio with Lzzy Hale's version. Classic Rock magazine in Europe reached out and wanted to put the Robin version in the sampler CD on their cover.

On bullying:
I wrote "Not the Same" because the fact that Amanda Todd had moved three times and kids had watched her get beat up and nobody moved. It's amazing how bullying has gotten so out of control. All these songs have a purpose and as we've discussed before, Brad, the arts have an unbelievable power. I hate bullying. There is no need for it. The guy who bullied Amanda Todd had a mental illness, but the fact that fifty kids could stand around and watch as they see this girl who they know is hurting and see kids beat her into a pulp and leave her in a ditch. And no one stood up for her and no one went back for her blows my mind...The arts can drag attention to things that are so wrong. With "Not the Same" Kayla really brought that song to life. All it would have taken was one person to have gone up to Amanda Todd in that ditch, "Hey, come home with me. Let me clean you up. You want to know something Amanda, high school, junior high school's not the end of the world. Your life won't start until you're twenty-one. Your whole life is in front of you. Just hang in there." And that girl would have been okay. She just needed one person. There's millions of people in this world who would have loved to have been that one person. Evander Holyfield, the boxer, said that video hit him harder than anyone ever hit him in the ring. If that video doesn't bother you then there's something mentally wrong with you.


Double Stop Podcast - AL PITRELLI

Release Year: 

This week on The Double Stop Podcast is Al Pitrelli (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Savatage, Alice Cooper, Megadeth).

Al Pitrelli (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Megadeth, Savatage, Alice Cooper, Randy Coven) discusses his life and career. He touches upon his early days with guitar and early bands, as well as early opportunities with Michael Bolton, what he learned as musical director for Alice Cooper, as well as discusses bands such as Savatage, Megadeth and TSO. He also talks about some of his more obscure works with Randy Coven and TM Stevens.

On his first professional gig – playing with Michael Bolton 13:00 “I got my laminate and I wore it to the Denny’s in my neighborhood for about two years!”

On the surprising success of Trans-Siberian Orchestra 35:30 “It shouldn’t work, but I’m does and I’m so glad. There’s an old story - everyone know that the bumblebee shouldn’t fly aerodynamically it’ss impossible for those little wings to support the body size. Everyone knows the bumblebee can’t fly just don’t tell the bumbblebee”

On his leaving Megadeth to rejoin TSO 54:30 “I don’t know if he (Dave Mustaine) was really happy with me at the end, and I wasn’t really happy with the situation. And by 2000, TSO had cut itself into two touring companies because people all over America wanted shows. And I’d been watching one of my children (TSO) basically grow up now, and I was kinda getting homesick. And Paul O’Neil said ‘listen, this is your world. Whenever you want to come home, you come home’. And I was like, you know what – I’m gonna come home now it’s time. And I finished the last show with Megadeth, and we filmed a DVD. I said ‘whatever the last show is, don’t worry I’m there..’ But after that, it’s time to go boys.”

TSO's TIM HOCKENBERRY Launches Solo Kickstarter Campaign

Release Year: 
Singer/Songwriter Tim Hockenberry, known to many as a vocalist with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is recording a new solo album made up of all original songs.
Hockenberry was a featured vocalist with TSO for four tours, nightly performing his cover of the Savatage classic, “Believe”, to millions of fans.  He can also be found singing lead on TSO’s last two releases, Nightcastle and Dreams of Fireflies.  After his departure from TSO, Tim wrote, recorded and performed with Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart on his Mysterium Tremendum album and tour.  Tim gained national fame in 2012 when he performed and made it to the semi-finals (last singer standing) on America’s Got Talent. He was a favorite of judge Howard Stern, earning high praise from Stern after each performance.
For many years, Hockenberry has developed a following as a gifted interpreter of well-known cover songs. For the first time in his career, he is releasing an album of all original songs written by Tim, with two co-written by his sons.
To help support the album’s production and promotion costs, Hockenberry has launched a Kickstarter fan campaign, which offers an array of rewards including CDs, Skype sessions and personal concerts. More information is available here:

WIZARDS OF WINTER Present Upcoming Album Artwork

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Symphonic rockers The Wizards of Winter and legendary record cover artist Ioannis are happy to present the official cover art for the The Wizards of Winter’s self-titled album, to be released this Fall. 
According to artist Ioannis, “I just completed the artwork for the new WIZARDS OF WINTER new album - a talented bunch of individuals that fuse prog symphonic rock with classical and holiday songs to a great result. The goal here was to create a wintery fantasy scene reminiscent of Scandinavian landscapes with just a touch of mysticism and a tip of the hat to Lord Of The Rings, a major book in my teenage years. I hope the art sets the scene to this band’s music and helps the audience along on this voyage.”
Fall tour dates – which will feature original members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra as special guests – are still being finalized. The first single from this album, the instrumental hit "March Of The Metal Soldiers", was released at the end of May. The band is donating a portion of the proceeds from all sales of this track to the Wounded Warrior Project to honour those who have served in the United States military. (Video is here:
For more info on The Wizards of Winter, visit
For more info on Ioannis please go to his website:


Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Interviews: Paul O'Neill by Brad Parmerter
As the Trans-Siberian Orchestra European tour was winding down earlier this year, TSO creator and producer Paul O'Neill was back in Florida working in the studio on one of a number of potential projects. I hadn't caught up with O'Neill since May of 2012 and thought it would be a good time to find out his thoughts on the whirlwind eighteen months he and the band had just experienced and to see what might lay ahead for the near future.

The Lost Christmas Eve, the final installment of TSO's Christmas Trilogy, had recently finished its encore presentation as the featured story on the winter tour and that leaves an opportunity open for what might come in 2014. However, to start off the new year, a massive show in Berlin rang in the 2014 with a bang and led directly into a tour of England and mainland Europe which saw TSO performing, for the first time, a more traditional rock concert, sans a rock opera centerpiece. It was on the final day of that tour that Paul and I started our quick catch-up; three hours later we concluded.

We dove head first into the variations between the first and second tours of The Lost Christmas Eve, upcoming ideas for 2014's winter tour, the New Year's Eve show in front of millions live and on TV, what happened to the missing reels of Savatage's Streets recordings, the importance of a good support team and crew, Daryl Pediford, the long-awaited Romanov project, his proudest moment with TSO, if we could ever see a live video release of Savatage, the five-year plan for TSO, what advice he received from John Lennon, and much more.
On the importance of putting on an amazing show:
So I explain to them that we don't have the right to take a family's money from a mother, father and two kids without giving them the very best that we can. Especially kids because they're so young. I'm sure you know that great Mark Twain quote, "I don't know why, but my father became so much smarter when I became thirty." To make kids appreciate that just because we're here doesn't mean we're entitled to keep it. I always use round numbers, I say, just pretend that we did one year exactly one million tickets and just say the show is two-and-a-half hours long and everybody lives from their doorstep to the building to their seat, forty-five minutes there and forty-five minutes back, including parking, traffic jams; which adds up to four hours, which isn't possible, but we're doing it very conservatively. So you're averaging four hours per person. We don't have the right to waste four million human hours without giving them something that is really, truly great. When you look in their eyes you can see the sparks going off. When you talk about money you get that blank look, but when you talk about four million human hours, that's a lot and it makes them appreciate
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