Savatage Shake-up


From: Players magazine, April 22, l993
Written by: Ron Boyko
Contributed by Bryan Holland
HTML by Ellen Bakvis


Hot upon the April 6 release of their new Atlantic album, Edge of Thorns, comes word that there's another personnel shake-up in the Savatage-camp. Founding member and drummer Steve ("Dr. Killdrums") Wacholz was oficially replaced the last week of March by Andy James (ex Roxx Gang, The Zeros).
Bassist Johnny Lee Middleton and new frontman Zachary Stevens explain that the move was worked out before recording of the new Savatage album had begun.
Wacholz committed to record the project with his band and to be a part of the release's first video, but made it plain that he had no desire to tour in support of Edge of Thorns.
"I told them from the get go that I couldn't do the tour but that I'd help pick the drummer and work the drummer into th band".
" Technically, I'm taking a leave of absence, that's what I like to call it. I'm still involved with the band business. I'm still a corporate board member. I still feel like I'm a part of the band", says Wacholz.
"The reality of it is a short touring season versus a long-term business. And I've done tours before where I've gone away for four or five months, and you've got to come back and rebuild your life. And at 30-years-old, I'm not willing to make that sacrifice anymore. When I was a kid, it didn't matter. But now that I'm grown adult..." , Wacholz laughs.
Middleton points out that Wacholz has been devoting a tremendous amount of time to the indoor, radio-controlled model track, Doc's Raceway, that he operates in Clearwater. " For Steve, it's a baby business that needs his attention now, and looking on down the road, that business is important as his future".

Wacholz had a hand in the band's choice of his replacement. "I always knew Andy was a great drummer. He has finesse and he has a show, too. If I was going to pick a drummer, I wanted one to replace me that could do the job, fill the shoes..."
" I don't know how many people consider me a John Bonham of Zeppelin, Neil Peart of Rush or Keith Moon of the Who. I feel that a drummer is always replaceable. "
Wacholz had been conspicuously quiet, even invisible, during Savatage's initial press/public relations forays in support of Edge of Thorns. And he did not travel with the band to the New York offices of Atlantic Records for a publicity sejourn at the end of March.
Wacholz does, however, appear in all of the band's newest publicity photo's. It was hoped that the member change would not adversely affect the enthusiastic initial push of Atlantic Records, the band explains. All concerned parties are trying to ensure the best possible positioning for what many term Savatage's ' commercial comeback album'.
The new Savatage lineup ( including touring keyboardist Wes Garren ) is reportedly committed to a four-week shakedown tour of Europe with co-headliners Overkill and opening act Non Fiction, scheduled to begin May 20. Andy James' local debut as the new drummer for Savatage is scheduled for April 30 at the Rock-it club in Tampa.
Wacholz may very well be there as well. " Yeah, I'm definitely going to go out there and play on a few songs - probably on the older stuff, from Sirens, Dungeons are Calling..."