Michael Sadler (Saga) Interview
By: Thom Jennings
Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Saga fans all over the world rejoiced when longtime Saga vocalist Michael Sadler announced he was returning to the band. Not content to become an oldies act, Saga went right back to work in the studio to record a new album with Sadler. That is nothing new for the band from Canada. Saga is arguably one of the most prolific progressive rock bands ever, having recorded a whopping nineteen studio albums since 1978. The longest period between solo albums was four years, and that happened just once. Hence, Saga has built a worldwide fan base the old-fashioned way, with hard work and dedication.
In this interview, Sadler was enthusiastic about his return, sounding as excited as if he had signed his first recording contract. In spite of his vocal prowess, he was humble and very easy to speak with and had nothing but praise for his fellow band mates and his onetime replacement.
Thom: I guess there is an obvious starting point.
Michael: (laughs) I think it's probably a question I have been getting asked a lot lately.
Thom: Well then I might as well ask, how does it feel to be back as vocalist?
Michael: It feels really good. It feels right. I don't want to say it was inevitable, but I guess it was in some ways. I didn't expect it this soon, I thought maybe it would be a five-year interval. It's been great, I have had three solid years with my son living in his world. I have been doing some musical things, but I miss performing so much and performing with Saga always brings out the best in me. The guys are playing really hot right now, and yes, I have been following them while I was gone.
Thom: That leads nicely into my next question. In the world of rock music, so many bands are able to go on even after members that seem irreplaceable leave. In Saga's case, I think many people might argue that you were that irreplaceable member. Did you ever have that sense, and if you did, how did it feel when you were replaced?
Michael: I had the predictable human reaction. Somebody else was doing the job I had spent thirty years doing and building up. I observed what was happening and read what the critics were saying about my replacement and I think sometimes they were unfair. Rob Moratti has a great voice and he did a great job. Critics didn't like his stage presence, but that's something that comes with experience. I had the advantage of being in front of a band for thirty years, it's something that you develop with trial and error. I listened to the record they did one or two times (laughs). He did a great job and he is good at what he does, but we are very different types of singers.
Thom: To be honest, I saw some of the performances with Rob on YouTube and there were times he really struggled with the stuff you sang.
Michael: That's the challenge when you replace someone that has been in a band for a long time, especially with the hard-core fans. It's especially hard to replace a vocalist. When you lose an instrumentalist you can find guys that can play the material, but voices are more personal and fans were used to my voice. I listened to some of the stuff on YouTube as well and I admire the job he did handling the melodies. I thought they stayed true to the original spirit of the songs.
Thom: I guess it goes back to the question I posed earlier, do you think that ultimately you were impossible to replace?<
Michael: A lot of it has to do with familiarity. I was the guy up there doing it for thirty years. So I guess in that sense, I was irreplaceable. There! You got me to say it (laughs)!
Thom: Deservedly so, it's not easy being a good front man. It really is a special skill.
Michael: You've got to believe in what you're doing and have a passion for the music. Let the music move you. Anybody can put together moves, but you have to be genuine and go with the flow of the music and the mood in the place. You have to allow it all to dictate the performance.
Thom: And you guys don't write those boy meets girl love songs. I suppose just about any singer can sing a good love song with emotion, but Saga material can be fairly complex which makes that task even more difficult. Is that a fair statement?
Michael: That's a very fair statement. You have to have a relationship with the song in order to perform it well. The Johnny meets Sally love song in many ways is easier in that respect. A good performance of a song that has a message enhances the message.
Thom: And that message seemed to resonate better in other parts of the world than it did here in the United States. I was wondering if, at any time, you had people telling you to change the way you were doing things in order to appeal to the American audience.
Michael: The onus was on us. The states are a big place and if you aren't a dance band or hip-hop artist with your songs all over the radio, you have to create familiarity through non-stop touring. To be honest, we kind of abandoned the states after "Heads or Tails" didn't get the reaction we wanted. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as the reception we had for "World's Apart." In retrospect, it was a bad time to give up. The album was doing well in Europe so we decided to go over there and we probably should have worked harder touring it in the states. I guess it just came down to being a matter of exposure.

Thom: I interviewed another Canadian musician, Gordy Johnson of Big Sugar, and asked him why Big Sugar didn't fare well in the U.S. He told me that it didn't matter to him because there was enough places to play where the band was popular. He thought some Canadian bands have a complex about doing well in the states.
Michael: That's another way of looking at it. A band tends to go where the audience is and there is always a breakout market. If your able to make a living and do your craft and don't obsess about it, then it's fine.
Thom: Speaking of markets, you guys are big in Germany. I watched this one interview with the interviewer asking questions in German and you answering in English, it was interesting. I mean, I presume you don't speak German fluently and that the fans don't speak English, so I wonder why you do so well there.
Michael: I was confused a little bit because at the time there was a small percentage of the population that spoke English and they were singing along with the songs. They took the time to learn the songs phonetically, which was a great compliment. I think what drew them to us early in our career was our use of keyboards and the classical elements in our music. They are steeped in classical music over there because they grow up listening to it, so that is what I have always attributed it to. It has a lot to do with the familiarity, we kept going back there and playing to bigger audiences. As far as the language, I can speak German conversationally, I lived there for eight years. We used to pick up phrases and try them on stage and even if we didn't get it quite right, they appreciated it and even encouraged you to try. If you said it wrong, somebody would correct you, but in a polite way.
Thom: I suppose it does make sense with the German people's complex approach to classical music that the complexities of Saga music would be appealing. They also must have a good ear for pop music. After all, The Beatles became popular there before anywhere else.
Michael: (laughs) Ah yes, The Beatles, I suppose we are in good company.
Thom: If I am correct, your upcoming show in Niagara Falls will be the first show you have done with Saga since you announced you were coming back. How are you preparing for it?
Michael: Yes, it will be the first time onstage in about three and a half years. And the first time in the states for a very long time. I hope it's like riding a bike.
Thom: Wow, so this is an historic event and a very special evening. Have you started rehearsing?
Michael: I am actually going to Canada to lay down some vocal tracks for the new album first. The band has been recording and preparing for the vocal tracks. After that, we have scheduled one day of rehearsal and if one of the new songs feels good, we will add it in the set.
Thom: After the show in Niagara Falls, you take a month off before touring Europe and then the band embarks on a co-headlining tour with Marillion, but for now I am wondering what emotions are you feeling about this upcoming show, are you excited or nervous?
Michael: I'm always nervous before a show. If an artist isn't nervous fifteen minutes or so before a show, then they are taking something for granted. Right now we'll just say I am on high alert (laughs). For a lot of reasons, when this band is clicking, they are really hot. There were nights I sang with them that I would just sit back in awe at how good the players in the band are. By all accounts, fans and critics alike, the band is sounding really hot right now. It already will be an emotional night because we haven't played together in a while. It definitely will be a high energy show. There will also be that warm cuddly feeling (laughs). It will be interesting to see how many states are represented in the audience. I know we have pockets of fans all over the states, Germany is the size of Texas. I hope that this thing with Marillion works out and we can do a tour of the states. I think it is a good package but you never know, we may not get along (laughs).
Thom: Well I hope it works out and you guys get a chance to tour the states, and I am sure you will love the venue you are playing at in Niagara Falls. It is called the Rapids Theater.
Michael: I've seen pictures on the internet. It looks like a beautiful place. It will be a great night and I am looking forward to it.
Thom: I'm looking forward to it too, and I hope you have a safe trip out here and thank you very much for this opportunity to interview you on such a special occasion.
Michael: Thanks Thom.
We would like to thank Ross Catalino from Back to Back Entertainment and Todd Farhood from Artist Management for setting up the interview with Michael. For more information on Saga, please go to: http://www.sagaontour.ca/

Quelle: http://www.backstageaxxess.com/backstage/Interview.php/Michael-Sadler-2011

twitter button
facebook button
pinterest button
gplus button