Out of the shadows:
Saga celebrate 25 years with a new DVD (Silhouette) and CD (Marathon)
by Jedd Beaudoin
Saga have proven, over the last 25 years, one of the most enduring acts in the music business. Theyve released a series of solid, sometimes innovative, records, toured endlessly and grown a fan base that is as loyal to the band as the band is to them. If theyve been off the radar of some music fans, both Silhouette and Marathon are proof that Saga cant stay off for long.

The video details the many ups and few downs of the bands career thus far and is at once a perfect introduction to newcomers and a savory gift for stalwarts. I caught up with vocalist Michael Sadler as he prepared to visit one of the bands longtime strongholds, Europe. Sadler is, arguably, one of the most affable vocalists in rock music: pleasant and sincere, he talked about the many facets of Saga and about his own predilection for observation.

Visit http://www.saga-world.com for all the latest information and purchase current Saga remasters (all but one album of original material is surfacing again) and releases wherever fine music is sold.

Jedd Beaudoin: The Silhouette DVD seems to serve a dual purpose: Its a sort of thank you to longtime fans and also a great introduction to Saga.
Michael Sadler: Its almost like a Saga primer, especially for people who dont know us very well. Americans, for example, may have heard the name and related it to the 80s thing. So, its a primer/reminder that we didnt go anywhere. Im quite happy with it, actually. My favorite parts are the interviews.

Jedd Beaudoin: I agree. I gained a lot of insight from watching the interviews. What was the genesis of the project?
Michael Sadler: I think that our manager started carrying around a camera some years ago and then he hooked up with the lighting guy, Mike Filsinger, who did a lot of the production, a lot of the filming. He was into digital filming and from there we started filming everything, a lot of gigs, a lot of on the road stuff. The beauty of DVD, though, is that the audio is great, so for a musical release, it was the way to go. It was also good timing, with our 25th anniversary. But in all, Mike Ellis, our manager was who brought it to fruition.

Jedd Beaudoin: There are three areas to the DVD, one of which is the video section which actually has all the Saga videos ever.
Michael Sadler: With the exception of one, I think, which, because of a contractual thing with Atlantic, we couldnt get our hands on. That was for Only Time Will Tell. There is a video that we did shoot for that. That and we also cant remaster that album [Wildest Dreams] because we dont have the rights to it.

Jedd Beaudoin: What was it like to be there at the dawn of the video age?
Michael Sadler: It was strange because it was a brand-new medium. They were still getting their feet wet, we were one of the first bands to start making them and being with MTV. Someone asked, the other day, Did you foresee it becoming a major thing in the way that things are promoted? I have to say that at the time I did regard it as a promotional tool but that I kind of thought, in the back of my mind, that it would coincide with the album release, the single release, whatever, and when the song faded away, so would the video. It never occurred to me that [the video] would also be around forever, like a record. To look at those videos now, to watch them, is really quite fun. Some can look at it and be embarrassed but I think its fun. Youve got to remember when it was, which was at the advent of videos, and so there had to be the story line, there had to be the obligatory chick in the video [laughs]. We went into it half blindly but optimistic. Look at what its turned it to, its essential now, though I didnt see it that way then.

Jedd Beaudoin: Has shooting videos gotten easier over the years?
Michael Sadler: It probably depends on who you work with and whether you have the idea for the video or they do. From a technological point of view its a lot easier but then again as soon as you have a bunch of new toys, if you have a vivid imagination, they can get really complicated simply because the technology allows the chance to try all kinds of different things and use them, so if youre really creative, it can be a long process. It only gets complicated, I think, if someone doesnt have a vision. If they cant see the finished product in their head, ahead of time, then its going to get complicated.

Jedd Beaudoin: It occurs to me, too, that video changed one other thing for artists as well. Previous to video, people really talked about their musical influences but with bands such as Duran Duran and Madonna, there were suddenly very strong visual influence there as well. Were there artists that you watched closely and said, I want to do something like that?
Michael Sadler: I dont think so. One of the reasons is that it was the advent and there wasnt a lot to compare it to. Really the only footage of bands at that time was live footage. So, there was no standard set for concept videos at that time. Weve never been a style band, a hair band or trying to look a certain way, so I cant say that there was anyone who had a strong visual influence on us. We pretty much put it in the hands of the directors at the time.

Jedd Beaudoin: I think that there were some who did some interesting things with the form, the two artists I mentioned and Huey Lewis and The News who also did some interesting things.
Michael Sadler: I think a video should be one of two things: It should either be an out-and-out performance video or just completely off the wall. You cant do the sort of in-between things like you could in the beginning, where its kind of a story line and the band is kind of playing on stage. Its really hokey to look at now. Its fun but itd be suicide to make one like that today.

Jedd Beaudoin: You also have a new video for Always There, which was shot for the 25th anniversary. That songs strikes me as perfect for the DVD because that song seems to be, in its own way, a thank you to fans.
Michael Sadler: Absolutely.

Jedd Beaudoin: Was it written with fans in mind or did it transform into that over time?
Michael Sadler: You know what? Not originally. But as I started getting deeper into the lyrics, I translated it to that. It started speaking for itself. It was primarily about, not a relationship song, but about someone who always gave you strength when you had trouble. As I thought about it, I started to realize that it also translated to the audience and about the 25th anniversary. Its true. Without them we wouldnt be there. As that happened, I didnt really have to change what I was going to write, I just started to think in terms of the audience and the lines I started writing down from there related to an audience and a fan base. So, maybe, I was subconsciously thinking about them.

Jedd Beaudoin: Has that happened with other songs, where you wrote something and then, a few years later, youre singing it or listening to it and something goes off and you say, I never knew Id hit a point in my life where this would have the kind of resonance it does but it does and in ways I never anticipated?
Michael Sadler: Its funny you say that. Its actually very, very true. Without getting into specifics, I know there are certain songs that I would write and it maybe the song would be very interesting to listen to lyrically, deep, maybe and people would say, Is it about anything specific? and I would say, No. And at the time it wasnt. But now there are certain lyrics I look at and they ring true to me personally. I think, Perhaps, subconsciously, I was writing about what I was thinking, what I was feeling and things that were happening to me at the time or things I was noticing about human nature. They do ring true. Its almost like I read them and say, Wow, I was really clever. [Laughs.]

Its very insightful, writing lyrics. I've heard that before from a number of people, that writing can be that way. You get a good look at yourself. Until you write things down, you dont really know how you feel about certain things. Its almost like when you have a conversation with someone from a different culture or a different walk of life and you start talking about something you wouldnt normally talk about and you find out that you do have an opinion about certain things that youve kept to yourself, things that you subconsciously think about but youre not aware of until youve had the chance to speak about it. Then you finish the conversation and, later, you say, Wow, I didnt realize I had that opinion. Writing is really therapeutic.

Jedd Beaudoin: Are you in a constant flow of writing, where even if youre not working on a record, you make the commitment to put ideas down on paper?
Michael Sadler: I've started doing that in the last 10 years, Id say. I try and keep a pen and paper with me at all times. If not that, then it might be a Dictaphone, a pocket one, because you never know. Whether it turns into a song doesnt matter. Sometimes I hear a key phrase or read something and its something I want to remember. It could spark any number of things, whether a lyric or a future thought for something. I try to do that because certain fleeting thoughts can be really relevant and really important. They could be a bunch of rubbage but its best to have it so that you can judge later.

Jedd Beaudoin: You know, although I think theres a unity to Sagas work, Im always impressed by how much youve moved forward and covered different subjects. Is that a conscious decision or do you think that if youre a human being, you continue to evolve, continue to have experiences?
Michael Sadler: Thats basically what it is. Every day is different. We are all human beings and we all change. Its an incredible tapestry. I just went out a little while ago to buy something for my wife. Just walking around New York you can take in an incredible number of sights and sounds. I became a people-watcher a long time ago, I dont mean like a voyeur, just sitting back and watching. I've always been fascinated by human behavior and what makes us tick. Its not a matter of sitting back and saying, Look how that guys acting, or Look what shes doing. Is that stupid. Its not that. Its noticing general human traits. The nature of the beast. We all have very distinct differences but at the same time, theres an underlying theme, lets say. We all do certain things exactly the same way and react the same way. Certain things make everyone cry. Certain things make everyone disappointed, certain things make everyone angry. There is a common thread, but generally speaking, we are all the same if its broken down to the very basics. Its fascinating to me. If one particular aspect of human nature really hits me at a certain point in time, that will become a song, whether greed or gambling addiction. Wind Him Up was that. Apart from the chapters, 90 percent of the songs are just that. Theyre not about other people [in a derogatory sense], theyre about myself, about we as human beings, as thinking, breathing entities. Thats a constant source of inspiration, watching people interact.

Jedd Beaudoin: Its interesting that youre a people watcher and I guess, when I couple that with your vocal style and your performances, I cant help but ask if you have a theatrical background.
Michael Sadler: If theres such a thing as being something in another life, I would say yes because Im fascinated by it. I've had many people ask over the years whether I've ever tried acting or the stage. I feel a natural affinity to performing. I love going on stage. Its not from an ego point of view, its just a genuine love of the interaction between the band and the audience. Theres an immediacy thats not there with recording. I love creating and recording albums but I cant wait to perform live. Still, to this day, when weve got 10 minutes before performance, I snap into an extreme nervousness but its more from an excitement point of view, anticipation, as opposed to, Oh my God, dont make me go out there. I get very nervously excited.I think , to this day, that if there comes a time when Im sitting in a dressing room and its that magic moment and I dont react to the announcement that its 10 minutes before, apart from wondering whether I have my shoe tied, if it becomes routine, Ill probably stop walking on stage because I dont think its fair to the audience to do that. I think Id be wasting their time and my time. Doing that would be saying that this has turned into a job and its not a job to me. I consider myself and the rest of the band blessed, really, really lucky to have been able to make what was essentially a hobby, a love, a passion, into a career. We actually do what we love to do. I wake up every morning and say, My job is to make music or write a song today. Great! I get paid to do that, to have fun. How many people can say that? So, I consider myself very lucky.

But to get back to the question: I dont know, maybe in another life but Im fascinated by it, I love performing and I would love to try acting one day perhaps. I may fall flat on my face, it doesnt matter. Its just something Id love to do. I wouldnt say no if an offer came up.

Jedd Beaudoin: The other thing that occurs to me is how ground you in the band all are.
Michael Sadler: [Laughs.] Well, 25 years will do that to you.

Jedd Beaudoin: [Laughs.]
Michael Sadler: I was actually say in an earlier interview that I think that we have a very keen sense of who we are, what we are and that comes from time. We are very grounded. We are very aware of our identity. I would say finally, after 25 years. I think its taken time but that its sunk in. I have a firm grip on who were are and what we represent. Its easy to lose track of that but I think that comes with age, which I dont say in a negative way, you grow, you learn and its never too late to realize who you are. Im still learning about myself, about the band and about music and life and I will be to the day I die, Im sure. But I think we all have a really firm grip on reality, where we stand and what we represent. Grounded is a good word. I think we definitely are.

Quelle: http://www.ytsejam.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=820

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