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The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Interviews:
Russell Allen - December 14, 2017

Interview, photos, and videos by Brad Parmerter

In my previous conversation with Russell Allen, we discussed joining TSO in 2013, and since that time he has held audiences in the palm of his hand, connecting with them, and drawing them in. In this conversation we discussed the songs he performed on the 2017 winter tour, recording with Paul O'Neill, his reflections on Wacken with TSO and Savatage, Jon Oliva, his difficult decision to tour, and what these shows meant to him.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra family was struck with multiple blows in 2017. In April, founder, composer, and producer, Paul O'Neill died of an accidental prescription drug overdose. In July, while on tour with Adrenaline Mob, long-time TSO bassist, David Z, and tour manager Jane Train, were killed when their RV was struck by a tractor trailer while disabled on the side of the road. The annual TSO winter tour was a celebration of their lives and spirits, full of emotional performances and poignant moments mixed in with the typical sensory overload associated with a TSO show.

When Russ and I spoke in mid-December the band had just entered a stretch of playing some of the largest venues of the tour. After briefly catching up, that's where we started our chat.

Bp: So you guys have hit the week of enormous venues, huh?

Russell Allen: Yeah, yeah. Big ones.

Bp: I know you perform differently between a club and a larger venue, but do you have to further enlarge your performance for the really large, 13,000+ seat venues as opposed to the 8,000 seat ones?

Russell Allen: No, it doesn't change too much. You always play to the room. If you're in a small club then the stage is a lot smaller so you don't have a lot of room to work with anyway and you can make eye contact with a lot of people in the place, things like that. In these enormous venues, you move bigger....your hand motions are bigger, expressions are bigger so people in the back can see or at least feel kinda what you're doing because we have so much more of a set with the screens. You know, we are using it to tell the story or we're using it to set a scene like for "Christmas Nights in Blue," it's a bluesy city bar kind of a vibe. We don't project images of the artists up there so you really have to, as a frontman, try to make your moves as big as possible.
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