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29 October 2013 @ 11:05 pm
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Interviews: Rob Evan - December 13, 2012  


I caught up with Rob Evan for an in-depth discussion in May of 2012 (read here) while on tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra's finale of Beethoven's Last Night. We talked at that point about the possibility of a change in rock operas for the annual TSO winter tour as well as many aspects of his career with TSO, on Broadway, as well as his other musical endeavors.

In December of 2012 we met up again for another bus chat in which we discussed the premiere of The Lost Christmas Eve and it's first month of shows, the transition in stories from the 13-year Christmas Eve & Other Stories show, his introduction to TSO, his future plans, musical directors and interactions with fans. Our hour-long conversation is featured below.

Bp: How are things on the tour going so far?

Rob: You tell me.

Bp: As always it looks great and sounds phenomenal. The new story seems to be going over well.

Rob: The audiences are responding well. I don’t remember them jumping to their feet as quickly with Christmas Eve & Other Stories after 13 years like they are now with this. The story feels like it’s a little easier to follow. I know that Paul had to delete chunks that maybe involved certain things on the record that might have helped inform [the audience] a little bit better, but there’s only so much time.

Bp: I think the biggest narrative piece that people close to the story are missing is the connection between the little girl and his wife.

Rob: That she’s the ghost of the wife, yeah. That’s too bad because a lot of the words that I sing in my songs especially like, "in the soft winter air, the ghosts they appear, visions…" talking about his wife. I think the timing and the pacing of the show is good.

Bp: He had a tough job of editing down a very heavy and complex story. From about the mid-point, once Erika comes out through to the end it gets heavy really quickly for a really long stretch.

Rob: My whole part is really heavy.

Bp: But he kept it pretty well…it’s not upbeat, but it’s not overly morose either.

Rob: I’m trying to learn each night how to deliver the songs without overkilling it. I know Paul likes me to really dramatize the songs. He gives me these heavy songs with a lot of information to deliver, but lately I’ve tried to dial it back. I’ve tried to dial in some more redemption into it as opposed to complete loss. I think Bryan is delivering the story home so strongly with his narration that I really just need to serve the song and try to be honest. ‘Cause sometimes when you’re doing two of them a day, a matinee and an evening, it’s hard to be in the moment and really…with Beethoven I found it almost easier to live in the moment with those songs. But my journey was a little more complete. I had started the show and I almost ended it with "This is Who You Are" and then "Who is this Child, " right? Yes, "Who is this Child" not "What Child is This." [laughs] Something about a kid figuring out who or what it is [laughing].

Bp: Enough of these songs with such similar titles already.

"What Is Christmas?" - Live in Boston, MA; Dec. 23, 2012, 3pm

Rob: And with "What is Christmas" I’m just trying to be a little bit more intoxicated with the vibe that he’s not a complete and utter jerk; he’s upset and a little drunk. He’s ranting.

Bp: When we talked in the spring you were looking forward to performing that.

Rob: Y’know, it’s not the easiest song to deliver. Comedy is, and I know Paul didn’t know how to tell me to deliver it, he just let me do my thing. So I’m dialing in a little bit of the dentist from Little Shop [of Horrors], a little bit of the Grinch, a little bit of a maniacal side, but not scaring little kids off. ‘Cause I could easily go that direction and it would be…in Indiana it didn’t go so well the night of Indianapolis. I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling funny. Everybody was kind of like [makes a face] "What is that?" [laughs]. I think some heckler in the audience went, "Next song" [laughs] in the middle of it. But mostly it’s going well.

Bp: Your interactions with the band are a nice addition.

Rob: Well, I just started picking on them.

Bp: That’s evolved over time. In Peoria there was nothing like that, but a week or two into the tour it started to progress.

Rob: Right. When we’re in rehearsal there's nothing like, "Ok, Rob, move here for this phrase, move..." We’re trying to function like a band, but it’s not. It is and it’s not. It’s a show too. Paul knows when he sees something that he knows is right, he can’t always tell you how to get there, with how to deliver it, but he will…I don’t know how Dustin’s doing it [Dustin Brayley is performing the role of the father in the West group]…Dustin and I are friends, but we’re also completely different in our approach to things and even our voices are very different. At least I’ve got a little bit of power to say, "I was on the record," I can kind of have a little ownership over it and go to bat for what I think feels right live. Like with the Beethoven album, it was different live than it was on the record.

We’re trying to find pacing too. I know Paul likes to take it a little bit under tempo because there’s so much going on with the lights and the words, so he likes to go a little under tempo and where sometimes we’re not feeling that. But he’s given me some leeway to tell the band to follow me and feel what I’m feeling. ‘Cause it’s not going to feel the same way every time or every night. You know me, I like to change it up, that’s the only way I can feel like it’s honest. I try not to do everything the same way every night.

Bp: I like the vocal change that you’re doing at the end of "What Child is This."

Rob: We’ll see how long I get away with that. [laughs] Generally if I do something…it’s like that "Mephistopheles’ [Returns]" thing that I used to do, when I’d jump the octave or something like that. Paul is very loyal to it being the way we recorded it, for the fans, and I think it’s important. In the studio we usually capture something that really works, but he also will let me do things if he thinks it works for the character and it’s not just a show off kind of thing. Y’know what I’m saying? The way I feel, I mean there’s a certain part of my voice that I like to sing at and it’s not generally low. It’s generally a little bit higher, but if you’re saying something over and over again to raise the stakes you’ve got to do something else with it. Paul’s adamant about quality control and even though he’s not out with us all the time, he gets the videos and watches them. He judges audience reaction, he listens to what the fans have to say. He’s pretty supportive of me. I feel like he sort of trusts me to go out there and deliver it the way that he envisions it emotionally.

Bp: It’s where the character is at emotionally.

Rob: It’s all emotion for him for these parts, for these tracks.

Bp: And it works at that point in the song.

Rob: I think so. It’s got to go somewhere.

Bp: It’s all part of the build.

"What Child is This?" - Live in Boston, MA; Dec. 23, 2012 8pm

Rob: I’m also trying to not make that song so dark, but more joyous, especially as the guy is realizing that his life is just beginning.

Bp: It’s that tough change from Christmas Eve & Other Stories to The Lost Christmas Eve. They both have redemption at the end, but musically Christmas Eve & Other Stories was more…I’m not sure I want to say jubilant at the end, but you know what I mean…

Rob: Well, that song, "This Christmas Day" is such a great song. It’s a really great song. And it’s a really positive, fun song. "What Child is This" is different than that. It’s not that. It’s more of that "Kyrie among nations…" vibe that we did in "An Angel Returned" – it’s a little more majestic, a little bit more introspective.

The audiences seem to be liking it. We did 13,000 last night in DC and they went nuts. So it’s going well. The show is built now where it starts it’s a little bit mysterious, then it gets kind of fun and light with "Christmas Dreams’ and "Christmas Nights in Blue," the "Jam," and all that stuff and then me coming out and doing my shtick. Then it gets a little more heavy and it ends with "This Christmas Day" and "Sarajevo" which I think is brilliant.

Bp: It’s a great mix.

Rob: A great mix. I’m happy with the show, I’m happy with the length. I think it’s just the right length, I don’t think it’s too long, not too short. It keeps people’s attention, we don’t have people filing out, people stay ‘til the end. It’s good.

When’s the last time you saw it live?

Bp: A couple of weeks, the 24th, in Manchester.

Rob: It’s been that long? Ok, you’ll see a lot of differences in my performance tonight I think. I wasn’t struggling I didn’t feel, but I felt like I found a…I had an epiphany [laughs]. I felt like, "ok, now it’s making sense to me." I got to the point where I was just walking out there and I didn’t know quite how to serve it in the context of the entire show. I knew how to serve it for the song, but I was also trying to serve the show; what was needed from me as far as my character at that point. I think after I listened to Bryan a few times I realized I don’t need to be too heavy. Let the song work for you, that’s how it’s written in that way. So don’t over sing it or overplay it. Just throw it out there. And I’m also enjoying singing it more now because I feel like I’m shaping the song with some more emotion as opposed to each word trying to labor each thing.

Bp: Not making each word weigh…

Rob: …too much. The audience at some point is just going to be overwhelmed. As opposed to they need a little break and they want to hear a good song. The message is in it.

Bp: All these heavy songs Paul has you doing. [laughs]

Rob: Well, he writes some more upbeat ones, "Christmas Nights in Blue," "Christmas Dreams," it’s just me [laughs]. I’m honored that he trusts me with that. I can do a light song too, he knows I can also dig in and do a heavy song. It’s kind of been on the last two records and now this third one that we’re talking about that’s gonna be heavy too – my part at least.

Bp: Romanov?

Rob: Romanov, yeah.

Bp: Is that the one he’s mentioned might be on track for next spring?

Rob: I believe so, but you never know exactly. As far as what my participation will be, it will be that. I’m not privy to any other projects that I’m a part of right now. I know that one’s 80% - I don’t know if that’s 80% recorded or not, I’m just quoting what I’ve read from Paul’s interviews. I’m preparing to hit the studio right after the first of the year with him. And the way that Paul works is we’ll see what we get. If he’s feeling really good about it then he’ll go with that project. If he’s feeling like this one needs some more time to develop and to simmer or whatnot, it’ll simmer. He doesn’t kowtow to much of any deadline. I know management would love for him to do that, but Paul is all about what feels right and quality. Obviously Beethoven’s on a hiatus for a little while, but they’ve got plans for all kinds of things. Whether it’s a run in a casino somewhere, whether it’s a Broadway type engagement…but it seems like the one right now that seems to be the most fast-tracked, is Romanov.

Bp: He’s mentioned a summer something.

Rob: A festival type engagement?

Bp: He hasn’t been that specific.

Rob: I don’t know.

Bp: I was wondering if Romanov was fast-tracked and he’s talking summer shows whether it would be focused on that. Is your part in Romanov big enough that you’d be…

Rob: Y’know I don’t know if we’re going to be there at that point. As far as the size of the role, yeah, it’s a sizeable role. I mean, it’s the character that…the way it’s been described to me is he is a soldier that falls in love with the girl who doesn’t get the girl in the end, but you care about him because of his choices. Kind of like a Sidney Carton in Tale of Two Cities, that kind of guy who does the right thing at the very end. The story revolves around his journey through it. But I’ve only heard…I’ve worked with Paul on two songs at this point. Paul’s also big on making sure that we’re focusing on what we’ve got at hand right now, especially delivering a brand new tour. He doesn’t want to mess with a good thing, and we’ll hit it as soon as we’re done [with the tour]. But I’ve already got my reading material that Paul’s presented me. I’m trying to dig in, trying to find the character and the emotion. It’s going to be me doing the heavy character again. [laughs] We seem to have a groove on that.

Bp: Circling back to this tour, what kind of pre-prep went into bringing The Lost Christmas Eve to life?

Rob: I know they labored over it for...they were working on it while we were out with Beethoven, at least conceptually, and trying to decide if this was the right move to make, and whether this album was the right one to put to the forefront because it is so heavy. But it sold a lot of records and I think it sold the most next to Christmas Eve & Other Stories. Paul felt like if you can change one life, that’s worth it. If you can reach one person, he said, "If I can reach one dead-beat dad out there or someone who will reconnect with somebody in their life, a child he needs to or something like that, then we did our job." So as far as what they were working on I know that they labored over the set list and what was the right set list to do. When I came into Omaha and was plugged into it about two weeks before they knew what they were doing and what they wanted. I think we had one session before I went out there just to see where my head was at. I think Paul wanted to make sure I remembered what I did and I was in the right headspace for it. The learning curve for me knowing what to give him, what he wants, has really tightened up since the first time I ever toured with him or even when I did Beethoven for the first time. I felt that I was able to make it my own but still give him what he wanted. Which makes us both happy.

"Confrontation" from Jekyll & Hyde

Bp: Speaking of first times, Paul first saw you on Broadway, correct? After he saw you how were you brought into the TSO fold?

Rob: He said he saw me in Les Mis. I thought he saw me in Jekyll [& Hyde] ‘cause that’s when I…basically this is how it went down. In ’96-’97 I was Val Jean on Broadway. In mid-’97 I literally walked across the street to alternate in the original cast of Jekyll & Hyde which I then took over. That was a three-year period that I was over at the Plymouth Theater with Jekyll & Hyde. That was a four-year period between ’96-2000 where I didn’t know anything about TSO or Paul O’Neill. My manager at the time was kind of in the rock and roll world too. Frank Wildhorn was over at Atlantic and TSO was signed to Atlantic, to Lava, and this was still when record companies were big and before Napster and everything changed. It was right on the edge of when things were about to implode. My manager I guess had been contacted by Paul or management and they gave me the Christmas Eve videos and they said, "There’s this band Trans-Siberian Orchestra that might be a good fit for you." So I went home and watched the video. I was trying to figure out what it was all about. I couldn’t quite figure out or understand it and I got out the records and I listened to them. The songs right away that I was pulled to were the father’s songs ‘cause I thought those were the meatier songs; "Ornament" and "This Christmas Day." So we set up a meeting, but it was to sing all this Beethoven material. So I got that record and I learned all the songs. I met Paul at SIR rehearsal studios in New York and he comes in with the shades and everything, looking like rock and roll Jesus. I think I had already cut my hair from Jekyll. I had the long hair for Jekyll, really long hair, just for that. It was shoe polish black. I looked like a Native American Indian cross or something. People couldn’t quite figure out what my origin was during that period. I couldn’t get any TV work ‘cause I just wasn’t castable, except in Jekyll & Hyde.

Bp: The hair played a big part in Jekyll & Hyde with the transformation.

Rob: Yeah, for three years or so I did the whole thing. Even more than three years, because even before doing the Val Jean role, I’d gone out with Jekyll for the pre-Broadway Jekyll tour and back to Les Mis. Literally about five years I had long hair and I was done with it. I cut it off the weekend after.

I don’t think Paul realized how old I was. I think he thought I was a lot older because I was playing older characters; Val Jean I was aging myself into my 60’s and Jekyll comes across as a 40 year old man, but at the time he saw me as Val Jean I was 26. So he thought I was older. The Beethoven stuff was a little low [vocally] for me living down there. I remember I smoked a cigar outside before he came to try to lower my voice a little bit. [laughs] I came in and I sang for him and we had a great session. I didn’t know what they had planned. Obviously they had planned Beethoven to tour, but he decided to put it on hold and he offered me the winter tour to come out and sing the angel part in ’01. That was right after 9/11, I remember how weird that was…they bused us to, I can’t remember where our first city was. We started after Thanksgiving back then…so I did that and then the next year in ’02 I got Dance of the Vampires on Broadway and I got to work with [Jim] Steinman and that’s why I didn’t go out, but they let me sit in at the Beacon [Theater in NY] and I did "This is Who You Are." Then in ’03 I came back out again as the angel and then I was getting frustrated because I really wanted to tour Beethoven – that’s why I joined the band. I ended up doing more Broadway shows and then we did The Lost Christmas Eve and then we did Night Castle and I hadn’t been back out with the tour. In the meanwhile I did Dance of the Vampires and Little Shop of Horrors on Broadway and then Tarzan. Then in ’09 that’s when they called me and said, "We are going to tour Beethoven in ‘10. Come out in ’09 and do the winter tour and that spring we’re going to hit it." That’s what we did. And then I took the winter tours off because it’s just too hard to tour twice a year like this with my family. But I’m here now obviously because of the record and what we had to do when we spoke back in the spring obviously is now happening. I think we’re going to hit the studio in the spring and then I’m not sure what’s going to happen after that honestly. I’ve heard rumors of festivals, but I don’t know what they’d be touring with.

"This is Who You Are" - December 22, 2001 - Beacon Theatre, New York, NY

Bp: I’d be nice to see this again next winter.

Rob: I honestly don’t know. Listen, it’s a giant brand and this is a new one that’s being created and it’s doing great; we’re selling great. I think the only market we’re not doing really strong is where Hurricane Sandy has wreaked havoc. But other than that…I’ve never played in front of more people with the band. It’s pretty impressive. I know we’re going into sell outs in Philly, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The Prudential Center [in Newark] is going to be sold for both shows I think. I think people are excited about a new product and they don’t seem to be walking away unhappy so that’s good.

Bp: The general consensus that I’ve seen online is positive and the change has been welcomed.

Rob: There was something special about Christmas Eve & Other Stories, that’s a special record; lightning struck. I don’t have a crystal ball to see what’s next, but I know they’re going to diversify. I think that’s what the goal is.

Bp: Well after 13 years, you’re going to have people who are going to miss something after that tradition has been made…

Rob: Yes, and I don’t think we’re done with Christmas Eve & Other Stories. I don’t think we’re done with Beethoven either. I think there will be new things and they’ll bring back something else and I don’t know if it will even be traditional touring. There might be two things going on at the same time, or three. I don’t know. I think that’s what Paul has in mind. But he knows what he’s doing.

Bp: He’s got enough projects.

Rob: Yeah. He’s got a strong vision and you get on the train with him and believe.

Bp: He’s like Santa Claus.

Rob: He is. A rock and roll Santa Claus.

Bp: What are some of the high points of this tour for you?

Rob: It’s a great group of people. My god, a really great group of people. Everybody really gets along. This bus, these guys on this bus are really like family.

Bp: The singers, male singers?

Rob: Yes, the male singers and Bryan, plus Dave Whitman our sound guy. Dave I’ve known since ’01. Every studio moment I’ve spent he’s been there. This is probably the easiest tour that I’ve had as far as just being relaxed, having a routine. There is loss of sleep and stuff like that, but you learn how to deal with that. I usually sleep a few hours starting about 1 am then I sleep ‘til about 6. I’m up from about 6 to 9 or 9:30 and that’s when I really fall back to sleep for a couple more hours. I routinize my day and as long as I’m doing the same thing…today after soundcheck I’ll go work out because I don’t come on for 45 minutes. So I have time to get ready after the show has already started to warm up vocally and everything. That’s what works for me. It keeps it fresh. The crew, everybody; it’s a really great group of people. It’s really easy. Everyone’s supportive of each other. So that’s cool. I like that. That’s a high point for me. And playing some of the bigger markets that the last two Beethoven’s maybe we didn’t so I missed some of the bigger cities that I really enjoy playing so that’s a high point. Getting in and out of New York more is great ‘cause we’re going to be coming through there as some of the band is doing Jimmy Fallon next Tuesday and then we’re going to be at the Prudential Center and then at Nassau this weekend so that’s fun.

Bp: What are you drawing on for this tour and your songs?

Rob: Y’know, just being a father myself. That’s the biggest thing. It’s easy to draw on what you know. I started early on trying to put myself into that situation, imagining one of my sons or my wife and then I realized that was too heavy. I had to back up a little bit. It was too much. But I think the imprint of that is going to be there anyway just because I live it. I’m trying not to overact. We’ll see what Paul thinks when he sees it again, but I think I’m getting a better audience reaction and again my key to audience reaction is not to play for it, but just to commit to something that…I mean, it’s easy to play for an audience reaction, to try to manipulate it, but you just can’t. Even in a giant room when you’re not up close people can sense that you’re not genuine. And even if my honesty is just singing the song the best that I can…I’m trying to smile more during my last two songs, not the top of "Back to a Reason," but on the back half where he’s kind of seeing all these things and they’re attacking him, I’m trying to give it more joy. Just for me [laughs].

"Back to a Reason, part II" - Live in Albany, NY; Dec. 13, 2012

Bp: What are some of your favorite moments from this year’s show?

Rob: Of course they’re mine [maniacally laughs]. No, no, no.

Bp: [laughing] They can be yours.

Rob: I don’t know that they are necessarily mine though. I like "The Lost Christmas Eve" tune, I think it’s a cool song. I think Chris is doing a great job with it. I would have liked to have sung it. I would have liked to sing, "This Christmas Day," ‘cause we mess around in understudy. We all cover each other. I’d love to give all of them a shot. I think they’re fun. "Christmas Dreams" is fun. I think Lewis does a unique take on "Christmas Nights in Blue" which is his song; that’s his record. It’s so Lewis. Gosh, my favorite moments…I don’t know…I think it’s just a really well even keeled show.
My favorite time of the show is when I’m feeling really good out there just killing it. That’s it. I can’t really tell you one particular moment.

Bp: You feel that the crowd is getting it?

Rob: They must be ‘cause they’re jumping to their feet at the end of the narration. They’re giving him a standing ovation. That’s pretty impressive I think. I don’t remember that with Christmas Eve & Other Stories, but maybe it did.

Bp: Yeah, most of the time it did.

Rob: And in the signing lines I think some people really get it and some people just really enjoy what they saw; that it was powerful. But that again is with any piece. Some people are going to see Les Mis and it’s just going to wreck ‘em. Other people are going to think, "That was really cool." People are different.

Bp: There are so many different levels that you can enjoy the show on.

Rob: Right. And a lot of people aren’t going to come in at the level that you will. A lot of people are going to come in at the level of "Those lights look cool and those people sing really well and that guitar player is really playing great." And then some people will just completely…you know, right after "Back to a Reason" and during the narration before "What Child is This" I can generally tell who is really affected and who is just kind of there. I’ll see some people wiping the tears.

Bp: On the flight out to Peoria I was re-reading The Lost Christmas Eve story and I was just finishing up as the attendant was pushing the beverage cart down the aisle and when he asked me if I wanted anything to drink I looked up at him with tears in my eyes and I was almost bawling.

Rob: "Ahhh, leave me alone!" That’s when you need the dark, dark glasses.

Bp: I know.

Rob: That was like me reading the final Harry Potter on a flight home and I was reading the last few words and tears were running down my face like what a sucker I am! [laughs]

Bp: Since I’ve been otherwise occupied during the shows with a camera I haven’t felt completely lost in the moment, but even still it’s been an emotional trip during the shows. If I was completely lost I’d be a bawling wreck from Erika onward I think. And what has been done with the narration into Joel’s guitar solo for "The Wisdom of Snow" is just utterly gutting.

Rob: That’s the "Back to a Reason" melody, yeah. I love that moment. That’s the heaviest part of the show, right there, I think. Is it to you?

Bp: Absolutely. That’s the seismic shift of the story.

Narration + "The Wisdom of Snow" - Live in Manchester, NH; Nov. 24, 2012 3pm

Rob: That’s where Bryan talks about the death. And that he basically turns his back on his son and leaves. Yeah, that’s the heaviest part and I think they were smart to have the instrumental piece right there and not go right into a song, and then back to the narration and into "Wish Liszt."

Bp: It lightens it up a little bit.

Rob: You need to lighten it up a bit. I think originally there was a possibility of a song in between "Back to a Reason" and "What Child is This," but we never did it. They canned that idea early on. I don’t know whether we would have needed something there, it seems to be working with those two songs back to back. I’ve tried to be…"What Child is This" and the groove and everything is so heavy too that I’m trying to now lighten it up a bit. And now in the back half of "What Child is This" I get to sing a little bit like I like to sing which is cool.

Bp: Does it help you having those two songs back to back so you’re not going offstage, waiting, and then coming back on stage?

Rob: Of course. It’s easier to stay in the moment, absolutely. ‘Cause whatever emotion you’ve just created, then you walk into the hospital and there you are. That’s the way I visualize it. So yes, it’s easier to stay on. Whether the audience needs something in between, I don’t know. You’d have to tell me that.

Bp: I think the flow is natural and it keeps the intensity at that point which is needed.

Rob: I think the drama has been created, why create it just to get out of it and have to get back into it again. Let it serve its purpose and then leave it. And then we go into "Christmas Canon" which is nice.

Bp: It would be even more difficult to go over yet another emotional hill…

Rob: …and to bring it back down again. Even though I don’t think "What Child is This" brings it back down ‘cause it is a little bit of a lift from "Back to a Reason." I think "Back to a Reason" is a good song, we’re getting to the point right now with me and the band that we are breathing together so I’m feeling better about it. I was fighting it a little bit earlier on, I don’t know if you’ll notice it, but I feel like Derek and Jeff, we’re all three together because…I say Jeff because your drummer is your quarterback, he’s the clock. Derek now knows me well enough where he knows where I’m going. I’d never really worked with Derek. By tour two or three, Vitalij and I were breathing together out there [on the Beethoven tour]. Derek and I are starting to get to that point and Jeff knows what I’m going to do. We’ve toured together so many times now…he said one time, "Just go out there and do what you do. I’ll follow you. I’ll be there." [laughs] I was like, "Thank you brother, I appreciate that."

Bp: You’ve worked with three different Musical Directors with TSO, what’s been the difference between Derek, Al and Bob?

Rob: They’re all like completely different planets. I really admire all of them. Al and I again, really got a rhythm down by tour three we were just smokin’ it out there I thought. I love performing with Al onstage. I think he’s a monster. He’s a very supportive player for me during my songs. He was right there with me giving me what I needed, emotionally and musically. Derek is like a machine that dude is so talented. Really just a machine. He’s very different than Al, but again, I’ll look over to him…I like to check in with the band too for us to all feel like we’re in a band together. Obviously I wouldn’t do that if I was playing a part, but that’s the thing about TSO, it’s blurred lines. It’s both worlds at the same time. So I’ll look at Derek and he’ll give me that nod like, "Yeah, this is happening. This is great!" Kinkel was my first experience in this whole world and Bob is still a very good friend. I miss making music with Bob, but listen, this thing has evolved it’s so different from ’01 when I joined the band. It’s a whole different thing, but it’s evolved into a really great thing. It’s so big, but really really works. We were a lot more raw back then. But I still think there are real honest moments that are going on out there every night. But we’re also playing what, 56, 57 shows or something like that so some nights are going to be fantastic and some nights are just going to be good. I don’t think we ever have any nights where we suck. That doesn’t happen anymore.

Bp: It’s a brutal schedule.

Rob: It is. It’s brutal. And we’re packing all this in a shorter amount of time because of the election. He wasn’t going to send us out during the election time. He didn’t think it was going to work so it’s a shorter schedule, but more shows.

"Who is This Child" - Live in Binghamton, NY; May 10, 2012

Bp: I know how important from a fan perspective the signing line is after the night shows. From the perspective that you get the immediate feedback and keep the rapport with the fans, but after multiple days of multiple shows it might be the last thing you want to do…

Rob: It’s absolutely the last thing you want to do. But it’s important, it’s so important. And like you said, sometimes you just don’t want to be out there, but it’s important that we’re out there. I feel very strongly about that. So it’s not one of those things where I think, "We need to stop doing this." Everybody knows how important it is, it’s just sometimes it’s the last thing we want to do. We want to get on the bus, get in our bunk, go to bed, and wake up in the next city. But it is important. I also like connecting with the kids. When the young ones are coming through I like to shake their hands and ask how old they are. It’s important. I have kids and it makes me miss mine and connect. And I’m a dad, so when a kid comes through and you know they’ll be talking about it for weeks. That’s great. It makes it all worthwhile.

This band is so great. Paul and the management, they’re so about the fans. That’s really important to them. Not just business wise, but in a good karma type way. It’s win-win.

Bp: It shows. And ticket prices for shows have barely changed over the past number of years.

Rob: Have they not?

Bp: Comparatively not much. Especially with a production this size.

Rob: There’s nothing else this size out there. You’re right.

Bp: I want to jump to your non-TSO career for an update on your Rocktopia project which you brought to Youngstown, OH this summer. How did that go?

Rob: Great. It was a beautiful mess. I think we got it to a point where we put on more of a show than we were even prepared to put on because it was really just a conceptual outing for me. I wanted to show the people who were forwarding the show that it was a great idea and that conceptually it works. We’re moving forward with the project and it’s exciting because it’s something I thought of. There is a lot of joy and love involved in doing that and that show too, depending on where it goes and what happens with it, will evolve. It’s evolving daily. I’m dealing with creative stuff daily with it on what really works and what we’re trying to tell from a story point of view. We’re hoping to do some test markets in May. I think it’s a really cool thing. The reaction we got from a symphony audience was insane. We sold it out and to see symphony people standing on their feet clapping their hands like rock and roll people, it’s cool! And then to do some of the opera stuff that I love. Some of the stuff just worked like gangbusters. That’s kind of the next phase of my career, which…I feel very lucky to be able to be in this band and perform in front of 15,000 people, but I’m also looking at when I’m maybe not performing and I’d love to have some stuff going on too that I created and could also keep going. Obviously Rocktopia I’m singing in right now, but I’m also trying to build it where I don’t have to or wouldn’t need to be in it; that the concept works.

Rocktopia "Rock and Roll Fantasy medley"

Bp: What does 2013 look like for you? More symphony shows?

Rob: Yeah, I’m already booked for a lot of symphony shows. Hopefully I’ll be doing the record with Paul and then Rocktopia, as well as producing new projects with the Nederlander team in New York that they are supporting and helping me put out that I’m not in. I’m going to Prague this summer to do some shows with the Prague Symphony, which will be great. Have you ever been to Prague? It’s a beautiful city. There are so many things up in the air, but I keep casting lines out there with stuff I believe in, y’know. And with TSO, I’ll always be involved with TSO as long as I can and they’ll have me. It’s family now after this long. It feels right and Paul is so generous. What also makes me feel great is he really respects my opinion on some things and he looks at me in certain situations. I feel so blessed to have that relationship.

Bp: Thanks for the time today.

Rob: Anytime. It was a pleasure, Brad.

More TSO interviews

Additional Links:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Rob Evan Official Site
Menrva Realm