For over 20 years, Trans-Siberian Orchestra's epic live concerts have been a fall/winter tradition for millions of families around the world, including those of the people involved in making it all possible.
In lieu of a tour this year, TSO is putting all of its effort into an ambitious livestream concert event this Friday, December 18, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist and original member Al Pitrelli tells Q104.3 New York's Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein that giving up on the project has never been an option.
"I've never been late for a show. We've never canceled a show. I broke my leg once in the middle of a show and still kept playing. We don't stop. We love this thing," he says.
For Pitrelli, TSO is the biggest break in his career that he never saw coming. He recalled the life-changing phone call he got from O'Neill in the fall of 1995 to come into Manhattan for a session, but he never would have guessed what his friend was working on. At first, Pitrelli didn't know what to make of the track O'Neill showed him.
"You know when you dog looks at your and it's not sure what you're saying and kind of tilts its head to one side? I said, 'Dude, what's with the Christmas song?' and he laughed. He said, 'Well, it's not really a Christmas song. It's a soundtrack depicting events that took place on Christmas Eve during the war in Bosnia,'" Pitrelli recalled.
The context piqued Pitrelli's interest. He had just played Zagreb and Belgrade with Alice Cooper a few years earlier.
The track was "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24." Pitrelli recorded a guitar part, O'Neill thanked him with a cheeseburger and the two went their separate ways.
Just a few months later, Pitrelli heard the track on the radio. He watched in amazement as it rocketed to No. 1.
The following year, O'Neill informed him that they were going to make a full-length TSO album and take the record on tour. The rest is history.
"Paul ... was an incredible human being, brilliant on a different level, an incredible work ethic, but I'm not sure he even saw that this was going to occur," Pitrelli said. "The fact that people say 'It's not Christmas until you guys come through town and play a concert' or 'We play your music from Thanksgiving to New Year's!' That's the most amazing thing. ...This is my family's tradition as well."
As for this Friday's concert, Pitrelli says the production is taking place in a space in Nashville. TSO has spared no expense, keeping with the tradition of making each year's show bigger and more awe-inspiring than the last.
"I promise you guys, this is a full-blown, over-the-top TSO show. All the production, it's like you're gonna have a front row seat at a concert. That's the best part about it. There's no parking, there's no traffic, there's no babysitter, stay in your pajamas, put your feet up, pour a Macallan's, do what you've gotta do."
Watch the full interview via the video player at the top of this page!
Photo: Getty Images