When Trans-Siberian Orchestra leader Paul O’Neill passed away, many questioned the possibility of the band continuing without him. Recently, the group announced their annual holiday tour, which shows the band’s future is sustainable. Longtime TSO music director and former Megadeth guitarist Al Pitrelli recently spoke to Billboard to discuss further on the group’s plans following O’Neill’s death.
Initially, he expressed not wanting to move forward:
“I don’t want to go forward without Paul, I just don’t have a choice in the matter.”
“Paul always said he wanted this to live long past all of us. Long after we leave the planet he wanted the next several generations to run it and carry on, let the art live forever. That was always our definition of heaven, how people remember you 100 years down the road. If they’re still talking about us positively then we did our jobs.
We want the Orchestra to live forever. We know we’re not going to live forever. So it was never a question of ‘Will we carry on?’ The big question was, ‘OK, HOW will we carry on?'”
“In a post-Paul world what was once a monarchy is now a democracy, and the democracy is based on one ideal — ‘What would Paul do?’ We always keep that at the front of every sentence — ‘OK, what would Paul do here? How would he perceive this? What would he think?’ We’ve made some pretty big decisions of late, and that was what we would ask each other and everybody else involved. What I’m proud of most right now is that everybody in the hierarchy of the organization has put their egos and their personal thoughts aside to do that.”
Later, the guitarist admitted how much he missed arguing with O’Neill:
“We used to love to argue to death with Paul; We would go head to head with him for days about things, and at the end of the day we would throw our hands up and go, ‘He’s right, again!’ We make decisions a little quicker now because we keep that mantra and that focus to keep what Paul started going and not vary from the theme.”
Lastly, he estimated on the group’s future projects stating they have five projects currently in motion and a few are almost finished. Prior to O’Neill’s death, there was more he wanted to do including Romanov: When Kings Must Whisper, a story about the 1917 Russian Revolution. Other ideas were formed such as The Pat of the Fairytale Moon, a non-holiday tour based on albums from 2009’s Night Castle and 2015’s Letters From The Labyrinth, and possibly creating a Broadway musical.
According to the discussion, TSO could become quite the eternal project. It is rare to see bands do this, however, these progressive rockers prove there’s a possibility.