Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Al Pitrelli has been a good boy this year.
But for the guy whos been the prog-rock Santa Claus to more than 8 million concert attendees since 1999, his gifts come in the forms of fan art, charity and the inseparable intertwining with American holiday culture that powers TSOs merry sleigh of metal.
I travel with my two Boston terriers. People send me drawings and sketches of them, Pitrelli said. Which is adorable. We also get given stuff drawn by kids in a hospital bed, and that will always stand out in my mind. Itll always hang up on my wall, with the most important treasures Ive collected over the years.
The bands rich, orchestral-rock take on classical music and Christmas standards have proven a lucrative enter prise, selling more than 7.5 million CDs since the release of the triple-platinum Christmas Eve and Other Stories in 1996, which annually registers as a top-five holiday album in U.S. sales.
And, of course, theres the stage show. TSOs music prodigiously translates into an epic arena-rock spectacle.
Pitrelli likened the massive pageants success to a fathers pride.
Its almost like having your first child. Ad over 17 years, the child grows up, is valedictorian of the high school and marches off to MIT or Harvard or Yale on a full scholarship and you go, How in the Wide World of Sports did this happen to me? he said. I wake up every morning and go, Really? Youre kidding. The success has bound his band within the very fiber of American holiday culture.
Ive become part of something thats not only musically one of the greatest things Ive ever done, if not the greatest thing Ive ever done, but weve become part of peoples families, of their tradition, Pitrelli said. And in a positive way.
TSOs next album is tentatively titled Gutter Ballet, but Pitrelli said nothing specific about its progression, joking, We got interrupted by this pesky winter tour. ... [Composer Paul ONeill is] not gonna mass-produce it like a bunch of McMansions. He wants to build an 18th-century Victorian by hand. Its gonna take a little longer than Home Depot prefabs, yknow?
Photo by Mark Weiss