Interview with Michael Sadler (Saga)

In some countries they’re more popular than their fellow Canadian brethren (i.e., Rush) and in other countries they’re only remembered for one hit … “On The Loose.” Nevertheless, this powerful “Prog Rock” band is celebrating its 30th year anniversary. The date comes with some sadness, though, as their lead vocalist of 30 years, Michael Sadler, has just recently announced his “retirement” from the band. Metal Express Radio was able to capture some thoughts from Sadler himself as he talks about an exciting new audio/visual Saga release, as well as Saga past, present, and future!

MER: Hello Michael! Thanks for taking the time to speak with Metal Express Radio and your fans.

Michael Sadler: My pleasure.

MER: First and foremost on long time Saga fans’ minds is your decision to leave the band at the end of the year. Knowing you’re crafting an open letter to fans … is there anything else you can say about that decision here?

Michael: I can only emphasize what I’ve already said in my first brief statement. My decision is one of a personal, not musical, nature, which I will indeed elaborate on in my forthcoming letter.

MER: Was it coincidence to announce your departure after their 30-year anniversary or was it felt to be a perfect “breakpoint”?

Michael: Actually, I had been thinking about this for some time now, but somehow the 30th anniversary seemed like an appropriate time to make the announcement.

MER: Have the remaining Saga members thought about calling it quits or has a replacement been mentioned or even thought about?

Michael: Apparently, the band has been approached by a very well known singer interested in taking my place. Unfortunately, because of contractual and legal reasons, I can’t reveal the person’s name at this point in time! But, as far as I know, the band has not yet decided on which course of action to take next.

MER: Saga’s newest release is a double CD/ double DVD of a single live performance filmed in Switzerland in 2005 called Worlds Apart Revisited. The band performed their most widely known release, Worlds Apart, in its entirety. How did the band come up with this concept and why pick Worlds Apart?

Michael: Originally, the record company’s idea was to re-release a “special edition” of what most people think is our best album. When we found out that was the record company’s intention, we thought about taking it one step further and making it a live performance. Also, the fans had suggested for many years that we choose an older album and perform it live, so I suppose we’ve made everybody happy.

MER: How and why was Pratteln, Switzerland chosen as the “magical” venue for this special performance?

Michael: If I remember correctly, it was the size of the stage and the height of the room (which allowed for much more effective lighting) that helped us decide. Plus, the audience was very excitable, which always helps when you’re trying to re-create the feeling of a live concert on video.

MER: Was the audio and video actually shot in a single night?

Michael: Yes. The only things we had to fix sound-wise were of a technical nature. Other than that, what you see and hear is essentially exactly as it happened that night!

MER: Who played drums in the performance?

Michael: Our newest member of the “family,” Brian Doerner.

MER: Why did the show take two years to get released?

Michael: Once you release anything creative for the public to listen to, watch, or read, it’s history and you have to live with it for the rest of your life. For that reason, we’ve always been very fussy about what we release, whether audio or video. World’s Apart Revisited was no exception.

MER: Why do you think Worlds Apart made such an impact as it did in the States? Do you think MTV had something to do with its popularity?

Michael: As strong as an album may feel to you once you’ve completed it, you can never predict how it will be received by the public. Fortunately for us, the American audience was in the mood for an album like World’s Apart at the time. And yes, I believe MTV was extremely instrumental in raising the awareness of the band. As a matter of fact, “On The Loose” was one of the first videos that MTV played when MTV was a brand new medium.

MER: Reminiscing a bit further on the original Worlds Apart … what was the controversy behind releasing an “edited” version in the States without the classic opening cartoon sequence on “Amnesia” and a different cover?

Michael: As far as I know, we were unable to use the original opening sequence, which was from a “Tom & Jerry” cartoon because of potential copyright infringement. The different cover was the decision of the record company. Apparently, they felt the original cover wasn’t strong enough for the American audience.

MER: Looking back at 30 years with Saga is there anything Michael Sadler would have done differently? Any regrets?

Michael: I don’t really believe in having regrets. I think as long as we learn from our mistakes and disappointments, we are that much stronger for it. But, having said that, I do wish that I had stopped drinking alcohol much sooner than I did. It’s now been 5 years since my last drink and I’ve never felt more alive in my life!

MER: Does it feel overwhelming when you consider that Saga has accomplished so much and is perhaps the biggest thing out of Canada, besides Rush, and having been together, in some shape or form, just as long?

Michael: To be honest, I feel as though I’m going to wake up one day and find out it’s all been a dream. I’m a very lucky man to have spent the last 30 years making a living doing exactly what I love!

MER: What do you think was Saga’s “weakest period” where perhaps the band was struggling? A lot of fans would probably suggest 1987’s Wildest Dreams.

Michael: I would have to disagree and say Steel Umbrellas and Pleasure And The Pain.

MER: On the flip side, what is a “Saga Moment,” or period you’ll always remember?

Michael: Behaviour! I can’t really explain it, but I must have been in a very good place spiritually at that time.

MER: Is Worlds Apart Revisited the last Saga release for 2007 with Michael Sadler on vocals or will Saga perhaps squeeze out one more studio release?

Michael:: Right now the plan is to make one more album, before my departure at the end of the year.

MER: Is the band doing anymore touring in 2007?

Michael: We plan to do as many shows this year as time will allow. The final show will be in Munich on December 5th!

MER: What’s next for Michael Sadler after Saga? Any solo release plans perhaps with other Saga bandmates?

Michael: For now I’d like to catch my breath and spend time with my family. After that, I plan to do another solo album, but quite different from Clear. I can’t say at this time whether or not I’ll work with any of the members of the band.

MER: In closing, any last words for your fans?

Michael:: I can’t thank the fans enough for everything they’ve given me over the last 30 years. I’m looking forward to the final shows this year as it gives me a chance to thank everyone personally, and I promise to give the best performances of my life.

MER: Michael, thanks for your time and for 30 years of great music and entertainment!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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