Former Trans-Siberian Orchestra Vocalist Tim Hockenberry Looks Back on Covering Savatage Classic "Believe"

Singer/songwriter Tim Hockenberry, known to many as a vocalist with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, recently spoke with Dan Roth at Music & Arts for an in-depth look back on his career. An excerpt from the interview is available below.

Q:  I am sure you heard the original Savatage version sung by Jon Oliva before recording your version. Did Paul give you any particular direction when recording?

TH: "He just really let me do what I want, but I had to really honor the melody. I could not jazz it up it all. He really didn't want me to sound like Jon. He really wanted me to sound like myself. Frankly, I always thought Jon sounded like Al Stewart on that song. Paul wanted somebody with this gravelly voice to bulldoze his way through the song. I just followed Paul's lead on that. It was always 'More stones, More gravel, More chest, More throat!' (Laughs) It was actually a really difficult studio session for me because this literally went on for 8 hours every day for two weeks."

Q: This was in 2008. Did you sign on for the tour at that point as well?

TH: "No. I really didn't want to do the tour. Paul paid me well for the recording and I flew back to California. A few weeks later, one of their managers calls and asks me if I will head out on tour with them. He made it sound really good - 'You only have to sing one song, maybe some backing vocals, comfortable bus, this much money a week. But you are out for three months.' I was like, 'Three months? That's all the holidays right there away from my kids.' At this point, I had a little girl along with my two boys.  

Q: Pretty tempting though. TSO was at it's height of touring popularity around this time.

TH: "Yeah. They also kept on promising how they were going to do real radio promotion for the song and use my name and really blow the song and my name up big. Their manager kept assuring me that they were going to do things for me that they had never done for any other artist on the tours. None of that ever happened. All they did was the early morning radio to promote the tour and get people to buy tickets."

Q: They did run an online video contest for it.  Were you involved with that at all?

TH: "No. They were very careful not to put my name anywhere but on the very inside of the liner notes of the record (laughs). Trans-Siberian Orchestra is very much like Disneyland. As a performer, you are kind of like Donald Duck. No one knows who you are and they keep you in the shadows. They want The Show to be the star - the lights and the fire."

Go to this location for the complete interview.