Former TESTAMENT/SAVATAGE guitarist Alex Skolnick has announced his decision not to participate in this year's TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA tour.

The following is Alex's official statement on the matter:

"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my decision to not participate in this year's TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA tour. It has been an honor to be a part of the TSO show and the personel involved have been an absolute pleasure to work with. In fact, there have been many close friendships and working situations that would not have come about had it not been for TSO. In addition, I've met legions of new fans because of TSO, many of whom continue to express how important my involvement in the show is to them. I don't take this lightly for a moment and hate to disappoint anyone. I continue to value all that has resulted from my involvement with this special project known as TSO.

"That said, I've had to make the very difficult decision of either doing the 2003 tour or focusing on my own music. Having done the TSO tour for the last three years in a row, I know firsthand that the nearly two months of straight touring is very intense and requires a focus and dedication that doesn't leave room for much else. Up until now, this hasn't been a problem, but at the present time, I feel a serious need to be connected to my own music on a deep level. As a result, I can't see going out on the road for the 2003 TSO tour.

"I hope to do another ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO CD soon. In order to make this happen, I really need the rest of this year to focus on it. The key word really is 'focus.' I'd like to be able to say I could jump into TSO and come right back to my jazz improv without missing a beat but I just can't. It would be unfair to myself, to TSO and to the fans to do this during a period where I need to focus on something else. I've spoken to Paul O'Neil, Bob Kinkel and other TSO brass, all of whom are very understanding and supportive of my situation. Thankfully, I'm still considered part of the team and look forward to participating at a less intense level (back up guitarist, assisting w/rehearsals, etc...). And a return to the TSO tours of the future is certainly a possibility. I'm sure this year's tour is still going to be great and hope you all continue to check out the show. Thank you all for your support and understanding."

Skolnick has also commented on the recently completed Guitarevolution tour, which featured ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO performing alongside Marty Friedman's solo band (ex-MEGADETH) and Chris Poland's (ex-MEGADETH, DAMN THE MACHINE) OHM project.

Says Alex, "I can't tell you what a blast we had on this tour. Imagine Marty Friedman, myself and our musicians all on one vehicle. It was a traveling guitar circus. At times it felt like one huge band. There was a lot of 'lick trading' going on. Chris traveled separately but we were definitely all on the same team.

"It was really nice to reach all these new people. Many showed up who had no idea what the trio was all about and everyone seemed to get it. It really feels like things are reaching a whole new level. It's so great to be on this journey of musical discovery and be able to take so many with us.

"A highlight was Slim's in San Francisco. It's always great to come back to my old stomping grounds of the Bay Area, and it was great to have both Chuck Billy (TESTAMENT) and a hero of mine that I'd never met before, Dave Meniketti (Y&T) there digging the show. Another highlight was the last night in Sacramento where Chris and I joined Marty's band and played 'Deuce' by, who else, KISS.

"Thanks to all that came out and showed support. On behalf of Marty, Chris and each of our bands, We can honestly say this tour was a success. While we can't make any promises, everyone involved wishes to see it extend into other regions of the U.S. (and hopefully beyond) next year and this is already being discussed."


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