Drummer - Heavy Metal
Bands: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Metal Church, Savatage
Life and career
Plate grew up on a farm in Horseheads, New York, just South of the Upstate Finger Lakes Region. As a youth, he was athletically gifted and an exceptional young baseball player. With a 'country boy fastball' and dreams of becoming a pitcher for the New York Yankees, his dream took a bad turn when his hip popped out of joint at the age of 12. On crutches for 4 months, he was advised to give up playing sports for two years in order for the hip to heal properly. However, he saw KISS perform on The Midnight Special when the following year, and this inspired him to become a musician. He quickly gravitated towards the drums. After taking lessons in school and privately, he found himself jamming with older musicians, and as soon as he was old enough he was playing in all of the local clubs. Gigging constantly in his hometown, he realized that Horseheads was not going to be the place to make anything happen, he moved to Tampa, Florida in 1981. This proved to be a bad move and he then moved back to New York.
A little over 2 years later he moved to the Boston area and joined a working cover band with some hometown friends. Through a mutual friend, Jeff later met Boston guitarist Matt Leff. Leff had been playing in a band Wicked Witch, whose lead vocalist was Zak Stevens. Wicked Witch went through a few lineup changes and had broken up at the time Matt and Jeff started playing together. Zak was living in Hollywood but had decided to move to Boston to reform a 2nd version of Wicked Witch. On one night in late 1989, Zak flew in to meet Matt and Jeff. After picking him up at the airport the 3 of them decided to go to a downtown Boston club called The Channel. Oddly enough the band playing that night was Savatage.
Wicked Witch played hundreds of shows in the greater New England Area over several years, opening for many national acts and headlining all of the major area rock clubs. In 1991 Nirvana came onto the scene and changed the landscape of rock and roll across the country. As with hundreds of bands, Wicked Witch suffered from the change. In the fall of 1992, Jon Oliva announced he was leaving Savatage. Zak got the call to join them. With Wicked Witch at the crossroads. Zak accepted the call, and made his Savatage debut on 1993's Edge of Thorns. Wicked Witch folded soon after, as they couldn't get a replacement for Stevens. In 1993 Plate moved back to upstate New York to regroup. He joined an alternative/country rock band called Voodoo Rodeo, which put its own stamp on a number of Country and Rock covers.
After hearing of the death of Criss Oliva, guitarist and founding member of Savatage, Jeff called Zak Stevens to see how he was doing, and was surprised to learn that Savatage would regroup and continue, and that they wanted him to be the new drummer. Joining the band for the 'Handful Of Rain' U.S tour in the fall of '94, they then went to Japan and recorded "Japan Live '94". This was Plate's first professional recording. He then recorded 3 more albums with Savatage, "Dead Winter Dead", "The Wake Of Magellan", and "Poets and Madmen". World tours supported all of these releases. Although the band has not performed since 2012, there has been no official statement on the band's breakup.
The success of the single "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" from Dead Winter Dead lead to the formation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO). Plate has recorded every TSO release to date; "Christmas Eve and Other Stories", "THe Christmas Attic", "Beethoven's Last Night", "The Lost Christmas Eve", "Nightcastle" and the EP "Dreams Of Fireflies(On A Christmas Night". He has also performed on every Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tour, including the annual Winter Tours and several Spring Tours. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has sold over 10 million cds and concert tickets to date.
In addition to his work with TSO, he has also performed on the solo albums of fellow TSO member Chris Caffery, and has performed numerous shows with former violinist Mark Wood and his Electrify Your Strings Program. Plate has always noted that the EYS shows have been some of his most rewarding performances, dealing directly with young musicians and orchestra members. In 2006 Plate recorded "Long Time No Sing" with vocalist John West.
Heavy Metal Legends, Metal Church, also called in 2006, and Plate joined the band. He has recorded 3 albums and done several world tours with the band. After some member changes and a brief hiatus, the band is still going strong and preparing for a new album and tour in 2015.
In 2009 Jeff formed a new Heavy Metal group with fellow Savatage alumnus Zak Stevens (vocals), Matt Leff (guitars), and Chris Rapoza (bass) - the band's name is Machines of Grace. The band has an independent self-titled release. MOG was an extension of the earlier Wicked Witch project that Plate, Leff and Stevens had in Boston. The album was well received, very good reviews, but the difficulty and expense of continuing the project stopped it after its initial release.
The loss of his sister Terry to a car accident in 2003 was his most devastating event to date, "These moments put everything in perspective. Changed my life..." Terry is survived by her 2 sons Bradley and Jeff.
In 2008 Plate married Cathy Fracasso.
Jeff currently resides in upstate New York, teaches privately and performs locally with his cover band RUST.
Jeff Plate Drumstick Collection
Current Drumstick Count in Collection: 6.