CIRCLE II CIRCLE - ...A Few Words From Zak Stevens
....A Few Words From Zak Stevens
- Teks av Even Knudsen, 15. juli 2008 -
CIRCLE II CIRCLE, featuring ex-Savatage lead singer Zak Stevens are back with their fourth studio album entitled 'Delusions Of Grandeur'. I spoke to the boss himself a while ago about the magnificent album and more.... including the possibility of seeing C2C on a Norwegian stage in near future...
First of all Zak, thanx for answering my questions and congratulations with another magnificent Circle II Circle album
Thank you very much!
On the first Circle II Circle album you received a helping hand from your former Savatage bandmates, Chris and Jon, but on the later albums you have been on your own. How does the writing process for a new Circle II Circle album work now, and in what way do you feel it has progressed over the past few years?
The furthest progression has simply been in the aplication of a consistent process, and just building upon that foundation over the last few years. Mitch Stewart (bassist) and I write most all the songs together. Evan Chrsitopher (guitar) also contributed on the song ”Soul Breaker”. Mitch comes up with the riffs for the most pat, and he and i arrange and I write the lyrics and take care of the vocal aspect. That’s pretty much our formula for now.
The album has been out for about a month now, how has the press responded to ’Delusions of grandeur’ so far? We’ve had a great response so far, and we’re glad that people like it as much as we enjoyed making the record
The first thing that came to my mind after having heard the new album, was that it sounds slightly more straight forward with more of an in-your-face attitude than your previous releases. Was this something you deliberately were aiming for, and how satisfied are you with the finished product? The sound on this album really came quite naturally in the writing aspect. It may sound more straightforward this time, but that’s just the way the cards fell in the writing sessions I guess. We didn’t really have a pre-plan for the sound, we just let things occur naturally within the process. We’re very satisfied with the product and the change in studio that helped us along in regards to the overall sound.
Do you feel that Circle II Circle have found it’s musical path now, or will the music develop in another direction on the next album?
I think we’ve landed upon somethings we can really build upon for the next album ( #5). We may mix elements of the last two albums on the next one, but it’s so hard to predict at this point.
If I asked you to pick one personal favourite song from this album, which one would that be and why? I like ”Echoes” because it combines the power band element and the piano-vocal that has always been a strong point for me vocally.
My favourite track is definitely ’Echoes’ as well, partly because it is a great song but most of all because it allows the unique emotional and dramatic characteristics of your voice to shine through. It really touches me the same way as for instance the amazing ’This isn’t what we meant’ from the ’Dead winter dead’ album. It’s not that I don’t like the up-tempo songs but I would have expected to hear more ballades and slower, more atmospheric tunes on your albums. Is this based on a need to distance from your Savatage past, or are there other reasons for not doing slower songs? There was never a pre-conceived distancing aspect in regards to separation from Savatage. I think there were just a lot of emotions and aggression from the writers this time around, that definitely manifested itself in the new songs. It’s an example of the changing mindset that we had going into making “Delusions”.
Since we’re already talking about favourites, which is your personal favourite among Savatage albums, and which Savatage song is your favourite to perform?
My favorite Savatage albums I performed on were Edge of Thorns and Dead Winter Dead, but I think they were all great in their own respect. I guess the one song that i still like performing more than most is ”Edge of Thorns” because it was the first big radio hit that Savatage had to that point.
Circle II Circle sounds like a very mature band now, how did you end up with these talented musicians (I mean, you don’t hear guitar players of Andrew Lee’s every day)? This is true. Actually I had good luck finding them because Andy, Mitch, Evan, and Tom were all playing in several different acts together at the time we met. So they sort of came as one package in a way. Even on an individual basis these guys are monsters at what they do. We all lucked out together I suppose.
I guess you have some touring scheduled already, is there any chance that we’ll see Circle II Circle on a Norwegian stage in the near future? And what about copying the concept for the American tour with Circle II Circle and Jon Oliva’s Pain together for a European tour?
We really hope to visit Norway soon. We have some eally good friends from Norway, and it would be great to see everyone on their home turf for a change. Actually, we are looking to come back to Europe w/ JOP as well as have our US Tour, which is alreay booked. We tour Brazil to start things off for ”Delusions of Grandeur” the week of June 9th.
I personally rate you as one of the most charismatic singers in the business today, what’s your secret recipe for keeping your voice in shape? I just try to keep singing to stay on top of my game. I try to stay in shape as much as I can and I have lots of strtching exercises I do before each show to try and alleviate as much ”vocal tension” as possible.
When I spoke to Jon Oliva in Oslo a couple of years ago, he told me that there would probably be a final Savatage album made someday to close that chapter and to celebrate the band 25th anniversary (…which was last year), and that most former Savatage members would be featured. Do you think that such a thing would ever happen, and if it should, how likely is it that we will hear Zak Stevens singing on a Savatage album again? If this happens, you’ll definitely see Zak Stevens taking part. I agree with Jon in every aspect of this, so I would definitely be interested if indeed that were to happen.
You told me that you have re-united with among others Jeff Plate for the Wicked Witch project, releasing a new album consisting of both new and older material next year. Tell us a little more about this project. Yes, we’re going to release 12 previously unrecorded songs for the most part. A few of the songs had been demo’s to some extent along the way, but now we’re recording all of them in the ”big” studio so they can be produced correctly. These songs are a completely different ”animal” that what you’re used to hearing with Savatage or CIIC, so it’s been a great time doing this particular album.
Well I guess that’s about it for now. Thanx again for answering my questions and I really hope to see you on a Norwegian stage some day....any last words to your Norwegian fans? Hello Norway! We really hope to see you this fall on our European tour. A huge ”Thanks” goes out to everyone for all of the support through the years! Have a great summer.