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Zak Stevens: Steps to Grandeur

Zak Stevens: Steps to Grandeur
BANDS : Circle II Circle

Zak Stevens is not denying his roots, but he's slowly stepping away from them. Eight years have passed since he left Savatage and as Delusions of Grandeur is ready to hit the shelves, he now seems more determined than ever to forge himself a new identity with his band, Circle II Circle. But that doesn't mean he's not excited at the thought of a Savatage reunion!


Metalfan: Warm up question: I’ve read some interviews with you guys, but I didn’t find anywhere an explanation: what the name of this band means?
Zak: It comes from going  from one musical „circle” in Savatage to another circle with Circle II Circle, and just performing the best music we can based on all our past and present influences.

Metalfan: Your previous record, The Burden of Truth was a concept album, is this the case with Delusions of Grandeur, too?
Zak: Delusions is not a concept record this time. We really enjoyed making the concept record with Burden, but we just wanted to change things up a bit with this new release.   

Metalfan: How did the writing happen for the new songs? How many songwriters are in the band?
Zak: The song writing process was the same as with every album. We usually come up with the music first, then polish up the arrangements then I add the vocal melodies and the lyrics. Paul Michael Stewart (bassist/keys/vocals) is my co-writer for music for the most part. Evan Christopher (rhythm guitars) also co-wrote the song Soul Breaker with Mitch and I on Delusions. 

Metalfan: Are you still playing drums? Did you record any drum parts for the new album?
Zak: Yes I still play drums, I’ve played since I was nine years old. I used to play most of the drums on Circle II Circle records in the past, but Tom Drennan played all the drums on Delusions and did a fantastic job. 



Metalfan: I think that that the new material is surprisingly heavy and raw, it even goes into thrash metal at times. Where did this anger come from? Whas it planned or it just came out this way?
Zak: It’s just a natural progression for us from album to album. I think it’s indicative of the world that surrounds us today.

Metalfan: Did the new songs call for any changes in the way you do the vocals, are there any new things you tried this time around?
Zak: Not really, it’s still the same power metal approach moving lots of air. I like to get at least three different days of vocals on each song, which we did again with Delusions

Metalfan: Did it take long to record? You're usually producing your records, was this the case this time around too?
Zak: Actually both Mitch Stewart and I were the producers on this record. Mitch deserved producer credit on this one for his all-around awesome effort in the recording and mixing process. We were there together through the entire process. It took about one month to record the album. 

Metalfan: Is there a song among the new ones that you find particulary exciting to sing? Is there one you find difficult to perform live?
Zak: I like performing the songs Waiting, Echoes, and Soulbreaker a lot. Probably the most difficult one to perform is Every Last Thing.

Metalfan: What is the thing you like the most about this new album?
Zak: I like the bombastic nature of the overall „loud” sound. I think the sounds on Delusions capture the real essence of the band as if we were performing live on stage.

Metalfan: Is Circle II Circle still a vocal driven band? I would say that on this new record the guitar parts are quite prominent, too, what is your take on this?
Zak: I think the guitars on this album rival the vocals more than on any other album to date. There’a lot more competition, so if you notice I had to mix the vocal out front a bit more to capture the hugeness of the band’s actual sound correctly.



Metalfan: Do you like touring? How's your live activity?
Zak: I sing a lot lately on the local Tampa Bay area scene to stay busy. We’re playing South America in June for 5/6 shows, then going to Japan. In September we’re touing with Jon Oliva’s Pain in the USA for 3 weeks. Should be a lot of fun.

Metalfan: Tell us more about this tour with Jon Oliva and Manticora, what do you think it will be like? Have you checked out Manticora yet, listened to any of their stuff?
Zak: Yes they are awesome. I look forward to lots of very special nights with fans really enjoying a special time of Circle II Circle, Jon Oliva’s Pain and Savatage music.

Metalfan: You've been working with AFM Records for some time now. They're from Germany, does this mean that your music is rather suited for the European public?
Zak: Well these days our music has become equally well suited for the USA, if not more in the past two years. That’s why we’ve been able to stay busy in the States, but we’re going back to Europe as usual as well. 

Metalfan: When you started this band, everyone was seeing you as an ex-Savatage singer. There are probably some people that still do. Does this bother you? Is it important for you to establish yourself a new identity apart from Savatage?
Zak: Well I think we’ve done a lot towards establishing our identity over our four albums.  It doesn’t bother me at all to be called Savatage’ ex-singer. I’ll never deny my roots in the business. We play Sava songs, so i’m going to let everyone know where i come from every night anyway.

Metalfan: Do you think there's any chance for a Savatage reunion anytime soon?
Zak: I really think we can do this given the right timing. Etc. We’ll have to see how things pan out in the coming months, but i think there’s still a great chance that this can happen! I’m a fan, too, so I know my opinion is biased!


A big Thanx to Claus - for the pics

Autor: Klawz
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Circle II Circle

   April 09, 2008  | 2 Comments  | 8238 Views « BACK

Comment on: Zak Stevens: Steps to Grandeur

  • Hehe, m-ai facut curios, ia sa ascult si eu :)

    1. Posted by Strasse | 10 Aprilie 2008 15:48

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