LoudTrax.com The first 4 albums each kind of have their own sound. What can we expect from this new album in terms of sound and general vibe?
Zak Stevens It will be different. Much like the other albums offer their own differences in sound. In my view some of the new stuff is revisiting the “traditional” rock guitar sounds and song arrangements that will take us back a chapter or two in time while others are
more basic in scheme. My role, as with all our records, is to make the overall picture appeal to today’s rock listener from a vocal standpoint with the best effort I can and what will hopefully result in hook after hook coming at you full blast.
LoudTrax.com There were some line-up changes on this record. Tell us about them.
Zak Stevens Only one of the original four was added and that is John “Oz” Osborn on drums and old friend of our who has toured with us before our former drummer Tom Drennan, who did a great job for us through the stretch, but it just didn’t work out in the end more due to geographic concerns,. Now Circle II Circle is basically the “core” band; myself on vocals, bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist Mitch Stewart, drums with Oz, guitars and lead guitars by Andy Lee. All we really need now in a four-piece for the Circle II Circle sound with one of the best guitarists out there playing the type of music he does, which basically every style.
LoudTrax.com What is the “concept” and main theme behind this new album?
Zak Stevens It’s a complicated and very deep concept about things happening that we don’t really have much control of, and about a character who is centrally involved, against his will, into this cycle of madness, power, and a lot of crazy things. More on the story later on as things come more together with the music....
LoudTrax.com “Consequence of Power” is a concept album. Do you have your own favorite concept album or any concept albums that inspired you on this one?
Zak Stevens Well the nature of the concept on “Consequence of Power” talks more from a street level then from some giant conglomerate force, so the wealth and power we see are from the mass of money coming from private firms into the hands of let’s say the blue collar man. It’s harder to track from a law enforcement standpoint. I mean I have to admit I’m from a time where Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” was a huge influence on me. I was learning big time about how the be successful in music and that album was just sort of overwhelming at the time. I think that’s gotten a hold on me but it’s hard to say how it will affect this album, if any. But I guess we will see...
LoudTrax.com You performed back-up vocals with Trans-Siberian Orchestra on their last album Night Castle, and, have the Machines of Grace album out (which will be released in Canada on April 20), and, are currently recording the new Circle II Circle album. Do you find you have to wear different “hats” for each project to maintain the uniqueness of each?
Zak Stevens No, not really. They’re all different styles but when you know how to sing you just have to make the adjustment from style to style. The Machines Of Grace is the most comfortable for me because it was the stuff I’ve been working on the longest. The other stuff like Savatage and Circle II Circle and TSO is more of an “applied” concept of learning to adjust vocally, that works well but that’s what that is. The Machines Of Grace stuff is the first I had to write completely alone, from the heart, etc. so it’s the most comfortable ‘cause it’s been around the longest. See the trend here? Ha Ha...
LoudTrax.com If you take a look at the projects that are currently based on the Savatage foundation, TSO, Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva’s Pain, Circle II Circle, Machines of Grace, etc… Each one is obtaining its own successes, and many fans hope for a Savatage reunion tour and new album. How important is it to you guys to do a reunion, especially now, when the interest level would be at an all time high?
Zak Stevens Well my hope is just that the interest and momentum over a Savatage reunion would overcome speculation and decision making within the organization and just react to the reality of the capital and monetary demand for such a thing and let’s get out there and do it. That’s always been my take on the subject, period.
LoudTrax.com Let's talk about the Machines Of Grace project with Jeff Plate (Savatage, TSO and Metal Church). This is a project you worked on with Jeff about 20 years ago which was originally called Wicked Witch. It’s cool to see successful artists release music for the pure pleasure of it. Is Machines Of Grace something you plan on building on, or was it simply a one-off? A way to get those songs on record?
Zak Stevens I would say a big part of it was getting our favorite WickedWitch songs on a “real” record to hear them in their own power and glory. We had to change the name of the band due to a legal dispute, but we overcame that stuff with MOG. And truthfully I must tell you when we walk up there to perform “MOG” songs, I really think and get fired up to go on stage and perform “Wicked Witch” songs, because that’s what they really are to me, and what they really meant to me, and that is the times we played and lived in. And it was an unbelievable experience up in New England that I wish I could do again....Maybe we are.....
LoudTrax.com I saw that you have European tour dates for Machines Of Grace planned. Are you guys playing on festivals or doing your own headlining gigs? Where can fans find the tour dates?
Zak Stevens Well I don’t have details on that part yet but let’s just say we’re working on a lot of different things for this summer and fall....
LoudTrax.com There is a Circle II Circle tour planned for USA, South America and Europe. Will that be in time for the Fall release of “Consequence of Power”? What else can you tell us about the C II C tour?
Zak Stevens Well we’re going to most likely start in Texas do about 5 shows or so then and then go out west like Los Angeles, and Phoenix, AZ, and New Mexico. We’re going all over the Midwest, and back through the South so it should be a great US Tour with some great gigs for us. We’re going to Europe too on a pretty extensive run, and then devote a few weeks trying to expand from Brazil to Argentina and maybe Chili and more places like that over in South America.
LoudTrax.com Thanks for taking the time to do an interview for LoudTrax.com, the rock, metal, punk download site.
Zak Stevens Thanks Antonio!
Have a great weekend.
Here is a video of Zak performing the classic "Sirens" with Jon Oliva, Alex Skolnick, Plate and Middleton in 1994 in Japan. One of my favorite Savatage moments.