–ZAK STEVENS—Savatage, Circle II Circle, Trans-Siberian Orchestra,Wicked Witch, Machines Of Grace

-S. M. W. — OnOne-

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          From banging on pots and pans on the kitchen floor and winning his elementary school talent show to studying at MIT’s Vocal Institute of Technology in Hollywood, Ca. in their very first classes and selling out arenas world-wide; you could say that ZAK STEVENS is certainly dedicated to mastering his craft.  But he wasn’t sure music would pan out so he attended the University of South Carolina going for a degree in psychology.  “Actually music was my fallback career in the beginning because it was always pretty much just a hobby for me. Music was my first love but we all know how that goes, with it being very difficult to have a hobby transition into a career.  So as it turns out I never really got going with the psychology thing because music luckily just kept taking more and more precedence in my life.”

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          As a child, ZAK was influenced by many different genres but is a true blues/rock lover, even being a member of the KISS ARMY with his first show at age 10 on the DESTROYER 1977 tour.  He states that they have the best hands-down stage show ever.  “KISS on the Destroyer album tour 1977…..I was 10 years old.  That’s where it all started….I think KISS had the best stage show I had seen as a kid and well beyond that.  Just the theatrics and shock and awe of it all, with Gene Simmons spitting the blood and breathing fire.  They also started all the huge hydraulic lifts that set the stage for all of the pyrotechnics and stuff that you see in mainstream rock shows today.   But with the type of music that we perform I prefer it to be a bit more atmospheric because that fits the mood of our music better.  There’s a time for the bangs and decoration with our stuff but it tends to be more for the end of the show.  We don’t really have any one particular message, but a lot of our lyrics come from the perspective of everyday people’s struggles and the means they use to overcome obstacles in life.  A lot of our music just deals with the struggle of everyday of people we meet in our travels or stories we’ve heard along the way in our travels around the world.  We’re lucky to be able to travel all around playing our music for people so we like to pass along some of what we’ve learned on the road in our songs.”    

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          On the road, ZAK says that the most essential thins he brings are, “Different types of medications just in case something happens.  As long I have them nothing usually happens but if I forget them that will be that time something happens.  Murphy’s Law of course…. I don’t really get that nervous anymore.  As a matter of fact I like the situations where it might be a little more nerve-racking just to get a little more nervous energy going.  But normally I’m very relaxed and I just use my pre-show vocal warm-up routine to relax me and put my mind in the “zone” and relaxed for the show.  Then after that it’s just a matter of going out there and having a good time.”

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          We asked him what his favorite venue/club to play at is and he said, “One of our favorite venues these days is in Pratteln, Switzerland at a venue called “Z7”.  It’s pretty much on the border of Germany and it’s just a great room with a large stage and a huge PA system.  They have their own in-house chef and catering in their own kitchen upstairs at the venue which is really famous all the rock bands that tour around Europe because the food is fantastic.  Z7 is owned by a very nice gentleman named Norbert who I have known for 20 years and he really treats all bands very well and all the bands have a great time playing there.  The crowd really gets into the music too and that also helps make it a great venue to play.”

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          His impressive body of work includes fronting the heavy metal band SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, to his current project, a melodic guitar-oriented rock group titled Circle II Circle (who expects their latest to be out sometime this fall) as well as guest vocals/lyrics on the upcoming AVALON album titled “Neon Sirens”.   

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When we asked him about the breaking up of SAVATAGE and the formation of his band CIRCLE II CIRCLE he had this to say:  “Well actually it wasn’t so much a “demise” of Savatage rather than the advent of the band Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  No single member of Savatage had any more roles in it than any other.  It was an idea that Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neill had back in 1996 when the song “Sarajevo 12/24” got a lot of attention from the mainstream radio at the time.  In order to find a way to continue marketing this Christmas music type sound that Savatage had created upon on the Dead Winter Dead album, it was necessary to create a new band from the old one so to speak.  So all of the previous Savatage members knew as early as 1997 that Savatage was going to eventually transition into becoming TSO.  So that’s pretty much it.  Of course the untimely death of Criss Oliva in my opinion was basically the beginning of a forthcoming change to the band, but we didn’t really know what form that was going to take until the creation of TSO solidified that transition in 1997.  So that’s basically what happened with Savatage.  It is now known as the band TSO.”

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          We asked where the name CIRCLE II CIRCLE came from, “It comes from the fact that I had come from one “circle” of friends in Savatage and formed another “circle” in the new band that became CIIC.  But at the same time in the beginning of the band, I wrote songs with Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery who came from the previous circle.  So we were very connected in the new circle by members of the previous one.  That’s basically how we came up with the name.”

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          ZAK has remained graciously busy doing his life’s dream “job” for over 2 decades.  With that said, it’s no shock that he feels that bands need periods of style changes to stay creative and have long lasting career stamina.  STEVENS who considers himself a blues singer that does heavy metal music, says he thinks it is a good necessary thing to look at different areas other than only rock, because it made him a much more well-rounded musician.  “Well I discovered the song “Jam” by this band called L.T.D. and it got me very interested in funk music for a long time back in the day.  It was good to look at different areas other than rock for a while because it made me a more well-rounded musician at the time.   “I guess my signature thing is basically being a blues singer that sings heavy metal music.  Everything I do vocally is based on power yet with a blues touch that is pretty well disguised but stems from the beginning of my singing career.  I started singing when I was nine years old and the music that first shaped my vocals was the rock music that was popular back then.  A lot of it was blues-based.  Our genre is traditional heavy rock/metal music.  We’re very vocal and guitar centered but our music is very melodic on the vocal side as well.”

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Over his career, ZAK says that the key for his success lasting over 20 years is, “Basically it’s just using all of my tools to the best of my ability and keeping that blues/rock feel intact that seems to work for me as a vocalist.  We asked him about his writing process, “We start with demo ideas submitted by each of our guys and send around the mp3s to be reviewed by me and all the members of the band.  These usually consist of only the music portion of the potential songs without vocals in the beginning of the process.  Then as we choose the strongest songs and finalize the arrangements, I add the lyrics and the vocal parts.”

 He believes it pays off to be patient.  Good things will come, even if when it seems like it’s taking forever to happen….  Live, laugh, rock and live some more….

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ZAK STEVENS OnOne’s :

Most ______song list by you–

Most sad song — “Daniel” – Elton John

Most romantic song — “Lovesong” – The Cure

Most angry song —”Sugar” – System of a Down

Most energetic song— “Take Me to the Top” – Motley Crue

Worst song you have ever heard— “Baby” – Justin Bieber

Best song you have ever heard— “Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin

Song You Think Should Be Turned Into a Movie—

“Beyond the Realms of Death – Judas Priest.  There are a lot of ways to go with this plot but I think they would all be very interesting.”

Top 4 Best Album Covers In Your Mind:

1) Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

2) Heaven and Hell – Black Sabbath

3) Stained Class – Judas Priest

4) Killers -Iron Maiden

All-time favorite – Flirtin’ with Disaster – Molly Hat

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LINKS:

DISCOGS: http://www.discogs.com/artist/516876-Circle-II-Circle

DISCOGS: http://www.discogs.com/artist/271501-Zak-Stevens

MYSPACE: https://myspace.com/zakstevenstar

MYSPACE: https://myspace.com/circleiicircle

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ZakStevensOfficial

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/CircleIICircle

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/StevensZak

WIKIPEDIA: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zachary_Stevens

WIKIPEDIA: len.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_II_Circle

METAL ARCHIVES: http://www.metal-archives.com/artists/Zak_Stevens/25364

METAL ARCHIVES: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Circle_II_Circle/7170

LAST.FM: http://www.last.fm/music/Circle+II+Circle

REVERBNATION: http://www.reverbnation.com/circle2circle

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