Interview with Zak Stevens from Circle II Circle
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Circle II Circle, formed by former Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens, made their debut nine years ago with “Watching in Silence.” Since their inception, they have released four studio releases, and are currently working on their fifth. By the time you are reading this article, Circle II Circle will have already made Savatage history. Circle II Circle are scheduled to play the “Wake of Magellan” album in its entirety at the Wacken Open Air Fest on August 2nd. Circle II Circle are also in the planning stages of putting together their first West Coast tour EVER this October!I had the chance to catch up with Zak Stevens before he headed off to Europe to talk about the tour, the upcoming CD, and more.
Metal Babe: First of all, congratulations on joining with Rage On Stage Management. It sounds like this is a great opportunity to really connect with your U.S. fans. What can fans expect to see as a result of this new arrangement?
Zak Stevens: I think it’s going to be a very positive thing because we’ve been trying to find the best ways to connect with fans in North America. I think the connection of CIIC and Rage On Stage is a really good way to make this happen. This is, of course, is our home territory so we need to level the playing field in terms of playing here as much as we do in Europe and Abroad. We’ve been with Rage On Stage only a short time and they’ve already done some great things for us. This will be a great thing for our fans!
Metal Babe: What stage are you at in the recording process of your upcoming release “Seasons Will Fall?”
Zak: We are finishing up the recording process now, and in about a week we’ll be in full mix-down mode. The record is sounding really great and the goal of this album from the beginning was for it to be the best CIIC to date. Of course that’s a lofty goal, but I really think we’ve done it here with SWF.
Metal Babe: Musically, how does this CD compare and/or differ from your previous releases?
Zak: From the beginning we wanted it to have some elements of all five previous releases, along with some entirely new sounding stuff. So that’s basically what we’ve done with SWF. We’re really happy with how it turned out. Now it’s just down to the fun part of mixing it and putting the final touches on everything
Metal Babe: Is there a certain theme or concept that this CD focuses on?
Zak: Being that it’s not a concept album, the record focuses on a variety of different subjects. What I notice right away in the music and the lyrics is the amount of introspection of everyday life. Because of this, it really reminds me of our first album “Watching In Silence.” It really has that sort of feel to it. It also reminds me of “Burden of Truth” in some ways too but this one’s definitely not a concept album in that sense.
Metal Babe: Do you have an estimated release date in 2013 for “Seasons Will Fall?”
Zak: We’ll make a decision about a solid release date with our new label Edel/EarMusic Records in the coming weeks. I think we’ll see a release date around February 2013 though, so we can really go out there and blow it up out on the road and hit a lot of major venues around the world. That would be great timing. We could really set it up well with some U.S. runs in October on the West Coast for starters, a place where CIIC hasn’t really ventured to at all since the inception of the band.
Metal Babe: What are your touring plans once the CD is released?
Zak: We plan to embark on a world tour, heading to Europe again and then Brazil in the spring of 2013. And in between there will be a lot of touring in the US and to another place we’ve never toured before… Canada.
Metal Babe: Very cool, currently, CIIC is scheduled to play the entire “Wake of Magellan” album at the Wacken Open Air Festival on Thursday, August 2nd. That is going to be phenomenal. I would give anything to be at that show! What can the lucky fans expect from this show?
Zak: We’re going to play the album pretty much in the song order of the WOM album. CIIC actually plays a Savatage tribute set that we perform at select venues around the world. We play a lot of WOM songs in this set already, so now it’s just a matter of putting in the balance of the songs into one set and rocking it from beginning to end. It’s going to be a lot of fun as you can imagine. I always like playing the old Savatage stuff live with CIIC because it flashes me back to when I was doing it with Savatage. It’s always a blast. That’s for sure.
Metal Babe: Oh wow. I had no idea that Circle II Circle played a Savatage tribute set. As far as Wacken is concerned, you had four amazing Savatage albums to choose from, what made you choose to do “WOM?”
Zak: I chose it because it was the latest of the albums I appeared on with Savatage, and it’s a great album in every way, from the concept to the incredible songs. It’s got a lot of great vocal things happening on it too, like the counterpoint melodies that we perfected in Savatage. I still haven’t heard another band in existence even attempt to try this stuff. I think it’s just a great album to showcase in this way.
Metal Babe: I agree. Is there anything on the CD that you have never played live before and are really looking forward to doing?
Zak: Well between CIIC and Savatage we’ve played all the songs live at one time or another. But I’m looking forward to playing “Another Way” and “Paragons of Innocence” with CIIC because those were songs Jon Oliva sang on the WOM album and I really love them. So now it’s time for me to give those songs a shot live and perform them with a whole new perspective.
Metal Babe: I would love to see that. Is this a one-time opportunity, or do you plan on playing “The Wake of Magellan” CD in its entirety again?
Zak: For now I think it’s probably a one-time thing. However we’ll be doing a lot of the songs on this album at every show on the CIIC European tour in August so we’ll be celebrating the album as a theme on this tour the entire way through, along with playing all the favorites from the first five CIIC albums. And there are three other Savatage albums that come to mind that we could perform this concept with…. So be on the lookout in the future!
Metal Babe: Okay. My fingers are crossed. I heard that CIIC might be playing a show in Florida on Friday, August 24th. Do you have any more information on that?
Zak: Yes, we’ll be appearing at PaulFestival in Tampa, FL on August 24th as part of a series of rock bands performing at this Ron Paul rally. The website page for the performers is http://www.paulfestival.org/the-festival/bands-and-performers. It should be a lot of fun and this will mark the first political rally at which CIIC has appeared.
Metal Babe: Tell me about your recent work with Tommy Vitaly on the song “Icewarrior.”
Zak: I had a great time working with Tommy and he’s a great player. I was really excited when he asked me to sing on “Icewarrior.” The song is a great hard driving rock track. This kind of thing allows me to step outside of the CIIC realm once in a while and be able to continually learn things from different writers. Tommy is a great guy and it was a lot of fun appearing on his album “Hanging Rock.”
Metal Babe: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Zak: I’d just like to say, “Here we come!” We’re looking forward to seeing a lot more of our fans around the world in the coming year and in the balance of 2012. We’re also looking forward to playing the “Seasons Will Fall” album for everyone and seeing their reactions to this one!
Metal Babe: Thank you so much Zak for taking the time for this interview. I look forward to the new CD and seeing you out on the road!
Zak: Thank you so much Metal Babe!! Talk to you soon, Z-
For more information on Circle II Circle, including their upcoming tour dates, please see the links below: