Zak Stevens talks about "Seasons Will Fall" Circle II Circle's latest powerful release!

A Few years ago I discovered that one of my favorites singers Zak Stevens, who everybody knows was the main front man, singer for Savatage, one of the most influential Rock-Opera ensembles in History of Music (see archive), had have put out his own project called Circle to Circle, with several albums in their curriculum, now is time for Seasons Will Fall. 

I had the honor to talk to Zak Stevens on the phone back then and as a privilege to me now, Zak once more speaks to Musica en Progreso.

Musica en Progreso: How's the Machines Of grace project? is it still going? or if you have any other projects or upcoming collaborations you'd like to talk about please: 

Zak: We have talked about making a second Machines of Grace album but we haven't set an exact time frame for it as of right now. But we will keep everyone in the loop on this in our social media circles for sure when the timing is right. This year I'm only making a few guest appearances on albums. One is for Gabriele Bernasconi and Producer Fulvio Trinca Colonel (Italy) for a rock opera that is a story about Cain and Abel where my character role is that of the Keeper of the gate. 

My other appearance will be for composer Jesus Arjona Rodriguez (Spain) on his theatrical rock creation TBA. 

MEP: Please if you could briefly explain the new Circle to Circle album, song by song. and why the name of the album, how it was conceived, when and where was it recorded? 

Zak: When we first started writing songs for "Seasons Will Fall" we wanted to have a little taste of musical styles from each of the previous five CIIC albums, plus add the usual new directions here and there within the album. From the first song, we wanted to come out with the usual bang and get the listener's attention to the new and powerful guitar sounds we're getting now with going to the two-guitar attack.
 The Songs:
-"Diamond Blade" , co-written by our newest guitarist Christian Wentz, is a song about a person or situation that is out to get the best of you and ensuing fight to regain your soul. 
-The next song "Without A Sound" also features a new writer who writes along with me and Mitch Stewart, our new executive producer Craig Blackwell. He joined Mitch and I in writing this one and it has a ghostly feel to it so the subject matter is basically around dealing with the loss of someone close to you. 
-On "Killing Death", this is a song about killing off the things that might be hurtful or painful to your life before they finally wind up killing you. Could be anything from a bad relationship to a bad job, etc. 
-"Epiphany" is about a reawakening in life. Actually from my perspective "Epiphany" has more to do with it being my personal tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio. He was one of the hugest vocal influences of mine as a kid growing up and I also had the extreme pleasure of meeting him and talking to on several occasions before his passing in 2010. 
 -"End of Emotion" is an example of a new approach for us and also has that tone of having to re-think everyone such as in life's ups and downs and maybe having to have a major change in your life, etc. 
-"Dreams That Never Die" is a song about what happens to someone psychologically if they have always had a strong desire to pursue a dream in life but they never try it because they know it might result in hard times and it might not come to fruition. I think these thoughts keep millions of people from pursuing their dreams. 
-The title track "Seasons Will Fall" is about the idea that everything has a beginning and an end, whether it is a time of uncertainty or negativity or the best of times. It also has to do with the circle of life...The beginning and the end. We have a video for this song coming out in the next few days.
 -"Never Gonna Stop" actually has sort of the opposite meaning of "Dreams That Never Die" because in this song the attitude is that the person is never going to stop pursuing their dreams. 
-"Isolation" is a song about feeling like on your path you are constantly being abandoned but you are trying everything you can to stay on course and fight the fight. 
-"Sweet Despair" has a lot of elements of my own personal life and things I have been through in life. So I just thought the music really compelled me to put these thoughts to paper and let those become the lyrics to this song. 
-"Downshot" is a song I wrote with our executive producer Craig Blackwell and is also a song about
fighting for what you believe in although all the naysayers are telling you to give up your dreams and disappear. 
-Finally "Only Yesterday" is a song dedicated to our former and first guitarist of CIIC, Matt Laporte who passed away in his sleep on April 20, 2011. His death was a shock to all of his best friends and this was the first time we had a chance to dedicate a song to his life so we definitely wanted to do this on the SWF album for Matt (RIP). 

The first two songs for SWF were the title track "Seasons Will Fall" and the song "Dreams That Never Die". They were written about two years ago, so we started writing for this album pretty quickly after the release of our previous album C.O.P. The overall songwriting process for SWF was similar to the way we write every album. The individual tracks recordings were performed mostly at each of the guys home studios and I recorded the vocals in Northern CA at Christian Wentz home studio where we also mixed and mastered the SWF album. 

MEP: Seems that CIIC is doing pretty good how are the sales? And how's the concert agenda? 

Zak: Yes things have never been better for CIIC. Since its release on January 29th, SWF has already out-sold the last four CIIC albums and the buzz all over is really great. We'll be touring in Europe the entire month of May and we'll be in Brazil on tour for the month of June. After that we come home to prepare to tour the USA in August/September in the Southeast (including Prog Power USA Festival in Atlanta, GA and Deland Metal Fest in FL) and in October/November in the Midwest (yes Chicago) and into the Northeast including the Rock Harvest II Festival in MD. 

MEP: Great I might finally see your Band live!, tell us about your favorite places to visit while touring, favorite concert venues, upcoming festivals inside the US and outside! 

Zak: Besides the above-mentioned festivals we've enjoyed playing Waken Open Air in Germany and we really enjoy playing around Brazil. We just sent to the Middle East for the first time this past November in Dubai which was incredible not only because of the amazing sights but because it was our first trip to that region to share our music live with all the great fans in that part of the world. 

MEP: When did you decided to play the Classic Savatage Album "Edge of Thorns" in its entirety and why? 

Zak: Mainly because it's the 20th Anniversary of the album as well as the 20th Anniversary of the passing of Criss Oliva. So we wanted to pay a double tribute in this sense and celebrate the true greatness of Criss Oliva's life in the process. 

MEP: Could you name the Band members and talk about their personalities and talents! or talk about them briefly (perhaps I could Interview one of them, if so? let me know how can I contact them, please. 

Zak: After the release of the C.O.P. album and the ensuing tour in 2010-2011, I personally had a long list of things I wanted to improve upon. One aspect happened to be the lineup, but the changes were more extensive than I had originally planned. But in this case one move led to another and there were guys who had played together in bands before (such as was the case with guitarist Bill Hudson and drummer Adam Sagan in the band Cellador). So one move sort of led to another in regards to the lineup changes, but now Mitch and I finally have the lineup we've been envisioning that we wanted for many years now. Bill Hudson has already logged about two years in CIIC on past tours so he's not really a new member to us, but he is a permanent member for the first time. Christian Wentz on guitar is a new member with us and both Bill and Christian have been great friends of ours since 2006 so it's great to have them in the band and solidifying the two-guitar attack. Adam Sagan is new to the lineup as well as our new drummer and he is from Minneapolis, MN. His playing style really fits CIIC perfectly so we're very excited to have Adam with us now. For the first time CIIC has added a permanent keyboardist in Germany's own Henning Wanner and as with all of our new members, Henning brings a wealth of touring experience into the band. As a matter of fact Adam is CIIC's tour manager for all US dates and Henning is our tour manager in Europe. 

MEP: Have you been in touch with John Oliva? Anything going on related to Savatage or you just rather prefer to concentrate on CIIC? 

Zak: Yes I spoke to Jon not too long ago, it was this past December at the T.S.O. (Trans Siberian Orchestra)show in Tampa, FL. We talk quite often about tour possibilities with J.O.P. (John Oliva's Pain) and things like that. At this point from everything I know regarding any talk of Savatage reunions, it is only rumors at this point. We do know that since the transition of Savatage to form the new band T.S.O., Jon Oliva is not a supporter of the Savatage reunion idea at all. So that will have to be discussed with Jon and of course with Paul O'Neill (Producer) and something would have to change in that regard before any reunion is possible. Of course involved in potential Savatage business knows that I am interested in being part of it if it ever happens. That's really all I know about it from my standpoint at this time unfortunately. 

MEP: Thanks Zak, greetings and best of luck always, hope I can help promote your Art/Music out, and increase your sales, your voice is a classic, also a very humble thank you from this your server, can't explain how privileged I feel, my Friend . Take care and greetings to the family!


Zak: Thank you so much Rodrigo!! If you want to interview Mitch Stewart or Bill Hudson you can contact them I wish you all the best for your family as always!

Exclusively for Musica en Progreso March 2013


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