Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: November 2006
Hey, Zak how;s everything?
Good, I'm ready to go...
Tell me what kind of kid Zachary was growing up threw high school?
Ha-ha, it was amazing. I guess it was the best it could ever be for an American kid. Growing up in the 80's in high school, the girls were amazing...tons of unbelievable girls. I would party with friends meeting up in South Carolina-- the drinking age was eighteen. They changed it later on, but it was too late...we all had fake ID's, Reagan was in office then, and he said, "If you raised the drinking age to twenty-one you will get more highway money." It was a lot freer when I was young. I was on the track team and ran twelve miles to the state house and twelve back and no one every worried about me. I can't even imagine my kids now going 500 feet down the street. It's so different now. You're afraid to let your kids do anything.
For Halloween, you have to go with your kids...you never know what's going to happen...
Yeah, here in Tampa we have a few houses here that are blocked off by law enforcement. They are wrapped in that orange police tape, and you're not allowed to go there because they are registered offenders. I guess it's good that they warn you, but it's sick that there are people like that!
I don't understand that drinking age thing. You can go to war at eighteen but you can't have a drink until your twenty-one.
I agree, I was watching 'Sixty Minutes' the other day and it sickens me about all the guys getting injured. Our servicemen are sitting there with their arms dangling, legs off and pieces of their faces blown off...and all they have to say is, "we have the state of the art medical care." That does not impress me...it all sickens me! I have a huge dislike of all that stuff. I am sick of all our guys getting killed, for what!!! We are not winning that war, never, ever! It's just a matter of when we can get out safely, at this point. If he (Bush) wants to drag it out until his term is done, I guarantee the America people are going to dump the Republicans like a hot potatoes. As soon as the Democrats get in control...we're out of there, dude! If we have star wars, which Reagan started back in his term, we don't need to be over there in their backyard. We can take them out!!! Let's use the technology and get the job done; it's a place where nobody wants you and there's a civil war coming.
Getting back to the music, what was the first record or CD you ever bought?
Like a record, it was the STEVE MILLER BAND (As Zak starts singing "Space Cowboy"). That was the first single I ever got, (as Zak starts singing the rest of the song he gets to the part where it says 'midnight toker', but stops and says) the kids are around (laughing.)
How about the first concert?
KISS Destroyer tour. I was nine and my brother was eight, we road in a typical 'that seventies van' with my brother's friend's brother who was in high school. That being my first concert I was destined to stay in the rock business. It was a good influence.
You went to the University of South Carolina and were the drummer in the marching band right?
Yeah, we had a great time going to the bowl games, marching in front of 180,000 people in the Orange Bowl.
Did you think about singing back then?
I was always singing, I was always singing in bands I was a part of, even during college. I had bands with chick lead singers, dude lead singers. Most of the successful bands I was in always had a female vocalist. The big bands back then were PAT BENATAR...and the female leads ruled back then. I always did the harmonies and every once in awhile I would sing lead but playing drums and singing leads...you can't do that all night long.
What was the name of the first garage band you were in before WICKED WITCH?
WICKED WITCH was pretty music the band that got me the SAVATAGE gig. But the first band ever I was in would be ARIAS (laughing) that's when I was seven years old. We won a talent show; I was in fifth grade my brother was in fourth. Later I was in a KISS tribute band called BLACK DIAMOND (Zak starts singing "Black Diamond"); I was also in a band called BACK STREETS with a chick lead singer.
1988 WICKED WITCH releasing a demo in 1990 with "Breakdown", "This Time", "Soul to Fire", "Just a Game", "The Moment", "Midnight Rain." Tell us about that?
That was the first band I was in that I was the lead singer. We did the New Hampshire scene, Boston, Rhode Island and Providence. It was rock 'n' roll back then. I had to go to ebay to get mine. I typed in Zak Stevens and POW there it was, mine got lost in the moves I made. I paid ten bucks; I got it from a guy in Minnesota.
You lived in Hollywood for a while.
Yeah that's were I studied vocals a little bit. It was the early nineties the peak of the metal scene there. Back when "Girls, Girls, Girls" was out by MOTLEY CRÜE. I use to hang out with Lemme at the Whiskey. Lemme would say, 'What da ya drink' (talking in Lemme's voice)?
I just ran into him at the Doro twentieth anniversary show in Frankfurt. I was talking with Lemme and told him I actually met you at the Whiskey years ago. (Talking like Lemme)...that's great. I asked him I gotta know is it true that you play your bass through a marshal stack, you put the volume on ten and you drive a screw in there, to make sure no one is going to mess with it to take it off ten. (Talking like Lemme again) Correct accept for one aspect, I keep it on eight (laughing.)
In 1992, Jon Oliva handpicked you to replace him in SAVATAGE?
Yeah it was he Chris and Paul O'Neal. I think the thing that got me the gig was the demos I sent, of me not trying to sound like Jon. I didn't want to sing (Zak starts singing) ah, ah, ah, ah (laughing).
In SAVATAGE, you performed QUEEN'S "Bohemian Rhapsody"?
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. We all sang on that Al Pitrelli, Chris Caffery, Johnny Lee Middleton and Jon
Chris Caffery just got off the SPREAD EAGLE tour; do you still talk with him?
Yeah we still talk from time to time. He's real busy.
Did you feel at points that "Burden of Truth" a concept CD based on religious ground would turn off metal fans?
No, I think it just a dark concept album. The album is just a vicious 'what might happen'... sequel to the movie 'The DaVinci Code'. We are not going to go out there to play some earth shattering religious music. Make it like a musical sequel...what happened to that character that got pinpointed in the bloodline. It is just taking that theory... taking it a step in the future.
Who came up with unlock the mystery to win prizes?
We all did. We said let's put these research links out on our official forum which you have to be registered for. You're able to get these links almost leading the horse to water, every week we will give you a link to put the puzzle together and if they get the answer that person is going to get a Jackson guitar signed by the band.
Have you heard "Maniacal Renderings" Jon Oliva's new CD?
I dig it, it's heavy. It's going back to some old SAVATAGE stuff. It's very cool. Both of our CD's came out at the same time so we can shine in our own clouds.
How was the ProgPower Festival?
Great, we got a live DVD coming; we filmed the whole show and really were able to capture the power of our live show. We have some SAVATAGE stuff included on there too.
The reviews for your last release "The Middle of Nowhere" were fair but not exciting. The new CD "Burden of Truth" is a flash back to your first CD "Watching in Silence." What did you do differently to bring the magic back from the first release?
Well, you know, I did a lot of writing on the first two records with Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery. This time I told them I want to do the writing this time around within the band. It's been the same line-up for the past two records and it's solid and we wanted to step it up within the band. It's keeping the energy within the unit.
What will happen to CIIC when you go on tour with SAVATAGE for the band's 30th anniversary, especially, because you will sing for TSO also...? How will you have time for CIIC. Will it be the end of the band?
Yeah, I mean that's easy, everything can get done. It's not going to take up that much time. We might even be working on a new CIRCLE II CIRCLE CD at that time. We have a few all ready for the next one.
Do you see you and Jon singing together in the future?
Yeah we might still write some stuff. The good thing about "The Middle of Nowhere," "All That Remains" was the biggest radio single I had since the "Edge of Thorns" in 1993. XM radio played six songs out of twelve.
I heard you learned how to count in German for this tour!!! (On the last one he just said 1, 2, 4, and 5!!! everyone made fun of him for the rest of the tour!!)
(Laughing) Geez, sometimes I go out there and I don't know what I'm doing; sometimes I go out there and say one, two, three, and five. We just goof around but I do know how...I might have had a Jager on stage.
The new CD kicks ass I just finished the review a few days ago and it got 4.5 stars...out of 5 on our site. Here is a quote from the review: "I was looking for a band to finally knock that damn Lance King and PYRAMAZE on their ass and CIIC are dead even with one of the best release of the year."
Awesome man, that's great.
The songs are melodic and the guitars a simply amazing. When you decided to get a new line-up how did that process unfold?
It was pretty easy and worked out great. The new guys are from Nashville, Tennessee and Mississippi some good ole southern boys.
Do Andy and Evan trade off on leads?
Yeah they sure do, Andy plays a majority but Evan gets the choice one. They have a MAIDEN thing going on. It's nice to have that.
Do you have a favorite song to sing?
"Revelations" I like it a lot and maybe "Heal You," which I didn't even think would make the record. "Heal You" is like a MOTLEY CRÜE kind of thing with the Tommy Lee style drums. When we play that, I see 'Rocky 7' and the joke is it might make it on the 'Rocky 7' soundtrack.
How many songs did you leave off the CD?
Three or four and one was a guitar solo feature thing. I really liked it and I think it might have a chance to show up somewhere else
Has Kayos done a good job for CIRCLE II CIRCLE?
Yeah they did a good job and they did a good job last time too.
If you had a chance to change anything so far in your music career would you?
It's hard to say, but I would have to say, Chris Oliva being killed. I think at that time we were really onto things. We were about to go out on that Vince Neil tour and weeks before, and POW some drunk driver crosses seven lanes to get them. My mom was down there the next day, his wife in the hospital in critical condition and I almost lost them both...in one shot. She has recently passed away, although, she never overcame the loss of Chris. I would reverse that if I could.
Did you film any of the making of the new CD in the studio and are there any plans for a DVD to be released?
Yeah, we filmed some stuff with that 50 meg camera. When we would shoot Andy in the leads, I sometimes felt Chris Oliva coming through him. If you hear the stuff on the record, it sounds like Chris sometimes. I felt that way. I would say to Andy, 'Do you feel that coming through you?', 'Are you aware of that energy force shooting through you?' He has the same personality as Chris.
Will you tour now?
We will be in Europe the whole month of January and will work on the US when we get back. We're getting it done.
Well Zak I would like to congratulate on the new "Burden of Truth" and wish you the best. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
I want to thanks everyone. We had great times playing in Jersey and all the great years we had so far. We will make it back there with CIRCLE II CIRCLE. We are holding down this piece of the metal world. Thank you and have a great night!