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A Dirty Dozen with ZAK STEVENS from ARCHON ANGEL – February 2020

| 4 February 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Archon Angel was born from a meeting between producer/guitarist Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere) and former Savatage, Circle II Circle, and current T.S.O. lead vocalist Zak Stevens during the making of Timo Tolkki’s Avalon’s Return To Eden album, of which Aldo produced and played guitar and Zak did some guest lead vocals. The two soon started talking to Frontiers about the concept of working on new music together, which was met with great enthusiasm from the label. Aldo submitted to Zak some song ideas which were reminiscent of the classic Savatage sound, the two felt the magic was there, and thus no time was wasted in getting together to craft an absolutely striking metal album. Aldo was also helped in the songwriting department by some of the most outstanding writers and musicians from the Italian Rock scene including Simone Mularoni (of DGM and Sweet Oblivion) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Aldo’s bandmate in Edge of Forever and of course Jorn, Hardline, etc.).”  We get singer Zak to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

I think that the listener might be so taken with the music and melodies, that they might not grasp the story at first.  A second or third listen would probably assemble the story surrounding the main character, the Archon, and give meaning to the lyrics, but we are really interested in hearing the listeners’ personal interpretations of the album.  Some hidden nuggets that I personally put in are evil laughs in “Hit the Wall” and snake sounds in “The Serpent.”  I really got a kick out of engineering vocal sound effects, and making certain words come to life (on the word “attack,” for example, I literally attacked the word to make it jump out).

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My mom was constantly playing her old 1970’s rock albums while I was as small as standing in a crib.  I was exposed to music from very early on.  I don’t know if there was a specific moment, but by the age of 4, I was asking my mom to go out and buy me Steve Miller Band singles so I could have records of my own after listening to every conceivable rock album of the 1970’s that my mom had.  In 5th grade, Chuck Campbell (the high school age older brother of one of my best friends at the time who also played the guitar) told me, David Campbell (his little brother), and my younger brother Nick that we were going to be in a band and compete in the elementary school talent show.  We didn’t really have much of a choice.  I started playing guitar, but I didn’t really like it that much, so they switched me to drums.  I picked it up immediately, and the rest is history.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Yes, the first concert I ever saw was KISS: the Destroyer tour in 1976.  That concert left an indelible image and influence on me.  It was definitely what got me to want to be in the business and inspired me to keep playing.  All I wanted to do was go home and play after that concert.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

My main five musical influences would be Steve Smith of Journey, the late Neil Peart of Rush (RIP), Ronnie James Dio, Queensryche, and Iron Maiden.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Right now, I would say Gus G of Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind, and his solo works.  I think there could be some good chemistry there with his all-encompassing knowledge.  It would be really interesting to write melodies to his playing style.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

It is vocal featured melodic heavy rock.  It has pretty straight forward melodies that you can understand and hopefully contains clear and decisive lyrics.  I hate to pigeonhole it to a category such as symphonic metal or hard rock, I hate labels.  I have fans who would never listen to rock nor metal a day in their life, but for some reason fall in love with my music.  I really haven’t heard any comparisons out there that made me cringe or otherwise.  If anything, all of the comparisons seem quite random.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The best thing about being a musician is the travel opportunities that come along with it.  I’ve always said, “travel can take you everywhere.”  It never fails that every time I have a new album come out, each one takes me somewhere that I haven’t gone before in the world.  Only music can do that.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Aldo is a great Italian cook, so he is the first to bring out the pots and pans.  I get the drinks.  Federico cracks out the acoustic guitars for a singalong.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

My wife will tell you Hines Ward, haha.  She really wanted to meet him, as she is a Steelers fan, and I literally pushed her out of the way to talk to him.  Other than that, Joan Jett when she performed with Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Cleveland on the last show of the tour.  I was too shy to talk to her.  She’s done a million things in the music business, and I hear she is tremendously nice.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Homicide and crime investigator.  I am obsessed with watching Investigation Discovery, and especially, Joe Kenda.  One of the coolest moments of my recent past was discovering that one of my neighbors is a forensics analyst with the Michigan State Police.  That would be a cool job as well.

11.  Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I really wouldn’t have changed anything.  After the first Circle II Circle album, I probably should have shifted gears and done a solo album.  I still have yet to do one of those, but it is in the works.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Powerslave.  That way I could have sat in on the drum sessions with Nicko McBrain.  That would have been awesome.  Plus, I would have been in tropical weather in the Bahamas.



Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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