new bands confirmed.....ANNIHILATOR + C II C
Let's start from the last show Zak Stevens did with Savatage, the PopKomm Festival in Cologne, Germany on August 20, 1999. This was a show that later became famous for it's brilliance and magnificence, and featured a first-time encore performance Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Zak never thought this would be his last show with the band. However, by mid-year of 2000 he needed to take some time off to commit to his family for various reasons. It was an extremely hard decision for Zak, but after eight years of touring with Savatage, he knew it was time for a break.
During numerous discussions through the years with long time friend and mentor Jon Oliva, Zak had mentioned that if he ever left Savatage for any reason, it would be great to write songs together from time to time. Jon was always very receptive to the idea. He had often mentioned that he almost knew Zak's voice better than his own from all of the songs he worked on for Zak's four studio records with Savatage.
The writing for the new CircleIICircle songs actually began in mid-2001 when Zak and Jon entered D.O.W. studios in Tampa to start some rough demos of their early ideas. For the first time, Zak was writing all of the lyrics and vocal melodies for the songs. The first song demos from this studio were for versions of "Forgiven", "Watching In Silence", and "Fields Of Sorrow", "Lies", and "The Circle".
Once these demos were recorded, Zak got in touch with guitarist Matt LaPorte, who auditioned for Savatage during the "Dead Winter Dead" era, and was also a huge fan of Chris Oliva. Although Al Pitrelli was the final choice of Savatage to replace Alex Skolnick at the time, Zak was very impressed by Matt's ability and stayed in touch with him. When Zak told Matt about his new CircleIICircle idea, Matt immediately wanted to get together and jam. He also mentioned that he knew several other players who could pull off the new songs. Zak was excited to get together with these players to see what kind of energy could be generated. With that, drummer Christopher Kinder, bassist Kevin Rothney, and Matt's long-time friend and keyboardist John Zahner all joined the fray.
When the band first played together Zak stated, "It felt really great, like we had been playing together for years!" At this point, Zak and Jon Oliva both felt CircleIICircle and the songs had a magical feel. After two years off the road, Zak was considering touring again. Zak decided to shop the band's demos to several labels in Europe and the U.S. After only a few weeks, three different labels had shown interest, including a major U.S. label. In May of 2002, Zak agreed to sign with AFM Records in Germany, a rising star on the European front.
Soon thereafter, Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery contacted Zak to see if he could help him write some songs to round out his new album. Zak was excited about the idea because he and Chris had written some powerful songs together during Savatage's Wake Of Magellan world tour. Zak and Chris wound up writing "Face To face", "A Sea of White", and "Out Of Reach".
In September of 2002, CircleIICircle entered world-famous Morrisound Studios to record their new CD. Zak recruited engineer/producer Jim Morris to help mix and co-produce the record, along with himself and Jon Oliva. Two months later, the band's first CD was finished and mastered.
The year 2003 will find Zak Stevens and CircleIICircle on tour and in numerous personal appearances. The band is looking forward to a rewarding future in the years to come. Zak states, "Right now we're young and strong, and we want to support our new album wherever and whenever possible. We'll have the rest of our lives to sit around!"