This is the second interview with Zak Stevens, former lead vocalist of Savatage. You may remember Zak from his last presidential interview me. -I love this guy. I may talk to him once an issue if he wants me to. Read on!
Music Incider Magazine
MI: What is the name of the new EP?
Zak: Well, there is a record and an EP out. The record is called “Middle of Nowhere” and the EP is called “All That Remains” because it is based on the single from Middle of Nowhere.
MI: Out of every track from the new CD which is your favorite to play live?
Zak: I like to rock a little bit more live so I would say Open Season. That one and Hollow.
MI: How would you describe this new album compared to the old one?
Zak: There’s different thoughts going on and the world has changed a lot. There’s nations at war and there was a lot of uncertainty with what may happen so that probably let into the lyrics a little bit. I think we were ready to keep rocking a little bit harder. There’s a few more guitar based songs on the second CD and there’s a little more aggression.
MI: Do you guys plan to have a tour for the new album and EP that are coming out?
Zak: Yes. We’ve done a lot of touring in Europe for it all because it got released a long time ago there. I found the last tour the most satisfying for me cause we went to a bunch of new places and some of the same old places. It’s good to see everyone.
MI: When will the US tour start?
Zak: We’re working with a couple different booking agencies trying to get things going in America. We know we’re coming to Atlanta because it’s close and I have family there. I’m from South Carolina.
MI: How did Katrina affect you and the rest of the band?
Zak: Not at all. We didn’t get any of the weather because we’re not on that side of the Gulf Coast. We’re being threatened by Wilma right now. Wilma is two or three days away and we don’t know what the hell is going on.
MI: Have you guys decided to do anything to help the survivors of the hurricane?
Zak: We have all decided individually to give to the Red Cross and a lot of other different organizations. We all individually have done it. A lot of companies we’re involved with have given a lot of money.
MI: How do you think President Bush is handling this situation?
Zak: I think he needs to be seen a little more now to show people that this effort needs to continue. It’s not a forgotten news item.
MI: Do you think Bush is going to try to clean this up fast so he doesn’t go down in history as the asshole?
Zak: I can’t think of one governmental arm, or leg, or branch, that did not screw this up. I think it’s because we never saw it before. Everybody fucked it up all the way to the top. It’s a very corporate life. We’re good at getting good at things after it happens. If you let everybody in leadership be from the Marines or some situation where people had to be really reactive, efficient, and accurate, then we would have been able to respond better.
MI: Where do you see this album going on the charts?
Zak: I haven’t even looked where it is. This is the type of album that increases as it goes on. It’s one of those kind of things that grows on you. We’re still doing the underground thing. I think that the way the record grows on you as you listen is the way it’s growing on the radio. Three times as many ads for this album than the last one. Hopefully someone will look back one day and say “Hey, there’s lots of good music here.”
MI: What is the funniest thing you’ve seen on tour so far?
Zak: In Brazil we played a few big shows and we had a tour bus taking us from show to show and after one of the shows a fan started to crawl up the side of the bus when it began to move. While we were down there we had been discussing Chupa Cabra which is the Big Foot of Brazil. Well we saw this guy hanging like a spider off the side of the bus and someone immediately yelled “Chupa Cabra!”. It was probably me since I’ve been known to yell out what I’m thinking. The bus driver kept speeding up and wouldn’t stop and then began to do one of those things where you move the steering wheel from right to left to try and shake the guy off. Finally he shook the guy off the bus by doing that. Also, the bus we were on had a weird piss tank. You can never crap in it you can only piss in it. So some of these tanks hold about 500 gallons of piss. The uric acid started burning our noses and you can’t just dump it anywhere… We let it go by surprise when we were at a rest stop in Germany. We were on a hill where we were facing down and I look over at the bus and it looked like a mini tsunami. It was a giant wave of piss chasing us down. I literally said “Giant wave tsunami of piss, run for your lives!”. In the whole crowd, crew members and everything had to run from it. You could almost see the acid fumes rising from the mini tsunami.
MI: While you were in Brazil did you get to visit any of the famous sites?
Zak: We saw these jungle falls that fall from the mountains. They’re about 15 stories of falling water. Sao Paulo is cool to look at from atop a hill. The city spans all the way from the left of your vision to the right of your vision and none of the buildings are very tall because of the threat of earthquakes. I never saw a city that wide.
MI: How did you take the death of Dimebag Darrell?
Zak: That was just horrible. Random acts of violence is not worth it. One random act of violence changes a ton of people’s world. I guess the guy was thinking all that over about attacking Dimebag, but Darrell didn’t do anything.
MI: If you could design a memorial for Dimebag what would it be?
Zak: I would do a giant version of one of his favorite guitars and put some gold over the top and put the message across “Living through his music.”
MI: Do you think security has gotten better for bands on the road since Dime was killed?
Zak: I think it has improved somewhat but not to where it should be. Even Europe reacted strongly. There were tons of fan in Europe and they were stunned as hell. I saw a lot more security in Europe because of it. They seem to react a little differently than our young country. They learn from other people’s mistakes and America seems to what for it to happen to react.
MI: If you could improve security how would you do it?
Zak: There’s security guys in all the venues and it should work but I think they should have some type of non-lethal type weapon. Something like the new stun guns that will knock you on your ass but won’t kill you or mess with your pacemaker.
MI: Have you had any paranormal experiences?
Zak: You have the gift… I don’t have the gift.
MI: Who was more important to music; The Beatles, Elvis, or Jim Morrison and why?
Zak: I’m going to go ahead and go with Elvis just because there are so many details there… Elvis influenced The Beatles. When Elvis started rocking then that when The Beatles started rocking even more. I think it all started with Elvis.
MI: What do you think about the Cobain diaries being released?
Zak: I see money all over that. I see green. Someone made a publishing and now they’re making money.
MI: Kurt Cobain’s daughter is, Francis, is going to be picking out the album cover for Slither. Do you think a 13 year old should be getting involved in the business that early?
Zak: You see it with these kids who are acting. You got all these child actors that are creating empires.
MI: If you gathered 10 kids ages eight to ten around the UN table do you think they could accomplish world peace?
Zak: I think they have a great shot at it. They are seeing all the screwed up stuff of their youth. When they get older they are going to know they have the power to make a difference.
MI: What inspired the lyrics for the new album?
Zak: It’s just feelings that I get everyday. If I start thinking about something I will start writing down what I’m thinking and after a couple of sentences you can pretty much form an entire story around it.
MI: Do you think any of your music on either of the albums will make it to any major movie tracks?
Zak: It could. I don’t know when but it just has to be the right time.
MI: How long do you think the American tour will be?
Zak: First I have to get it built. It will probably be about three weeks and then we’ll stop and then come back for a little more.
MI: What do you do when you’re at home and have free time?
Zak: I hang out with my daughters, playing in the backyard, doing yard work… Just normal stuff.
MI: Do you see your daughters following in your footsteps?
Zak: I think they would enjoy what’s going on when we go on tour. My seven year old wants to grow up to be a pop-star.
MI: Who do you think the worst band in the world is and why?
Zak: After watching that show Play It Again One More Time where they bring back bands from the eighties to try again -I would say Flock Of Seagulls is the worst band.
MI: Who do you consider the best vocalist, guitarist, and drummer in the business right now?
Zak: Right now I like the way Disturbed’s singer is. I like his aggressiveness. My new lead guitarist, Andy Leigh, is amazing. He’s not with us anymore but The Who’s bass player that played with all four fingers is amazing-Geddy Lee from Rush.
MI: Have you guys updated the website lately?
Zak: We are building a new one right now. We have the old site with one page full of information cause that’s pretty much all you need right now.
MI: If your fans could do anything for you what would you like them to do?
Zak: Just keep on coming to the shows so I can talk to everybody. I keep up with everyone of them.
MI: What books have you been reading lately?
Zak: A strange book I got in Europe called The Four Agreements. It’s about the agreements you can make with yourself to erase all pre-conceived notions of how things are supposed to be and how you can totally adjust the way things really are and put everything in perspective and not feel terrible all the time. In making these four agreements you have to erase all the previous statements that have been made towards you in the past of people making fun of you or anything negative and you have to look at things how they really are. It teaches you how to not feel bad when people act mean towards you.
MI: What is your favorite quote of all time?
Zak: Persistence overcomes resistance.
MI: What is the band’s website?