About Me

Interview with Archon Angel

In this modern society - and Covid-19 came to show us that - money doesn’t matter. All that matters is safety, health and taking care of people. That’s what Zak Stevens (ex-vocalist of Savatage and Circle II Circle’s vocalist) hopes for. This very emotional chat regarding this project and introducing this album, shows exactly that. Hope you appreciate this and STAY SAFE.

M.I. -  Hi there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Thanks, and it’s a pleasure.

M.I. -  The band was born from a meeting between producer/guitar player Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere) and former Savatage and Circle II Circle vocalist Zak Stevens. What does this project consist of?

This project consists of music written by Aldo Lonobile, Zak Stevens, Kate Stevens, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Antonio Agate, Simone Mularoni, and Giulio Capone. The album is titled “Fallen” and consists of ten songs. The album has been released by Frontiers Records on February 14, 2020.

M.I. -  Ever since Savatage released their last album “Poets & Madmen,” in 2001, fans started thinking what was going on with the band. What can you tell us about this?

What was going on was the transition of the band Savatage into eventually becoming the band Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This transition started in 1997 even before the recording of the “Wake of Magellan” album. Although they are still technically two different bands, Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (T.S.O.) are basically the same band.  T.S.O. is a larger outfit, but still contains the core six members of Savatage of the latest lineup(s); Zak Stevens, Jon Oliva, Jeff Plate, Chris Caffery, Johnny Lee Middleton, and Al Pitrelli.  

M.I. -  You’ve signed with the label Frontiers Music s.r.l. Do you think that they understand your idea?

Yes. They fully understand our idea because it was their idea to form Archon Angel in the first place. Frontiers Records came to Aldo and I and asked us if we could form the band and to come up with the name and concept of the band and record an album, which we did. 

M.I. -  You played in the “70,000 Tons of Metal” cruise this year.  How was this experience? Do you intend to go back next year? How did the crowd react?

Yes, we played two shows on the 70K TOM cruise in January of this year, right before the coronavirus took hold of the music industry and forced all bands to stop playing for the year so far. We were very lucky to get those shows in before the music industry was shut down worldwide. We are especially keeping the world in our thoughts and prayers at this time as the virus has ravaged so many countries in such a terrible way. But the crowd was great on the cruise and we were well received on both shows. It was a lot of fun. 70K TOM only invites bands back every two years, so we’re hoping we can play again in another couple of years.  

M.I. -  You will play at “Leyendas Del Rock”, in Spain, this August. How excited are you? Will we see you touring with more dates? Which countries do you want to visit? Portugal, maybe?

As of right now, due to the coronavirus outbreak, we will most likely not be playing “Leyendas Del Rock” because of the uncertainty of how long the disease problem will exist and in keeping with the safety of all those that would be involved. Right now, all Archon Angel touring is on hold as we try to weather the storm of the virus in the U.S. and all over the world.  

M.I. -  What are your inspirations, when writing a song or a lyric? 

We just try to capture the emotions of the song the best ways possible in the lyrics and come up with the most interesting riffs that we can. We use real life inspiration as well as story and concept-based subjects in our writing. We have a lot of writers working on Archon Angel music, so we have the opportunity for a lot of good input from multiple writers. I think this is a great thing because the more good ideas we can get going in the writing process, the better. 

M.I. -  You had some help from friends in the instruments. Was it hard for you to reach the sound you wanted?

We pretty much had a good idea of the sounds we wanted to achieve when we started the writing process, so it was easy to get the sounds we were looking for. Aldo is a great player and producer, so we felt like everything was in good hands with him leading the production end of things. Aldo took the lead on working with all the players on the album to achieve the desired results we were looking for. 

M.I. -  You were joined by other remarkable musicians, like Simone Mularoni and Alessandro Del Vecchio. Do tell us how the writing process was, please?

For the most part, Aldo worked either individually or in groups with all the writers I previously mentioned. Simone and Alessandro were especially remarkable and added so much expertise and nuance to the songs and the sessions they played on for the album. I was extremely happy working with everyone involved on this album.  

M.I. -  This album talks about a character, named "Archon", who is a modern-day angel figure. Why this one? What does this angel represent in the songs? What’s the story behind it?

The concept is rooted in Greek Gnosticism, which covers a lot of the relationship between the people of earth and their communication with the Creator. The Greek word "gnosis" means "secret knowledge," and the concept of Gnosticism came around in the first century before Christianity came into play.  What I found to be really unique about Gnosticism (besides the fact that it is rarely talked about nowadays) is that it focuses primarily on a personal spiritual experience, as opposed to an organized religious concept or a religious hierarchy. So here is a little synopsis of the story: this album follows the journey of a man whose life transforms from one of wealth and indulgence, to the archon of a city who is ravaged by the deadly sins of modern excess. His story unfolds as a businessman whose success is made by trampling on anyone in his path and abandoning his family. Although he is rich and powerful, he is starting to lose recognition of the person he was before. He receives a calling to become an archon, and defeat all of the crimes beguiling the city: greed, theft, and gluttony. To choose this path would make him a hero, but he would also have to abandon the extravagant lifestyle he is used to, for it will be the very thing he is fighting against. The songs illustrate his transformation from selfish and careless narcissist to thoughtful and emotional mediator between the human race and God.

M.I. -  “Fallen” was released on the 14th February. Is Savatage’s sound present in this album, especially in the singing part?

I think there are tributes in the music on the album that are present from many bands I could name. For this record, we included a lot of riffs from a lot of bands that we all grew up listening to. I think the only Savatage reminders come from my singing on the album, which is hard to escape, and from a few riffs on a few of the songs.  

M.I. -  Tell us the idea for the album cover, please.

We left the real inspiration of the cover art to our artist Oleg Shcherbakov from Russia. We just sent him a few of the early song ideas we had early in the songwriting process and told him we wanted the Archon “angel” presented in a cool way, and he pretty much did the rest. He did a great job taking the cover to a whole new realm and it seems that everyone is really liking the cover art so far.  

M.I. -  The video for the song “Fallen” was released on the 12th December, last year. What was the idea for the video and why this song?

The song was chosen as a single by Frontiers, so we were asked to film this song as the first video for the album. The video was shot both in Pittsburgh, PA U.S.A. and in Northern Italy. In the video, the Archon has accepted the calling and is now walking through the war-torn streets and crime-addled city that he is anxious to save. He finds the city beguiling. While he is walking around, the Archon is surrounded by your typical metropolitan scenery and people, who were lured to the city by dreams. He is energized by the insurmountable task of changing his surroundings.  He is a protector of the city who watches over the activity of the nightlife, while questioning whatever force called him to do this job.

M.I. -  Thank you so much for the interview. Any final message?

We would like to send our prayers to all persons and families around the world who have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We hope that this crisis can end soon and that many people can be saved. This is an absolute tragedy for the world.  
Peace and prayers,

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda