INTERVIEW: Michael Lepond (SYMPHONY X)
Levi: You're coming to Australia for the first time ever in October, are you looking forward to it?
Michael: Oh yes. Since the began its career we've always wanted to play in Australia and over the years there has been some talk back and forth from promoters and our manager and for some reasons things just never worked out. When I heard that we were confirmed for a few Australian shows we were all really, really happy about it. I wish there could've been more than just two but maybe next time we can get to the other areas.
Levi: What songs can we expect from the setlist?
Michael: The band hasn't really talked about it yet, but since we've never been to Australia we want to give you guys a nice kind of greatest hits. Since you've never heard any of the songs live. We will try to give you some songs from each of the albums. Hopefully that will please enough people. Although you can't please everybody, but we'll try.
Levi: Do you still do much stuff from The Damnation Game and Divine Wings of Tragedy?
Michael: We haven't done The Damnation Game stuff, but we will always play something from Divine Wings of Tragedy, we will usually do a couple of songs from there because it's one of the fan favorite albums, so we are always happy to play it.
Levi: Are there plans to do a follow up to your Silent Assassins solo album?
Michael: Yes, I'm actually in the middle of recording a follow up solo album right now. With all the touring that Symphony X is doing, what I do is I just try to find time in between the tours and do a little bit here and a little bit there. it's moving along, the drums the bass and the rhythm guitar are done, so I'll start tracking the vocals when we have some more time.
Levi: Michael Romeo is known as the main songwriter in Symphony X, do the other band members make many contributions?
Michael: You know, Michael writes so many riffs and so many parts it's amazing but he's always open to anyone in the band who has music or lyrics or anything like that and usually what we do is Michael will come up for some ideas for a song, then he will demo it in his studio and he will send it to the rest of us. Then we will help him tweak some parts or re-arrange some parts or whatever suggestions we have, then when we record it the rest of the guys will put their influences into the songs and then it becomes our own.
Levi: When you first started out was there a particular bass player you looked up to?
Michael: Oh sure, you know the reason I picked up the bass was my father took me to see KISS in New York City and when I saw Gene Simmons do all these crazy things and remember I was only 13 years old, this was amazing stuff to see. To see Gene flying around and spitting fire was amazing. Immediately I told my father to buy me a bass because I wanted to be like Gene, but then as I started playing I learned a bunch of the KISS songs to start off with but then I moved on and started listening to Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, then I started listening to Geddy Lee [RUSH], Geezer Butler [BLACK SABBATH] and people like that. Then I started to expand my style and as time goes on you always listen to different things. Recently I've been listening to a lot of Blackmore's Night with what Ritchie Blackmore does on the guitar, I've been kind of picking it up on the bass and fooling around with that. It's always cool to keep learning and to keep listening to different things.
Levi: In the last 10 years there has been an explosion of great guitar shredders coming out of YouTube, most of them are young kids. Were you surprised by how many shredders there are out there?
Michael: Yes I was, it seems like there are so many shredders out there who can just play. It reminds me a lot of when I was younger we were all trying to play the fast stuff like Yngwie Malmsteen and it seems like the kids these days can just do it, no problem and they make it look easy. The only downside to that is... Can they play a lead part with some real feeling and some real emotion. When you tell them "don't just play fast, play something emotional and beautiful". That's the only thing I'd like to see more from the younger kids, a little more emotion, a little more feeling.
Listen here for the full chat!
Symphony X will be heading down under in October [click the tour poster for a link to the tickets]
If you haven't heard the new album 'Underworld' yet, check out this headbanger!