Symphony X interview (01/2008)

With: Michael LePond [Bass]
Conducted by: Jeff (in person)
Published: 15.01.2008

Band profile:

Symphony X

Before that Symphony X starts its European tour in February, I met the wise Michael Lepond with two of my mates (Eric aka the Goret and Leo Margarit, the new POS' drummer) in Toulouse before their show with Dream Theater. This interview was really cool and we met a really nice charismatic classy guy. I hope that you'll enjoy to read it!

-Jeff: Hello Michael. Is it your first time in Toulouse? Or did you ever play here before?

We did play in Toulouse before. I'm not sure if it was for The Odyssey tour of for the V tour but I remember I've been here before.

-Jeff: This is the first Metal show in this new venue, we don't know it yet, so how do you find it?

The venue is good... Well it's Dream Theater's booking agent who decides where we play but it looks good and hopefully we will have a good sound. It depends of the venue, in some of them it's hard to get a good sound because the sound balances in all the place but in some others it's great. Let's hope that it will be good here.

-Jeff: Let's talk a bit about Paradise Lost. I suppose that everybody tell to you the same thing but this album is your heavier one and the most aggressive. When did you decide to write this kind of "new" music?

Ok. Well you know, the first reason is that it's something that we don't really sit down and decide, it's just a natural progression for us. The second reason is that the subject maters of the CD are really dark so we've to write a heavier music.

-Jeff: So you didn't know a long time ago that Paradise should be a powerful album…

Yes that's right.

-Jeff: What were your wishes when you've started to write the new album? I mean that maybe that you wanted to catch a larger audience with fans of Heavy Metal and not only fans of Progressive Metal? Did you also want to catch more people in the USA?

Hum well you know again it's something that we've probably did not think about too much. We've just started to coming up with songs and this is how it sounds. Again the content of the lyrics needed some more Metal sound. But I think that we've get more fans in the USA because of the new sound, so I can say that it's working well for us now.

-Jeff: So can you tell me if you will follow this way maybe because it's working of maybe just because you like to play such music now?

That's a good question… I think that we won't know where we will go next until that we actually just start to write the new songs. We go on tour and then we come back from the tour and start writing, sometime it's heavier. My guess is that we will probably stay in the same area…

-Eric: Will you do a live album after this tour?

We're talking about doing a DVD after the tour. We haven't decided where we will record it yet. We're thinking about it, at some points next year... I'm not sure where it will recorded but that's something that we wanna do. Maybe that you'll have a live CD with the DVD.

-Leo: Maybe that you'll do a tour as a headliner next year after this one?

Yes, it's for Europe. Our managers got a deal to do a tour as headliner next year.

-Leo: Great!

We're really excited about it!

-Jeff: Do you know where you'll play and if you'll do a lot of dates in France?

Well I know that we will definitely play in France but it's up to the booking agent to decide in which venue and in which city we'll play…

-Jeff: Yes that's business!


-Leo: Well actually I don't care because I will be in Sweden next year anyway [laughs]. So I hope that you'll play in Sweden too!

Yeah [laughs] We will play in Sweden too anyway. So it should be ok! But it will be great to play there again because Sweden was one of the big shows of this tour.

-Leo: I was in Warsaw show last month…

Damn in Warsaw?

-Leo: Yeah! In comparison to this concert tonight, do you know if it will be longer? Because it was short there…

Well you know, Dream Theater gives us 45 minutes to play so it's not so long…

-Jeff: But if you come back here next year it will be longer!

Ho yes much longer!

-Jeff: I have a question about the title of the album which comes from a poem of John Milton. How did you come to this idea to use this name and do we have a link between the name of the album and the world's situation nowadays?

No it comes more from the riffs of Michael Romeo which are all really dark. We wanted to find a name which fits to this music and Paradise Lost is perfect because it's very dark and really "good vs. evil" like a lot of our lyrics. Back in time it was just the perfect name to use.

-Jeff: So if I understand it's Michael who wrote all the songs…

Michael writes just about everything.

-Jeff: Does he gives some musical directives to the other members?

Sure. He presents the songs to the other members and then we put some ideas in there but that's up to his final decision.

-Leo: And about your health? Are you better now don't you have any more problems now?

Thank you for asking! I feel much better now and at the time, it was probably about 18 months, I had to get an operation on my stomach and intestine. It was a really bad time but one of the best things that happened to me is that, when I came back from the hospital, I had hundreds of emails from the fans. My words could not describe how great it was for me… It's incredible to have so much people all around people who care about you…

-Leo: I guess we don't probably imagine that a lot of people care about you. It's not my case yet [laughs]

[laughs] Yeah it's just incredible.

-Eric: I have a question about your live performances. Will you ever play live your old songs or can we imagine that one day you'll remove a lot of them to only play your new songs?

It's always hard to come up with the set list, I'm sure that you know how it is too Leo…

-Leo: Yeah…

It's so hard because we have a new CD now ok but we have so many CDs to choose from that we must remove some songs anyway. For this tour with Dream Theater, we thought that we needed to promote the new CD so maybe their fans will buy it. When we will headline we will play a lot of classics because we know, especially in Europe... Well in the USA we're kind of new so we don't have to play a lot of old songs but in Europe we've been around for a while so we will always play our classics.

-Eric: Can we imagine that one day you'll play a whole album on stage? A bit like Dream Theater does sometime…

-Leo: If I remember well you already did it with V right?

On the V tour yes. When we did this tour we've played a lot of the songs of V yes. But it can be tough because I think that we have some many CDs and at this point it would be kind of hard to play a whole album We've talk about it already and we will do it maybe but if you want to play a whole album you must play a long time to play some of the classics too. It's possible!

-Jeff: A classic question. What's the future of SX now? Are you already writing new songs?

Right now we're just touring. We've started touring in May and so after this tour we will take a break for Christmas and next year we will be touring again. Hopefully we will have the DVD done and then we will start writing again after that.

-Leo: How do you feel after the big tour with the "Megadeth's Gigantour"?

It was great for us because in the USA we don't sell a lot of CDs. But it was great because we've played in all this big venues with Megadeth and Dream Theater and now people know us there too. We sell a lot more of CDs there now, so thanks to the Gigantour!

-Jeff: That's a good news!

Yes, that's all good news. We were treated very well. Dave Mustaine was really great with us and he really likes what we do, that's great. Also that's where we met Dream Theater and I think that by meeting DT there we got this tour.

-Eric: How is it working with Dream Theater during this tour?

They're really nice with us. Their crew treats us with a lot of respect and I can tell you that they like our band and the guys of DT are all really nice. And this tour will be a way for us to catch some of their fans.

-Jeff: I think that the fans of DT already know Symphony X… At least in France [laughs]/[b].


[b]-Leo: But it wasn't the case in Poland. I was a bit surprise because I didn't see any shirts on people… I was probably the only one screaming all the lyrics [laughs]

It was a tough show![laughs]

-Jeff: Do you know where do you sell the most? With the new album like the old ones actually. In France I guess…

Yeah, France is really good for us. But I don't know… One interesting thing to know is that our sells are really low in Germany in general but with Paradise Lost it's really different. The album is more Metal, so they like it and it was great to play there, we did some great shows.

-Jeff: That's funny because I did in the past an Interview with Kiko of Angra and he said, like you, that in Germany they wanted only "real" Metal and that in Latin countries like France or Italy people are in general a lot more open minded. It's probably the same with SX…

I agree with you and Kiko. But let's be honest too, Paradise Lost is helping us a lot in these "new" areas. Hopefully it will put us a little bit higher.

-Jeff: Yeah, and the strange thing is that except the Gods Of Metal in Italy last year, you didn't play at any big Festivals…

That's a shame. I wish that we will play in some big festivals… We tried to play in some festivals like Wacken and they didn't say yes at that point. But it should change with the new album so be sure that we will try to play in a lot of big festivals next year.

-Leo: I have a question... that's maybe strange but do you have to work?

That's a good question. Basically before Paradise Lost, yes we have to work. I taught bass to little kids and some of the others guys did different other things. Now we have to tour this year and we will tour next year so we cannot work. Hopefully, it will be ok after this tour and won't have to work anymore.

-Jeff: We don't have any more questions Michael, thanks a lot for your time and really friendly attitude. Do you have a last word for the readers of Metal Storm?

Thanks to you! Well hello to all the readers of Metal Storm, we're really happy to tour all around the world we love our fans really and we hope that you'll like our shows when you'll see us with Dream Theater but of course see you next year on the road!

Thanks to Michael LePond, Symphony X, and their really cool manager Ron Godbey and as always thanks to Mr Roger Wessier



Comments: 13   Visited by: 277 users
15.01.2008 - 21:44
Rosetta Stoned
-Jeff: Yeah, and the strange thing is that except the Gods Of Metal in Italy last year, you didn't play at any big Festivals…

So Sweden Rock Festival (about 30 000 people) doesn't count as big?
Interesting review otherwise, some nice reading! I really liked the question about if he had to work! I've always wondered which musicians has to work, and which doesn't. Symphony X is maybe the second largest prog metal band in the world and still they have to work! Maybe I shouldn't try to get into the music industry...
15.01.2008 - 22:00
Great interview . Nice to see LePond up and about again!
15.01.2008 - 22:55
Winter is Coming
This is a great interview indeed, he seems like a really nice guy.

I did not know that Progressive metal CD sales in Europe was the lowest in Germany, this is an interesting fact.

When I saw SX last year, their encore was Odessey, now that was a splendid surprise
"Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died."
Ser Jorah Mormont
15.01.2008 - 22:58
Erotic Stains
Hope they'll come to Sweden as headliners!
16.01.2008 - 03:51
I R Serious Cat
Great interview, he seems to be apretty cool guy, and gave some nice info. I didn't know these guys actually had to work...
"Nobody wants to be the weird kid, you just end up being the weird kid. You don't know how you ended up getting there" - Rob Zombie My dA, mainly photography, go check it out!
16.01.2008 - 07:04
Well i can't wait to see them in the US...I really hope they play some classics in the U.S. despite him saying they might play mostly from Paradise Lost

Not saying i disliked Paradise Lost or anything...
16.01.2008 - 09:09
I may see them when they headline with Circus Maximus in February, hopefully they'll play some classics! (The Accolade would be great!)
My account on other musical pages:
17.01.2008 - 02:50
Great interview definetly, Im so sad cause I dont have a chance seeing them live this year. They made their videos for "Set the World on Fire" and "Serpents Kiss" in Belgrade, so I had a chance to talk with Michael, but they wont come here to play, at least not this year... too bad. Anywayz they are really great persons, and fantastic band, so good luck to all of you who will see them live, if you have the chance dont miss it.
... For years I have traveled in coldness,
But my heart is warm as the darkened sun above me...
Nothing can never take away
What I've seen with these tired eyes
18.01.2008 - 03:51
Dream Taster
The Enemy Within
Great interview guys. Nice to see Goret involved in this [huh huh!] and also Pain of Salvation's drummer interviewing Symphony X's bassist! Nice.
18.01.2008 - 15:24
Nice interview. Very down to earth and relaxed. I wish I could see them live one day. Maybe on the next tour.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.

My Instagram
18.01.2008 - 15:38
Erotic Stains
A very energetic live band I'd say. I really wanna see them as headliners.
23.01.2008 - 16:27
the best band ever, hopping they release the DVD!!!!

io want to see them again in the next south american tour
12.06.2008 - 15:53
Account deleted
Fun fact: Michael Pinnella works at my local Guitar Center (now that I think of it, it may be Sam Ash... but it's one of them). It's been said that nobody can sell a keyboard as fast as he does

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