JANUARY 19th 2018


Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Music Entertainment Worldwide, we are here with Mike LePond (Symphony X bassist), who is about to release his second solo album "Pawn and Prophecy".

Interview By: Metal Mom

1. Tell us how you came to name the album Pawn and Prophecy? What is the story behind it?

ML - The album was named after the twenty-one-minute epic song. It is based on William Shakespeare's classic play, "Macbeth". In the story, there are three witches that make prophecies about Macbeth who is the pawn. I thought it sounded much cooler than just naming the album 'Macbeth".

2. You write the lyrics, but why literature, so many these days write about what is going on around them, so it is nice to have something different and thought out.

ML - My favorite things to write about are literature, history and mythology. I think these epic stories go perfectly with heavy metal. I can write the lyrics and then compose the music like a soundtrack to a mini movie. I never write about my feelings and thoughts because it's just too boring. Current events don't inspire me either.

3. Tell us what people can expect from this album?

ML - This is a classic heavy metal album the way I remember it growing up. It is raw, true, and in your face. In addition to this signature style will be some tracks that showcase some of my other influences such as Celtic folk music and progressive rock. All these styles together will give the listener a unique listening experience.

4. What type of music influenced you as a child or when you were a teen, and even now?

ML - In my high school years I was a metalhead. I loved bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I also loved thrash bands like Metallica, Slayer and Venom. In later years I discovered Blackmore's Night, and that had a huge influence on my writing style. Two bands I like right now are Battle Beast and Ghost.

5. Symphony X and Silent Assassins, are two different types of bands, is this why you decided to do your own solo project?

ML - Classic heavy metal has always been number one in my heart, and it was always my dream to release an album in this genre. I had many songs written in this style and they were not going to fit on a Symphony X record. My goal is to use both bands to stay on the road all year long. When one stops, the other starts.

6. Do you find it hard to work both bands? Or there is enough down time, so you can work on your own project?

ML - Symphony X has a lot of downtime because we release albums every four years. This gives me more than enough time to do the Silent Assassins. Actually, I play on many projects each year. I have probably played on more projects than any metal bass player ever. I just love to be challenged by a new band. It makes me a better player.

7. How many songs are on the album?

ML -  8 songs lasting about an hour.

8. Do you have a favourite song, and why?

ML - My favorite song is a track called "Black Legend". It showcases my writing style perfectly. It's just a raw, classic metal tune in the style of Judas Priest. You will headbang from start to finish. The lyrics are about the Spanish inquisition. I always felt that best heavy metal songs are short and simple.

9. You have a 20-minute song on the album, how do you go about doing one that long, and not have your fans get bored?

ML - Keeping the listener's interest was my biggest challenge. In order to accomplish this, I did a few specific things. I made the song go in many directions and musical styles. I also kept some riffs and themes coming back from time to time, and this makes the listener think and reflect. Then finally a big climactic ending and bring the song full circle.

10. You brought in some friends to help out with the album, who did you have?

ML - Alan Tecchio (vocals), Lance Barnewold (lead guitar), Rod Rivera (lead guitar), Michael Romeo (drum programming, orchestration, lead guitar), Michael Pinnella (piano, organ), Andry Lagiou (vocals), Noa Gruman (vocals), Phyllis Rutter (vocals), Veronica Freeman (vocals).

11. Did it make for an easier process having friends, who probably knew your style?

ML - Yes it did. I didn't want to email the music to some guy in another part of the world and have him send it back. I wanted to be in the studio working together. I think that process made the album come out much better. All the players are my friends and they performed the best they could because we are so close.

12. Did you have people working with you, drummer, guitarist etc, or do you do all those yourself?

ML -  We all worked together. All I did was play bass and rhythm guitar. I needed all my friends to play the other instruments and sing. I would write all the parts of the songs and they took care of the rest. Everyone did an amazing job. I am very proud and happy to have such talent at my disposal.

13. Once this album is released through Frontiers Music, will you plan on doing a tour to promote it

ML - My biggest regret was that I didn't tour to promote my first solo album in 2014. This time around I am working with Symphony X's manager and we are looking for touring opportunities. Possibly some metal festivals or cool tours would be great. I wanna play these songs on stage so bad. I can't wait to get on the road.

14. How do you go about writing a song, what is the first step, can you walk us through that:

ML - Sometimes I will write the lyrics first and then create the mood of the music around the story. Other times I will write some riffs and then think of some words that match the emotions of the music. Both ways work for me and it keeps me away from writing the same song over and over.

15. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician?

ML - When I was 13 years old my dad took me to see KISS. Gene Simmons was spitting blood, breathing fire and flying to the top of the light rig. He was like a superhero to me. From that day on, I knew I wanted to be a bass playing rock star just like him. My first bass goal was to learn every KISS song released at that time.

16. Was the bass the first instrument you picked up?

ML - Yes it was. I am proud to say that I am a bass player first.

17. If so, do you remember the first one you owned, did you buy it, or someone else give it to you as a gift?

ML - My dad (RIP) bought me a Univox bass from a local mall. I took lessons for about a year. After that, I just learned by playing along to my favorite bands. I started playing when I was 14 years old.

18. Tell us how you go about choosing the perfect base for you?

ML - I like a bass that has a thin neck, so I can play fast if needed. I also need really good pickups, so I can have a punchy tone that can cut through the guitar frequencies. If the bass looks cool or has a great color, that helps as well. There are so many amazing basses on the market these days.

Is there anything you would like to add to the interview that I might have missed asking?

ML - To all the Metal Titans fans that have followed my career for all these years, I would like to say thank you for all the support. Without you I could never live my dreams. I will see most of you this year on tour so please say hello if you see me walking around. Thank you!!!